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Many of you might know Michelle Engel Bencsko of Cicada Studio and have come across her lovely textile creations. For those of you who don’t, here is an interview that will not only introduce you to her work, but also inspire you. I first discovered Michelle via the blogging world, and quickly became a fan of her work. Her designs are so unique, fresh, and modern and oh so fitting for all ages. Besides all this, she is such a sweet gal and I love all that energy she radiates. Every time I stop by her blog, I leave inspired and eager to create something new.
I am thrilled to share this interview with all of you….
So, shall we begin?
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
In a nutshell: I’m a mom of two adorable boys, wife of a devoted and loving husband, creative entrepreneur, and doerholic. I am a consummate multi-tasker, but being good at it doesn’t make it right. I am in the throngs of building my business and that means I wear a lot of hats- not all of which suit me. I tend to think creatively as well as analytically and I’m always looking to the horizon. So, I guess I can say, I’m busy and spread thin, and right now, I love it.
How do you run a business while being a mother to young children?
I’m not sure I have a “how”, it just happens. I wind up squeezing in a lot things into small time slots- like type an email while the boys are in the tub, or iron fabric while watching iCarly with the kids or go on an “outing” to the fabric store or post office with them (which does not go over big with my 7yr old, though the little one loves it). When I wake up in the morning from that moment on, I go, go, go… and then when the kids are in bed, I crash. Things get done- or they don’t.
Do you have a studio/work schedule? What works for you?
I have a home office/studio, which mainly comprises of an iMac, a desk, some shelves and a closet that was converted into a work surface area. I get up every morning at 5am with my husband who works as a high school graphics art/technology teacher in NYC. After he leaves, I have up to an hour by myself to read and write blogs and emails, tend to my shop and check out what’s happening in the circle I keep. Then I break from work to tend to the boys and get them ready for school/daycare and get them there. Then I’m home again about 9-9:30 and that’s when my day really begins. I turn on the tunes, design, source, buy, organize, plan, pack and ship orders, take pictures of new items, sew, download, upload, blog some more, scheme (OK, I’m not a schemer), but I do all my Cicada Studio work until about 1… that’s when I break (or try to) for lunch and an episode of Law&Order Criminal Intent (with Vincent Donofrio, please). If that’s not on, I’m not a telly person, so off it goes, and down goes lunch in about 5 minutes and I’m back in the office. If it happens be an episode I can’t miss, I’ll do fabric cutting, hand sewing or assembly or ironing while I watch and I’m in and out of the room constantly. I definitely DON’T sit casually at any point during the day. I have to keep busy because I know at 2:40 everything drops and I have to go get the boys. Work day over/mommy time begins again… though I still manage to sneak into check the computer a good amount of time.
I have learned to give up a day here and there for personal errands that can’t wait and are easier to do without the boys. At first this bothered me because I didn’t want my “home job” to become an Errand Runner, too. But now, I give into it at times and plan to pack in as much as I can to make the most of it- I may miss a day of work, but I don’t have the same stress as taking precious alloted time off from a day job to do these mundane tasks that always need doing. I have a pretty good sense of priority that really helps me through the day. I also work well under pressure- sometimes I think I self-inflict the pressure just to make things happen. It works.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m an internet junkie. I hardly get out to shops anymore, so I’d say 80% of my trend ideas come from blogging and net surfing. Then I have my own aesthetics to draw from, too… so even if I see a great idea, I’ll put my spin on it in my head. One image can bring me in many directions. I have lots of reference books to help spark new ideas, and I love the effects of my garden. I am usually not literal in my translations of what I see, but I do get motivated and turned on by all sorts of visual stimulation. I’m also inspired by all the talented people I’ve met online. Seeing what other people have accomplished and their own personal skills is certainly motivating for me.
How do you separate working on your growing business from spending time with the family? Any tips you would like to share with us?
Uh, noooo…. I was hoping to meet a mom like me, only with her act together, who can give me some guidance in this department. I was just talking yesterday to two other Creative Mommypreneurs and we all laughed at how we are totally obsessed with our business and how difficult it is to completely sever ourselves from work. Our kids will most often look for us in our offices or studios… we don’t have patience to play games or watch television (there’s so many OTHER things to do!) and we all feel a pang of guilt mixed with defense for our actions. We’re an unusual breed. When moms don’t work from home the shift is different. For us, it’s always with us and because the business is “us”, we can’t shut it off. I think we’d all like to change this, but it is not an easy feat, and deep down, we don’t really want to change.
What’s your idea for a perfect day?
Work day? Holiday? Lazy day? It totally depends on the way things pan out. For a work day: I’d love to wake up at 6 and work til 11 with absolutely no interruptions in a bright, clean office. But this is an imaginary day. My perfect work day is a productive one. For more leisurely days, I just like a day that flows- where I don’t feel restless or bored or overwhelmed by chores or paperwork. Weather can vary. I can roll with that. But a great day is one that is EASY. And fun or relaxing. And spent with others. My work days are pretty solitary, so it’s nice to be with my family.
Do you keep/have a wish list? What’s on top of it right now?
I have lots of lists, but not a wish list. I wish for things in my head, but they are sort of immediate: I wish it wasn’t snowing since I have so many errands to run- or I wish I was better with taxes- or I wish my feet didn’t hurt- or I wish my computer was faster. It is my hope, though, that me and my family will always be happy and healthy and filled with love. Also that my business is a smashing success and I can support myself entirely through my own efforts.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
My iMac. Sad, but true.
What makes you smile?
My kids. Sometimes they make me roll my eyes, but there’s usually a smile that comes after that. My husband makes me smile inside all the time. I also smile at nice-ness. If I see someone doing something nice for someone else, it makes me smile. It’s a genuine reaction. Watching my brother play with my kids- they love him so much. Listening to a great song. Seeing some well-scripted and well-acted performances. True and amazing talent. Brilliance. People with sharp wit. Basically, all things that I appreciate make me smile.
Check out Michelle’s blog, at Cicada Daydream.