Anne Kenny - Food & Beverage Magazine

Anne Kenny

INTRO:

Anne Kenny found a muse in her CSA box. Inspired by the simple beauty of local produce, she took a leap from tech to much more careful and highly personal connection. Her hand-made cards set a mood, bring on the flavor and feel for the moment. Not to mention Caring Ink cards are just plain old stunning. I am partial to her strawberry and lemon (which then inspire a sip of the same!) and you will find your own favorite. Better still, sending snail mail offers a certain, nearly lost connection – a way of saying I care. Caring Ink includes cards for the spectrum of motherhood, including loss and other realistic moments of the journey. I caught up with Anne and was struck by her love and honesty in all she says and does. Read on and then grab a pen and write on…

ANNE KENNY

Founder

Caring Ink

 

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WISH YOU COULD OFFER YOUR FORMER, EXPECTANT SELF?

Spend less time creating the “ideal” birth plan and more time learning about and preparing for postpartum. There’s a lot of emphasis for expecting moms on making it through labor, but there is not enough conversation or support for what happens right afterward.

 

AS A YOUNG MOTHER, YOU MADE A CHOICE TO WALK AWAY FROM A CAREER IN TECH. YOU TALK ABOUT LEAVING AN ORGANIZATION THAT BOTH HAD A COMMITMENT TO MOTHERS AND FAMILIES AS WELL AS AN ARRAY OF BENEFITS TO ENCOURAGE RETENTION. YOU LEFT FOR YOUR OWN WELL-BEING. YET YOU CONFIDENTLY DID SO WITH ABOUT A PLAN. AS YOU BEGAN TO MAKE SENSE OF YOUR “WHAT’S NEXT” YOU FOUND YOURSELF SKETCHING FOOD FROM YOUR WEEKLY CSA BOX. FROM THERE, CARINGINK WAS BORN. DO TELL WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF AS YOU CONTINUE EVOLVE THE WAY YOU SPEND YOUR DAYS AND THE FOCUS YOU HAVE ON YOUR ENTIRE AND GROWING LINE OF CARDS. 

When I left the corporate world, I really missed being in an uninterrupted flow state and coworkers. I crave illustrating because it provides that flow state, and I enjoy collaborating with others as a proxy for having coworkers.

When I was deciding if I wanted to officially sell my cards, I reached out to Gia Graham, an illustrator, teacher and mom of two. She had built and then sunsetted a stationary line, and I asked if I could pay her to share your experience with me. Her advice to go “slow and steady” has become one of my mantras. With limited time, I try to keep taking small steps.

 

CARING INK HAS A REMARKABLE FEEL FOR GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER, BE IT FRESH FOODS, NEW MOTHERS, PREGNANCY OR INFANT LOSS, BREASTFEEDING CHALLENGES, ETC. – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW YOU ARE SUCH A POWERFUL SOURCE OF SUPPORT FOR WOMEN WHO OTHERWISE FEEL A BIT UNSEEN?

Thank you. It still feels nascent but I love when someone recognizes that it’s a new category of cards that doesn’t exist and feel seen and validated for all the work they do that often goes unacknowledged.

 

SO MANY WOMEN ARE TAKING THEIR TALENTS OUT OF THE CORPORATE WORLD AND CHOOSING AN ENTREPRENEURIAL PATH. WELCOME TO THE GREAT RESIGNATION. YOU ARE ONE OF THESE WOMEN- WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE CRITICAL INSIGHTS YOU WANT TO PAY FORWARD ? AND WHAT WOULD YOU SHARE ARE KEY LEARNINGS OF THE EARLY DAYS OF HANGING YOUR OWN SHINGLE?

Entrepreneurship is appealing because it affords more flexibility and control than the corporate world. I wish there were more part-time options for moms to be able to integrate their home and work lives.

After leaving my job, I wrestled a lot with my identity. Most social interactions revolve around the questions, “What do you do?” or “How’s work going?”.  I found myself saying, “Well, I used to…”, and that talking about my kids to people who weren’t moms themselves would quickly end the conversation. I swung the pendulum from working at a hyper-growth startup to being a full-time mom. I’m still figuring out something in between that works for me and my current phase of life.

My advice is:

  • You’ll figure it out. It may take some time, and that’s okay.
  • Talk to others who have been there.
  • Nothing is permanent. Have a growth mindset, experiment, learn. Follow the muse when it shows up.
  • Take time to thank people you’ve learned from.
  • Rest builds resilience.

 

YOU WORK LONG HOURS AND OBVIOUSLY POUR YOUR DEDICATION INTO ALL YOU DO. YOU ARE ALSO AN ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK MOTHER TO TWO BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN. DESPITE IT ALL, YOU MAKE THE ART YOU CREATE IN HONEST AND SO VERY SOOTHING. THIS SEEMS LIKE A LOT TO DO, LET ALONE SO AS WELL AS YOU DO IT! HOW DO YOU PREPARE? HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF RESTED AND WELL? AND OF COURSE, WHO CARES FOR YOU!?!?

My husband is both supportive of this passion project and engaged in our day-to-day routines. I’m lucky to have family close by who are my proverbial village. I’ve learned that if I pay for exercise classes I’m much more likely to regularly exercise. And, I try to.

 

WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST COVID LEARNINGS? HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE TRICKY CHALLENGE OF SUPPORTING YOUR CHILDREN AND A NEW BUSINESS AND ALL THAT INCLUDES? HOW DID THIS IMPACT YOUR FRIENDSHIPS? MARRIAGE? DID YOU EVEN HAVE MOMENT TO REST? AND OF COURSE, WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT YOU NOW, IN THIS BRAVE NEW WORLD?

Creating a predictable schedule was helpful for my sanity. I also had to get over my personal FOMO; having time by myself recharges me as a parent. I carve out time for my own unicorn space and try to support my husband to have his.

 

THINKING BACK, WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A NEW MOTHER WORKING AT THE TECH COMPANY? CAN YOU GIVE SOME FLAVOR TO THAT TIME IN YOUR LIFE? IF MOTHER WAS NOT YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE, WHAT WAS?

Understanding norms and “what’s expected.” For example, should I put “pump” on my calendar? Is it okay to leave work early? Am I expected to attend an overnight offsite that everyone else is so excited about but I’m secretly dreading? If ways of working aren’t explicitly communicated, working parents spend a lot of mental energy thinking about these types of questions and their implications.

 

WHAT PRO-TIPS DO YOU HAVE TO SHARE WITH OTHER NEW OR EXPECTANT MOTHERS? 

Band together! I met so many moms through prenatal yoga, birthing classes, work, and playgrounds. They continue to be a critical source of support. Becoming a mom helped deepen my friendships with coworkers in a way I didn’t expect.

 

WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF SUPPORT IN RETURNING TO WORK AS A NEW MOTHER?

Women who had recently returned to work, a Slack channel for moms, and friendships that grew in the pump room.

 

WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS? WHO DO YOU MENTOR?

Informal and official working parent advocates, Genevieve Pearson & Henri Loh, who helped me navigate my pregnancy and return to work. When I hear a woman is expecting, I share resources and advice I wish I had known.

 

FILL IN THE BLANKS:

As a working parent, I never expected ____would be so hard and _____would be so much easier. 

As a working parent, I never expected the invisible parts of motherhood (breastfeeding, pumping, supporting children during their meltdowns, emotion coaching) would be so hard and, sadly, I can’t think of something that’s so much easier. Even things like getting dinner on the table every day is no small feat!

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