How can a mother of 5, be a designer, art director and blogger all at the same time while living in the hustle and bustle of New York? Well, I’ve got some news for you, Gabrielle Blair, from Design Mom, manages to show us in a candid e-mail interview, how design and mother hood can intersect. We are so excited to have been given the opportunity to get to know her better and we found that Gabrielle is a genuinely great mom juggling kids, career and "me time" and we think that you will enjoy getting to know her too……
the design career that you’ve had what made you decide to start blogging?
When we had our
fourth baby, I took a maternity leave, and that kind of extended as I did
freelance projects. Then we had another baby, and my husband had the idea that
if I wasn’t working at a full-time, 9 to 5 type of job, but could just explore
doing things I love, that ultimately that would be more fulfilling, and more
valuable in all ways. My husband is finishing up his PhD, but had some work that
could support our family long enough for me to pursue something other than full
time work, and I took that opportunity to experiment. My siblings were getting
more and more into blogging and I found a niche that I thought I could
long have you been blogging?
I have been reading
blogs for about 4 years. I started my own blog last July.
much time do you spend writing posts, doing research and reading comments per
day with five kids?
blog at night when my kids are in bed — around 7:30pm — and early in the
morning. We don’t start our morning routines until 7:00am, so I can get up
before that if I want to get in more computer time. Probably like any blogger,
sometimes I can put together posts quite quickly, and sometimes they take way
longer than I would like.
During the day, I check email a few times, but
don’t do much blogging. I reserve precious daytime hours for everything in my
life except blogging. My older 3 kids go to school. The two babies are home.
When the babies are awake, I do things like manage our 5-kid household, and run
errands, and play with them. When they nap, I do work for freelance design
Sometimes I think I’m spending too much time blogging — and
the next minute wishing I was spending more time blogging and leaving more and
better comments on all the great blogs out there.
other blogs do you read (work & pleasure)?
So, so many. I’ll
list a small (tiny) sampling that will appeal especially to parents:
sister’s blog is always my first stop (http://www.jordanferney.blogspot.com).
She has impeccable taste. Plus she’s always doing interesting things.
Blog con Queso (http://roomconqueso.blogspot.com), and Upside Up
(http://roomconqueso.blogspot.com) never disappoint.
3) I have several
local friends that blog. Most write very personal blogs intended to be read by
family and close friends, but two write for a more general parenting audience.
Both are excellent:
Bells on Their Toes
(http://bellsontheirtoes.blogspot.com) and Café Johnsonia
does your inspiration come
From what I see and
do everyday. I think that is one of the real keys in blogging, it has to come
from what you are intimately familiar with. If I had to do a ton of research
every week, I would burn out quickly. So I try to write posts from what I am
thinking about, and how I am thinking: Which of my kids is having a birthday
next? Will we do a friends party? Will there be a theme? I need new knives. What
kind should I buy? It’s time to decorate for Easter. What kind of display will I
have time to make? A catalog came in the mail featuring especially cute
swimsuits that someone should buy. My son needs new sneakers, what kind will I
buy? Will I let him choose? And on. And on.
do you stay motivated?
I guess I would
divide this into two categories, there are internal rewards and external rewards
to blogging. And both are important. For the internal rewards, I would mainly
include that my blog has made my whole life feel like a creative outlet. With my
blog, I can showcase what I’m doing in my everyday life and that gives me
clarity about these immediate tasks, plus it changes these everyday tasks into a
kind of public expression of who I am. Before my blog, it was: "Gabrielle Blair
found the perfect swimsuits for girls this Summer." Although relatively
meaningless, this kind of task (finding the perfect swimsuits) can be really
difficult. So, I might be really excited about completing it, and maybe I would
call my sisters, or tell a friend or two and they would get excited — mostly
out of courtesy. Now it can be: "Design Mom found the perfect swimsuits for
girls this Summer." and it feels like a grand thing I can share with thousands
of women and we all may benefit from the exchange.
For the external
rewards, it is so fun and motivating to have a kind of thoughtful conversation
about everyday life. Once I could see I had a sizeable dedicated readership, I
didn’t want to disappoint them or leave them hanging. And once I started
scheduling Guest Moms and Giveaways, well, those were commitments I wanted to
keep and felt responsible to keep. Another big motivating factor is seeing
readership grow and getting "fan email" letting me know my readers like what
they see. Everyone loves a pat on the back. But again, if I relied solely on
such back-pats, I couldn’t sustain this for long. There also has to be a balance
of internal rewards.
you have blogging goals (like what you want to accomplish with your site)?
On a really
good day, I think "Why not take over Martha Stewart’s company when she retires?"
I was talking with another blogging friend, and our sense is that
opportunities will come to anyone who consistently keeps a good blog. Even
though it’s been around for years, blogging is still new enough that it’s hard
to predict where it will take you. While I am the kind of person who likes to
make goals and look for benchmarks, and I have done things to try to court
readers — because it is great to have readers — a lot of the growth has just
come in unexpected ways and ways which I never could have anticipated or
is the most important thing that you want readers to take away after reading
I want them to have
a happier day after seeing something pretty.
The longer answer is that
when I apply my design training to the tasks of motherhood, which I do by
default, I can see how the decisions I’m making make my life a little prettier
or improved than it would be otherwise. I think mothers in my generation are
choosing motherhood. It’s not the default path they would take — women
in America have all kinds of amazing opportunities outside of parenting. So,
when they make the choice to become mothers, they want parenting to be a really
quality experience — especially knowing some of the other quality paths they’ve
left behind. I love being a parent and I hope my posts help other mothers see
how beautiful and enjoyable and fulfilling even the small tasks of parenting can
you take a break what is your favorite indulgence? (m&m’s, hot bath, sitcoms
Eating sugar (sour patch kids,
pear jelly bellys, ice cream, hot cocoa) and watching TV: 30 Rock, Grey’s
Anatomy, Veronica Mars, Studio 60, The Office.
And I love indulging in a
highly recommended novel — but I have to do it sparingly, because I won’t set
it down until I finish. Which means that all blogging/showering/dishes are on
hold until I’m done with the book.
What is your favorite part of blogging, eg. Making friends, community building,
getting heard. I think everyone has something to say and blogging is an easy way
for them to say it. If you keep a blog for even a month, readers can get a
pretty rich sense of who you are.
Second would be the friends aspect:
making friends, keeping track of friends who’ve moved, and getting to know
friends better through their blog..
Thank you Gabrielle, you’ve given us a pretty rich sense in who you are and consider you a true blogging friend!