We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Langford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I have found work/life balance to be more of a goal than a destination. Our lives are always changing, we go through different seasons of life, a difference in one year of our kids’ lives can make a huge difference in what their needs are, etc. I try to find the best balance in the moment, and also be open to making changes when needed. When I first started my handmade business, my kids were 1 and 3 and I could really only work when they were sleeping. Now just two years later, they are 3 and 5 and I am able to do so much more work during the day as they are playing together and have a better understanding of why and how I am working at home. I also think we need to always give ourselves so much grace. No one is doing this perfectly and it’s ok to go through short seasons of feeling like we have a super full schedule. If it feels like that all of the time, maybe a change needs to be made. I’m a stay-at-home mom, my kids are nearly always with me, and I homeschool, so I do my best to have my priorities straight, maximize my time, and fit in things when and where I can.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been creating fiber art for over 20 years, since I first learned to knit and crochet at 10 years old. My work and interests have grown and evolved over the years, most notably when I learned macrame around 3 years ago. It opened up a whole new world for me! I have now combined macrame, crochet, and weaving to create my signature floral wall hangings that I have been creating for a little over two years. The pieces that I am making now bring me so much joy, from the choosing of palettes, to incorporating unique details and fibers from my favorite small shops, to being able to offer one-of-a-kind, custom pieces to my clients. I love being able to combine my love for all things yarn and fiber with my love for florals, and create something that can bring color and joy to a home. My vision for my shop started after my family and I moved for the 4th time in 4 years and I was tired of putting up the same old decor that I didn’t truly love. I realized that our home should be a place that brings me and my family joy, from every wall to every shelf. I wanted to create happy pieces of decor that could bring color and joy to our own home and to the homes of others. A few of the keys to my success have been setting realistic goals, being consistent, and periodically evaluating what is working and what is not working. In my first year I was mainly focused on figuring out the details of running my business, finding my style, and putting myself out there to find my target market. In my second year, I shifted more towards creating new designs, exploring those designs with a variety of unique palettes and fibers, and building a shop that could handle the volume of orders I was beginning to receive. I’m always looking for ways to improve and things to cut out that aren’t working. For example, one of the first items I added to my shop was chunky, colorful plant hangers. I did sell some but they certainly weren’t a best seller so I decided to discontinue them last year and focus on my floral wall hangings, which are far more popular. I think it’s important to never feel stuck, but feel free to try new things and make changes when you need to. Your business should be a joy, not a chore.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in San Luis Obispo County and feel so blessed to be able to call it home! If my best friend visited me here, we would start the day with hike – either Johnson Trail or Bishop’s Peak. We would reach the top as the fog was clearing and the sun was coming out, and enjoy the view. Then we’d hit a local spot for breakfast, like Sally Loo’s by the train station, or Sidewalk Cafe in the Arroyo Grande Village. Next we’d do some window shopping (and real shopping) in the AG Village or downtown SLO. For lunch, we would definitely go to Old SLO BBQ for the best trip tip sandwiches, strawberry salad and their signature corn pie. In the afternoon we’d go for a walk on the beach, sipping on a coffee from Scout Coffee. For dinner, we would go to my favorite spot – Flour House in downtown SLO for the BEST authentic, Italian pizzas around. These are many of the reasons I love SLO county – beautiful hikes, gorgeous beaches, and some of the best small businesses and restaurants around!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Having the support of my family and friends has been crucial to my success and I am so thankful. Even just the simple act of asking me how my business is going means so much to me. Two people in particular stand out – my husband and my mom. My mom first introduced me to fiber art when I was 10 years old when she bought me a kit to learn how to knit. She has supported me every step along the way, whether it was selling hats and scarves to my classmates in high school, setting up home markets in our living room, and seeking out yarn stores everywhere we went.. And my husband, Brent – he always trusts me when I want to take a new step with my business, he sits with me every night as I work on my art, he’s completely gracious when yarn and boxes start to take over our house, and he gives me the space and time to work when I need to. He always supports and encourages me, listens to my rants, and believes in my dreams.