Michelle is an incredible mom of two young boys, she runs a full time handmade soap shop AND an Osborne Book store! She literally juggles so much, it was an honor to interview her for this #WCW series!
Just a little background – Michelle and I met a VERY long time ago (roughly about 8 years). We worked closely, until she had her first son and became a stay at home mom. Even not working together, we’ve stayed close throughout the years and she truly is such an inspiration!
So let’s get started!
OK first tell me a bit about your businesses and what your day to day looks like?
My average day… I get up and get my 7 year old ready for school and then pile him and his brother in the car and pick up my niece and nephew and literally take everyone to school (my nephew calls it the Titi school bus lol). Then I come home and feed breakfast to my 2 yr old and work on cleaning up the house… dishes, laundry, tidy the living rooms etc, by then it’s lunch time. Feed the tiny monster (that’s what I call my 2 yr old)… then take the dog for a walk. I get a mini break for myself for about an hour. Which usually ends up with me playing with superheroes with tiny monster. Then time to pick up little man from school. (FYI- car lines to pickup kids is so super long… I end up reading while I wait! #mommywin) Then back home where I quickly put tiny monster for a nap and do homework with little man for about an hour. Then I have about an hour or so to work on one of my two businesses for a while. Then I cook dinner (which is a fear in itself because I’m not an awesome cook). Then kids get a bath and put them both to bed. And then it’s me time! I usually make soap at night for my soap business. In between soap making I watch mindless TV with my husband on the couch. Sometimes I’m a night owl making soap till midnight and some nights I forgo the soap making to just spend quality time with my husband. Then I start it all again the next day lol! But I love it all!
That’s really a LOT of work. Tell me more about your soap business? When did you get started? What inspired you to start making soap?
I’ve been making soap for about a year now. I was working full time at UO until last July and knew I needed something to keep my mind busy. I’ve always done random crafting and one day I saw a fun craft about putting items into soap. My older son and I decided to put one of his little toys inside it and it turned out really cute. Then I put a shell in one for my mom. She loved it so much she asked me to make some for her friends. Then she suggested I try selling them. Then I just kind of got addicted. Now I make mainly children’s soaps with fun toys inside that kids can’t get out without washing their bodies. So it’s kind of a win win… kids get a toy and parents get clean children lol!
So what’s the future look like for you? Where do you see yourself going next?
I kind of live in the here and now. I don’t look ahead too much. I always think about my kids first. So the future hopefully holds two healthy kids that are smart and strong boys. My lifelong dream has always been to be a good mom, as corny as that sounds. Will I still be selling soaps and books in 5 yrs? I don’t know. I’ll just have to see where life takes me. It’s all an adventure right?
You always seem so calm and collected. Even though you are balancing all of this. What’s your secret?
Haha you are funny and too sweet. I’m not always calm and collected I promise. In fact I have an anxiety disorder that I developed with postpartum depression after having my second son. But it’s under control for the most part now. I think I always just seem in control because I’m really a carefree person. Not a long of things bother me. I have no grievances with anyone… I don’t hold grudges… and I try to be kind to everyone. Life is so so SO short and it’s just not worth wasting even a second of it on anything but kindness and positivity. That totally sounds like a hallmark card or a yoga instructors mantra lol
That’s truly incredible though. I’ve actually known a lot of women that suffer or have suffered through Postpartum Depression. It must have been terribly difficult for you to go through. Would you mind telling us more about it? (In the hopes of maybe reaching other women out there, that could use some words of hope)
Ok so I developed postpartum depression and anxiety after having my second son. It was wild. I was so in love at first with him. And then it’s like someone turned a switch off. The sleepless nights got to me and there was just no bond. I tried to ignore it and pretend like everything was fine. But not long after going back to work I had a full blown panic attack (at work) that sent me to the ER. And I knew something was wrong and I couldn’t deny it anymore. My life wasn’t mine anymore. I wasn’t happy. So I finally went to the dr and found out I had postpartum depression and anxiety along with a slight case of OCD. But I got help. I went to a therapist and was put on some medication and it’s like a got my life back. Someone flipped the switch back to the ON position and everything was good again. If I could tell someone suffering from PPD one thing it’s that you’re not alone and you can get help. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In this crazy world where too many mom’s judge each other, let me tell you… get help! Talk to someone. And don’t be afraid to take medication. So many people have this stigma that medication is a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be. Just be educated about it. Ok so that was more than one thing lol! But you get it! It was a hurdle in my life but just like any other hurdle, I found a way to get over it. But I couldn’t have done it though without my amazing husband. He never gets enough credit. I put him through hell when my son was born and he took the brute of it and was patient and loving every second of the way. I don’t know what I would’ve done without him.
That’s truly incredible, thank you for sharing this with the readers. I’m sure it will reach someone, who will truly need the help too. I know it can be really hard to talk about. A lot of people don’t understand how painful Postpartum can be.
Let’s dive in a bit deeper. How do you handle leading a healthy lifestyle while balancing work and your kids? Do you have special meals you prep or activities you do to keep active?
Well this is something I struggle with honestly. Eating right and exercising is hard as mom. I feel like my kids are healthier than me lol. But I’ve learned better habits. It does help that I cook every night. We used to eat out a lot, and I don’t want to say we don’t ever eat out but it’s definitely less frequent. As for exercise it’s always been a battle for me. I don’t love it. I’ve done a lot of things in the past that I liked I just haven’t gone back to them. I used to do Zumba every week… I used to run at nights. But now I use the old excuse that I don’t have time. Which is true but I’m sure I could make time. I really do want to run again! I felt the best about myself when I was running. But it’s a good goal to strive towards I suppose. I’ll take any tips if you got’em
So with the kids and all. How do you maintain a good relationship with your hubby? Do you guys have a planned date night each week? Or something special you do together?
Me and my husband have a weird yet perfect relationship. We enjoy our time together after the kids go to bed. We snuggle on the couch and watch mindless television and just enjoy the silence of the home. We love date nights but they are rare and that’s okay. Even when I’m super busy making soaps, he comes to the kitchen to help. Basically we try to spend whatever time we have together. Whether it’s just an hour before we go to bed or a whole getaway weekend to the beach. We always make it work. Our time together is priceless and I wouldn’t trade that man for anything in the world. Ok that was cheesy… sorry I’m kind of a romantic mush ball sometimes. Lol
You just recently did a craft show at a local church! Do you normally do different craft fairs or farmers markets during the weekend?
I do craft fairs and festivals every month, usually multiple times a month. Just selling my soap. It’s perfect for both kids and parents because most kids want something when they are dragged to a craft fair that their parents want to go to. But they aren’t willing to spend some of the high prices that crafters sell at. My soap is only $5 so it’s a win win. Parents get a happy kid who hasn’t asked “can we go home yet?” And kids get a funny goodie out of the deal!
So tell us a bit more about this book business?
I am a consultant with Usborne Books and More. I sell children’s books for all ages. They are really amazingly illustrated, educational and engaging books for kids. They are so much and have something for every kind of reader in your life
That’s really incredible! So let’s end with just two more things! Tell me about a woman that you truly look up to, a woman that inspires you
For my entire life since I was a little girl I have always looked up to my godmother who also happens to be my older cousin. I come from a large Italian family and she is like the patriarch of our generation. She is so unbelievably smart, caring, trusting, funny, and seriously beautiful! She is the president of our family’s pest control business in Boston (Buono Pest Control). She has been the past president of the National Pest Management Association along with winning multiple awards for women in Pest Management. So she is incredibly successful and on top that she is a phenomenal mother of my two younger cousins. So she is literally living proof that as a woman you can be equally and even more successful in ANY industry just as much as any man. And If I can be just a fraction of the person she is than I know I must be doing something right
And then lets end this with your favorite quote!
I have many favorite quotes but one of all time faves is from my dad. Since I was a little girl he has always told me…
“You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be, you just have to try”