Mommy Talks is a weekly feature of different moms. For this new season, I am featuring work at home moms. My guest for today is the one who made the design for my blog theme. I really loved working with her and I am honored that she agreed to be featured today. Let us welcome Ms. Patricia Alix-Villa!
Hello Pat! I am excited to feature you today. Anyway, to get started, please tell us more about yourself.
My name is Patricia Alix-Villa, and I’m a mom and wife, artist, graphic and web designer, and owner of Fancy Girl Design Studio.
I have 2 wonderful & rambunctious boys, aged 8 and 3 years old, and I’m married to an amazingly supportive husband who is my rock and my best friend. We’ve been married 9 years now, and live in Singapore (where my husband was transferred by his company a few months after our wedding).
I’ve been painting and designing as far back as I can remember. I started designing clothes for my paper dolls when I was 5, and all I spent most of my childhood drawing, daydreaming, and reading books. My parents encouraged my artistic efforts, but I never dreamed that I would one day make a career out of it. I taught Psychology for 7 years at UP, and received a Fulbright grant to study for my MA at the University of Massachusetts. I left it eventually when I set up a design firm & crafts business (back home, in 2000) and the business took off.
I love to do crafts, I love to bake & cook (and eat!), I’m crazy about fantasy novels, and I’m currently obsessed about interior design. We bought our first home last year and I’ve been busy decorating it myself. It’s still a work in progress, but I absolutely love the process! I like to prettify everything, and I find rearranging the furniture very therapeutic. My kids have gotten so used to seeing a different layout every couple of weeks, they’ve started giving me suggestions for the next time I rearrange it again. =)
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a work at home mom?
This is a long story. =)
After I gave birth to my first baby, I just knew I couldn’t leave him with a maid. I also absolutely wanted to breastfeed him exclusively. We were blessed that we really didn’t need a 2nd source of income in order to survive, so the choice to stay home and take care of him myself was easy for me to make. My husband was fully supportive of my decision to stay home.
Living abroad with no relatives to rely on meant taking care of my baby 24/7. It took a lot of adjustments on my part, because I was used to having maids at home — now all of a sudden I had a baby to take care of, a home to manage, and no one else to help me except for my husband. My parents are both really busy with their manufacturing business and countless advocacies and charities, that it was unthinkable for either of them to come over and help out for long periods. So I took it one day at a time, and lost my sanity and found it again in repeated cycles.
Eventually, of course, my baby grew up and needed me less and so I found that I had time on my hands — and I discovered blogging. At that time I blogged over at Multiply, and found a wonderful way to connect with others moms who were going through the same thing. A younger cousin told me one day that I could actually change the theme on my Multiply site. I was like, REALLY? Why didn’t I know about this before? I was like a kid in a candy store, learning CSS and changing the look of my site as often as I changed the sheets. Eventually, friends started asking me to design their sites, which I did for free, of course. I even submitted free themes at the multiply customized themes group.
I think my web design business started after Multiply held a theme contest (2009, I think?), and one of the admin people actually asked me if I wanted to join. I didn’t really think I was qualified at that time, but I entered one of my themes in the contest and got 2nd place (I tied with some kick-ass professional designers, so I got a big kick out of that). After that, the inquiries started pouring in and the rest as they say, is history. =)
I did my first WordPress theme shortly after, for Neva of ManilaMommy.com. I will never forget that because she introduced me to the wonderful world of WordPress, and to other mommy bloggers. Eventually, I left Multiply and concentrated on WordPress and Blogspot themes because I got frustrated at the limits of what we can do over at Multiply. I continued teaching myself about web design, learning more with each project that came my way, and meeting so many wonderful clients. I love doing what I do, and I’m just really blessed that I was able to make a career out of my passion. Note that I had no business plan, no marketing plan. I just keep doing what I love, giving great customer service, and letting my work speak for itself.
Wow! So that is how Fancy Girl Designs started. Can you tell us more about what you do in Fancy Girl Design Studio?
Fancy Girl Designs offers pretty, practical, professional web & graphic designs with a distinctly clean aesthetic. My goal is to provide you with a beautiful, elegant design that will attract readers without overpowering your content. I specialize in an array of design services for web, brand identity, and printed materials. My favorite clients are mommy bloggers and mompreneurs.
What are the struggles you face being a work at home mom? How do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge of course is managing my time. I’m a one-woman show, I work from home, I have 2 kids to take care of, a house to manage, and still no maid to help me out. =) It helps a lot that my “office” is inside the boys’ bedroom/playroom. So I can watch them while they play, and they can come to me when they need anything — even if it’s just to show me the lego spaceship they created, or to kiss a boo-boo. When he comes home from school, my older son does his homework beside me while I work. Yes, I’m always multi-tasking. That goes with being a mom, working or not.
Time management is all about prioritizing and so I do that consciously and constantly. I rarely have time to blog now, which is sad. But it isn’t my priority anymore. I only go out on weekends, and I never go out with friends for coffee or shopping, it’s just not possible with the workload I have. (We do socialize on weekends, and we go to bible study every Friday night.) My husband is the most supportive husband anyone can ever have. He understands when I have to work overtime on a project, and will take care of the kids some nights so I can work.
Were your expectations met? Why?
More than I have ever dreamed. I think working from home is fantastic. It allows me to be with my kids while earning an income and finding self-fulfillment from doing what I love. I was there for every milestone, I kissed away every tear, and celebrated every small triumph with them. What more can I ask for? (Ok, a spa massage would be great once in a while, and I would love to go out for coffee and talk about things other than Ninjago and Lightning Mcqueen. haha).
What advice can you give to those who want to take this journey?
Go for it! The sacrifice and hard work getting there is so worth it. But don’t do it without the support of your spouse. Talk it over and pray about. It’s a big decision, but if you think it’s the right one for you, then by all means, start planning for it now.
Working from home means not having proper barriers between work and home. Find a way to make some. Get a proper desk if you need a desk. Make sure to keep it neat, organized and pretty! Manage your time properly and set a schedule for your working hours and stick to it.
Find inspiration where you can. Get support from everyone. Always remember who you’re doing it for in the first place.
Thank you Pat for sharing your story. Your story inspires us moms to find our own passion and to excel in it.
To see more of Pat’s work, drop by her site at http://fancygirldesignstudio.com/