I am happy to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Mom, Shannon Richards. Shannon and I have known each other since about third grade and our lives have intersected at Chapel Hill, Chicago and back in Charlotte. Shannon is a great mom, friend and someone I just wish I was able to see more often. I hope you enjoy getting to know her.
Tell us about your unique working situation. When you first became a mom, you were able to work from home. Now with two kids, you have a great part-time gig. How did you get so lucky?
My first career was in marketing that I did for over 10 years. After 9/11, I got laid off from a marketing job and had a talk with myself about what I really “wanted to do with my life”. I always knew that I wanted to be an interior designer. I just chose the wrong college to go to because they did not offer that as a degree (I digress). After I got laid off, I decided I would go back to school and get my interior design degree. But in order to pay for school I would take a marketing job for the engineering firm. The plan was for me to leave the marketing job and start interior design after I graduated. But of course life chose a different path. I got pregnant (found out the day I graduated) and my husband and I decided we would move back to Charlotte to be closer to family and friends.
So there I was- pregnant and moving, but employed. I kept the full time marketing job because the job was great and they wanted me to work from home. The only glitch- it is not interior design. But I decided to put that hold for a few years to have my children.
I really enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of working from home. HOWEVER- after having a child it changed the game. It was hard. I’m very very fortunate that I have my mother in town to help, and she helped out a lot during the day and I shared a part time nanny. Some weeks that felt like it was enough and some weeks I felt like I was drowning. This continued on after I had my second child and I continued to have my mom, nannies, and preschool. Finally it just got to be too much. Then came Isabella. Erin, who owns Isabella is a long time friend. We had kept in touch over the years and she knew that my long term goal was to be an interior designer. I finally called to tell her I was almost ready and to let me know when she was and when a position was available. She was ready then. So I took the plunge and quit my 40 hour a week job with benefits and a 401K to do what I really knew in my heart I wanted to do.
I love what I do. It is hard because I still juggle, but I feel like I have a better handle on this because I’m not trying to work while the kids are in the house (for the most part!). It is nice to be outside the home. The childcare is obviously the trickiest part- as I’m sure all working moms can relate. My mom is my savior because she keeps the kids one day each week while I work. I’m also extremely lucky because Erin is great and she works with my schedule and the kids changing schedules. I couldn’t have asked for a better job. I truly love what I do.
Tell us about Isabella and why our smarty moms should check it out?
Isabella is a boutique and design studio located in Myers Park. I would say that the store is eclectic with a feminine vibe. We offer a mix of home decor accessories that range from from bed and bath linens, to furniture, modern lighting, artwork to accent pillows. We also have lots of great gift ideas- candles, lotions, European soaps, throws and PJs.
In addition to all the great items we have in the store, we also have three great designers (Erin, myself, and Priscilla) that offer interior design services. Our style is to reflect the lifestyle of each of our clients. The three of us truly enjoy design and take pride in each of our projects. We want our clients to have a custom look and be able to enjoy their space for years to come. And from the beginning, Erin’s vision has always been about customer service. We constantly strive to provide the best to our customers and give them that personal relationship.
What is your favorite activity to do with the kids?
Anything outside! We love to go to the preschool playground right after school. We are also very lucky to live next door to a great friends who have kids the same ages as ours. So most days you can find our kids running back and forth between houses.
What is your favorite weekend activity without your kids?.
Shopping, taking a nice relaxing bath and renting a movie or just catching up on DVR with my husband.
What is your favorite restaurant with kids?
Moes (my daughter) and Chick-fil-a (my son) are the number one picks, but lately Hawthorne Pizza is making it up the list.
What is your favorite restaurant with NO kids?
Our new discovery is the local bar-The Lodge. But on date night my new favorite restaurant is Vivace- it reminds me of a restaurant in Chicago. The decor is beautiful and the food is great.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
My two year old son is obsessed with boobs- guess it starts at a young age. He loves to say “ mommy you got a bra on”. But he also loves to ask any women (ie. teachers, strangers ) as he points to their chest “those your boobies and do you have a bra on?”
What is your proudest moment as a mom?
The first time my daughter unsolicited apologized to her granddad for her behavior and made her cousins do the same.
Favorite store to find children’s clothes?
I love a sale! So I try consignments first- I like Carrousel Kids in Matthews and Kid to Kid at the Aboretum. Any chance I get to go back to Chicago I go straight to H & M to the kids section. I also like Nordstroms kids, Mini Boden, and of course the Gap, Old Navy, and Target.
Carmel Park-it is so close to our house and my husband loves to take the kids to Sharon School’s playground.
Favorite birthday party venue/party theme?
My favorite and easiest birthday party to plan was my daughters 4th birthday. She wanted a tea party. I stumbled across this wonderful woman who does everything for you. I didn’t have to think about a thing! The girls loved it and she set up my entire house as a dress up tea party. She brought over more costumes with costume jewelry and shoes and necklaces and tiaras than any four year old had ever seen. She set up the table with the food and the tea and the cupcakes. All I did was clean my house and send out invites.
Minivan or SUV?
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
My friends, the weather and all the grandparents live in town!
I could not live without my…
My husband and my girl’s bible study. And I have to have one of these daily- either a nonfat chai tea latte from starbucks or a half and half sweet tea from Chick-fil-a.
I wish someone told me sooner about…
That you sign up for preschool in Jan/Feb. for the following year- I was completely clueless with my daughter. And that I really should have worn sunscreen instead of baby oil when I was 15.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
Rodrigo- the best painter in Charlotte. He is great, affordable, and fast. Also the secret is out because of Smarty Pants, but Dr. Kelly Jones, my GYN- she is the best. Love her.