Multi-talented and multi-tasking Carina Schott created the online boutique and blog Nonchalant Mom from her own need to to find great toys, clothes, and information on natural parenting, all in one place. Here she talks about how she built her professional life around her parenting and combined both within the space of her Rhode Island home
Tell us about your workspace. I work from home and have small kids. My husband works from home, too, but he has a separate painting studio. It has really been terrific. I am a big multi-tasker, so I just work when I can find the moment. The laundry is just a step away from my computer (you get the picture…). I used to run my shop out of our guest house, so it was really all here on our property and that was great — although I found myself packing boxes at midnight. Now we have a little mini warehouse offsite and I have someone who helps pack boxes. Otherwise, I do everything myself: photograph (in the living room of our house,) graphics, weekly emailers, advertising. I also had a kids’ clothing collection called NonchalantKids for awhile, but that just became over-the-top too much.
I keep my workspace simple — just a beautiful piece of old oak desktop and then some shelving. I think the best part is the window behind my computer… I can just gaze out there every once in awhile and think about how lucky I am to work from home or watch the squirrels play (sometimes even rabbits — and we had a wild turkey for awhile with babies). I am discernibly low-tech, which is funny since NonchalantMom was one of the first online children’s boutiques. I don’t like to buy new things but would rather fix old things to work for me in the way I need them. I shop in all of our junk shops in town and find many treasures, like my desk filing system made of plywood.
How and why did you establish your business? I started NonchalantMom 10 years ago in 2003. The online landscape was very different then — before Design*Sponge, before blogs, before Net-A-Porter, and even before J. Crew went online. It was the time of Amazon and Zappos and that was about it; the concept of online boutique wasn’t really “there” yet. I started with collections by friends that I already knew, and they knew me, so they understood what I was doing — they trusted that I was going to represent them in a good way. I was also certain that I wanted to include tips and information on how to raise your kids in a healthier way. This was not online yet either — hard to imagine — but I had a wealth of knowledge about macrobiotics that I knew was good for kids and that I had good wholesome solutions for raising healthy children. I was certain that my store had to include information; otherwise, there was no reason to come to me. I also wanted to educate people that buying kids clothing from small companies and small in-house production was good for the planet and a good thing for our economic system. I am still working on people in this aspect!
What about your work has changed since becoming a parent? I became a parent later in life; I had my second child when I was 40 years old (and even my first pregnancy at 36 was considered “old” at the time). I don’t think there is a right and a wrong way to go about this, but I do know that it creates two very different parents. Again, neither is better or worse, but having children later in life meant that I had already achieved a lot of the things I set out to do. When I had my children, I was in a place where I thought, “Now, how am I going to put all this to work for me and my family?” I had 25 years in the fashion industry; you name it I did it: design (my love and passion), production (love that, too), sales (not so much) and the business end of how to start a collection from scratch. That includes how to write a business plan, collect money, design a collection, make samples, produce it, market it, sell it, and then do it all over again. Mix all that in with the fact that we moved to a small beach town in Rhode Island, a bit too far to commute to New York City, and I had made a decision to open a store. Having the shop exist online is what made it work for me and my family — I can do things on my own time, and I am not sitting around in a store waiting for people to come in (that takes a different type of individual). So what has changed for me about my work since becoming a parent? I built my life around being the kind of parent who would be home for my kids. I like the little moments, the every moments. It’s also the way I was raised.
How does working from home impact your work? I can work when I want to and when I need to. My problem is that I like it so much that I really have to make an effort to turn it off sometimes. I really have to take moments and really BE with my kids, and not have my work on my mind. It’s a very conscious effort because it is so easy to get sucked back into work.
Is there a piece of home-office furniture you covet right now? My Apple computer and my yellow chairs. I also have a beautiful upholstered (Girard green) Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair by Charles and Ray Eames but somehow it ended up at my store’s warehouse. I really want it back home…
What inspires you? I grew up in Minnesota and my parents were Scandinavian immigrants; our house was modern and we had many Herman Miller pieces. It became a constant in my life, and something I need to have around me. I’m inspired by anyone who is producing something locally or creating something beautiful or healthy and delicious. I feel that this is what will make our country great again. People have to understand that — I think a huge mind shift has to happen. It’s all ready started, but it’s going to take a lot more for it to become the norm. I know I should say that my kids inspire me. And it really inspires me to think what kind of impact they can have on this world.
Visit Carina's site: NonchalantMom
(Images: Carina Schott)
Republished in partnership with Herman Miller Lifework. Originally posted by Iris Anna Regn.