Creator of a quickly growing successful design company, Erin Condren talks about how she marries her life as a mom to twins and her life as a business owner and designer.
Her version of having it all inspires us all to put a little more color into our lives… even if that means working hard to get it!
Meet Erin Condren
At the top of Erin Condren’s résumé: Being mom to 11-year-old twins — a boy and a girl — and wife to her husband of nearly 15 years. The Condrens, who make their home in bright and sunny Southern California, balance life as a busy family — navigating their time between activities for the twins and two successful and hectic careers — all while having a lot of fun in the process.
The story of Erin Condren Design
The beginnings of Erin Condren Design started out as many mom-owned businesses do. She became a mom in 2001 and her career in the apparel industry ended in the wake of 9/11. In an effort to help contribute to her household financially, as well as to channel her seemingly endless supply of creative energy, Erin began designing invitations and stickers for the moms she knew in her immediate circle.
Shortly after, a friend, who was hosting one of those ever-popular home shopping parties that moms love, suggested Erin bring her designs and, as Erin says, “the rest is history!”
Soon enough, the Christmas cards that Erin was designing for moms locally were reaching families across the nation and she was getting email orders quicker than her single HP Desktop printer could handle! “I had 10 printers buzzing anytime my kids were napping,” Erin recalls about the early days of Erin Condren Design. “I worked long hours and late nights, but with the help of family and friends, I started a thriving business of personal stationery products that [I knew] had the potential to become something big.”
And, it did. In the following few years, the Condrens decided to invest financially in Erin’s growing business, developing a website, hiring a full-time employee and eventually teaming up with Al Marco, a local businessman with experience in fine art printing, who helped push Erin Condren Design to the next level.
Marco encouraged her to hire a publicist and gave her advice on how to successfully streamline her home-based business.
Erin tells us that things continued to take off. “After landing a spot on The Ellen Show‘s ’12 Days of Holiday Giveaways’ series, my business literally exploded. Al Marco and I officially became partners and I moved my business into his fine art printing facility. I was like a kid in a candy shop with all of the technology at my fingertips — my small collection of cards and stationery quickly expanded to calendars, personalized gifts, and of course, my most popular product, the Life Planner.”
A day in the life
Today, Erin Condren Design occupies 40,000 square feet of office space in their Southern California location, with over 100 “amazingly talented, hardworking employees” and, as Erin says, “the party is really just getting started!”
While the beginnings and the evolution of Erin Condren Design is enough to make your jaw drop on its own, let’s remember that during that time of rapid success and growth, Erin was also a new mom to twins. Your jaw is on the floor now, isn’t it? “I used to put the babies down at 7:30 p.m. and start a pot of coffee!” Erin recalls. Then, when husband, Eric, would return in the evening from his own budding career in the restaurant business, Erin would head out to Kinko’s to prep her orders to be sent out. “It was the craziest nighttime routine, but we did what we had to do to make it work,” she shares.
Now that both businesses are a bit more stable, albeit, still growing, the Condrens lead a more balanced life with their nearly teenaged twins. Erin starts her day before her kids are out of bed in the morning — not surprisingly, she’s an early riser — checking some emails off of her to-do list before hitting the morning school routine and heading to the office. “I have surrounded myself with incredibly talented people that manage production, customer service, accounting and so on, so that I can focus on what I love to do… create!” Erin tells us.
Erin leaves the office by 4:30 p.m. each day to be home with the kids by five (during the busier holiday months she hands off homework duty to her husband!). “I must admit that we eat out most nights,” Erin candidly shares. “By the time I get home and the kids finish homework, it’s easier to go out!” And, she continues by sharing a sentiment that any mom can relate to: “Although sometimes I feel guilty that my kids aren’t getting home-cooked meals, I really feel that our time together at night is even more intimate and engaging since I’m not also juggling pots, pans and dishes!”
Having it all: The million-dollar question
While it appears that Erin Condren is a mom who has solved the mysteries of having it all and finding the perfect balance between a home life and a career, she admits that oftentimes, she feels like she’s on a balance beam: “Sometimes I’m leaning too far left, other times waving my arms and gritting my teeth just to hang on.” For Erin, her No. 1 stress-management solution during the times that seem unbearable is her husband. “Somehow, no matter the load, he has found a way to handle the stress better than anyone I have ever known,” Erin shares. “When I feel like I’m going to ‘fall off the beam,’ I call him to coach me through it. I always hang up the phone with a better perspective, as he truly never sweats the small stuff… and really, it’s all ‘small stuff.'”
On top of her life as a mom, a wife, a designer and a businesswoman, Erin Condren is also one of the 1.3 million Americans (according to arthritis.org) who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis — a condition which affects three times as many women as men. But, like with most things in Erin’s life, she sees the big picture through her colorful lenses, even a condition that is often quite painful and debilitating. “I have to listen to my body,” she shares. “Some days the joint swelling and pain is too much. I know that stress and lack of sleep can bring on a ‘flare,’ so I have to be careful not to over-do it.”
When it comes to “having it all,” Erin puts things into perspective, “I’m not sure many women could do what I do and keep their sanity. But, I too have my melting point and I suppose that ‘having it all’ comes with its own setbacks. But, I’m certainly not complaining!”
Tips from Erin on keeping your family organized
So, how does Erin keep this busy life running smoothly? This mom practices what she preaches and is her own biggest fan when it comes to using Erin Condren Design products to keep her family organized. Two of her own products that are everyday musts in the Condren household? The Life Planner and the Oh! What a Week! Schedule Pad (there’s even a video online of Erin showing you how she uses hers!). “On Sundays, I look at my Life Planner and transfer all of the family activities to the Oh! What a Week! Schedule Pad. I tape it to our refrigerator and my kids add their activities, school projects and tests. It is really our road map for the week.”