May 15, 2013

Interview with Graham Wiles-Pearson from Entropy the Shop

Work at Home Wednesday

Name: Graham Wiles-Pearson      Company: Entropy the Shop

Please tell us about your business:   My wife (CherieWiles-Pearson) and I run a small shop online at The shop is centered around vintage and eclectic finds from home accents to personal frills; from furniture to jewelry. We also feature upcycled clothing, art and other decorative and functional elements for the house and kitchen.

As a former interior designer, Cherie creates many of the upcycled home design elements for the shop. She is the driving force behind the shop's vision and style always researching and hunting for interesting finds.
I am a professional chef who has always enjoyed a hobby of preserving and fermenting foods. 

In the late summer of 2012 I started a business producing some of my vinegar and preserves for sale to the public; 'Spoiled Rotten Vinegar' and ' Stuck-Up Jams'. Some of my sales are made in my local area but the majority of my business is done through Entropy the Shop on Under the California Homemade Food Act I hope to produce more out of my home allowing me to reach more people and small, independent establishments.

How long have you been working from home?   Over a year now. Full time for 4 months.

Do you work from home full time or part time?  Full time

How do you stay connected with colleagues in your field?   We stay connected with other shop owners on Etsy through messages and Teams. Most shop owners and creators are very willing to share their experience and advice for marketing, sales and recipe tips. The Teams on Etsy offer community and support for shops and buyers in an array of categories. We are involved with SF Bay Area teams and some Edible teams which all offer support.

In January of this year we became involved with Google+ and it has been a great resource, both personally and professionally. The communities established on G+ are very diverse and many specifically aimed at different focuses and interests. We enjoy the support and cumulative knowledge of food, blogging and small business communities and many more.

How do you deal with the isolating nature of working from home? This is a tough one.
Since my wife also works as a nutritional writer for a medical journal from our home (steady income) while I tend to our 2 year old son, Elliott, we not only feel cut off from the outside world but even feel distanced from each other at times.

Since I left my career to work on our businesses at home four months ago we have had our moments of stress and burnout. Realizing that to encounter these issues within such a short period of time we decided to make efforts to get connection with the outside world in ways we never sought before. Joining the kids club at the local library, regular visits to our community park where fellow stay at home parents commune and 'stay at home dad' communities on Google+ are some of the ways I have reached out to the world beyond my front door.

My wife, Cherie has some close family in the area and is making attempts to make routine 'girl's dates' or morning coffee venting sessions. In the past month Cherie has become dedicated to lengthy outdoor hikes as well.

Although I do have many contacts and friends in the restaurant industry in the bay area, since I have left the workforce it is hard to keep up communication. Our schedules are so different now and our priorities have a different tempo. So for inspiration and cottage industry shop-talk I rely on my friends at the farmers markets. Now that I am not rushing off to my restaurant after doing my shopping I am able to enjoy sharing ideas and stories with the people who grow my ingredients. This keeps me grounded.

How do you stay motivated without the accountability of a "time clock"?   This is an easy one. Juggling the schedule of 1, two year old boy, twin twelve year old boys and a sixteen year old girl who is an honor student involved with every after school program offered, every day of the week, when a window of opportunity opens it is utilized to the fullest.

My wife, Cherie, struggles with her research papers as they are not a fun outlet though she does learn a lot for our families health. She is motivated to get her writing done in the morning hours so she can be creative with the shop and spend time with out children in the afternoon. It does take a lot of personal motivation.

One great aspect of our business(es) is that they were created out of our very own passions.

As a designer, Cherie has an appreciation for unique elements and being creative with spaces, photography and instructional blogging. Working on the business feeds her soul creatively and promises a better future for our family should it continue to grow.

As a chef and foodie I just love to work with food which is an endless source of culture and history. As for a time clock, mine is set by nature itself. When the fruit and vegetables are ripe and in season it is time to work. Capturing these ingredients at their peak has a short window and this is my incentive. With my fermenting, much of the time is spent waiting until the elements are ready for bottling or canning. Again, this is a natural clock which dictates my priorities at the moment and after investing my time and love into these creations little can divert my attention.

What are the biggest challenges you face when working from home?  Remembering that first and foremost, this is our home and we are a family. It can be a challenge to keep our priorities in line when we want or need to spend time on our business while other family matters arise. Keeping our family, each other and our home in perspective is our daily goal.

Do you work in your underwear?   I'll never tell

What is the best part about working from home?   For us right now, the best part is being with our youngest son and watching him grow and develop every day. Always being available for our children is a luxury. At times it can get tough being in such close proximity with the people you live (and work) with.

What is the one item that you find vital to have in your home office?  Outside of internet connection I would have to go with coffee. With all that is demanded from four children and two dogs at 6am there is no way we could survive without coffee.

What is the one piece of advice that you can give to those just starting out working from home?  The common advice for an external job/ place of work still apply: Schedule your work time and personal time; have a life and personal activities.

It is convenient and easy to know that if you don't get that job done at 2pm you can always whip it out while you relax in bed watching TV at 11:30pm. This is a benefit which should only be used when needed. If you don't set specific work and personal periods, or you start to blur the lines of the two, you will become unorganized and limit your productivity and recreation setting yourself up for burn-out.

Continue the conversation...

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