July 28, 2008

The Birth of Indiemommy

Forty years ago, my grandmother used to supplement the family income by embroidering complicated dragon and phoenix designs for high-end cheongsam makers. She did it at home. My neighbor in Hong Kong used to sew doll outfits at home for doll manufacturers. Back then, there were not as many career opportunities for working mothers and they were part of larger cottage industries using their hand craft skills. Nowadays, creative moms are starting their own craft businesses to be independent from their previous rigid work life. And using their skills to become successful entrepreneurial business women – or Indiemommies.

The demands of motherhood are incompatible with the 9 to 5, forty set hours of full time employment. The nascent “Indie” handmade movement has changed the work life of Indiemommies. They are able to take control of their time between diapers and trying to make a living. The following are a few examples of {NewNew} Indiemommies and their own experiences:

For Cynthia Mak of Fadingflowers, a connoisseur and maker of custom printed cards, it’s all about flexibility.

“I realized my Mother nor my Mother – in – Law were unable to help me watch over my daughter. I didn’t want to be subjected to finding a Nanny. Plus I wasn’t 100% into finding one and I didn’t trust them. I heard numerous crazy incidents of how a Nanny can abuse your own child and hurt them.

"It all started after I gave birth to my daughter. I wanted to do something and make a little business out of it rather doing nothing at home. I wasn't planning or expecting to be a big shot the next day, it took a lot of time and patience. I also don't want to use up all my time in business and work wise. I wanted time for my daughter as well. I enjoyed every moment of it by interacting with my daughter ever since I gave

Cynthia and Evie

Brooklyn Indie Market founder Kathy Malone of Fofolle, formerly a costume designer for the Jose Limon dance and theater company, also started her handmade apparel business after the arrival of a new baby. “When my son Milo was born in 1998, I decided that the demands of the theater and dance world were incongruous with the needs of my new family.”

Kathy and Milo

Kristen Couse of Cakehouse, a textile design graduate of FIT and a former book editor, started her hand printed refashioned home accessories enterprise after she weighed out her scheduling options as a working mother.

“I feel really lucky that this independent, creative vocation that I've
chosen for myself, what I love to do, is also something that allows me such
freedom. I watch some of my friends really struggle with decisions about work
and kids. One of my friends is a city planner, and though she gets a generous
maternity leave from the city and has vacation time saved up that she could use,
she worries that if she takes too much time off, her recent promotion will be
jeopardized. Another good friend is a lawyer, and knows that if she has kids,
the only way she'll be able to continue working as a lawyer is to hire a nanny.
They both love their jobs, and love the idea of having kids and getting to be at
home with them when they're young, but because of the inflexible, family-unfriendly nature of the American corporate world, they will have to make sacrifices in both their jobs and their family life.

“Granted, there are limitations imposed on my business by the fact that
I juggle being a mom and being an entrepreneur. My son is only in school three
days a week, therefore I can really only work three days a week, so there is
only so fast I can grow. But I don't think that's entirely a bad thing---it has
allowed me to grow at a sane pace, and not get ahead of myself, and learn and
make mistakes without losing too much.”

Kristen and Wile

Being creative, entrepreneurial and an indiemommy, offers great opportunities for women to enjoy what they do while bringing up their children. I would like to hear of some good examples of indiedaddy or, perhaps, indiehubby.

-May Luk


Melissa {Metal Sugar} said...

I truly enjoyed reading this post, May! Your grandmother really would be proud!

MaryAnne LoVerme said...

Great post, May!

waisze said...

I loved this post... very well written and heartwarming too!

Lettynola said...

What a truly inspiring article. Thanks for sharing!-Letty NOLA