The flexibility that allows me to be here for my daughter, Aiyla, at all times. I can mute myself on a work call or thumb type emails if I need to. I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule but hers.
Not being able to turn off. Being a mom is a full-time job, and working from home is a full-time job, too. My office and home are the same place, so it’s hard to keep my head organized because my mind is racing with both mommy and work tasks at all times. It’s always one and I feel guilty for not focusing on the other.
I have always been passionate about working in the humanitarian space. I have lived and volunteered in developing countries [editor's note: Saira is being modest, she was a Peace Corps volunteer], and seeing poverty firsthand is a humbling experience that makes you want to give back whenever and wherever possible. I was raised to be thankful for everything I have in life, because I could just as easily be in someone else’s shoes.
Give is a for purpose, gourmet cookie company that uses fair trade ingredients and packaging and then donates back to a select charity of our customer's choice.
I officially launched around Thanksgiving of 2014. As an e-commerce business with a minimal budget, we launched via social media and email blasts to all our contacts. I started thinking about Give in February of 2014, when I was still working at an international humanitarian organization. I quit to go full time on Give in June, thinking I would launch sometime in the summer. Ha! It took a lot longer than anticipated to get things going.
I’m pretty sure I’m a slightly granola helicopter mom. I’m THAT mom who read a million books and mommy blogs to make sure I did all the research possible to make the best decisions for our baby girl. I’m in love with baby wearing (our Solly Wrap is the only way we get cookies made around here). I can’t remember the day of the week, but I know exactly how many times my baby pooped and ate today. I’m involved, loving and obsessed with smelling my daughter and watching her sleep.
Do what works for your family. There are a million and one ways to do things (formula vs. breastfeeding, co-sleeping vs. cribs, the list goes on). It’s nobody else’s business what works for you.
I’m not sure if this counts since I take Aiyla along with me, but we go for Mommy and Me yoga every week. It’s an amazing place to just be myself and Aiyla’s mama at the same time. I need to do more of this, but every now and then I go for mommy dates with a girlfriend, we grab lunch and stop and nurse together when our babies get hungry.
Aiyla is the love of our lives. She recently learned how to smile, loves being held over my shoulder while I walk so she can look around and observe her surroundings, and loves to kick her arms and legs in yoga class. Oh, and she makes the most adorable stretchy face with pursed lips when she first wakes up!
When the lactation consultant told me to keep doing what I’m doing. I felt like all the books and mommy blog research was totally worth it when I was able to get through the hard times with breastfeeding and Aiyla’s doctor was really happy with her weight gain and progress. And pretty much every time my baby girl smiles when she sees my face.
Yes! I wanted some time to do nothing but be a mama. I stopped accepting orders about a week before Aiyla was born, and I only JUST officially re-launched, although I’m still exploring some new options for the business. I also found someone to help me in the kitchen on a part-time, as needed basis (like for our big wedding orders, etc.).
After a recent spit up debacle at a friends place, a complete change of clothes for me and Aiyla is always sitting in my car. Her soothie pacifier makes car rides a lot less stressful. And our Babies4Babies swaddles (I pretty much always have 3 on hand, because I’m that overly prepared mom).
Pre-baby, a typical day would consist of baking and packaging cookie orders in the morning in time for the mailman to come pick them up by 9 am. I would prep everything the night before (gift card notes, stamping boxes, building shipping boxes, printing shipping labels, etc.). Afterwards, a typical day could consist of baking more dough/blogging/responding to emails/social media/ordering ingredients. Post-baby, we have hired part-time help so we spend a weekend making all of our cookie dough ahead of time, and prepping boxes. The baking and packaging is still the same as before, but I give myself a lot more time to get things done because I’m on baby time now. The emails, etc. all take place at a much slower pace whenever I’m taking care of my baby (which is why my responses to emails is A LOT slower than it used to be).
24/7, in our kitchen at home. I run a CFO (Cottage Food Operation), which means the Health Department comes and does surprise inspections of my kitchen at any given time and I maintain a Serv Safe certification. It also means my brain never turns off of work mode unfortunately. Emails are typically thumb typed while nursing or rocking my baby to sleep. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, Aiyla is down for a nap in her rocker so I bring her downstairs to our office where I can use two screens. Or I wear her while making dough and taking pictures of my desserts for the blog. She might make a feature in a couple of dessert shots.
Aiyla. And being unanimously voted onto the board for a local non-profit that I have been volunteering with for years: UPLIFT Charity. I was also recently invited to be on the leadership council for Pencils of Promise.
My amazing husband, who has supported me from before the beginning. He is the one who gave me the courage to quit my job to pursue this full time, and continues to support me by stamping boxes late at night, making last minute grocery runs, delivering boxes to the post office, figuring out all my accounting, reminding me when I run out of ingredients, and so much more. I also have to thank Jeff Slater, a marketing expert that has been a tremendous help in getting us on the right path.
Loving, close and adventurous.