Happy March and Happy Women's History Month, Moms! This month we are THRILLED to spotlight local mom boss, Jessica Featherstone, mom to Sky and owner of Close to the Heart! Read more about this incredible mom in our exclusive interview below!
Please tell us your name and profession.
Jessica Featherstone - Retail & Motherhood Support
How many kids do you have?
One tiny human named Sky who is 5.
Please tell us about your business!
I own Close to the Heart, a motherhood boutique in Thiensville. I focus on supporting women as they transition through pregnancy and postpartum. We carry maternity and nursing clothing, nursing bras, baby carriers, skincare, pump bags, and more in the store and online. In addition to products, we have weekly parenting groups, consultations for lactation and baby carriers, and classes to support women and their partners. I'm a bit different than a lot of stores as I focus on the woman instead of the baby. When a woman becomes a mother, she has a special set of needs and we need to meet those instead of just focusing on the baby.
What do you like best about being your own boss? Do you have a special project you're working on at the moment?
Creativity. I get to choose how we will be supporting women. It's really exciting to think about the different challenges women face as they are pregnant, after they give birth or adopt, and as they return to work. How can I support that woman? Is it a specific product? What classes would help her transition? What kind of support group or playgroup would be helpful? For example, I have a class on pumping and returning to work, pump bras and pump bags, and then, of course, Saturday parenting group so she can come back and ask questions after she's returned to work.
What's the hardest part of being a mom and a business owner?
Switching off. It's so easy to pick up my phone and answer a quick question via email or Facebook. Or I will suddenly get an idea and need to write it down. It's important to have time that I don't work as it's super easy to be "on" all the time. So I do my best to put my phone up and focus on Sky when I'm with her. Now she's at the age too where she wants to watch videos on the phone or take photos. So putting down the phone gets hard. So we do other things like paint or puzzles.
When did you realize you wanted to go into business for yourself? Prior to owning your business, what did you do professionally?
August of 2018 and we opened in November. It was never something that I honestly thought of because it's a huge transition and can be super scary. Before that time, I was a Postpartum Doula part-time and worked part-time at a non-profit doing fundraising and marketing. So while I was in business for myself, it was very causal. I would only take a client a month and then focus on one person. I enjoyed the steady paycheck from a non-profit while I did something that I really loved. Then I decided I was done working in non-profit for a while. One day I was walking in downtown Cedarburg and saw an open shop space for rent. So I called my husband and asked what he thought about me opening a retail store. He didn't think it was a terrible idea, so I went for it.
What's been the biggest challenge for you so far in motherhood?
Staying calm. As Sky grows older, it's really hard to take a deep breath and not escalate situations. School day mornings are usually the worst as I just want to get out the door so I can drop her off on time and make it to the gym. She's a very typical kid and takes her time while I'm asking her for the fifth time to just get dressed. I joke a lot of times that I'm raising myself. I see her "dawdling" in the morning because something caught her eye or she's working on a project. Which is something that I do. Like I can clean this one more thing before we leave which is really just dawdling too. So for me, I have to take a moment and remember she has an agenda of her own too. So instead of yelling, I need to take a moment and say hey I really need to do this so can you finish your project later. Altho I end up yelling a lot even though I sound awesome. I'm a work in progress.
Any words of advice for other working moms and mompreneurs, especially those that are newer working moms?
Do it. Whatever your dream is, do it. You deserve happiness and fulfillment. You are an amazing human being and a mother. You can do both. It's not easy and you won't always get it right. You deserve happiness and fulfillment. Did I say the same thing twice? Yes, on purpose. Now go read that again a few times and remember it.
Do it. Whatever your dream is, do it.
Favorite MKE restaurant/store/hangout other than Close to the Heart?
My favorite hangout is probably Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve in Grafton. I enjoy getting outside and touching a tree, listening to the waves of Lake Michigan, and watching the sunrise come up on the lake. Sky loves to head to the lake in the summer and dig in the rocks, play in the waves, and generally enjoy life. She's my little water sprite.
What makes your family unique?
My husband moved up here from Cincinnati, Ohio in 2013 before having a child. My husband, Daniel, had two job offers: one here in Milwaukee and one in Australia. I convinced him that Australia wasn't in our best interest (spiders, crocodiles, and even further away from family) so we moved up here. We knew two people before we moved. So having a child with no local support was quite difficult. But we muddled through and lucky for me connected with a lot of great local resources and women.
What is Milwaukee's biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
For me, it's extending maternity leave. Since I focus on maternity and postpartum, I get to connect with a lot of mothers in this time frame. We need to allow women to spend more time with their babies. We need to allow partners more time at home to help support the mother and bond with their new baby.
We need to allow women to spend more time with their babies.
Are you going to do anything special for Working Moms Day on March 12th?
Yes! We will be doing a sale and I'll be adding goodies to pamper you to your purchase. You can shop in-store or online with the code Iamamazing for 30% off. Yes, I did make that code so you will have to type it out and remember it.