Hello! Here at thortful, we think parents are superheroes. So, for our next creator spotlight, we want to shine the light on parents. 

The mums, dads, step-mums, step-dads, dads taking on the role of mum, mums taking on the role of dads, grandparents, the list is endless. We want to spotlight them all. 

Juggling work and parenting can be a challenge, and it’s important to celebrate the parents who are doing it all.

For part one of this creator spotlight, we spoke to dad, Billy, from fyou Cards and mum, Sam, from Sam Bratby Art who balance wearing their parent hats alongside creating full time or part time. We hear their stories and learn about their challenges and their successes.

fyou Cards

Hi, I’m Billy (29) and my partner and I recently welcomed our first child, Dylan. I work full time within the Insurance industry (I know! Not very exciting) handling a variety of claims for an online retailer. My creator business is called fyou cards selling offensive, backhanded and straight up rude cards intended to make the recipient laugh. You definitely need a good sense of humour and/or thick skin to be on the receiving end.

How did you get started with your own business?

I’ve always been a creative person and for around 5 years I had notes written down in my phone with ideas for greeting cards but I had absolutely no clue as to how to create them digitally so all it ever was for a while was just an idea. One day I saw an instagram reel on the basics of using Procreate and it sparked a fire in me to start experimenting. After a few months of practice and endless hours of YouTube tutorials I had my very first design.

Describe your typical work day…

I start my day at 5:30am by going to the gym (give it a rest Mark Wahlberg). I then start my full time job from 8am to 5pm. Luckily, I work from home so I’m able to squeeze in a few cuddles, feeds and nappy changes with Dylan in between emails. After work, I try to prioritise spending as much time with Dylan as possible, as well as taking my dog Ziggy out for his daily walk. Once I’ve put Dylan down for the night, usually around 8-9pm, I work in bed on my iPad creating designs, content for social media and looking at ways to update or diversify my designs. 

How do you juggle your work/life balance of being a parent?

Juggling the work/life balance is definitely a struggle some days and I wear a lot of hats, dad, boyfriend, manager, dog dad and creator/small business owner but I prioritise as best as I can. Currently fyou cards is my side hustle so unfortunately it has to take a back seat from time to time. Exercise certainly helps me with keeping a clear head and my mental health in check.

How do your family or children inspire your work?

I create designs that I would want to send to my friends and family. I have a warped, twisted and dark sense of humour and I love seeing my friends and family’s faces when they read the offensive card I have got for them. 

What is the main challenge you face being a parent and running a business?

The most difficult part of creating is thinking of a brilliant idea first thing in the morning, feeling really inspired and all I want to do is grab my iPad and get to work. As a new dad with a full time job, my son and work come first so I have to wait until the evening to get started but I always make sure to open the notes on my phone and jot down my ideas.

Do you have any advice for other dads thinking of starting their own business?

My advice to other dads wanting to start their own business is, what are you waiting for? Life gets so much busier when you’re a dad and it’s so easy to put it off or to one side while you’re just trying to get through the day. We all start somewhere so just start small, build up to it and be patient. If and when you do start, and you’re feeling super inspired to create, it’s really easy to prioritise this as it’s a great feeling when you get that buzz. Or it might be that you’re motivated by earning a bit more cash especially in this climate. However, time is the most valuable thing so spend it wisely. Like with all things, there’s a balance and it takes a while to get it right. 

Sam Bratby Art

I’m Sam, a mum of two and an artist/illustrator working from my little garden studio in Manchester. 

How did you get started with your own business?

 I went full time with my creative work in March 2020 when I decided to fully utilise the shed we had already built in the garden.  I threw everything at it and luckily became busy quite quickly.

Describe your typical work day…

Now I’m three years in, I have found a way to focus on the work I love.  A typical day could see me painting a personal commission or coming up with a new drawing for a future collection to take to markets.  I juggle a few different projects all at once so I try not to get too fixed on a schedule as it is always changing. I’ve recently revisited my thortful card designs too and have a list of updates I’d like to make to the style of those. The concepts and words work well but I really want the style to be recognisable as my sketchy pencil drawings. I love that you can make edits on cards that are already published and selling well. I see the collection as a work in progress.

How do you juggle your work/life balance of being a parent?

I’m finding it easier as the children get older because I’m getting a bit more sleep now! I tend to work while they’re at school and I try to get everything locked away by 3.30pm.  It doesn’t always work out as planned though and sometimes I end up working late at night after they’re in bed.

How do your family or children inspire your work?

My work is constantly evolving and is always inspired by family. I often find myself turning our daily lives into little stories or poems and would love to move into illustrated children’s books, eventually.  

For now, I am obsessed with capturing the tiny nuances and mundane rituals of family life.  I get excited about the conversations and routines we share, the food we eat and the deep-rooted nostalgia of music, places and objects.

I was born and bred in North Manchester and I’m proud to say we have a rich and juicy city full of heart and history. 

What is the main challenge you face being a parent and running a business?

 My main challenge as a parent with a creative business is figuring out how to ensure a steady flow of income every month without burning out.  I’ve come to understand that I have to work smarter rather than harder, so I have multiple revenue streams now and am always adjusting as I go. I found out very early on to try scary things, make mistakes and move on quickly – no matter who is watching. Done is better than perfect and there is always room for improvement later on.

How do you balance your workload during the school holidays?

I try to juggle work with family fun but if I’m honest it is hard to switch between the two. I am considering taking the whole of August off in future. It will mean working extra hard the rest of the time but that will serve as motivation to get results, I hope. And it’ll mean we get to enjoy the break without me feeling torn. 

Do you have any advice for other parents thinking of starting their own business?

If I had to give a parent advice on starting a new creative business, I would say to test the waters with your social media first. See what people might be interested in and ask for support.  There are loads of free resources out there, too. Read everything you can about leveraging your art online and then try things out for size and see what fits. There is no need to spend a fortune to set up on your own and there is no need for it all to be perfect right away.  People like to follow your process.

It won’t always go to plan because parenthood is unpredictable but if you can do a little bit at the kitchen table once the kids are in bed, you will be sowing a seed towards your dream. Make mistakes, move on to the next stage, and enjoy it. I’m constantly learning how to do this, and I hope that learning never stops. 

We hope you enjoyed this Creator Spotlight. Join us next time where we chat to three more parents. 

If you have a story you want us to shine the light on, please send us an email to [email protected]

See you next time! 

Team thortful