Updated: Sep 12, 2022
These days, with working from home being easier than ever, more and more moms are becoming "mompreneurs."
I'm doing a series of interviews with moms who started their own business from home, to inspire other women that they can do it too.
I have followed her for a while on Medium, a blogging site, because she has very similar interests to mine, and I admire her work with the Autism community. I was very excited when Nathalie said that she would do this interview.
Here is what Nathalie had to say about her business, in her own words. I hope that she inspires you as much as she does me!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?
Hi! I'm Nathalie, and I am a French woman in her forties who lives in Toulouse, France. I am happily remarried, with two amazing kids that also happen to be autistic (it's a family thing, I am an undiagnosed neurodivergent myself). I am an artist at heart and have always struggled to focus on only one passion. I have recently discovered the term "multipotentialite" and it has changed my life for the better.
I have ten thousand passions, but I am currently focusing on my The Octogig project. The idea is to help (by example) neurodivergents, chronically ill people and multipotentialites build and grow their passive income streams in a non-ableist way. I want to show that it's possible to earn money from your passions. Creating a passive income stream is easy—what's important for us neurospicy spoonies is to develop the right mindset to make it work for us. Since we have low energy, it is crucial that we self-care and rest, thus protecting our health and mental health which are at the core of anything we want to do.
How did you decide to start your business?
I have always been amazed at the fact that passive income is a thing! Back in 2009, I had already published a few books and merch but never did it "seriously" with the intent of earning money to make a living. Back then, you didn't have all the tools that exist today. When I started being serious about it in June 2020, I decided that I would use all the tools I needed to make it. I started print-on-demand, and it would take me more time to upload my designs than to create them (oftentimes it took me a whole afternoon to upload one design to all platforms).
With the right automation tools, I quickly realized that it was possible to earn back the money invested. Then I realized that by working and adding to my digital assets (be they designs, guides, articles, etc.), I was growing my presence on the internet, and I was able to have more "buy buttons" available. The more "buy buttons" you have, the more visibility you have—thus, the more chance to actually sell a product.
My earnings have grown each year. They're not to the point where I can pay my bills with them, but I use them to either buy sushi or extra nice gifts at Christmas and spoil my loved ones. And for now, that's good enough!
How old are your kids?
Matthieu is 17 years old and severely autistic. He's very sweet, always willing to help around the house, and do new things. He is a real hedonist and appreciates all the good things in life. He has difficulties communicating clearly, be it verbally or in written form, but it doesn't stop him from enjoying all kinds of passions like playing/listening to music, creating videos, or playing video games.
Julien is 15 years old and is autistic too, though his difficulties are milder. He starts high school this year, with human help. He's pretty smart and has an amazing memory. He's also always ready to joke. He's obsessed with retro video games and astronomy. He's reluctant to try new things, so we're currently trying to expand his culture by pushing him to watch movies, and read books and comics.
Are your kids in childcare or at home full time?
Matthieu is home with me all day except when he goes to therapy. He has been out of the school system since last year (here in France, kids have to be schooled or homeschooled until 16). He's been homeschooled by me since 2016 because it was catastrophic with his school. They didn't know how to make him stay calm, let alone teach him anything. I then started over in 2016, from scratch, with my own methods, and taught him how to read, write, and calculate. My work with him is also very centered around autonomy at home and outside since my main goal is to have him ready to live by himself when I'm no longer there to take care of him. Nowadays, since there is no more structure and check-ups from the school, we continue working on things, but do it less academically and more with the flow. Math, comprehension of instructions, correcting his way of speaking to make it more and more understandable for people outside the family, etc. are what we focus on. I would like to help him learn a craft at some point, but the major block is that he would have to be able to communicate with clients and problem-solve, which he is not capable of doing yet.
Julien is starting his first year of high school in a few days. He goes over there in the morning, and then in the afternoon, he has therapies too (speech therapy, behavioral and cognitive therapy, psychomotor therapy, and a meeting with a psychiatrist each week). So, you could say he is home almost half the time. I am also focusing on teaching him autonomy, and lately, I am trying to help him with different things like understanding the world (he is fearful of other people and doesn't always understand their intentions), or trying new things. I'm trying to counteract society and make him able to understand what's sexist, racist, ableist, etc. And to help him understand that being happy is the most important thing to pursue. You'd think that he would be easier than Matthieu to help, but no, it is way more challenging and difficult to manage. Thankfully, I have people around that are dedicated to both my kids and can help whenever I have questions.
How do you balance your work with your family?
At first, I had to manage a toxic spouse, two autistic kids that never slept, house admin stuff, cleaning, working from home, and my side projects. If you ask me how I did it, the answer is: I don't know. I was a zombie. I have certainly burned out multiple times back then. I think I used all my energy at the time, and now I'm left with chronic illnesses triggered by stress. When I left my ex-husband, my situation got a little better—at least I didn't have to deal with his constant put-downs and counterparenting (counterparenting still happens, but I have learned how to do parallel parenting, so it's taking less time and energy out of me).
Before 2020, I was always running around. I was taking the kids to school (or homeschooling my eldest), I was taking them to therapy, and I was always making sure that they were working on becoming autonomous. It was an "all hands on deck all the time" kind of situation. Since the pandemic, though, things have slowed down a lot. My kids have grown very quickly and become calmer and more autonomous during the last two years. I think it has to do with them becoming older, but also that new, calm, serene rhythm we had during quarantine, that has left me with more time and energy to help them than when I was always running around.
So lately, my day is divided into two parts: I try to work in the morning, while my kids are otherwise occupied. I have a few things that I want to do, like track my royalties, or write. Then, I do what I feel I want to do, and trust my instinct to further my project step by step. I go with the flow.
In the afternoon, I usually am tired and try to rest. I manage the household and my kids whenever a need arises. My husband also participates a lot to family life and chores, freeing me from having to do everything and having to bear all of the family's mental load.
During Summer, it was easier because we had no real obligations, but now that it is back to school, of course, my schedule is going to be pushed around for a while. Though, since the weather will be a little bit more temperate, I'll probably suffer less from the heat and be able to be more energized!
Any tips for other moms looking to start a business?
Yes! I have a few very important tips for neurospicy spoonies, but those also work for regular people:
Just start. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to exist. Whatever product you want to create, it's going to appeal to someone. You can't sell a product that has not been created and published. Just do it!
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You don't have to have the whole shebang with the website and the store and the marketing plan, etc. Just start somewhere and build your empire step by step.
Prioritize your rest and self-care. What are your needs? Don't forget about them.
Working on your passion is still work, but it's much more fun than working on something you hate or you are indifferent to.
Passive income is a long game. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme. You still have to put in the work: only the income is passive. But most people abandon it when they don't see immediate results, and it doesn't work that way.
You don't have to work full-time on your passive income. You can add to it here and there when you have the time and the energy.
Do yourself a favor and invest in some tools. The best way to stick to building passive income streams is to either eliminate, delegate or automate all the boring, soul-crushing tasks you hate.
Don't listen to the naysayers. Don't expect people to understand. Do what you feel is right. Follow your instinct instead of the usual ableist advice.
All overnight successes have been years in the making. The best time to start passive income was twenty years ago. The second best time is now! :)
I think it is great the way that Nathalie advises prioritizing rest and self-care, just as much as working or caring for the kids. Not enough people do that, and it can lead to burnout in the long-term.
These are great tips for starting to build your passive income right away, so that you will get a good start without having to put too much pressure on your business to perform immediately.
If you have questions for Nathalie, leave them in the comments!
Follow Nathalie on Social Media!
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To read more about Mompreneur life, check out these other blog posts: