Friday, March 14, 2014

Spotlight on Working Moms: Owner and Creator of Papaya Art - Anahata Katkin

More moms than ever are in the workforce. According to, "women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother." Being a full-time working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. The key is to focus on a plan, get organized, and find the right balance between profession and parenthood. 


We interviewed Anahata Katkin, the founder, artist and owner of a successful business

What inspired you to start your business? 
My Mom, Gina and I started the business together with a goal of creating a more inspirational line of products that would reflect our aesthetic and effect others.  

What inspires your creativity?
I like the place where pretty and gritty meet.  Where flowers, faces and ink run together.  I’m inspired endlessly by plants, travel, textiles, folk arts, Asian influences and faces...always faces. I build artwork then I tend to overlay a character or mood that I feel emerges as I go.  I believe in working from impulse-to-impulse and not thinking too hard during the process.  I make artwork for myself and then take it from there.  Creativity is a sort of relationship, and you work on it throughout your life.  It’s an endless process and dialogue between yourself and the unknown.  And you get better at listening and honing in on that magic the more you pursue creativity itself.  It’s never easy, per say, but it’s always rewarding and keeps me coming back to the drawing board.

As a working  mom what tips and tricks can you give us on how to juggle it all?
I think it’s really important to not over think things.  Try not to formalize what you are doing.  If you are a writer, you have to write.  if you are a painter, you have to paint. Period. Whatever you are working towards as a mother and business person you just have to get down and dirty right in the middle of it all.  When my son was small he just wanted to be near me and play.  So I found using an art studio was a waste.  I needed to be near the kitchen and my son in the living room.  So I dragged my art materials to the center of the home for the past ten years.  I took over the dining table, the living room floor, you name it.  That way I didn’t have to create separate time for all of my demands.  Working in a studio felt weird and sectioned off from the rest of my family.  And I felt I could only go “in there” when he was sleeping or occupied, and so never used it.  We started shipping from our kitchen at first and I just had to make work a part of home life.  And let my little guy just bounce around underneath my feet.  I could make art while we watched movies, or helped him with homework from the same room.  I have friends who need a certain kind of peace to create art.  No one around, no distractions.  But to be productive and keep up with your life demands it’s worth getting over that.  I trained myself to just make art in the midst of it all.  There’s no other way to do enough of it, if you want to create at a professional pace.  That’s the best advice I have for moms.  Practice working on what you love and multi tasking.  Children are built to be part of that practice.  Most countries work and parent at the same time.  It’s part of our human history, and it’s ok to make it part of their job to help you juggle your time.  

How do you deal with days when you truly need to be in two places at once. When you need to be there for your children but yet your business has urgent issues to deal with?  
Ugh.  I still struggle with this.  It’s easier now that my son is a teenager.  He is more flexible and can be alone for bits of time.  But quality time is a harder thing to carve out.  I have started forcing him to be part of my rush.  If I need to run errands, I try and ask him to come with me, just so that we laugh, catch up and talk along the way.  At least having a teen, means finding sneakier ways of connecting, than when he was little.  I can’t snuggle him to death anymore, so I seek out moments in our day where we can overlap, even if it’s not exciting. It seems to really help.  And I have personally experienced burn out from overworking.  So I am now much more mindful and careful about taking time for myself.  Which inevitably means time for my son.  Going for walks, cooking, spending down time, and even routine help us stay close.  But I am always struggling with the balance just like any mom.

Since business is growing, do you feel you have more or less time at home?
When we where growing the business, I was always home.  And for smaller kiddos, that was perfect.  But with the major growth I have to travel, and work outside the house a great deal.  But that was a real life choice.  And it felt good after mothering from home for 8 years, it was a nice change to get back into the outside world more.  Now I enjoy both.  My home days are restorative and rewarding, and my days in our boutique or on the road are energizing.  I get to express more fully the spectrum of my personality.  And I think it's great for creative types to have things to bounce between.  I believe it makes it possible to do more.  I couldn't paint all day, everyday.  I would get fried and bored.  So when I max out in one division of our business, I bounce to another.  It keeps a constant flow.  Only now we have a lot of divisions, and bouncing is getting trickier and more advanced.  But a couple brainwave channels to work off of is a great idea for any business person.  It keeps the flow going and keeps you sane.

How do you turn off your business when you want to spend quality time with your children? 
Do you shut off your computer and phone?
I should!  We don’t do that enough. Being driven in my career has definitely taken a tole on parenting.  And we are working as a household to be more balanced.  Some times we do better than others depending what’s going on.  I also am lucky enough to have a great co-parenting relationship with my sons dad.  It’s the one luxury of split parenting is that you can better divide your work and personal time.  On the days I don’t have my son I can go overtime and get more done.  Then I switch gears when he’s home.  It wasn’t always this way, but we’ve developed a great system over the years.

If you had one wish for your business what would it be?
Of course a successful business, and we have that.  But a truly healthy business is our goal.  With lots of room for balance, true creativity and gratitude.  Quality of life is everything. And now that we have built some successful business models, and worked our butts off for many years, we are working on integrating more balance personally, as well as for our employees and creating a more holistic atmosphere.  Ideally maintaining those goals, while growing our business, that is my idea of true success.

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