Biz Mama Interviews Yours Truly

Robin Ridley and her son

Parenting this adorable monster (while running a business) is a juggling act that I wouldn't trade for the world!

It was such fun to be quizzed by Biz Mama, an online hub where business-minded moms support one another and share their stories! Enjoy this brief interview, re-posted below…

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Biz Mama: Can you give our readers some background info about your business?

Robin: 
I launched Parfait Studio in 2007 with a focus on “multi-layered” concepts. Like the dessert that inspired my business name, I prefer ideas that are great at first glance and get better as you dig deeper. Prior to starting my own business, I earned my BFA in Graphic Design and spent a number of years working for small Denver design firms and building a solid client base…a perfect springboard for starting a new biz!

In addition to being a detail-oriented designer, I’m a lifelong writer who loves pairing words with images, especially when they make people pause and think. Launching a compassionate cause, product, or service into the world gives me goosebumps! For the past four years or so, I’ve specifically partnered with vegan and animal-friendly businesses to help them grow and flourish. My personal passion gradually evolved into a professional one, and I couldn’t be happier about the shift.

Biz Mama: Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

Robin: As a sole proprietor, I’m also the chief designer, wordsmith, bookkeeper, and bottle-washer at Parfait Studio. While it’s sometimes tricky to wear so many hats, I enjoy the freedom that comes with being a one-person shop. Of course, I partner with other professionals (illustrators, photographers, and web developers) whenever the need arises, and automate as many administrative tasks as possible…that frees up both time and brain power.

My clients range from national vegan brands to neighborhood dog walkers, and I provide them with everything from branding to copyediting. Projects that require a combination of writing and design are my favorites…that’s when the magic happens. 😉 Right now I’m creating a series of virtual “power tools” for vegan business owners, and my inner artist, activist, writer, designer, and marketer are all equally engaged. Full immersion is fulfilling!  [Update: The first “power tool” has since launched…check it out at whygoveg.com.]

Biz Mama: How old is your kiddo and what is he like?

Robin: I have an eight-year-old boy who spends hours at a time reading (and re-reading) graphic novels, LEGO-ing with his dad, and listening to sci-fi film scores. He and I both love a good story, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he found his own place in a creative field someday. Right now he’s positive he’ll be a video game tester when he grows up, but I’m holding out hope! This summer I’m taking a bit more time off to spend with him, and it’s a nice change of pace.

Biz Mama: Did you start your business before or after having children?

Robin: 
I took the plunge about 18 months prior to having my kiddo. Looking back, I can’t claim there was a strategy to this plan, but it worked out well. Launching a new business and living with a newborn are such all-consuming endeavors that I wouldn’t want to try them both simultaneously! As a self-employed mom, I took a generous amount of maternity leave. When I did go back to work, it was part-time only at first, and we hired a wonderful nanny who became a close family friend. I felt lucky to have this level of flexibility, as well as an incredibly supportive husband, and a loyal client base that stuck with me through four months of “down time.”

Biz Mama: How did your business life change after having children?


Robin: It changed in every conceivable way (no pun intended)! Before my son was born, I was used to having huge chunks of time in which to brainstorm and focus on my projects. I might choose to work late into the night or occasionally take the day off if I didn’t have meetings or deadlines. Once a baby crawled onto the scene, things got a lot more structured, and nailing down a stricter schedule was crucial. Every minute of the day became precious—both in my life and my work—and for that I’m grateful.

Biz Mama: Describe your typical workday.

Robin: I work from a home office, so after helping my husband and son get out the door to work/school/camp, I set the house in order (can’t work in a messy space) and eat breakfast while organizing my calendar and to-do list. Once I’m properly caffeinated (can’t function without black tea), it’s time to dive in!

I make a concerted effort to avoid the “black hole” syndrome of checking email first thing in the morning; instead I head straight for a writing project or a highly conceptual task. Even though I’m a night owl, my brain cells burn their brightest in the morning hours, so I save production tasks, email responses, and phone calls for afternoons whenever possible. Around midday, I take a half-hour walk, which helps me decompress and brainstorm new ideas…it’s my go-to productivity hack!

Some days I’m busy meeting with clients and fellow creatives, while other days I’m writing and designing in complete solitude. Since I’m an introvert at heart—one that thrives on meaningful interactions with others—this suits me just fine.

Biz Mama: What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Robin: You asked for three quick tips, right? 😉 Here you go:

{1} Carve out time for yourself! I’ve started taking mini-retreats in the mountains to hike, work on my business, and recharge my creative battery. It’s also an ideal time to tackle “side projects” that rarely receive the attention they deserve.

{2} Either your family has your full attention, or your work does; be completely focused on one or the other. This helps alleviate that “scattered and stressed-out” feeling. Plus, research shows that our brains are NOT built to multi-task!

{3} Every biz (and and every mama) is different, so take ALL advice (including mine) with a grain of salt. Experiment, be willing to shift gears, and always do what works best for you and your business!

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