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Meet the Crafty Mama

Vanessa Christenson, V and Co.

v and co
Who: Vanessa of V and Co also writes a lovely blog where she shares her frugal, design on a dime projects, tutorials and other eye candy inspiration.

She is a mother of four - three boys ages 5, 7, 9 and a 2.5 year old girl and if that isn't enough, she has been running a stitchery business for 7 years. With all her free time (is there any left?) she has a thing for young adult fiction. She inspires many and you are sure to fall in love with her blog and handmade items!

What lead up to starting your blog and Etsy shop?
My husband was getting ready to deploy overseas for a year January of last year, I started the blog just so he and our friends could see what we were doing on a daily basis, I was new to blogging and the whole blogging world soon I realized there were all these creative blogs out there that I got hooked. I kept writing about our life living in a small town and about my decorating, my sewing, my projects in general, and my struggles with having 4 kids and being a single mom while my husband was overseas.

As for my etsy shop people kept asking to buy things that I was making, so I opened up my etsy shop so it would be easier for me and the buyer.

What is your main source of inspiration?
Well, for beautiful ideas Martha Stewart is by far one of those that lead the show in this industry of crafts/organizing/decorating in my book. She mixes old traditions and crafts and makes up new ones as well. I think that really is the best recipe for being an inspiration.

baby hairclip holly
I also love to look at magazines of all kinds. Country Living, Pottery Barn catalogs, Warm Biscuit Co. catalog, Country name any country magazine, or any catalog out there (it can even be the Sears one!) and my mind starts working, on how I can make that, and what if I changed this? blogs are another great source.

Really anything can be inspirational, nature sometimes inspires me. I created "the holly hock" hair clips based on one day watering my garden, and thinking "I love holly hocks, I wish I could take the flower and put it in katie's hair" viola...a new idea was simmering.

What was your goal when you started out and have you reached it?
My goal with having a blog (at first) was to let my husband and close friends see our daily lives. It was a lot of personal family stuff laced with decorating and crafts. As the year progressed my blog evolved and is now basically a little peep hole of our personal lives, and an open door to my ideas in the craft/quilting world.

handmade baby pjs
As for my etsy shop: I think I didn't know what I wanted, or expected. I wanted a ton of sales right then and I started to make a LOT of stuff. Some of it not things I totally loved. I got very discouraged. I also started racing against myself. And that's not what I really want. So my new goal is to take one sale at a time. I want to put things in my shop that I would like to have in my house, or make clothes that I would put on my kids and to continue to make a little money doing what I love. And if I don't sell it well...I can always use it at my house!

What is your favorite part of your creative process from idea to completion?
Forming it in my head is REALLY exciting...but then trying it out and seeing it turn out is the best part. Sometimes it doesn't work out...and that's okay, lesson learned for future references.

When do you find the time to create?
While my husband was gone it was really late at night. Usually after the kids fell asleep till about 3 in the morning. Since he's been home I set aside time every day to work on "something" usually after the kids are off to school, beds are made and laundry is put in the washer...I give myself usually an hour to 2 a day.

What are your tips for balancing business/creativity and family?

baby room decor star
Set aside time to do your creative stuff. First and foremost the most important thing is that my children are taken care of and that my house is where they want to be. All the creative stuff isn't as important as knowing that my kids know that I love them and want them to be THE main part of my life. The creative part is all the bonus stuff in life.

As a creative person, how do you stop the clutter inducing urge of "I'll use this someday!"?'s hard...but I try real hard to use what I have. My goal is to try to dwindle down what I have (scrappy quilts are great for this!) and only buy new fabric if I set out to buy it for a particular project I have in mind. My REAL problem is that I find the best second hand sheets and I couldn't keep up with all the ones I kept finding, but now that I make rag rugs I've been going through those a lot quicker!

baby bandana skirt
What do you do to ensure that you don't burn out?
Take breaks, READ BOOKS, do other stuff. And don't make a TON of the same thing all at once. Currently I'm on a quilting break...but I was just thinking to myself...I want to make a new quilt for Katie's toddler bed...

Any future business plans?
Nope just riding the wave and enjoying it.

If you minimized your home decor down to keeping just five things, what would they be?
Well if we're talking decor stuff, I would keep my buffet I just re-did this last year (it was Jake's grandma's dresser) Katie's antique dresser that I found for $30 (and will re-do this next summer) my two armoires and a window pane I have in my bedroom. If we were talking like necessities it would definitely be our beds because I hate camping, and my sewing machine.

Thanks Vanessa! Visit her site at V and Co. and her blog and support a fellow mama and buy handmade!

To read more Crafty Mama interviews or to learn how you could be one of our featured mamas, go to our Crafty Mama section!


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