Yes, today’s Smarty Mom is THE Erin Condren, founder of ErinCondren.com – my hands-down favorite way to keep my family and my life organized (click here to read my review of the 2015-2016 LifePlanner). Smarty Moms are usually local, and Erin lives in California, BUT she has a Charlotte connection – she’s got some family in the QC :-).
I can’t thank her enough for carving time out on her very own LifePlanner to do this interview with CSP. I think you’ll see that she’s the definition of a Smarty Mom, and I hope her interview inspires you just as much as it inspires me. She’s REAL. Sure, she lives in on other coast and runs a super successful company, but she’s also a mom and a wife. Amazingly, she’s got 24 hours in the day just like the rest of us. And, thanks to her, many of OUR 24 hours are organized in style. 🙂
Thank you so much, Erin! Smarties, meet Erin Condren! (And, psst! Keep reading for a Smarty Steal on your very own LifePlanner!)
Smarty Mom Erin Condren
Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: Hilary for 17 years! (yes HIS name is Hilary!)
Children: Kate & Finn – twin eighth graders, 14 years old
Current city: currently living in Hermosa Beach, CA
Hometown: grew up in Fountain Valley, CA (Orange County)
Alma Mater: UCLA
Occupation: Founder/ “Chief Style Officer” of ErinCondren.com
Tell us briefly how you got started.
I started designing stationery (holiday cards, birth announcements) for friends and family from my home office (actually, a “toolshed” in our garage!) – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Once I realized that my passion for design had the potential to turn a profit, the goal was to create a strong core team to support this fast-growing business. I found a partner I could trust to manage the operational side and long-term plans, and his support has been instrumental in shaping ErinCondren.com into the lifestyle resource it is today.
What’s been the biggest learning curve for you as a mompreneur?
Growing an “empire” like this while juggling a busy family has no doubt been tough at times. Scalability has always been our biggest challenge as we’ve literally doubled in size, year after year. For the most part, this is a personalized – print on demand business with a very complex workflow. We are vertically integrated which means we actually produce almost everything we make in our own print shop/fulfillment center. We aren’t just pulling product off of shelves to pack and ship, each LifePlanner is hand coiled in house and all phone cases, clutches and acrylic trays are custom made in our factory. We now have more than 200 employees between our L.A. & Austin facilities and and layers of management with teams to execute thousands of orders that ship each day. We continue to grow at an unbelievable rate of more than 1,000 NEW customers every single day.
Your fabulous LifePlanners were made with a busy mom in mind, but you have TONS of other products to get organized. What other Erin Condren products do you recommend for a busy family?
Yes, my LifePlanner keeps me on track and never leaves my side. However, years ago I realized that my family could benefit from a communal calendar that lives in our kitchen for everyone to add to and live by. Every Sunday, I transfer important family appointments and events on to our “Oh What a Week!” Schedule Pad so we have a “script” to follow for the week. My husband and kids add to it as homework projects arise or other commitments pop up we all know “the plan” for the week.
What inspires you the most?
I must admit, I’ve always been obsessed with fashion and textiles. I love to follow trends on the runway that can translate into stationery and everyday stylish organizational tools.
What stresses you out the most?
I used to worry about my own success and being able to provide for my family. Now with more than 200 employees, I often worry or “stress” about maintaining a business that can provide for all our employees and their families. I am grateful for a fantastic business partner and talented team of executives that can help balance the load and keep stress down.
Is “family-work life balance” possible, and if it is, how have you found it?
It really is a juggling act, and sometimes the balls drop. The key for me is having an incredibly supportive husband and close family & friends nearby. At first I had guilt about not being the “room mom,” but my kids are very proud of what I do
and understand that I can’t always be everywhere. My own mother always worked and was a Professor of Early Childhood Development. I was so lucky to have her advice, assistance and inspiration during the early days of my business when it was really soooo hard to “do it all.”
What’s your typical day look like?
I’ve always been an early riser and usually wake up before my 6:00am alarm goes off. First thing first…COFFEE. While I pour my first cup, I start the rice cooker (takes 40 minutes). My son is a picky eater (and yes, I’m the enabler) so sending him off with a bowl of sausage & rice makes me feel like his body is charged and ready to start another school day. I try to shower, get dressed and check emails before they wake at 7:00am. My daughter is less picky, and I actually love being a “short order” cook in the morning and making her eggs & toast or oatmeal or whatever. As I see it, I only have 4+ more years until my kids are off to college so I really cherish our morning time together.
The kids leave for school around 8:00am, and I head to the office shortly after that. From 9:00am to 4:00pm I have an action packed day of meetings that range from Design & Product Development to Production recaps, Website updates, and other conference calls with our team in Austin. I try to leave the office by 4:00am so I can be home soon after my kids finish school.
Between sports and studies, I’m usually shuttling kids or helping with homework until dinner. I must admit, we eat out most nights and I used to feel guilty about that. My husband is in the restaurant business and for years dinners at the restaurant were the only time we really got to spend together. Now it’s just easier than shopping and meal planning for the week. My husband and I love to cook, but during the week it’s tough to make time for all the prep after work, sports and studies are done. My husband and I often take a walk with our dog (“Roo”, Aussie Shepard) after dinner to recap the day while the kiddos finish up the rest of their homework. I’m back on my laptop every night, working through tasks and preparing my “script” in my LifePlanner for the days ahead. Sometimes it seems like the movie “Groundhog’s Day” when I wake up the next morning, but I love this routine and know that so much will change when I have an empty nest.
What’s next for Erin Condren the company?
Now more than ever, the opportunities are endless! We have overcome so many of the growing pains and I like to say, “this party is just getting started!” Last year, international sales were nearly 10% of our business and we plan to open a third production/fulfillment center in Europe this year. This year, you will find the EC collection of LifePlanners and stylish organizational tools in more than 400 Staples stores nationwide. But I see this lifestyle brand expanding far beyond
paper and planners…we look forward to launching a new collection for entertaining, home decor and more. Stay tuned!
Now for some fun Smarty questions…
Favorite color(s)? Turquoise
If a Charlotte Smarty mom visited you in Cali, where’s the first place you would take her? Stand Up Paddle Boarding! It’s my new favorite pastime, and the whales are almost always out their waiting for me 🙂
Best part of your job as Erin Condren the CEO? I love that this business is, literally, direct to consumer. We get to play a role in helping our customers maintain a sense of style and order in their lives – whether it’s launching a seasonal LifePlanner cover based on a customer’s design suggestions, or helping a college grad create her first set of contact cards. We get countless emails from our customers that thank us for all that we do, and that makes me very proud of what we do
Best part of your job as Erin Condren the mom? I feel so blessed to have twins, and one of each flavor! Since I’m not the “room mom” or able to volunteer at the school often, I absolutely LOVE shuttling my kids and their friends to & from events. The conversations are priceless, count me in to carpool anytime!
Favorite Life Planner accessory? Tough to choose, but my current favorite are the snap in “StylizedSticky Notes.” I paste these little notes through my LifePlanner so I can easily move things around and be flexible with my schedule.
Favorite Life Planner cover design? I’m currently sporting the “Follow Your Heart” design with rose gold metallic accents.
If your life as it is today could be summed up in one word, what would it be? Without sounding so cliché: one word = GRATEFUL
Top three favorite movies? Sound of Music, Pretty Woman, About Time
Favorite thing to do as a family? Spend time in Lake Tahoe. My in-laws live there and we absolutely love our lakeside visits and time together away from the day to day chaos that can sometimes overwhelm us at home.
SUV or minivan? Microbus! I’m a huge VW fan and loved my Eurovan that I called the “Magic School Bus” when my kids were little.
Smoothie or fresh-pressed juice? Smoothie! (with ice cream please)
Favorite workout? SUP (Stand Up Paddle)
Early bird or night owl? Definitely an early bird! I love to watch the sun come up and take advantage of
every minute of daylight
Finish this sentence: I want my kids to remember me as… a hardworking business owner and party planner extraordinaire! A woman with a passion for life balance. I think I have engraved this messaging in their brains…”let’s get it done so we can have some fun!”