Taking a break from the Kitchen focus this month to share one of my all time favorite creatives, Mandy from Milk & Honey Tees. I own 5 of her gorgeous tees (one of each of these for the boys, this, this, and my absolute favorite- this one!) so you could almost call me obsessed. Her hand printed tees are crazy soft, have a great message, AND help to give back to people in need. Amazing, right? Mandy does all of this and runs her shop out of her home and it has been so neat to watch how God has taken her business and grown it like crazy in the last year. She is such a great encouragement to me for being obedient and faithful in the dreams God gives us.
With a booming business and absolutely gorgeous products, it would be easy to get caught up in the desire to grow and grow and create loose boundaries in the meantime. But Mandy sets a great example for doing what she loves while still protecting her time as a mom and wife. So unlike many hustling business, she shuts down her Etsy shop each weekend to focus on the other good parts of her life. I love that!
I sort of feel a comraderie with Mandy. As a mom of little boys and with a milestone birthday coming up this year (35 for her, 30 for me), and a heart for making a difference- I think we would be friends if Arkansas and Indiana were a bit closer! Her answer to number is SO good for us all to hear and remember. "God is in control, that He doesn't waste a single thing, and to enjoy every season." YES. He doesn't waste a single thing, even the hard or boring or confusing things we think we could do without!
1. Give us your elevator speech. What's your go-to way to introduce yourself?
I'm a wife, a mom to 3 young boys, and an accidental business owner. I started my t-shirt busines, Milk and Honey Tees, on a whim almost 4 years ago and have watched God grow it slowly but surely every since. I work out of a little bitty office behind my kitchen, but somehow I manage to design, print, and ship all Milk and Honey products in this space. My life is a whirlwind of baseball games, dirty dishes, and light saber fights mixed in with running and marketing my little business.
2. What has surprised you the most about having your own creative business?
I've been surprised by just about everything God has done with this business! With my husband's encouragement, I started this whole thing without much planning at all. I thought it would just be a way to enjoy a hobby while earning a little pocket change to fund my fountain Diet Coke addiction, but it has grown into so much more! I never knew I would learn so much about business and marketing (which I actually did for a living before kids), that I would enjoy designing and creating as much as I do, OR that God would ask me and equip me to use my knowledge and talents to bless others. We have been able to raise awareness and donate money to so many worthy kingdom causes through Milk and Honey; and in a few short months I am traveling to Rwanda to visit & serve women who are learning a trade so they can get jobs to support their families, or even start businesses themselves. If you had told me any of that when Milk and Honey started in August 2012, I don't think I would have believed you!
3. What is one thing you say 'no' to (or hire out!) in order to say 'yes' to better things?
I have learned to say no to a lot of things, and to get help wherever I need it! I have help cleaning my house and even folding my laundry some weeks. I also recently started hiring out help for some of the most draining and time-consuming parts of my work. As a recovering control freak, this was HUGE for me--it's easy for me to allow myself to get completely overwhelmed because I'm afraid to ask for help or to let go of control. As far as my business, one the main things I say no to is plugged-in weekends. Several month ago I started signing off of Instagram on the weekends and also completely closing the online shop every weekend. This is pretty against the grain for a small business, but shutting down the shop and signing off of social media helps me to say yes to the BEST things--time with my family, and rest!
4. What would you tell your 10 year younger self?
Wow, 10 years ago I was a young wife preparing to temporarily move away to a far-away state because my husband had just decided to pursue yet another degree after graduating law school. We had been married for 3 years (baby bride over here) and he had been in school our entire marriage. Our married friends were buying houses and some were starting families, and I just remember being SO ready to get on with life. I was working at a job I didn't love and all I wanted was to have babies and be a stay-at-home mom. , I would like to remind that little 20-something wife that God is in control, that He doesn't waste a single thing, and to enjoy every season. My life now is more than I could have asked or imagined during those newlywed years, and looking back I can see so clearly how every experience I had and every season I went through has prepared me for where I am now. And I know that where I am now is preparing me for whatever He has for me in the future! I'm turning 35 in a few months, which for some reason feels like a milestone to me, and I feel like I am just finally learning some of these lessons. There are so many times that it is tempting to look ahead and wish for the next season, but I am learning to enjoy where He has me right now.
5. If you could only make or have one piece of art in your home, what would it be?
Definitely photos of my sweet boys! I'm fortunate to know several photographers who are just incredible artists, and I am always so amazed at the images they capture of my kids. I love filling my walls with their beautiful photos!
Thank you thank you THANK YOU, Mandy! I love your tees and am so thankful you joined in the series.
Hear more from Mandy::
ps. need a cute gift idea? We LOVE these cute tees and always get compliments from strangers when the boys wear them!