Balancing Work and Family as a Mompreneur

Kelly Perry - 00:00 - You are listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers in the people who've dedicated their lives to sharing with the world. Hi, my name's Kelly, and today I'm here with Janine, the Team Flower community builder, and together we're talking with Katie McDonough, of Petal and Print. In this episode we're discussing the importance of family and the significance of including each household member into our lives with flowers. Over the next 25 minutes old, discuss the challenges of motherhood is also numerous joys of having little ones while owning a small business. We'll also talk about Katie's favorite memories that route two children working alongside her as she works. If you're a mama, florist, or farmer, even if you just want to be, you'll learn tips on how to love your family, grew flowers and how it's possible to be a mother and a florist and navigating and changing as seasons change. It's all right here on the tip of our podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Team Flower, flowers in online learning community focused on educating, connecting and empowering flower levers worldwide. Whether you're a professional farmer, florist getting started or just loved flowers, welcome to the party. If you'd like to know a new podcast episodes, at least receive funding free video tutorials and articles. Sign up for our pen pal club visit team,, and Click on free resources. 

Janine Harris - 01:22 - Hi fellow flower pals. I'm Janine the community builder here at Team Flower and today I'm here with Kelly. 

Kelly Perry - 01:27 - Hi everybody. 

Janine Harris - 01:29 - And I'm also here with Katie Mcdonough of Petal and Print. Welcome Katie. We're so glad that you're here with us. 

Katie McDonough - 01:37 - Thanks Janine. Thank you Kelly for having me. I am thrilled to be on the podcast. It's for Real, one of my favorites. So it, it was a total honor to get your email. 

Janine Harris - 01:45 - Oh, wonderful. Katie, we have asked you here to delve into a topic which we think many flower professionals can relate, but before we get into that, let's just get to know you a little bit. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Katie McDonough - 02:00 - Sure. Thanks for having me again. I'm so, I'm 36. I'm a mom. I am a florist and a or by trade. Um, and so all those sort of things kind of a mixed together to kind of make me who I am. Um, I went to art school actually and thought I would be a fine art photographer, so I started in the wedding world in photography and was able to pick up some different mediums like print making and design and as a station or a shared studio space with a florist and flowers were something I had always loved, but when I was able to kind of see that day to day and start practicing with flowers that, you know, I picked up at her shop, um, I really sort of found a different artistic medium and I had no idea that I'm flowers would speak to me in that way and that they could translate, um, emotion in the way that art could. Um, so that was kind of like a really eye opening thing for me. So, um, I mean, I've always loved flowers. I love nature, I love antiques. Books are all that stuff. Um, and when I started to get my hands into flowers, it really felt like home to me. 

Kelly Perry - 03:19 - Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah, really cool. Everybody's stories are so different and how they sort of like came to be, but art, a love for art is something that a lot of people share in common with you and I think it's neat how your journey with, um, you know, photos and then with the print piece, you know, you've kind of got the whole trifecta right there. You can make amazing tags for your bouquets and

Katie McDonough - 03:42 -  it might be good if I did that maybe next year. 

Kelly Perry - 03:46 - That's okay. It's real. It's okay. It's a lot to, it's a lot to keep up with, but yeah, I think there's a lot of floors to wish that they could be. I did a calligraphy stint for a little while. Yeah, last winter. About this time I, um, I really tried to do it and I learned how to hold the pen. Right. Which I think was like the key thing that I wasn't doing. Right. Do you do calligraphy or do you just do 

Katie McDonough - 04:09 - a little bit of both? I don't, I'm, I'm not paid for my calligraphy skills of calligraphy for me is more practice. I'm a designer for sure. Um, but what I thought was really cool about calligraphy is that it's more like drawing, you know, you're, you're drawing letters instead of writing them. And that was like a total shift in perspective to me. Um, I thought it was really cool. 

Kelly Perry - 04:29 - I feel like my perspective, just because I think it's so interesting when you see people who are like doing it, you know, I'm just like, how do they know how far they're going to make the tail of the why go out to make the whole thing look like a perfect diamond. That's amazing. They do. So quickly. Practice, practice, practice. Anyway, back to you. We've asked you here today to talk a little bit about your family, um, and kind of how flowers and family all weave together in a beautiful way. So, um, why don't you tell us a little bit about your family members? 

Katie McDonough - 05:06 - Sure. So my husband Ben and I met in art school. We both went to Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He hails from Wisconsin, Milwaukee and um, yeah, we, we met there. Let's see, 17 years ago now. We've been married for nine. We were married in 2008, so, um, he has been just a constant friend and supporter, challenger, all of those good things and we're both really fortunate to work at home. So, uh, it's kind of part of how I get to do this and we'll talk about that a little bit later. Um, and then my daughter Afton is four and a half and my son Tippett is two and a half and they are wild and wonderful and you know, a lot of fun. Um, mixed with, you know, quite a bit of emotion and a stress and challenges as well. So, you know, those are all kinds of, uh, I think I'm hearing it out. Yeah. And I think I, um, I've sort of started to embrace both like the mess and magic of uh, children in a new way as I figured out how to navigate working with them. Um, so, you know, I see kind of like they're sort of 

Katie McDonough - 06:24 - perspective in a way which is really cool to me. I mean, every flower that they see they think is the most beautiful thing. And I can remember when I started in flowers, the lady I would freelance for, it would just laugh at me. Every time I picked up a different stem I would be like, this isn't the most beautiful flower I've ever seen, you know, and it didn't matter what it was, it was just like whatever was in front of me at the moment. Um, so it's really fun. I'm working with kids in that way, getting to see things with fresh eyes and like, you kinda like never lose your wonder when you're in front of children because they're constantly reminding you of how awesome everything is. Yeah. 

Kelly Perry - 07:04 - That's amazing. And to be able to be in a place where when you do pick up things from every, it's just that you don't. There is no callus of heart, right. You know, it's just like they see it and they're absorbing it and it's all just beautiful. 

Katie McDonough - 07:18 - So it's, it's just really neat. So that's actually a really interesting, um, point Kelly, I was just talking to my husband about teaching and how teaching children is so different than teaching grownups because children don't have any of that self doubt that like, you know, when I'm teaching older women about flowers and they've, you know, they have an idea of what they want to make and they have seen other people's work and all of that kind of stuff. There's sort of like this element of stress and self doubt. Whereas with children that are just like loving the experience of being immersed in it and it's really cool to see what that like kind of, you know, free range exploration looks like. Yeah. 

Kelly Perry - 08:01 - Wildly, wildly creative. Yeah. Yeah. It's so neat. I wonder, have your kids ever, have they ever put something together and you've been like, oh yeah, I should try that sometime. 

Katie McDonough - 08:12 - Well, after it has totally informed my work, uh, you know, I, I don't know if I've mentioned to you yet, but we moved. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and we moved back here after 17 years in Baltimore. Um, we moved back to sort of like the edge of the woods in NPA here and uh, so what's been amazing is, is just having sort of this, uh, all this wildlife to choose from. I, you know, in Baltimore we had a small backyard and we garden and we did all that kind of stuff, but I wasn't, I'm coming across sort of a wild foraging in the way I am here. Um, and what often does is she just like, she makes bouquets out of sticks and twigs and things like that. I did an arrangement recently that incorporated some of the materials that she had found and you know, you look at them in, in the woods just laying on the ground and you're like, Eh, you know, you're going to walk right past that. But she picks it up and it's magical and I've put it in. Okay. And I thought, okay, you've got a point here that's so cool. 

Janine Harris - 09:17 - That is really neat. I'm, I am assured to know what was the timeline of like Petal and Print and um, the birth of Afton and your son. 

Katie McDonough - 09:27 - Yeah. So Petal and Print, I started in 2011, I think I mentioned, um, you know, my journey in the wedding world has been a little bit windy. I started out as a photographer. I picked up doing custom invitations in 2003. There weren't a lot of custom letterpress invitations or anything like that out there in the world now. I mean like, there are now. And um, I had brides who, who really cared about having less traditional photography and so they were also really interested in having custom invitations and I thought, Oh, you know, I have print making and design background, I should offer that too. Um, and so I did that for a long time and then I became a partner in another stationary business. I'm doing custom design and all of that and that's when we shared the space with the florist. Um, my partner moved to California in 2009, so it didn't make sense to keep the business going. 

Katie McDonough - 10:23 - Um, so I did a little bit of freelance there from 2009 to 2011 as I was sort of getting my feet wet with flowers. Um, and in 2011 I was, you know, booking bigger events and I was working for myself, I was doing freelance, I was just getting a little bit burned out. So, um, I was able to step away and take Petal and Print full time. I was still doing invitations. I still do those now, um, and you know, day of goods, a police car and all of that kind of business. Um, but in 2011, so I, so I started Petal and Print officially in 2011, um, and then after it was born in 2013, so that was amazing also because I had two years under my belt to kind of get to know this business and how it worked and what I was capable of. 

Katie McDonough - 11:16 - But in 2013 when I had her, I was also able to continue freelancing for the woman that had basically taught me everything I knew and you know, she knew I couldn't, I couldn't work in the same capacity that I had prior to having an often. Um, so that was really nice to have. I was doing smaller events again. And stepping back to freelance and I've sort of, you know, until I moved up to Pennsylvania, I would freelance for her if she needed it or in a slow season. So keep your flower friends close. Absolutely. That's one of the things that I love about this, that it is 

Kelly Perry - 11:54 - something that as seasons of life change you can kind of, you know, you can 

Kelly Perry - 12:01 - do less, you can do more, you can sort of, you really from season to season, it's every season it's kind of like starting over a little bit lower. Like you have an opportunity to adjust or pivot or you know, whatever, which is really nice whenever you are going through different seasons of life. And I think too just giving yourself the permission that whenever there is a season of life that changes and you're, you know, like okay, well I can easily, you know, step back a little bit here. Like I don't have to pursue this as hard or frequent, you know, you can just adjust and change as eco throughout it, which is really nice. 

Katie McDonough - 12:37 - Well, and I think that's the really important thing in the wedding industry. I have a lot of friends who are a little bit younger than me who are having their first kid and are sort of panicking because they built their businesses and they don't know how, you know, they don't know what's gonna come next and you know, I don't either by any means, but what I do know is that the wedding industry offers you a lot opportunity to freelance or second shoot if you're a photographer or different things like that. Um, but what it also does is because your customers aren't necessarily repeat customers in the same way that a retail space would be or things like that, you can quit for a little while. You could come back. I mean, I have taken extended breaks with my children and um, and I worried a little bit, but then what I realized was that 

Katie McDonough - 13:27 - that's why I'm in, that's why I work for myself is because I love that. The Y, that's like I on why exactly. And, you know, sometimes I forget it and sometimes I am like, well, what if I, what if I don't put anything on instagram for three weeks or, you know, moving to Pennsylvania was sort of a, a time we chose to move. My husband worked for himself until right before we moved up here and he works remotely. And so, you know, when we were really starting to talk about our decisions as a family and um, you know, as our kids were getting to be more like people with personalities and needs, um, aside from being fed and cared for, um, we really wanted to choose where we lived and how we lived. Um, and, and I took a major step back. I didn't book any weddings for an entire year and I just sort of took myself off the grid to see what being 

Katie McDonough - 14:31 - a full time stay at home mom would feel like. Um, and what being up here would be like in terms of my opportunities for work. I wasn't sure. I mean Baltimore is a totally different scene then a rural Pennsylvania. And ultimately what happened was I realized I not work. I love it, um, and I, and I can still work in Baltimore. I'm an hour and a half from where I was and I'm picking up weddings here in Pennsylvania now and they might be more relaxed and they might be smaller budgets and things like that, but that's, I have room for that in my, in my schedule and my business and I'm really glad that I was able to Kinda like move away from the business and, and you know, what, if I wanted to say I was booking full up every weekend next week, I could, I could start to do that. 

Katie McDonough - 15:26 - Um, so I think like it took me awhile to not be afraid, but that's the biggest thing is that your kids are young for such a short period of time and I don't want to miss that [inaudible] already four and a half and I feel like she's going to go to kindergarten next fall. And, and you know, it's super exciting but it's also really sad and you know, we've had an amazing time and we will continue to. I mean, nothing about that will change, but you know, the time I get to spend with her will not be full time like this, so 

Janine Harris - 16:03 - you know, that's, that's all just so encouraging to hear, especially for, for me, for someone who doesn't have children yet but wants to one day like how does all of this work together and it's so encouraging to hear you just speak to that and just say, yeah, your kids are the most important thing. Um, but I also love that you include them with what you do. Like I've looked at your instagram did and I, I love all the pictures of you and your children and your children carrying these buckets of flowers. I would love to hear just what is, what a day in the life looks like for you. Like when you have an event, a wedding, what does the day in the life look like for you, Katie, and then including your children in that as well? 

Katie McDonough - 16:50 - Yeah, sure. So, I mean, it's definitely different now than it used to be in the past when I was working in Baltimore, when my kids were younger, my space was my kitchen and my dining room and like every other room in my house buckets everywhere covering the stove top, you know, um, and so they were actually like a lot more involved because they had to be, um, and it was a lot more stressful for all of us, you know, I'd be like don't touch the flowers and I'd have to put everything up on as high of surfaces as possible or I'd have to set, you know, buckets that they could play in. I mean, Afton, one of her favorite things to do is fill the buckets. And so if I have a nice summer wedding, like their job is to be outside with no fill in the blank, you know, there's often a naked kid and your bucket before your flowers think 

Katie McDonough - 17:42 - like, part of it is just being realistic about like what you can and cannot do with children. And, and at my new place, I do have a dedicated studio space in the garage. And I'm incredibly thankful for that. Um, it is, I have barn doors that I can open up to see the entire front yard and so my kids are going to be out there playing while I'm working and there are times where they're in the studio and what I do now, what I've learned is to give them their own projects so they think that they're like really getting to do the work. And so like, so let's say. So on Saturdays I've got the wedding, Wednesday and Thursdays I'm, I'm really fortunate to live in a place where I have access to a ton of local flowers. I'm like, I mentioned I can't get a lot of flowers shipped here specifically because they won't get here on time in the day, like Fedex, I either have to pay like, I mean I don't even know if I can get them here on time, but like rose story farm, I can't get my flowers until 3:00 in the afternoon and they need my flowers to be here by 10:30 or 12 maximum so that they're staying cold enough, fresh enough. 

Katie McDonough - 18:48 - All of that. Um, so wholesalers really won't ship to me, I have to go pick up if I'm going to use them. And at first I was like, oh, this is a real challenge because I was used to living in a city. I was used to going into the wholesaler and buying my flowers, like sites know, seen. I was able to choose what product I thought and now I'm so fortunate because I was sort of like forced to find more local flowers. And the network here is incredible. I have a flower farm 10 minutes away from me and they grow beautiful balloons organically and sustainably. All of that stuff. My kids come with me to the pharmacy to pick up the flowers. We talk with the farmers, we pet their dogs. Like it's one of my favorite parts of a what a wedding is. I'm getting to get the ingredients. 

Katie McDonough - 19:36 - We have a couple of pick your own flower farms where we go and I let them, you know, they're handy with clippers so they are picking their own flowers that they're going to get to use for their bouquets and whatnot. And so I really involved them a lot in the gathering stages of things. We'll go out in the woods and cut foliage. Um, so that's what we do on Wednesdays or Thursdays is a lot of gathering. Um, and then I, I honestly work a lot at night so, you know, I, I do my day to day mom stuff and then we put the kids to bed and then at 7:00 I go out to the studio and I work. Um, there's a nice, I'll start doing like all the vase prep and sometimes I'll do a greens and things like that. Um, and then a lot of times on Friday I've got about two hours where I'm sort of working with the kids in the morning and we're doing, you know, arrangements a little bit and they're doing their stuff. 

Katie McDonough - 20:32 - And then by the time that they are done with being out in the studio with me, we're having lunch and all that. And then Friday I just stay up as late as I need to to work. They love loading up. That's one of their favorite things is. So on Saturday mornings or whenever I need to learn in for the wedding, they're going to help me pack the boxes and stuff, all the paper around arrangements and things. So, um, and then actually the most fun is on Sundays or after the event. Afton has a claim on all my flowers, all my leftovers. So you, I mean the girl can hardly handle Thursday to Friday and Saturday like waiting for what she's going to get as leftovers and then on Sunday kind of like, I just let her go crazy. She can use all the flowers and tip. It does too. I mean he loves it. Um, he, he and Afton both make what we call confederate bills. Um, and they are like all the pedals ripped off of flowers and thrown into the air like confetti. So Sundays after events are really fun. It's just like total free design days for them. Um, I have a video on instagram of afton making an arrangement after one of my workshops and the girl, like, she doesn't ask me anything, she just goes and makes it. She's pretty good. 

Kelly Perry - 21:52 - Well, Katie, we have really loved having you on the podcast today and before we sign off, if there was just one word of encouragement that you could give to moms of littles, um, who are in a similar season of life, what, what is your cheerleader? Um, what's your cheerleader comment 

Katie McDonough - 22:10 - or I mean, I think that the main thing is that this is, this is how my husband and I parent, um, so it felt really natural moving into, uh, working with the kids because I just didn't think of it another way. Um, I also think it's really important. Um, you know, our kids have seen us working from the beginning. They don't really know anything else and we don't either, so they're very involved, but it's not, it's really natural. I mean this is Ben Cooks a lot and they're involved in that. Um, I think it gives your kids sort of the opportunity to see that that work can be fun, that work is important, that you are, um, capable of kind of doing both. Um, it's definitely about being 

Katie McDonough - 23:05 - flexible, realistic, you know, and, and, and setting yourself up for success. I mean, I, the year after, after he was born, I booked more weddings than ever. I mean, it was my biggest fear at Pendleton print and it was horrible. It was so stressful for me because I didn't know what it would be like. And I just, when they're really little, you're like, yeah, I got this, I can do this. Like all I have is this like sleeping baby next to me. This is so easy. Um, and so when I had Tippett, I took way more time off and because I knew the importance of spending time with him and not feeling like either one of the things I was doing was getting second. Um, I'm really, really fortunate to have been work at home and to live close to my family now and to be able to work at my own pace. 

Katie McDonough - 23:57 - I only book, I mean at this point I'm looking like five to 12 weddings a year and I love that pace right now. Um, when the kids are in school, when they're older, I think obviously I'll probably ramp back up, um, to, to more weddings are more workshops and all of that. So I think it's just really about keeping your parenting style and your business style, like in sync with what you always wanted to do. I don't think you should make a change. You have to like make a few little tweaks here and there. But the reason this works for me is because this is just like how we live our lives. Um, so 

Kelly Perry - 24:40 - cool. So just finding, finding that intersection point and I'm not feeling the pressure to go big and just to be able to really have that balance. I mean we are only one person, so. Oh, that's beautiful. Well thank you Katie. So much for coming on today and for sharing a little bit of your life with us. It's been really a privilege to have you here and I know that the people listening have definitely been encouraged and to all of you who are out there that had been listening today, I'm keep moving forward. The world needs the those eyes that you have, the beauty that you're able to see and to share, so best wishes. Katie, thank you so much for being a part of this and to all of you out there listening. Farewell. Until next time, 

Kelly Perry - 25:32 - this podcast is brought to you by Team Flower, the flower flowers, an online learning community in a big group of florists that are focused on 11 the world through flowers. Whether you're a professional farmer, florists getting started, or just love flowers. Welcome to the party. If you'd like to know when new podcast episodes are released and received, fund video tutorials and articles, sign up for a pen pal club. It's free. Visit, and click on resources.

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The Flower Appreciation Society