Kate Korber, a St Kilda mother of two wonderful children, Ella and Hudson has been a primary teacher for 14 years including Deputy Principal and Head of Curriculum for the last 8 years. Wow! But on top of that she is also blogger and designer of kids prints over at Happy Ella After! We chat to her about how juggling business and motherhood and how Happy Ella After came about.
Deputy principal to blogger and designer to super mum! Tell us a little about your kids.
My daughter Ella is 4, and our son Hudson has just turned 2. Both are the only grandchildren on both sides of our family, so needless to say they are well loved (aka spoilt). Two years apart, they are best mates and are just learning the joy of playing together. With that also comes sibling rivalry. They are chalk and cheese. Different in every way. Ella is the fussiest eater on the planet but a great sleeper. Hudson eats anything and everything but to this day has only slept through the night a handful of times. That said, we feel super blessed!
What inspired you to start Happy Ella After?
When I had my daughter Ella, I was encouraged to use my passion for technology in education to document our life as a growing family. We never print photos in traditional albums any more, and I wanted to keep track of the memories we were creating. Happy Ella After was born. I shared it all, the milestones, the mayhem, the magic of motherhood. Along with sharing stories about being a mum, my ‘Ella Loves Local’ series grew out of wanting to support other local mums and their small business ventures. It has been a great way to support small, local business and share the love with other parents.
When I had my second child, Hudson, we were renovating our home. He came 6 weeks early and we were thrown into chaos as our home wasn’t ready. When we did move back in, I got the bug for decorating. I again felt that I wanted to use my mind to do something creative (aside from swimming in nappies, and breast milk), and so my print business was born. Inspired by the uniqueness of each and every little one, my NAME IT prints are created using images and words. Any image can be transformed into a personalised artwork using any text and any colour. We now have 95 base designs and do custom orders. Anything is possible!
How do you handle juggling your teaching commitments and putting enough time into your own business?
Each time I had a baby I started something to keep my creative mind busy, but each time I went back to work, I didn’t stop doing those things. It’s been really hard at times to juggle everything, and it was made ten times worse by sleep deprivation with our son. So at the end of last year I decided to step down from my deputy role, but remain head of curriculum. I work a five day fortnight, and simply love my job. It’s who I am and will always be my biggest passion. But after many late nights like other mums who run small businesses, something had to give. This year I have one full day a fortnight to dedicate to my prints whilst my kids are in daycare. I try to catch up on orders, emails, proof designs, printing etc. at other times during the week. I’ve also learned to try to say no and ask for help when things get too much. That and date night 😉
What has been the biggest learning journey in creating your own business?
Two things: the need to maintain balance, and the power of relationships. Starting a small business is all consuming. You want to harness your passion, and say yes to every opportunity, but you also need to know when to say no. You need to stop and make smart decisions and sometimes it’s hard to know what that is! I’ve also learned the power in supporting other small businesses, and getting to know like minded people. I’ve met so many other mums who are all following their passions. People who are so generous with their knowledge and experience, who will help you if you simply ask for it. It’s great to support one another and help each other grow. Networking via social media and face to face is vital, and key to growing your small business.
What is your favourite part of what you do?
Definitely seeing my work being loved in spaces and places everywhere. Whether they are big or small, young or old, there is nothing better than getting feedback from a customer who has loved your work. Especially when it’s a gift that has taken someone by surprise. Some of the stories I’ve heard have made me cry. Prints that have helped people remember loved ones who are no longer with us, celebrate milestones and achievements in life.
Do you have any funny parenting stories to give us a giggle…
It’s kind of weird, but I went into labour at the same place, in the same restaurant with both of my children. I was at my favourite restaurant with my husband and I went into labour one day early with Ella. Just as I was eating our entrée. Then, when I was 34 ½ weeks pregnant with Hudson, I was at the same restaurant having dinner with my friends. My waters broke. Weird but true!!! My friends joke that it is a sure thing to go there if you are over your due date and want to bring on labour.
Motherhood has taught me…
You may want the whole world, but when you have your baby in your arms nothing else matters. Your world goes from being so big, to being so small. Family is all that matters.
And most importantly, where can we find you?