Mother Run: Anne Harrigan of Treehouse Restored

Mother Run: Anne Harrigan of Treehouse Restored

The business minded family (who are high school sweethearts!) and their almost 2 year old daughter.

The business minded family (who are high school sweethearts!) and their almost 2 year old daughter.

    After her daughter was born in 2016, Anne Harrigan joined the estimated 10-20% of new mothers who suffer from postpartum depression.  “I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me,” she explains, “I just thought I was broken.”  She turned to the one thing she knew, her religion.  “I love to spend time with Jesus,” she says.  “I always imagine myself in a treehouse in the middle of nowhere when we’re talking.  I don’t know why, but that’s what I envision.  Anyway, over the course of 9 months, I felt like that treehouse was slowly destroyed.  My peace was gone, and I couldn’t get out of this metaphorical hole.  I could feel myself drowning and couldn’t figure out how to make things better.  Once I finally realized what I was dealing with, I asked Jesus to free me from it and He did right in that very moment!  And as I continued to recover and regain my confidence in who I was, the Lord showed me a picture of my treehouse being rebuilt--even stronger and more peaceful than before!  So, I decided to name my shop Treehouse Restored to remind myself, and to share with anyone who asks, that Jesus can rebuild anyones ‘treehouse.’  Doesn’t matter if it was destroyed by yourself, someone else, or circumstances.”

    With such a strong foundation, Treehouse Restored was born.  After having an Etsy shop years ago that didn’t pan out, Anne reopened and rebranded her shop as it is today in early 2017.  “After being freed from depression, I realized that it was important to do something for myself every single day,” she says.  “I already had some basic sewing knowledge, but I wanted to get better.  I decided that I would try to make my daughter some clothes and I actually ended up REALLY liking it!  So I figured if I was going to make my daughter’s clothes, then other people might want to buy what I’m making!”  

Anne's daughter modeling the Sassy Shirt!

Anne's daughter modeling the Sassy Shirt!

    Before the creation of Treehouse Restored and the birth of her daughter, Anne worked as a sign language interpreter.  “I enjoyed being in that field,” she says.  “I specialized in Deaf-Blind Interpreting, some people refer to it as tactile interpreting.  My dream has always been to be a stay-at-home mom, though, so when I got pregnant, I knew I would be leaving my field and venturing into something new.  I just wasn’t sure what it was at the time!”  When it did finally come time for her to start her business, “I totally dove in without a clue of what I was doing,” she says.  She had some experience from running her own interpreter business, but says “I feel like retail is a completely different ballgame!”  Like most of us, she struggled a bit with some of the business aspects in the beginning, including pricing and advertising.  “I felt bad asking people to pay for my time and my skills, but I’ve really come to realize the value of my time and find confidence in my skills, so my shop is starting to reflect that.  I still struggle with advertising, since I don’t like paying to get my name out there, but it’s a work in progress!  I feel like I’ve made leaps and bounds since I started, but I still feel like I have a long way to go!”

    As previously mentioned, Anne had some basic sewing knowledge to found her business on.  “My mom sewed a lot in my childhood,” she recalls, “but I definitely am self-taught in most things sewing related.  A lot of trial and error!  My business kind of developed out of me practicing my skills and then trying to sell what I felt like was quality work.”  One of the things she loves about homemade clothing is it’s distinctness.  “I just love making new and varied things,” she says.  “My shop has very limited supply of the products I make and I think that’s reflective of my desire for people to be able to say they have a truly unique item that I made.  The problem I have with a lot of ready to wear clothing is that there could be thousands of other people who bought that exact same article of clothing, so it’s not really that special.  Having a limited number of my products available allows your purchase to be truly unique and special!”

Warm and soft car seat ponchos offer a safe alternative to a winter coat!

Warm and soft car seat ponchos offer a safe alternative to a winter coat!

    If you think opening a business is a challenge in itself, try doing it with a one year old, which is exactly what Anne did!  Luckily, her daughter is “actually really chill,” says Anne.  “She entertains herself well and loves to play so it makes it easy to get in some sewing here and there.”  That’s not to say that it’s without its struggles, however.  “I find that the thing I struggle with the most is having to advocate for myself often to other people,” she explains.  “A lot of people think that I do this because it’s fun and therefore not super important.  But the fact is that I need this time to do things for myself.  It keeps my mind active and also gives me an outlet to do adult things without having to leave my child to do it.  It’s empowering to know what you need and then fight for that!  I find time to sew at nap time, early in the morning, and many times while my child is watching a movie!”  The other main struggle with balancing the two has been organization, something I’m sure a lot of us can relate with!  “I find that I tend to start off really well with my organizational skills, but then things get busy and that’s the first thing to go.  Honestly, I still struggle with it, so I can’t say I’ve overcome it, but I try to take time every few weeks to regroup.”

Anne modeling a shirt she made for herself for a special 10 year anniversary trip to Ireland!

Anne modeling a shirt she made for herself for a special 10 year anniversary trip to Ireland!

    In addition to balancing her shop with being a stay-at-home mother, Anne’s family also gets involved in Treehouse Restored.  “My husband owns a barbershop and has tremendous talent for business, so I ask him about pricing, advertising, and even ideas for the future,” she says.  “He’s super creative as well, so it helps to have his input!  My daughter helps by modeling just about everything I make.”  Their current business endeavors are even paving the way for a future dream of theirs, to own a coffee business that focuses on “partnering with growers, roasters and distributors, and helping people around the world become independent business owners and gain financial freedom!”  

    As small business owners, it can often be hard to see ourselves as entrepreneurs or to receive support in what we are doing.  Like so many of us, Anne has also dealt with people doubting her business and her success.  “I have learned over the years that I can’t force someone to learn something they don’t want to learn.  So, I have learned to be confident in the things that I do and seek value in who I am and not what I do,” she says.  “So when others try to tell me that sewing is “stupid” and that I’m crazy for thinking I could be successful as a mom with young children, I can confidently smile at them and say ‘ok,’ because I know that I’m doing things that a lot of other people are scared to do!  So if any mother runners out there are discouraged, remember that if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!  It’s not!  And you chose to push forward when most people quit!  That already makes you amazing!  So don’t let others try to discourage you when they can’t see your vision!”  The people that do offer support instead of doubt are the ones that help her persevere through those particularly hard and challenging days.  “I have a lot of people who believe in me and want me to accomplish my dream!  Also, remembering that I am living my dream right now (being a mom) really helps put things into perspective.  I waited a long time to become a mom and I am thankful every. single. day. for that gift!”

    It’s also her dream, she says, “to inspire other mothers into fulfilling their dreams!  The dream doesn’t have to be business related, I just want women to know that they have value and an irreplaceable role in society and the community around them!  So if you are out there wondering if you are good enough, the answer is YES!!  Now go live your dream and find others who want to cheer you along in it!  You can do it!”

    If that didn’t seem like advice enough, Anne has this to leave us with: “Build a community around you that supports what you’re doing!  Get CONNECTED!  You can’t do this alone and there are plenty of people out there who want to help you fulfil your dream; whether that’s through purchasing your products, giving you encouragement, or promoting what you’re about!  You can do this!!  And let let others use their giftings to help you excel to the next level!”  

Connect with Anne

Thank you so much for reading!

Yours in business and motherhood,

Brittany

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