I started freelancing in college while finishing my Graphic Design degree. I took design jobs as side hustles while finishing school and then got a job as an in-house marketing coordinator for a hospitality corporation. During my first pregnancy, I decided to leave the workforce to stay home and added a few freelance design clients during nap times and at night. I thought this would be the most beautiful solution, working at home with my sweet little baby.
What it actually looked like was rushing my child down for naps so I could finish projects and responding to emails at 2 a.m. after FINALLY getting my daughter back to sleep only to have her wake up again right after I hit send. I would like to say that I figured out really quickly that this wasn’t a sustainable situation, but my mindset at the time was that I just needed to try harder because I clearly wasn’t working hard enough to make it work.
I tried so many of the routines suggested on the mommy and freelance sites. They were great, but my mindset still wasn’t in the right spot for me to ask for help, practice self-care and ask for enough money to make this work and because of that the advice just wasn’t sticking.
Needless to say, the whole transition was very overwhelming, so when I was pregnant with my second daughter I wanted to do things a little differently. I told my clients I was unavailable and hired a doula.
That doula was magical. Until I hired her I had never really asked for help or set a boundary with my clients. I finally trusted myself to actually be able to accomplish things and to trust my intuition. I finally started listening to my body, trusting myself and realizing that working harder was not the answer. That was all from the positive self talk my doula did with me during the pregnancy and birth.
And that’s when The Littlest Guide Shop journey began, in 2018. That’s when I realized I loved illustrating more than graphic design. I loved the idea of moving forward by changing my mindset. And I loved that I was in control of my choices more than I originally thought I was.
I set up The Littlest Guide Shop to sell hand-illustrated tools to moms that would help them make the same shift of trusting themselves and meeting their goals. The more mompreneurs I met the more we discussed the need for simplicity, self-care, and community. So, I created The Littlest Guide Tribe as an extension of The Littlest Guide Shop, where work-at-home-moms come together to share insights and participate in monthly challenges to help each other move forward in areas that are hard to do alone.
It’s coming up on one year of The Littlest Guide Shop and I’m loving every minute of it. I definitely love to see and be a part of everyone’s unique journey.
I am married to my college sweetheart, Schuyler. My daughter tells everyone that he is saving the world because he is a sustainability research expert for the state.
I have two daughters who are spunky and so much fun. My favorite days are the ones that involve me drinking lemonade and splashing in puddles with them. I love watching them sit and observe a worm for an hour or keep trying a new jump over and over until they master it. They are all about rainbows, princess Elsa and keeping each others water cups filled. They are really a joy and though the baby stage was tough for me, this new toddler and school-aged stage is so much fun!
The biggest challenge for me was giving myself space to leave freelance design behind and switch fully to The Littlest Guide Shop. It’s always scary to try something whole-heartedly because it opens the possibility for “failure”. It wasn’t until I realized the importance of failure and shame from Brene Brown and the Nobody Talks About This podcast that I was able to see how full our lives are when there is room for failure and heartbreak. That means we loved, moved forward and were vulnerable for our people, and that’s what really counts.
I get so many amazing ideas from being present with my children. I always have a notepad nearby to jot down some quick notes because they are constantly sparking my creativity. After all, playing is the key to creativity, so I think mothers have the upper hand since they get to play every day if they let themselves. Of course, I have fewer hours in the day and a lot more on my plate but it’s all something I’m proud that I’m doing. I won’t look back at this with regret.
Play every day, build meaningful relationships and know that you are enough. Community and a curious mind will always help your business grow and knowing that what you have to offer is of value will keep you going when it gets tough.
Say no to so many things that don’t directly relate to your personal mission statement. Also, when you ask for help (whether from a doula, a moms group or a family member) you are not inconveniencing them. People actually want to help you. It makes them feel good to provide the support. Moms who ask for help are the wise ones. We can’t do this alone and your child will benefit from it too.
Laura Matteson is an illustrator and owner of The Littlest Guide Shop. She knew she wanted to be an artist & a mother when she was 7 years old and she never turned back! The Littlest Guide Shop helps passionate mompreneurs use visual prompts to guide their mindsets and focus so that they can live that original dream of working from home, doing what you love, and playing with your kids without the burnout. Follow her on Instagram and sign up to access her monthly challenges and support.
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