Hello, hello, hello! Apologies. This is a long post but I feel like I owed our readers a bit of an explanation.
First, I know I’ve been absent lately (like maybe for months on end except when I pop in now and again) and I wanted to explain that. I also want to chat about blogging and share all of the exciting things that have been happening behind the scenes around here and where we’re going next with good ol’ 24 Cottonwood Lane.
For those of you that are new here, I started this blog way back in 2012 right after my second grandson was born and placed in my care. That made two little tiny babies, born 12 months apart, and me all living in our new house along with one rather surprised Lhasa Apso.
This little blog gave me both a creative outlet and something that was just for me when everything around me was about babies, even though I was primarily focused at that time on doing yet another nursery and sharing the process on line. Wow. Things have come a long way since then. Kinda blows my mind sometimes that this little hobby blog has actually turned into a career.
Now, you must be wondering how it’s even possible to make a career out of blogging since I’m hardly ever here lately. Maybe you wonder if I’ve been cheating on you. Truth? I have. With multiple blogs and websites. And since things have gotten a little crazy, I figured it was time to come clean and tell you what’s been going down. Because there’s a lot!
24 COTTONWOOD LANE & COTTONWOOD LANE DESIGNS
I named this blog 24 Cottonwood Lane because that was my address back in 2012 and I like cottonwood trees. They remind me of Alabama where most of my family lives. Also, I was major sleep deprived, homesick for Alabama, and just drawing a blank. Really, it was the best I could do at the time and I’ve occasionally regretted the name. But….
That blog eventually led me into my side business of Cottonwood Lane Designs which is where the majority of my blog turned business is now funneled through. I started by painting and flipping furniture and doing interior design consults, DIY projects, and style boards. It was super helpful at keeping our single parent family afloat when I quit my social work career in 2015. And at the time I loved creating DIY posts, painting furniture and doing interior design.
Loved. I still swoon over all things interior design but as I began to build other websites and blogs, I realized that’s really one of my passions. Building websites…#nerdgirl alert.
So I got on with the business of learning to build and design websites. I’m currently taking some coding courses at Udemy and I can’t believe how much I get excited by HTML5 and CSS and that it all actually makes sense to me now. Truthfully, I’ve become a bit of a coding course addict and an Udemy addict. I feel like I’m learning all the things all the time and my brain is both tired but very, very happy.
(This from the person who had to hire someone every time I needed to change anything around here and lost half my work when I jumped from Blogger to WordPress a few years ago. Ha. Not any more!)
THE NEW VENTURES
I added FASD Families to my blogging portfolio in December 2015 and while I haven’t kept up with it in the way I had hoped, it’s been a pretty darn big success despite my inconsistency. I have every intention of continuing to build that site as a resource for parents and caregivers who are raising children who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, just like my two little boys.
Seriously. FASD sucks and anyone who’s in the trenches deserves good solid information and resources and tools that work. I’m on it. In the meantime, I continue to add to the site when I find resources that families have shared with me that worked for them. Or I magically stumble on something that worked at home.
Our travel site was born when our foster care agency was trying to force me into adopting my grandsons and they were hitting us hard for a few years with that agenda. Adopt them or lose them.
I didn’t know how to make ends meet once our foster care days were over as I had to quit my job to care for the boys and the boys would no longer funded by the agency post adoption (which is why they were so keen on adoption). I figured we would likely need to relocate somewhere post adoption where we could afford to live on just my blogging income and we were considering Nicaragua and Panama at the time.
Which is how and why I came to launch Traveling Single Mom. For some reason, the agency just decided to stop fighting me and the kids last fall and we’re now able to remain in Canada with many of their needs still being funded.
Can I get an Amen? Whew. I will likely list that site to sell in the near future or simply close it down. I’m adding a travel section to Cottonwood Lane because, well, travel. We love it and we try to do it often.
Just as an aside, we’re heading to Paris and Germany next weekend and then on to Africa for most of the summer. We’ll be back in Europe in August to stop in the Netherlands before heading home. Yes, you can travel with kids as a single parent. If there’s wine. Lots and lots of wine. And hopefully some good wifi so I can keep up with everything.
You guys! We opened an online shop!!! Isn’t this what all home decor and design bloggers dream about?
Well. Maybe not for everyone but it was for me and for my good friend, Pamela. While we are fairly opposite as people both in how we approach tasks as well as our taste in home design, we’re perfect in business together. I’m the creative and Pam is amazing at getting down to task. Me? Not so much. I’m all ideas, branding, styling and marketing. Pam’s the source and the solid work between connecting with suppliers and negotiating pricing. Stuff that I’m kind of shit at. I find what she does agonizingly dull and she thinks I talk nonsense, spouting off about coding and hex codes and content writing.
Pam’s taste in home design is much more mainstream than mine is, which I think appeals to people shopping online. Mine is all vintage and mid-century and kind of bohemian something. With pink. Lots and lots of pink. (Why yes, I do have a background in interior design. I just can’t figure out what to call my style.)
Which means you won’t come to our store and find wildly ridiculous things that you really can’t figure out how to use or things that are completely unaffordable. Nothing makes me crazier than finding something I love and learning that little ol’ chair costs $3500. Awww, hell no! You’ll still find some really glam and fun pieces however, because when I see the orange slice chairs or green velvet sofa, I can’t let those pass. Even if I’m the only one buying it. #sorrynotsorry
We had a soft launch last week to get the site live and to start building our product line. (insert squealing here!). Visit often as we’ll continue to add to our collection regularly and, of course, we’re just getting started. As our shop continues to grow, we’ll be looking for affiliate marketing influencers. If you’re interested becoming an affiliate with Scarlett + Co Designs, just shoot one of us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our wait list.
This is absolutely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done because it’s the culmination of all of my education, training, and my own passion all in one place.
Every time I wake up to work on this project, I feel like I’m high or something. In a good way. Not that I would know high personally, but I’ve consumed a fair bit of wine in my days (like perhaps on Saturday) so I’m going on that. Like I’m floating on this magic cloud and everything is amazeballs.
When I started teaching college last year I began with asking my students about why they were taking the program I teach in (Social work and Native studies). At the time I was asking because I wanted to gear my teachings towards where they wanted to be after graduation rather than just delivering curriculum that didn’t connect with them.
As time rolled on I got really interested in helping each student (most of them single mothers by the way) find their own personal passion. Separate from their families or society’s expectations, separate from what the college said, but what really moved them and what skills they had that coincided with their interests. These women are incredible and it’s amazing to help students find their passion and steer them in the direction of making it happen. I was so inspired that I started to create more of my content in the counselling courses to be about setting goals. Not just “I want to lose 5 pounds stuff either”. But setting goals based on what you’re passionate about. The more I did this, the more I saw people stepping in to their own light and the feeling that comes from knowing you’re on the right track, finally.
In the meantime, I continued to struggle with this site and the others, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with all of them. And then one weekend, I decided to actually work through my own curriculum and take myself through the exercises I was doing with students.
And BAM! There it was. I love blogging, I love writing, and I love teaching. I also love working with women and I’m a trained therapist with a Masters degree. I’m a hardcore advocate for kids and families (or a pain in the ass if you ask the agency that has to deal with me), and I believe in women helping other women. I mean, just cuz I quit my day job doesn’t mean I lost my 6 years of post secondary education. Although for some reason, I maybe thought that for awhile.
You know what else I love? Writing in my pjs, working from home, getting chores and errands done during the week so that I can spend my weekends with the boys, and never having another micro managing supervisor to answer to. When you realize that’s what building an online business means in terms of freedom from the 9-5 craziness, you’ll wonder why everyone isn’t doing it.
The Single Mom Collective will launch in July and is geared to helping single mothers or anyone really, build an online business or blog, and earn an actual income online while having more time to spend with their families. All mothers are torn in multiple competing directions. I remember the relief I felt when I stepped out of my career and watched my family become a hundred times better simply because the job didn’t suck up all of my energy and attention. I firmly believe you can have a thriving business career and still be able to spend more time with your family and the internet is the answer, folks.
It’s been a crazy time. But so seriously fun which is what I think work should be. Social work was fun for me in the beginning until standards, mindless forms, procedures and endless meetings took the place of really working directly with people to help them make positive changes. Because most of the time you aren’t even allowed to do that.
The Single Mom Collective is my passion and I can’t wait to launch. I really do believe that we can be so much more when we realize that we don’t need a job as much as we need to find our passion and work with it. Every single one of us has something wonderful to contribute and this is my tiny contribution to the world. Or will be in July!
Whew! Crazy, right? If you made it all the way to the end of this very long article, I’m glad you’re still with me. If you and I were chatting in person, I’d totally pay your bar tab right now!
Have you ever gone way out on a limb and made a leap of faith like I’m about to do? I’d love to know how it worked out for you! Leave me a comment here or on our Facebook page and tell me all about it 🙂
And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
A big life lesson was learned this summer about going into business with excited friends and giving things away for free. Scarlett + Co has been dissolved, at least temporarily. My friend hit a few bumps while we were in Africa this summer and wanted out. As such, I’ve taken the site back and will revamp it to either sell or keep under my own umbrella, possibly as a web design/theme site. You can read my thoughts about giving away your work for free right here.