Five years ago, Kara Green moved to Portland, Oregon, with her husband and a dream to open a shop of her own. A former apparel designer and mom of two, Kara waited until her little ones had a little independence before mapping out her business plan and opening her shop, Field Trip. Today, she balances staying home with the kids and working at the shop, which carries handmade items from small makers from around the US.
For the next interview in this series on mothers who are finding balance in their lives, Kara shared her thoughts on knowing when to start a business, on balancing business and motherhood and on what self care means to her. Read on to learn more about her path to owning her shop and more.
Why did you decide to become a mom? Was it a hard or easy decision?
I always knew I wanted kids so the only decisions for us were if and when. You never know exactly what will be in the cards when you decide to have kids. My husband was on the same page and once we entered our 30s we both really felt ready.
At what point after you became a mom did you decide to start building your own business?
I’ve always wanted to own a shop. I worked as an apparel designer for more than a decade in NYC and had always dreamed of owning my own place. It’s always been on the back burner, especially when I had babies because I knew I wanted to be with them full time the first few years of their life. Once my little one had a tiny bit more independence, I felt like it was time to dive into the business. I started a business plan before having kids so went back to that and took 6 months to finish it and start looking for a space.
Why did you decide to make the leap rather than stay home with your kids full time or go work for someone else?
I decided that I’d hire someone to be at the shop during the week so I could continue to be home with them full time. Then I’m at the shops on weekends when my husband can be with our kids.
One of the many benefits of having your own business is being able to make any schedule and going back full time for someone else and not being around wasn’t an option for me. It wasn't an option for me personally to put the kids in full time care. So we have made it a priority for me to be home with them and have adjusted our lifestyle accordingly.
What drives you to continue giving to your business, even when it’s hard?
I really love owning a store and the community that I have created and continue to grow. It is really fulfilling for me to be living out this dream. In other words, I am motivated by love.
What challenges did you face – real or self-imposed – when you decided you wanted to be a mom AND a woman doing inspiring work in the world?
The biggest challenge is not having much time as a family. We have dinners together and sometimes early adventures on the weekends before I open the shop but we don't get enough time all together and I’m hoping that will change as my kids start more school and more hours open up for me to work during the week.
How did you overcome those challenges?
It is still a work in progress. I knew going into this that it would be hard the first 2 years and certain sacrifices would have to be made. We are all on board, even the kids, so it makes it easier to let go a bit and see how things evolve.
What strategies do you use or what habits do you practice to make space and time to define yourself outside of motherhood through your work or otherwise?
Besides parenting and working, I really need to make time for self care otherwise I’m a mess. I get to yoga a few days a week and meditate at night. I’m one of those people that has read every meditation and self-help book on the market investigating the hows and whys and whats of our lives. These books always give me new tips and strategies and new ways to look at situations to keep me going.
What advice do you have for moms who want to start prioritizing themselves and exploring a creative calling or business of their own but don’t know where to start?
I say do it! One step at a time leads to big leaps. I felt really overwhelmed when I tried to create an entire business from start to finish in my mind. But once I started doing little things each day – like writing the first part of my business plan, meeting with people who do what I want to do, etc. – things started to fall into place slowly. Suddenly I was like, wow I'm doing this!
Let’s talk about balance. Is it possible? And if so, how have you created a better balance in your life?
For me, yes it is possible. If I plan my week out, I realize I can really fit a lot in. On my 3 hour breaks in the morning when the kids are at preschool, I can get to yoga and run a few errands. I can bring the kids to the shop in the afternoon if I need to check in and then we can go play for a few hours. We always have dinner as a family and play before the four of us read books together and get to bed. My husband and I watch (bad) reality shows or read and meditate before bed.
How do you define self care? What does it look like in your day-to-day life and why is it important for you?
I’m working on self care every day. Some weeks I am great at prioritizing yoga and meditation and the things that make me feel my best but I also have weeks where I’m overtired and rundown and instead taking power naps and eating too much chocolate. I am learning self care also means being ok with these ups and downs and being kind to yourself through them.
If you could change one thing about the way our culture approaches motherhood, what would it be?
It can feel overwhelming with all the information at our hands. What our kids should eat, their screen time, sleep, chemicals in products and on and on. Just when you think you're doing things right, there's another article about something else you're doing wrong. I have to remind myself that we are doing the best we can and our kids are going to be just fine.
Where can we find you and connect with you online?
Feel free to follow my shop on Instagram and Facebook @shopfieldtrip. And you can check out our website journal for more personal happenings at www.shop-fieldtrip.com.
P.S. THE WOMEN IN MY PRIVATE FACEBOOK COMMUNITY, YOUR BOLD, BALANCED LIFE, ARE HAVING POWERFUL CONVERSATIONS LIKE THIS ONE ABOUT WHAT IT TAKES TO FIND A BETTER BALANCE BETWEEN GIVING TO YOUR FAMILY, GIVING TO YOUR CAREER AND GIVING TO YOURSELF. IF YOU HAVEN'T CHECKED OUT THE GROUP YET, I WANT TO PERSONALLY INVITE YOU TO JOIN US BY CLICKING HERE.