Freelance to full-time (part 1)


There are innumerable articles about creative people wanting to take the leap from full-time employee to entrepreneur. What happens when the situation is the other way around, as it was for me? As you’ll see, it was a longer than expected transition.

Let me start with some background so you can understand how I came to be where I am now.

After just a handful of years of being out of college, I quit my full-time job when I became a mom in 2000. I started working as a freelance graphic designer a year later. A Little Hut started as a blog (2004) where I shared my crafty ideas that got me away from the computer and corporate work (Sadly, I just noticed that the first year of my old blog disappeared!). A Little Hut, the paper goods business, took off a few months later.

I worked as a freelance graphic designer and business owner until the summer of 2013. That’s when I was asked to help out with a short-staffed in-house design team. It was supposed to be a temporary position. Two months later I was offered a full-time job and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m still working for the same company. It’s a great place to work and my commute is ridiculously convenient. I’m 5 minutes away from work and I come home during my lunch break almost every day.

So that’s the timeline. Now comes the emotional side of things.

Even before accepting the job offer, the feelings that crept up were challenging and they took a while to process. They can be wrapped up with one word: defeat. Remember, this came just 5 months after my trip to Surtex – so yeah, this didn’t help at all. It just added fuel to the emotional fire.

Many weeks passed before I realized that the guilt of not updating my A Little Hut shop was consuming me. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. It was horrible. I felt like I owed it to my customers to come up with something, anything! But I was completely and totally burned out and what little I had in me didn’t want to produce something that wasn’t up to par. I was also adjusting to the new schedule and family routine. I didn’t even have enough in me to properly post something on my blog (more guilt!). I remember, at some point, mentioning my job but I kept the feelings about all of this to myself. I’ve always been the type of person that needs to simmer, think through, solve and then finally share.

I don’t remember when, but I finally decided that I needed to let myself off the hook and call an official time out. I think I gave myself almost a full year. Aside from an occasional post and personal work on Instagram, I answered emails that came in through the site and that was it. I really needed that time off. I also decided that if I was going to come back to A Little Hut I wanted it to be a need and not an obligation.

The struggle came with an internal monolog that would not stop. Half of me was hard about the fact that I couldn’t say no to the full-time job and was disappointed that A Little Hut didn’t make it to the point of making as much as I was being offered. The other half was kinder and just accepted this as a new step in my journey. The latter was the loser for the better part of a year.

Leaving my entrepreneurship behind meant I was leaving something that so many of my friends and acquaintances were so “jealous” of – the dream of working from home and being my own boss. It meant accepting the fact that I had to redefine who I was as a business owner and that maybe I had to drop my entrepreneur label because I wasn’t living it anymore. It meant that I needed to decide whether I was going to keep A Little Hut or close it for good. Closing seemed very drastic so I left the shop open waiting to be in a better place before making a final call.

Last year I felt the yearning of making again. I needed to create something and share it. That’s how I wanted to come back.

It’s been a struggle to set schedule for my A Little Hut projects because time is so tight nowadays. But I’m slowly getting things under control and I’m having fun again — the giddy and passionate kind of fun. I felt like either I was going to make it to this point or I was going to say goodbye. But I’m definitely back!

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I want to talk more about the lessons learned  in my next post (this got so long!).
See you there!

Flowers to start a mission

Floral lattice collection

I’ve been thinking a lot of how I want A Little Hut to evolve and grow. Part of that includes what my mission is – sharing my creativity with you and for you to share yours with others. As I said years ago, on the old blog, I still believe that creativity fills the heart — it truly does! So, why don’t we spread it even further?

From now part of A Little Hut proceeds will be donated to Donors Choose, an organization that provides public school teachers with materials for their classes, needs that they can’t meet otherwise. Initially, I will be donating to art and music projects.

Taking this step makes me so happy! What I do and your support of my work will allow teachers to continue to spread the joy of making art. Yay! I hope that you can join me in this cause. I’ll report once a quarter on what we’ve accomplished together. I can’t wait to get started!

We can start with the Floral Lattice Collection. It’s based off a sketch that I drew when it was the end of the day and I just needed to draw something to relax. It’s so interesting how some of my favorite work happens when I’m not overthinking it.

I like the idea of making these gift sets so that you can share what you make with your favorite people. We shouldn’t keep it all to ourselves, right? Which makes this more of a fitting project to start with A Little Hut’s latest mission. Don’t you think?

Happy Monday everyone!

• • •

And one more thing…
As a small thank you for all your support I’m starting off the summer with a sale!
– Coupon: alhthankyou
– 30% your entire purchase
– Valid until June 12th

Floral lattice collection

Sometimes it isn’t about paper

I don’t mention my Society6 shop a whole lot but I wanted to let you know that I’ve been editing my designs there. I use a mug with the yellow flowers almost on a daily basis and I take the black tote bag with me to work every day. We also have a clock hanging on one of my studio walls. I always make things that I’d want to use – so why not actually use some?

Originally, I ordered these products to check the quality of what I’d be placing my patterns on, but now I buy them as gifts for teachers and to use myself. I get such a kick out of seeing one of my tote bags on a teacher’s shoulder. Hee-hee!

My favorite thing about my Society6 products is that they give me the chance to work on my pattern work which I enjoy so much. Like I’ve said recently, I still love surface design. I probably like seeing my patterns on all the Society6 products because it’s the closest I can get to seeing a Patricia Zapata goods shop. Ha!

Speaking of patterns… Updating my Spoonflower page will be a goal for this summer. I have several collections for children’s projects that I just need to upload. Some floral and geometric designs are also ready to go.

Even after being at a full-time job for over 3 years now I’m still finding it hard to keep up with it all. Please bear with me, I will eventually get there!

Baby bear gift set


A sweet couple that we know is about to welcome their baby boy into the world in just a few weeks. We celebrated with a fun baby shower and this Baby Bear Gift Set is the design that I worked on to go along with her gift. So, if you ever wonder if I use anything I design – why yes, yes I do!

I wanted this set to be sweet and my first thought was a teddy bear. Both our kids were given teddy bears as babies and they loved them, jumped on them and hugged them to death.

I used the blue because I can’t help myself. I love this color that is between blue and turquoise — love! The version I gave my friend has orange instead of white as the accent color – some of you may have seen the post on Facebook or Instagram — and that worked out great too (red would look amazing with the blue as well).

I mention this in the description of the file but I may as well mention it here too. The artwork for both cards (square and A2) would look amazing in a white frame. Just a thought for nursery decor…

Now I need something for a little boy’s birthday so maybe I’ll work on that next.

Happy Tuesday (which really felt like a Monday)!

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PS – FYI – I want to stick to posting my new projects on Mondays but the holiday and staying on track with the kids’ final exams threw this week’s schedule off track. I will be better next week. Thank you for your patience!