I first met Natalie of Whim Events back when I was pregnant with my son, Jonathan. We collaborated together with friend and fellow photographer, Kendra, to pull together a beautiful styled shoot highlighting the best of New England. See you can see all that pretty here!
The first time we met to talk about the shoot I specifically remember thinking “Oh God, please take me seriously!” as I was in my third trimester and VERY pregnant. Little did I know that at that very moment, not only was Kendra secretly pregnant, Natalie was as well! Since our spring shoot in 2013 we have all delivered beautiful babies, are raising adorable toddlers and spend our days blending our titles of Mommy and Business Owner.
Natalie consistently inspires me with her work ethic and passion for creativity. I love the joy she finds in serving her family and clients well. She has so much to share in what it means to be a woman of integrity who loves her family and follows her passion. I’m delighted to invite her to share her heart with you today for another installment of the Mommy Interviews! So please give a warm welcome to Natalie, cofounder of Whim Events!
Welcome Natalie!! First off, how long have you been a Mum?
Exactly 15 months and 9 days. =)
Can you share a little about why you and your business partner started Whim and your vision for the business?
Moira and I started Whim in 2011. She had her own floral design business and I hired her for my wedding flowers. I was in event marketing at the time. We instantly got along and bartered for services - I would help her with her marketing and she would give me my flowers wholesale. Turns out, we sat down for coffee after my wedding, and found out we both had the same passion for creativity, throwing a kick-ass party and helping others. We both wanted to make other people’s wedding dreams come true and create a breath of fresh air in the wedding industry. So we started Whim. At the time, we had no idea how quickly the business would grow! We have done over 100 weddings together and our vision is still the same - to throw an amazing party with a whole lot of personality, make the planning effortless for the Bride and Groom and work with a team of creatives behind the scenes. We love it so much, it truly never gets old!
Have you always wanted to be a Mom? Were there any decisions or influences in your life that encouraged you to begin your family?
I have always wanted to be a mom. I don’t think I have ever imagined my life without a family or little ones running around! I am blessed to have supportive and inspiring parents who have shown me what it was like to work hard, play hard and love hard. So a family was just a natural step for me. That said, I was not in a hurry to have kids. After my husband and I got married, we spent 2 years just being together and doing the things we liked to do. I honestly have no idea why we decided to start trying when we did (well, except we needed to have a winter baby because of the off-season, and luckily it worked out!). I guess we both just knew it was time!
You gave birth to your first baby, Cecily, in 2013. Would you share about your experience running a business while being pregnant?
For the first 6 months of my pregnancy I was one of those annoying pregnant ladies who LOVED being pregnant. Really. I felt better overall. I was actually less emotional, and more consistently calm. This actually helped me in running the business as I was able to stay even more cool, calm and collected in challenging situations. I also found that it was during my pregnancy when I actually learned to delegate tasks and be a better manager. I am very Type A and like to do things myself, but while pregnant I physically could not. This is actually where I learned to bring on more staff and manage them properly. The hardest part was in the last 2 months when I was diagnosed with cholestasis and hospitalized with complications. Trying to train the team for my maternity leave and work with clients from my hospital bed was so challenging that I finally realized I had to stop. Some clients were uneasy about me going on maternity leave early, and dealing with that was emotional for me, but I knew it was for the best. I was able to pass on my jobs to my amazing team and our clients received better service because of it! Plus, I was able to rest up and stay healthy for my little one.
As a small business owner, we have a unique opportunity to determine our own maternity leave. Did you take a maternity leave and how long was it? Can you share your thoughts behind this?
I did take maternity leave. I took 3 months...kind of. For the first two months I was really great about completely separating myself from work. I spent every day with my little one at home. Luckily, I had Cecily in Whim’s off season, so we did not have a lot of weddings. However, in the third month, I was asked to plan a wedding for a dear friend who recently lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. At the time, he was just diagnosed and was told he only had a few months left to live. My team and I planned their wedding in 3 weeks. I was technically on maternity leave, but I just knew it was something I wanted to do. And truth be told, I really missed helping people. Even if I had not planned that wedding, I think work would have sprinkled its way into my last month of maternity leave anyway. I was lucky because Cecily slept all day as a newborn, so I had a lot of free time! And with that free time came this nagging fear that I was missing out on new opportunities, new business or new partnerships. I love my work, so I did struggle with the guilt of wanting to work during such an amazing time of my daughters life. So my thoughts on maternity leave are as follows: Take as much time as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you are eager to go back. You are a separate entity outside of your child, and it is ok to want to be that person again!
Following your maternity leave you decided to jump back into running and managing Whim Events full time. You have a very full schedule of weddings, events and meetings. Was the transition difficult?
See above! The other difficult transition was pumping at work and on the go at weddings. Also, trying to find time for myself, work, family and baby! That is still very difficult, one year later.
Are there routines, schedules or rituals that you do with Cecily during the day or throughout the week which makes the balance more manageable?
My favorite ritual is putting her to bed each night. Ever since she was born, my husband and I have always given her a bath after dinner together and then I take her into room, put on her pjs and cuddle her in the rocking chair until she goes down. I love doing it. Its our time. She’s older now, and cuddles much less, but I still attempt to rock her for a few minutes. I also love weekend mornings with my husband and Cecily. She wakes up and Shaun brings her into bed with us. We tickle her and laugh under the covers.The three of us are together and for a few brief moments, there a no obligations other than to be right there. It’s the best!
How has parenthood changed you? Was it what you were expecting?
I had no expectations, so I think that helped a lot! I try to just roll with things as much as possible. Being a mom has helped me create a better routine and separate my home life and work life a lot more. When I come home from work, it’s all about being with my family, having dinner, putting Cecily to bed, packing her lunch for the next day, taking a few minutes to talk to my husband and watching our favorite shows together. Being a mom has grounded me and helps me to realize that work can wait until tomorrow!
As a woman who is running a business and following her passions, what kind of example do you hope to set for your daughter Cecily? Is there anything you hope to teach her from your experience?
I hope to teach Cecily to be strong and passionate, but also light-hearted. Having my Type A personality has it’s drawbacks (being a bit too intense at times) so I want to encourage her to find joy and humor no matter how hard she is working. My parents also instilled something in me that I will never forget - they told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I have never let fear stop me from trying new things (yes, I have failed many times and yes, it hurts!). I want Cecily to be eager, open and excited about what the word has to offer her. And if she does not love something, she can try something new without feeling bad about it!
What would be your advice to Moms out there who are balancing a business and family?
My biggest piece of advice is not to listen to advice! Just kidding, sort of. Do what is best for you and your family and what feels right. Every child is different and every parent is different. People love to tell you how to raise your child, but no one is in the exact same situation as you are. If I must give advice ;), I will give the advice of one of my best friends, a working mom who is a mother of 2 boys and partner at a large public relations firm in Washington, D.C. She said that being working mom is actually not about “balance” at all. That “balance” is actually an unrealistic term we use as a society, and that the real skill is realizing that some days WILL be unbalanced. And that no matter what time you have with your child, even if it’s 20 minutes after a long day at work, its all about the quality of time together...not the quantity. Your child remembers the hugs and the real love you give!
What has been your greatest joy being a Mom?
The greatest joy is seeing Cecily smile everyday. Hearing her laugh is the best thing on earth. And honestly, watching my husband become an amazing father has been another great joy. He loves being a dad and is so good with her. And the coolest part about being a mom is watching Cecily grow before our eyes. I remember thinking when she was a newborn, what will Cecily look like with hair?! What will her voice sound like?! It’s awesome to watch these transitions happen and look forward to all of the new ones yet to come!
You can connect with Natalie and the Whim team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and via email info@whimevents. If you would like to contact Natalie about your upcoming wedding or event, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Natalie thank you so much for sharing your heart today! What an encouragement it is to watch as you chase after your dreams and raise your baby girl! You are an inspiration!
To make this post even more amazing, Natalie has graciously offered to giveaway one ticket to Whim's upcoming floral workshop!! I had the opportunity to photograph their workshop last spring and let me tell you...it is AMAZING! I learned so much about floral design, how to arrange blooms and more!! For the Bride to Be, the DIY'er or if you want a night out with your girlfriends, this is the perfect event!! Don't miss out!! Enter to win a ticket by liking this post, leaving a comment below and visiting us on Facebook! The contest begins today and ends at 12pm today. We'll be sharing the winner on tomorrow! Good luck!