South African expat Luzelle van der Westhuizen (37), is based in London, where she lives with her husband and son Felix, who is five months old. A printmaker and illustrator, Luzelle creates bold and colourful limited-edition wall art since 2010.
Motherhood has shown her that it is possible to have it all, just not everything at the same time.
What was your biggest fear around being a mom and an entrepreneur?
How am I going to be a mom and find the time to manage my business and how it would affect my creativity.
Did you have a strategy in place for how you were going to deal with your business and a newborn in the first couple of months?
I knew that I wasn’t going to go back to hand printing my work at my studio for a while after my son was born so I stocked up on loads on new prints and my bestsellers during my pregnancy. I was very lucky to be very active with a healthy pregnancy, so I could pull off those long hours.
My son was born on 3 November, right in the middle of the Christmas shopping season, which is not something that online entrepreneurs want to miss out on. I do everything myself and I’m such a control freak that I was down at the post office sending orders five days after he was born. I was lucky to have had a birth without complications and I felt on top of the world (high on new mom hormones and adrenaline). Now I look back and think that I was a bit nuts!
One of my favourite mom bloggers Don’t Buy Her Flowers recently wrote a very good article called “Pulling up the drawbridge“. Basically you need to take those first couple of weeks and focus solely on your baby and your recovery and resist the pressure to bounce back fast. This applies to getting back to your business in good time.
How do you juggle everything?
The short answer is I don’t. I try to do as much as I can, but being a new mom is all consuming and I don’t get to do “everything”. My baby is only 5 months old, so I’m not being too hard on myself at the moment and I’m only focusing on getting the most important things done with my business like fulfilling orders, responding to customer and wholesale queries and keeping up with social media marketing. Any big plans for new things can wait for a bit while I soak up this precious time with my baby.
What’s the biggest sacrifice you have had to make?
I’m not going to go to my print studio for quite a few months. I’ll see how it goes and I’ll follow my baby’s lead. I’m going to miss having so much time to myself to be creative and do all the physical work of printmaking.
Did you have support?
I do everything with my business on my own and I live in London and my family in South Africa (I have a sister in London, which is a big help!). My husband works from home, so that is a BIG help in terms of taking quick breaks here and there to get things done.
What’s the thing about being a mom and an entrepreneur that nobody tells you about?
Something’s got to give. You will NOT have all the time in the world anymore and you will learn how to multitask and manage your time like never before.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you had a baby (specifically pertaining to business)?
You can have it all, just not all at the same time. I knew this before I was a mom, but now that my baby is here it really resonates.
What has been the most unexpected part of this journey?
How much I love motherhood. It is the hardest job, but the best job.
What has been the most rewarding part of this journey?
It is hard work to juggle everything on my own, but I feel very lucky that I’ve got my own business with flexible time. I don’t need to put my baby in a nursery to go back to a 9 to 5 job while he is still very young and needs me more than ever.
Do you still make time for yourself? How do you do it?
I try to get out as much as I can with my baby to go see a friend for a coffee or go for a long walk. Luckily there is so much to do in London and I’ve got a big group of mom friends.
How do you relax?
When (or if) my boy is asleep in the evening I enjoy a relaxing bath. I try to read a good book on my Kindle during night feeds.
What advice do you have for other women business owners thinking of having a baby?
Try to set things up as well as you can while you are pregnant (or even thinking of having a baby), so that when baby comes, you don’t have too much hard grafting to do and can just keep things rolling. Never feel guilty about ignoring your work for a while, you will get back to it in full force one day. You will never look back on this magical first year of your baby’s life and think “I should’ve answered more emails”.
What’s the most important thing you have learned about yourself in this process?
I’m pretty good with doing everything with one hand now! #multitasking.