I don’t know if I mentioned this here, but I have a “regular” job. When I say regular, I mean a plain old 9 to 5, doing office work at a company in midtown Manhattan. It’s a nice place to work at, but nothing special, and it’s a steady paycheck. The creation of Mama Craftista is a combination of the experience I’ve gained while working freelance part time, a solid business plan of what I want to accomplish in the next five years, and an overwhelming need to make a living by my art, completely. But my business isn’t yet where it needs to be in order for me to support myself financially. I have my goals and a timeline set, but in the meantime, office work pays the bills.
I had a conversation with a friend and co-worker the other day that got me to thinking about the duality of pursuing your desired career while working a not-so-desired job to pay the bills. She is currently studying to get her real estate license, which requires a lot of hours. Like me, she is the mother of a toddler and has a fiancé, and is constantly working to find some sort of balance between work life, personal life, and career. She said her biggest motivation is to be able to be financially independent, while making her own schedule so that she can be able to spend more time with her family. To not have to answer to anyone but herself. I can totally relate to that, and is definitely one of my motivational factors to get where I want to be with my business.
According to the Freelancer’s Union, 40% of the American workforce are independent contractors. Working independently also seems to be the preferred career path of millennials. They are less concerned with making massive amounts of money at a job they hate. Instead, more are drawn to making just enough to be comfortable, while still having happiness and personal freedom. I don’t feel like I covet the “millennial” title; I think that’s more reserved for recent college grads just entering the workforce. But I completely relate to that mentality. When I left college in 2003, I walked right into an economy that was just beginning to crumble. Although I am proud of my degree, it really hasn’t done much to land me a job in the art field. It had been a few years before I realized that creating my own opportunities made more sense for what I wanted to do. But by then, I had already had several years of administrative experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, I appreciate the things I’ve learned from the small business owners that I have worked for. But I’ve always known that I wanted more than to be just an assistant.
Fast forward to now, with years of working freelance part time, and formulating a solid business plan, I have spent many late nights and early mornings, working on new pieces to add to my store, marketing myself to get freelance work, investing any extra money I have back into my business. This is all while trying to make sure my son and my son’s father are taken care of and my house isn’t falling apart. It is an exercise in exhaustion, but I manage. My friend and I both agree that focusing on your big goal is key to get you through those 14+ hour days. I also like to see it as practice for when you are working your career full time, because although you are making your own schedule, business owners often work more hours than the people they employ. Working a day job should also be seen as a tool, not a crutch. Although it may not be what we want to do permanently, it is a providing a means to take care of yourself, and to get to your end goal of working for yourself. We also both agreed that our kids are our motivators. I want my boy to see that hard work and focus will get you where you want to be in life. I want to be able to have a flexible enough schedule to where I can spend quality time with my family. More than anything, I want to fulfill a lifelong dream. I don’t want to look back on my life a regret that I didn’t take a chance and venture out on my own, focusing less on money and more on happiness. As long as I have enough to take care of my family and myself, that’s what really matters. So as I get closer to my goal to becoming a full time artist, I will take the duality in stride. After all, that’s what life is about…finding the balance.