Happy MOM FRIEND MONDAY everyone! I know the weekend is over but that means you get to hang out with me and meet an amazing new mama! So pour yourself a cup of your favorite morning wake up – mine is currently all gone, it’s rather tragic – and let’s chit chat!
This week we have Jessica Birak of Mint & Birch! For many she needs no introduction, as she has quite the following, but for others, she is an amazing mama of three, and the creator behind the Forever Mama bar necklace!
MB: Hey Jessica! I’m so excited to have you joining us for Mom Friend Monday! We haven’t met in person – just the occasional insta-stalking on my part, lol, but I’m really excited to get to know you more and to give your old and new fans the same opportunity!
You have turned a hobby into a very successful business! What led you to taking that next step, hobby to business? Was it something you had always aspired to achieve?
Jessica: When I turned my hobby into a business, it was simply to make pretty things for my friends. I wanted to make pretty things to celebrate them and make them feel loved! Long story short, over the last few years, I’ve been asked to make thousands of pieces to celebrate stories. I’ve been so inspired by my customers who leave notes about their stories and ask me to make something to celebrate their story. Through them, I’ve been inspired to embrace my own story, because it is one that is full of heartbreak (another long story, for another day if you’d like!). There is so much power in sharing your story, no matter where you have been or where you are, or where you are going. I’m probably going on a tangent here, but I guess to answer the question: I never intended for my hobby to become such a business! It wasn’t something I planned on doing, as I had plans to go back to school to get my graduate degree! However, I wouldn’t change it for the world because I think that celebrating and telling your story is so important! I feel so honoured to be able to do what I love, but also be able to support my family with it!
MB: I love how it started from such humble means, just wanting to make something pretty to celebrate your friends! Clearly it was meant to be with the way it took off! And I’d love to hear your full story, so we might have to have another virtual coffee date!
Being a mom is a fulltime job in and of itself, how do you find the balance between being present to your family while producing the high quality level of product you’re known for? (For those that don’t know – Jessica hand makes all of her pieces herself!!)
Jessica: Balance… I wrote a blog post on Balance on my blog. (Yes! I have a blog too, but it’s not very active!) It’s here: Mint & Birch Blog – Balance//Like an Ocean
The million dollar question. If someone has a cloning machine, I’d love to clone myself. Haha, in all seriousness, I think that this elusive “balance” is not always achievable. Balance is like an ocean. It changes with the wind, with weather and the moon also pulls on it to create tidal patterns. The needs of my kids are always changing, and at the needs of my business is always going to be changing. I think that the #1 thing I tell myself is that it’s OK if I can’t find a stable, constant balance. I wish I had the answer to this question, but I think that the fact that needs are always changing means that I’ll always have to keep adapting. For example sometimes my kids will need more from me than other days, and I’ll just have to stay up a little later that day! One thing that helps me with my ever-changing balance is to be intentional with what I do, no matter how small the task. I aim to get my bang out of my buck when I sit down to do a task. If I’m sitting down to do an email, I’ll make sure that I find or carve out time to concentrate on it fully, even if it’s only 10 minutes at a time. Another thing I try to do is be intentional with the time I spend on my phone. I have a habit of scrolling aimlessly before I go to sleep, and I’m trying to cut down that time from 2 hours to about 20 minutes at night. Most importantly, in this crazy life, balance is like an ocean, so I know that I have to find my anchors to keep me steady. I try to keep my values close to my heart everyday, so that I can ask myself if what I am doing, is in line with my values. I have outlined a few things that are close to my heart, and are important values for me, and I operate and create balance around those values. For example, I value my work and I don’t want to outsource my work…so in order to find balance, I’ve had to open/close shop to take orders. It was an incredibly difficult decision, but in order to stay true to those values, I had to do that. To find balance, I find my values, write them on my heart, and make decisions to honour those values. (But seriously, finding balance is like finding a unicorn!)
MB: It is a total unicorn! I still haven’t found it – I should probably keep looking since baby 3 is almost here.
I feel as though a lot of mamas have secret passions or hobbies that they’d love to take to that next level – was it hard to go from passion to profession? How did you do it? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Jessica: I get my inspiration from my friends and customers. Before I had my business, I would have wished my whole story away. I grew up in a broken and abusive home and suffered from depression and anxiety. I would have wished all of it away, but as I dove into custom jewelry making, my customers would tell me their stories and I was struck by the beauty in their stories. It inspired me to look at my own story, and to embrace my own story. There is so much power in telling your story because you never know who it might touch. Each of our stories have intrinsic value, and it is a part of who we are. I get my inspiration from my customers and friends who ask me to celebrate their stories!
MB: I love how each piece then is truly custom-made, with a special intention behind it! Also the way you’ve, in a positive sense, allowed your business to transform you. Allowing you to further embrace your own story, because like you said, you never know who it might touch.
Everyone is dying to know, what is in your morning cup?! Coffee, tea, cocktail?! lol
Jessica: My go to drink is a half-sweet caramel macchiato with coconut milk with whipped cream! And of course, it’s gotta be the venti size!
MB: Oh girl yes! I may have to try that! Carmel Macchiato is my go to and the addition of coconut milk sounds amazing!
If you could plan your ultimate mom friend getaway where would you go and what would you do?
Jessica: Ooooh… this is a tough one. I’m sort of a homey, laid back kinda gal, and I love conversations with close ones. I would plan a getaway weekend to Whistler, with no specific plans other than spa dates and hanging out by the fire with some hot chocolate.
MB: That sounds lovely! As excited as I am for summer days – cuddling up by a fire, after a spa day, sipping hot chocolate, and hanging out with good friends, sounds PERFECT!
So lastly, if you could impart some mom wisdom on our readers, what would it be?
Jessica: You have worth. Your story is your gold. You are enough. Our kids need to see that we love ourselves, and that we love our own stories enough to celebrate them. Each one of us have different stories, but the one thing we have in common is that in motherhood, we can often forget to stop and love ourselves. Fill your cup with things that make your heart feel good. I gave away 300+ gifts in March for Mother’s Day with orders because I know that this is something that as moms, we can forget. We are so busy taking care of our little ones that we often forget to stop and pat ourselves on the back. The work that we do as mamas, is not always measurable. (Who counts how many diapers we changed, how many boo-boos we kissed, and how many fights we’ve broken up between siblings?) Society places so much value on things that are measurable and tangible. The work that we do as mamas, whether you’re a WAHM (work at home mom), SAHM (stay at home mom), or whatever it is, our work is often not measured or quantified. As a result, it’s so easy to feel under appreciated. But mamas, the work that we do is immeasurable because it is so valuable. How can you even quantify a mother’s love? I would encourage every mama to love on themselves, celebrate their stories, and pat themselves on the back. Give yourself the space and grace that you need.
MB: Oh what amazing wisdom! It’s so true! So many times I feel as though I’m not contributing because I cannot measure what I do. This is a much-needed reminder! Thank you! I’m sure many mamas out there needed to hear that this Monday morning! Jessica it was so much fun getting to know you! You are such an inspiration! You’re down to earth and real! You are great example to other mamas that you can be a success without losing who you are!
Jessica: Thank you so much for having me on your blog! This little business of mine isn’t simply a jewelry making business. I just love connecting with other women and I love hearing their stories!
Y’all! How great was she?! Her pieces are so incredibly beautiful and they only mimic the beauty she herself exudes! And that mom wisdom! Yes! I so needed to read that this morning! We are more than measured values! We mamas and what we do is immeasurable!
Now a quick explanation as to how Jessica’s shop works. She has specific dates when pieces “re-open” and she will state that on her website under the product. I’m currently eye drooling over the little rainbow disc charm, which would be perfect for our rainbow baby. However, be sure to set your alarm for the date so you don’t miss out before it closes!
Now go follow Jessica on ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA!!!