The short version:
- Business—better than before.
- Business owner/moms—awesome.
When my baby was a wee 12 days old, I stood at the head of a conference table pitching a hot new client. When Amy's baby was just 19 days old, Amy designed eight fresh logo concepts with one hand while rocking the bouncy seat with the other.
I'll admit it; I'm about to boast. Because you know what? We beat out three other (very good) agencies in town for that hot new client, and I'll bet none of them had recently pushed eight pounds of joy out of their bodies, were trying to master nursing, and hoping to get two consecutive hours of sleep in between crying jags. Twelve days, people! And in the year since, Amy has led the redesign of the client's phenomenal magazine, as well as produced a host of very charming promotional pieces for some of their events.
In the end, Amy and I each got one week work-free. If we hadn't given birth six days apart, there might have been more for each gal. But babies—they're not so good about schedules. In truth, I am not quite sure how it worked. For the first time in the history of the agency, jobs came in and went out with hardly a glance from Amy or I. Our designers were very careful to take dubious notes when a client called, and report everything to us at the end of the day. Amy and I were able to attend to critical tasks with a bit of flexibility. We played a lot of hot potato to get the work done—Amy would handle a deadline for one of my clients if that worked for everyone's schedule, and vice versa. We got together once a week, babies in tow, for production planning and meetings. And both babies spent their share of time sleeping at the office in the early weeks.
This thing is, I don't think we could have done it any other way. The hot new client and the logo client couldn't wait for us to take a 12-week break. They simply would have chosen another designer. And in a small business, manpower is too critical to success. But let me tell you: the fact that we not only retained all of our wonderful clients, but we won new clients and made them happy speaks volumes about our ability to get 'er done. Being a small-business owner and a parent lends a whole new meaning to the word "juggle."
I think it has made us better at what we do. Of course, any time you add a new element to your lexicon it opens up a new creative avenue for your brain to explore. (This is why hobbies are good things.) In the post-baby year, we've had to work faster, make quicker decisions, and make shrewder choices. And for any small business, isn't that the point?
In the end, it was a win. Two new charming humans, increased profits. Although, I don't think I'm ready for it again anytime soon.
Meet the humans:
- Amy holding Nola, Jen holding Spencer
- Spencer Thomas, born January 17, 2008
- Nola Sunshine, born January 23, 2008
Photos courtesy Thomas Gennara Photography