If you want to see the profound effects that women (and mothers) supporting and encouraging each other can have, look no further than Erin Giordano. Erin had thoughts of starting of her own business but hadn’t yet taken the plunge until one day she saw another mother maker hosting a collaboration contest. The contest, run by Nicole Sloan of Drawings by Nicole, was looking for submissions for new designs that she would help turn into enamel pins. “My husband and I had talked a LOT about me starting a business from home making the enamel pins,” Erin shares. “But I am quite pessimistic, I kept telling myself it was just wishful thinking. So when Nicole posted about her collaboration contest, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. And if I won an opportunity to work with her, it would give me a little more insight into what it would take for me to start on my own. I was really encouraged by the support I received and I told myself it was now or never!”
Not only did Erin go on to win that collaboration In January 2018, it also proved to be the tipping point that officially led her to entrepreneurship. One of the things that had been holding her back was not having the right tools, but that first pin with Nicole changed all that. “I didn’t have the necessary equipment needed to start designing,” Erin explains. “For those who don’t remember or didn’t see, my design idea that I sent to Nicole was a pen/colored pencil drawing that I scanned using my mom’s computer and emailed to her. With the money I made from the sales of our pin collaboration, I was able to buy a used iPad Pro.” The other hold up she had, that I’m sure most all of us can relate to at some point, is that pesky little feeling of self doubt. “I really had to talk myself out of a negative mindset,” she says. “I tell myself ‘it’ll never work’ too often. This was one of those times that I had to push through my self-doubt.” The fact that it was joint effort to put her first design into the world gave her a bit of pause, but afterwards she decided to keep it going and start her own shop. “I was thinking ‘what if the only reason I did ok with sales is because of being associated with a bigger shop? What if the only reason they turned out so well is because I had a second person working with me on it?,’” she says. “But I dove in anyways. And so far it’s working out pretty ok!”
Prior to having children of her own, Erin got her Associates Degree in Child Development and worked as a preschool teacher for two years. “From there, I decided to try out the medical field,” she says. “I was a pharmacy technician for seven years, which is funny because I am quite ‘crunchy.’ I worked in a pharmacy full-time until I was 38 weeks pregnant with our first baby, my son Jones, and then we decided that being a stay at home mom was the best choice for our family.”
As we all know, starting a business from home with our kids is never easy (though perhaps her background as a preschool teacher gives her an edge!). Not only is Erin running her business with two children, she is doing it as a mom of two under two. “My son, Jones, is 20 months old and my daughter, Pearl, is 7 months,” she says. “They definitely keep me on my toes but I love being a mom so much. Being a mama is just as wonderful (and exhausting!) as they said it would be.”
While working with any age of children is hard, working with two babies comes with unique challenges since they can’t do anything alone. “The biggest struggle is that both of my kids are so young and need their mom SO often for SO many different reasons,” Erin explains. “My son, being an inquisitive toddler, wants to play with the pins and play with the printer and play with my packing supplies and unravel the tape dispenser. My daughter pretty much wants to nurse and be held 24/7, like most 7 month olds do. So yeah, still trying to find the best way to balance! With designing and talking to manufacturers and packing orders, right now I’m just trying to get as much done while my husband is home, while also spending enough time with him, and when the babies are asleep.” Another challenge with very young kids, she says, is that “toddlers and babies don’t understand that you just need a few minutes to get some work done. And I’m trying to find the most efficient way to pack orders. Most of the time, I pack them with Pearl in the carrier on my back and when my husband is home to play with Jones.”
One of the greatest things about social media is the connections you can make with people you may have otherwise never known existed. This is one of Erin’s favorite parts of starting her business. “With pins being so popular right now, I’ve found and gotten to talk to so many artists over the last couple months!,” she says. “Everyone is so nice and so encouraging. And it’s been awesome connecting with so many other moms running businesses.”
She may have just started her business but Erin has big plans for its future. “My goal is to really just see how far I can take this and take it to its limit, whatever that means,” she says. “My goal three months ago was to maybe do shirts one day, and now I’ve almost sold out of two designs. So now my current goal is to have a few shirt designs in rotation by the end of the year, while still adding new pins to my shop!”
As many of us know, sometimes a general lack of support can come from those around us who don’t share our vision but we can sometimes also be our own worst enemy. “So far, I haven’t had to deal with much negativity besides my own,” Erin shares. “But sometimes I’ll talk to people about what I’m doing and they seem to see this as more of a hobby, rather than a business. I’m pouring my heart into this, along with a lot of my free time. Which as other moms know, I don’t have much of. I am determined to make this work and to prove to people, and especially myself, that I CAN be successful.”
So what is Erin’s advice for other mothers looking to join the entrepreneurial ranks? “I feel like I’m still trying to figure all this out,” she says. “Surround yourself with people who cheer you on, find other moms who you can reach out to for encouragement and advice. And definitely don’t get discouraged on the bad days.”
“The encouragement I’ve gotten and the friends I’ve made is what helps me to keep going and keep putting myself out there,” says Erin. Never be afraid to reach out to someone and tell them you love what they’re doing— a little support can go a long way!
Connect with Erin:
Thank you so much for reading!
Yours in business + motherhood,