If you are a regular visitor here then the name of today’s Featured Designing Mom, Meg Ilasco, is quite a familiar and inspiring one. She is none other than my co-author to Mom,Inc. and the author/creator of the entire Inc series by Chronicle Books. Meg walks the walk in that she is a true blue entrepreneur, genuinely passionate in lending her advice and expertise to other aspiring creatives and one dedicated mama to her two children Lauryn and Miles. She’s also pretty funny as you’ll see below. I for one can personally attest to the many laugh outloud fests we’ve had over our lunch meets and hangouts …
Tell us how you got started…were you entrepreneurial as a child?
I’ve heard that being called “bossy” as a child can be a sign of entrepreneurial or leadership abilities. In the 3rd grade, I started a club. I instantly appointed myself as president and doled out other positions to my friends based on what I thought they would be good at. It wasn’t a very democratic process and one of my friends yelled, “You’re bossy!” and walked away. That was the first and last day of the “Fun Club.”
But my first official business was a wedding invitation company I started in 1999. At the time, I was working full-time at a market research firm, but I designed wedding invitations for friends on the side. It was just something I did for fun. The following year I started architecture grad school and continued to do the invitations on a part-time basis. Everything changed when I placed a small ad in Martha Stewart Weddings in 2001. I was inundated with orders and I had to choose between finishing school or pursuing the business. I’m sure you know which one I picked!
You’re an author of multiple books, creative director/co-founder for Anthology… How do you motivate yourself to stay on task, meet deadlines and leave room for your children?
Unless I have a pressing deadline, I try to keep the evenings and weekends for family-centered activities—that basically means staying off the computer as much as possible when they’re around. It often means I’m up late at night working while the kids are sleeping. There used to be a time when I could remember my deadlines and commitments in my head, now I rely very heavily on my calendar to tell me what to do and what’s due.
What are some of your favorite highlights from the Mom,Inc. book?
One of my favorite parts from Mom, Inc. is “What to Expect at Different Ages” in Chapter 1. It basically talks about what to expect when you’re expecting a baby and you have a business. It’s something I wish I knew when I had my first baby and was juggling a new business. I remember constantly wondering: will it get better now? Or now? Or what about now? Of course, everyone’s child and situation will be different, but having just a little idea of what to expect can be so reassuring. Another favorite is the “Finding Balance” section in Chapter 7. It’s an important one to read and re-read. It helps to get reminders that taking care of yourself and giving yourself “me time” is important for you, your family, and your business.
Tell me what a typical day-in-your-life is like
Gosh, every day is different! But on a typical workday, I work at home from 9:30 to 3:00. Work could mean anything from answering emails and doing a phone conference to editing books to designing magazine layouts. After 3:00, I shuttle my kids to their various activities. Some days though, I have to travel to shoots, attend meetings, visit artist studios, or look for props around town–these are the days that I can’t pick up the kids and I have to make arrangements so that they can get to their activities. Conversely, there are days when I have to be at my kid’s school all day or when the kids are sick and I have to put my work activities on hold. When you’re a parent and a business owner, you just have to be ready to roll with it. Every day brings a new set of challenges, tasks, and commitments and you just have to do the best you can.
You one-upped the lemonade stand when I saw the Renegade booth that your daughter Lauryn and her friend ran this past holiday. What advice do you have to parents in supporting their children’s creative interests?
My parents had very traditional ideas about careers. I grew up in a household where there wasn’t any encouragement for anything I found interesting–and that motivated me actually, to prove that there was value in pursuing my varied interests. Sometimes encouragement isn’t always a good thing.
And that experience affects how I raise my kids and support their interests. I try to let them make discoveries on their own instead of telling them what they should do. I try not to be overly encouraging and let them find their own motivation—that is, I don’t give high fives for everything they do. Instead, I ask them if they are pleased with their work or what they would change instead. Now that my kids are older, I think they’re better at assessing their actions, motivating themselves, and giving value to their work. I also try to remind myself that even if my kids are good at something, it doesn’t mean they will be passionate about it. Basically, I try to support them without being overly pushy or overly encouraging–which ends up being a test of restraint on my end if anything!