Talking Motherhood and Business with Karen

Yesterday, I shared my interview with the super-cool Callie Camp, who is part of the Birth Lounge Collective. Today, I’m catching up with another mama from that group, Karen Randall. Karen is the woman behind New and Green Baby, an online cloth diaper shop based out of the Vancouver area. Like Callie, she’s also hard at work right now organizing BirthFest, which runs this weekend. And like Callie, she also found some time to chat with me.

Unfortunately, my interview with Karen was a bit of a comedy of errors. For some reason, Skype would just not co-operate. The audio file has all this background noise, which seemingly came from nowhere. So I will spare your ears and share some written excerpts from that interview here.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’ve been married to my husband since 2003, and we have 2 girls, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. Currently I run New and Green as well as being involved with my kids.

New and Green Baby was launched in Summer 2007, and we’re an online cloth diaper store. But really what our business is built on is educating and supporting parents. We have cloth diaper workshops that run all throughout Metro Vancouver, and we have cloth diaper tester kits to help families get started with less risk.

How did you start New and Green Baby?
For a long time in my working life I’ve wanted to do something a little bit different, or do something on my own. When you’re an employee, you don’t always have the ability to act on new ideas or to change things. So when I went off on my maternity leave with my first daughter I got some cloth diapers, and I figured out how to use them along the way. I started going to lots of moms groups, and the reaction I had from lots of moms in those groups was, “What is that? Is that a cloth diaper? Where did you get them?” Then they said, “I really wanted to do that, but I didn’t know how.” That kind of simmered for a while, and out of that came a business idea.

So now you have this business, and you’re running it from home, is that right?
We have a warehouse space where we keep our diapers, and we have some staff now that works with us, but the bulk of it, what I do, often happens at the dining room table. It’s in the evenings, when the kids are asleep.

How do you manage that? Your kids are still very young. How do you do that and maintain your sanity?
I had this really incredible fantasy that I’d be able to work at home, with the kids present, and get things done. And that was possible when my first daughter was really small and not yet mobile. Now, it’s totally not possible. The way I do it is childcare. We have wonderful family in town, so they get to spend time with their grandmothers, and my oldest daughter goes to preschool. I work in “work” time around the times they’re not here. The big thing I’ve learned is I can’t do them both at the same time or nobody wins.

Do you do anything to recharge, or to keep yourself sane?
It’s been a marathon. It’s been a long haul working on this business, and putting all this energy into it. To be totally truthful I’m just at this point starting to feel like I need to reclaim a bit of time for myself. Because I really focus on working when the kids are not with me, that means working at night, when I maybe would be having downtime if I wasn’t working on this business, and working when my husband is looking after the children.

I’m focusing a lot more on when I take my daughter to preschool, trying to make more connections with the moms there and trying to do more mom things instead of just business-related things. And one of the big things I’ve done is connecting with other moms in the mom business community in Vancouver, which is super supportive, because everyone knows what it’s like.

If you could go back to when you first started this business and tell yourself something, what would that be?
I think it would be to be disciplined about setting boundaries around business time and family time. I’m staring to get that, but it’s taken four years.

I struggle with that, too. We see each other on Twitter at 11:45pm.
It’s like the mom working hours.

I’ve seen some of your goals recently around setting boundaries and I think they’re awesome.
My two recently are no computer before breakfast. And to be totally honest, I broke that rule this morning. But it’s a work in progress, and if I fall down I can get back up. And my other one is no computer from like 5:30-8:30, because that’s dinner time and putting the kids to bed time. But it’s just little tiny pieces.

I see that you’re very active in the community. Do you do anything to try to consciously create community?
Because I run an online store it’s important for me to try and connect people through workshops, so that families who are new to cloth diapering can see that other people are interested in. We’ve created a nice Facebook community where there’s lots of new and seasoned coth diaper users, so that’s been a really important thing for me, too.

What’s your favourite part of working with expectant and new parents?
For me it kind of parallels what I was doing as an Occupational Therapist, in that I worked with people to refine their goals and then achieve them. With diapering we’re looking at what your goals are for diapering, what works for your family and how we’re going to do it. When they come out the other end and they’ve done it, it feels good.

There’s no way you will remember this, but I ordered some cloth diapers from you, and you pre-assembled them for me so that I could see how to use them. I really appreciated that, and it helped me see how to use them.
Aw, thanks for the feedback!

I will see you at BirthFest. This is going to be my first time. Is there something I should really look forward to?
It’s going to feel like a big party. Lots of people wearing their babies, lots of huge bellies walking around, and really warm inviting vendors. It’s a festival feel, there’s lots of music, and the gym no longer looks like a gym. It feels like a nice lounge-y space. So take your time and have fun!

Now I want to turn it back to you. How do you create boundaries between family and the other things you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Creating boundaries is very important to me since I give a lot emotionally and physically as a labour and delivery RN, plus being a mama to a toddler. If I don’t have great division and set boundaries, I become a haggard mama and stressed out person.

    I love my alone time, and make it a priority in my schedule. It’s not an indulgence, it is a way to fill me back up. A coffee date with a girlfriend, time for me to run errands by myself, lounging on the couch and not feeling guilty about my ‘to do’ list. A lot of these are possible because I have a fabulous husband. He knows all too well how much of a crankpot I become if my life is a constant stream of GO GO GO and give give give.

    I also say no to over time shifts and don’t take on more than I can deal with. I don’t over load on committee work and I don’t enrol in so many things that I can catch my breath.
    Mama in the City’s last post … Special Delivery Theyre Here!My Profile

  2. I suck at boundaries but want to say Hi Karen! I was an early N&G customer, and have loved watching Karen’s business grow. Especially love that it’s right in my backyard ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m looking forward to saying hi at birthfest tomorrow!
    eva’s last post … Covering Up Is A Feminist IssueMy Profile

  3. This was a great interview! I really enjoyed reading it. Scheduled work time and scheduled family time is definitely a big help. Have a wonderful weekend!
    Wendy Irene’s last post … Enhance Your Life- Give SupportMy Profile

  4. Cheryl @ Mommy Quit Her Job says:

    Great interview! I’m now getting into cloth diapers with baby #2 and New and Green Baby is one of the sites/stores I love visiting (I especially love her blog)

    It’s always interesting to hear how other moms started their business and run it given the demands of kids and other things as I’m also a WAHM who struggles with the balancing act daily. And most likely will be giving up my business once baby #2 arrives because I have no clue how to keep it going ๐Ÿ™

    Keep up the great work Karen! ๐Ÿ™‚ Will be placing an order soon.
    Cheryl @ Mommy Quit Her Job’s last post … NestingMy Profile

  5. Thank you! I love reading interviews with other WAHMs. I especially like hearing that I’m not the only one working nights. I’m striving to establish boundaries regarding just how late I go to bed รขโ‚ฌโ€ sometimes it’s pretty late รขโ‚ฌโ€ but of course we were sick through much of February, and so there are probably going to be some late nights up ahead as I try to meet my March deadlines รขโ‚ฌโ€ the first one being next Tuesday!
    Rachael’s last post … Keep a JournalMy Profile

  6. Thanks for sharing! Boundary-setting is an ongoing issue for me . . . sez she at too late an hour at night!
    Lady M’s last post … Consumer OctopiMy Profile

I love comments! If yours doesn't appear immediately, it was caught by my spam filter. Drop me a line and I'll rescue it.

Share Your Thoughts


Subscribe to followup comments

CommentLuv badge