*I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, and here’s your first post! Every so often (weekly, monthly? not sure yet!) I will be featuring mom’s that are also small buisness owners! This is in hopes of not only raising awareness for small businesses you may not know about, but also to encourage you if you are a mom with a small business, or interested in starting one. (be it any kind of small business!)*
Welcome to Jennifer Warthan of Warthan Farms and Warthan Farms Photography! I’ve had so much fun reading her answers to these questions and getting to know her a bit better…and check out those gorgeous pictures!
Jennifer’s gorgeous family!
1. Tell us about yourself! (name, husband, kiddos, business name etc.)
My name is Jennifer Warthan. My husband’s name is Keith and we have four silly, rambunctious, barefoot children – Shelby (9), Maggie (7), Avery Ruth (2 1/2) and M.K. (1 1/2). We own a family farm in Virginia called Warthan Farms and so I named my photography business Warthan Farms Photography. It’s perfect. People know just what to expect – fresh, natural pictures that are full of life!
2. What does your typical day look like?
Well, because we’re both self-employed every day pretty much looks just the same – there is no difference between weekdays and weekends. What I mean is that we could be at home snuggling with the two youngest children on a rainy Monday morning or both out working hard – plowing fields and taking pictures on a Saturday afternoon. We make hay when the sun shines, so to speak. Along with photography and farm bookwork, I cook three meals a day and try my best to make each day happy and fulfilling to my two youngest ones at home – I don’t always succeed! Afternoons are filled with homework and as much outdoor time as possible (easy to do when you’re on hundreds of acres!). My best work time comes after everyone has gone to bed. I can easily stay up working until 1 or 2 in the morning – I get so absorbed in what I’m doing.
3. What is your business name (brief description of the business), your website, and how long have you been in business?
My business name is Warthan Farms Photography. I’m a natural light photographer and specialize in capturing all those little, candid moments when everyone forgets I am there. I will ask clients to kiss – not to capture the kiss but to capture the loving looks and the giggles afterwards. I will take the picture of the mother and daughter looking into the camera and smiling, but what I really want to catch is that mama tucking a strand of hair behind her baby’s ear. My website is actually more about the farm and my family than photography but it works out so well that way. People feel comfortable and relaxed and almost as if they know me even before we’ve met. My site is thecottonwife.com and I talk about everything from planting, to harvest, to raising four children and cooking for a hungry farmer. It’s hard to say exactly how long I’ve been in business but it’s close to three years now… I think!
4. What do you love most about having a small business?
I love the freedom that comes with owning a small business. As a mother, I couldn’t ask for a better life. We work all the time and if we’re not working then we’re thinking about working. But this is our life – the farm and my photography business. My children are just as likely to go on a photo shoot one day and then take a nap in the tractor the next day. There is no line between our lives and our work and I think that can only happen when you own a small business that you really, really love.
5. What is the hardest part about having a small business?
The unpredictability. I get so stressed sometimes if I haven’t booked a session that day – or, like this time of year, when things are slow. But I have to take a deep breath and remember that I’m a mama first and not to get so worked up. Those sessions will come again when it gets warm and then I’ll be longing for a free day! And needless to say, farming is as unpredictable as it gets. We depend on the weather for everything. We have weather reports on our phones, bookmarked online and we sit on our front steps watching storms come through in the summer, just like our great-grandparents did. But somehow this farm has survived generations and even in bad years, we always pull through. We try to keep that faith.
6. How do you balance work and being a mommy?
I depend on my mom a lot. She’s a wonderful grandmother and truly enjoys having her grandchildren with her. I could not work on weekends (my busiest times) without her. Keith works seven days a week, so without my mom I wouldn’t have half the business I have!
7. Any tips for someone thinking about starting a small business?
I would say “take your time” but I would never take that advice myself! I sort of fell into photography bit by bit and I’m still learning and growing all the time – every day I strive to learn as much as possible. I definitely began before I was ready but I’m really fortunate to have a background in business and marketing – that helps tremendously. I have incredible support and resources from photographer friends. I would tell anyone to find someone who gives good, solid advice. For me, that’s my husband. He’s been working on the farm since he could walk and has really wonderful advice for me that is stripped of the emotion that I tend to insert into business situations. Most of the time, I keep that emotion there but it’s good to see his point of view too!
8. Tell us something about yourself! Crazy, funny, embarrassing, etc.
Yikes! Well, first of all I can’t grow a thing! Really. I forget to water plants and they die. Isn’t that awful?
Thank you so much, Jennifer!! I really enjoyed getting to know you better! Please check out Jennifer’s Facebook page and become a fan! (liker 😉 )