Indie Designers Q&A: Mumpreneurs – Part 2

Published on: March 11, 2022

Come with us as we continue our ‘mumpreneurs’ feature and meet a few more of the incredible independent mums behind the scenes who design cards for Funky Pigeon!

Aimee Stevens Design

1. Introduce yourself…

Hello! I’m Aimee from Aimee Stevens Design. I live in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with my partner and our two Primary school aged kids. I grew up here but I lived in London most of my adult life, returning to the countryside when we had the kids and we were priced out of the city. I still love London and visit whenever I can but I’m grateful to live in a beautiful place.

2. What gave you the idea of starting your own business?

I’ve always been creative and I had a place at art college but I ended up going to study English at Uni instead. After I graduated, I worked mainly in the charity sector but I kept coming back to drawing. I always made cards and presents for friends. So it’s always been with me.

3. How did you get started?

I’ve been a freelance illustrator since my daughter started school a few years ago but it was during the first lockdown that I started designing greetings cards. At first I uploaded a few cards onto an online selling site and I was thrilled to sell a few to my friends. So I designed a few more, and sold some more, and it all grew from there.

4. What challenges did you face?

I work around school hours so my main challenge is feeling like I don’t have enough time. A school day is not as long as a work day. I juggle my time between illustration, my other freelance work (I’m also a voiceover artist) and getting the kids to where they need to be, on time. I’m not naturally the most organised of people and I’m very messy but I’m trying to get better.

5. How do you get around the challenges?

My partner also works from home so we share the school runs and the taxi-ing of the kids to their activities. My Mum helps us too. I often work early in the morning before the kids get up to get stuff done!

6. Describe your typical work day…

I get up at 5am and get a couple of hours of work in before everyone else gets up (in winter I hibernate and sleep later). I walk the kids to school and then come home to work. I like to illustrate/design in the mornings when my energy is good and save admin for after lunch. I get the kids at 3pm and ferry them to various activities. I might do a bit more work after the kids are asleep but I tend to collapse into bed fairly early because of my early starts.

7. Do your children/family inspire your work?

The children have their own sketchbooks and we like to go to galleries and museums and draw together. They like to draw cards themselves and they often think of funny ideas and puns for me to use.

8. Do you have any advice for other Mums thinking of setting up their own small business?

Just do it! I spent a lot of time worrying about finding the right time to start and getting a perfect portfolio together before approaching companies but there is no perfect time, so get started and keep working at it because it takes time.

9. What’s your creative process?

All my designs start as a small thumbnail pencil sketch in my sketchbook. Then I move onto my iPad Pro to draw and colour on the App Procreate. I then transfer the drawing to my Mac to tidy the artwork in Photoshop before submitting them to Funky Pigeon to be featured on their site and ultimately end up printed and placed on mantle pieces across the country!

10. What do you find special about designing cards for other Mums?

I love designing for Mother’s Day. It’s a pleasure to draw bright and beautiful cards that I would love to receive myself or that I would give to my Mum. To think that other Mums will open my cards on Mother’s Day and hopefully have a big smile on their face makes me very happy!

11. What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed and why?

I love to draw our cats and our fluffy tailed cat Peggy, often features in lots of my favourite designs. Peggy’s a hunter and often brings us live presents so the design was directly inspired by her:

“Because You Don’t Appreciate Dead Birds I got you this card-Happy Mother’s Day”

The dog version of the design features a drawing of my best friend’s dog, Molly. Molly is the sweetest little pooch and I loved putting her on a card too! “Because you don’t appreciate chewed shoes, I got you this card-Happy Mother’s Day”

I love to be in my garden and my house is full of plants too, so my bright floral “Mum in a million” card reflects that

My “Mother like no other” leopards card is another favourite from this year’s Mother’s Day collection. It’s always fun to draw cats, especially wild ones.

My girls were obsessed with unicorns last year so that inspired the “Mummy You’re Magical” unicorn card


Mrs Best Paper Co.

1. Introduce yourself…

Hi, I’m Sarah a.k.a. Mrs Best! Originally from Birmingham, I now live in the Teme Valley, Worcestershire with my husband Steve and 8 year old daughter Tilly.

2. What gave you the idea of starting your own business?

The idea behind Mrs Best Paper Co. came about originally whilst on maternity leave back in 2013. I’m not ashamed to admit that maternity leave proved challenging. I missed the purpose of work and felt like I’d lost my creative identity. I drew upon my design background and began producing nursery prints and wall decals for my daughter’s nursery. Friends soon started to ask to buy my creations and Mrs Best Paper Co. was born!

3. How did you get started?

The business very much started as a side hustle to my design consultancy, which I setup in 2004. It took a couple of years of blood sweat and tears and endless cups of coffee, but finally in 2015, I was able to solely focus on my new venture.

Based from home, working from the kitchen table, my online collection soon evolved from art prints and room decor to greeting cards. I eagerly watched on as my cards gained popularity and I soon came to realise I might just be able to design cards for a living!

Fast forward to 2018, the business soon outgrew my home. Running out of space I sought premises close by. Mill Farm Country Retail was the perfect spot, hosting a community of independent businesses based on a working farm, what wasn’t to love!? And the Mrs Best Paper Co. store was born!

Half shop, half studio it’s the perfect space for me to create and publish my own cards whilst also stocking a collection of curated brands including items lovingly made by other small businesses.

4. What challenges do you face?

I’m not going to lie, juggling work and childcare has been a challenge over the years but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. Back when I was on maternity leave, I’d work my evenings once my daughter was in bed and that hasn’t really changed much now! There are lots of positives however working for yourself and I’m proud to have been there for all of the important milestones like my daughter’s first day of school.

5. How do you get around the challenges?

Endless cups of coffee, ha ha! On a serious note, I have to be very good with time management, both at home and at work. My family needs me at certain times throughout the week so I have to focus on the things that really matter and be as productive as I possibly can both at home and at work.

6. Describe your typical work day…

A typical workday consists of working from home on the morning, with a strong coffee and emails to kick things off! Once that’s in order, if there’s anything else pressing, I try to deal with that before heading into our store, based just 4 miles from home. My assistant Deb (also a working Mum) does an amazing job helping me with all aspects of the business including serving customers, stock management and online and wholesale orders.

I generally work from our store/studio until at least 6pm. My evenings are typically spent designing cards, there’s always an occasion it seems which needs new content generating and I like to stay on top of trends and keep my designs fresh and topical so people can relate.

What’s surprised me is I expected to care less about work after having a child, but in fact the opposite has happened. I seem to have found an incredible internal motivation to learn, grow and create.

7. Do your children/family inspire your work?

I love to take influence from the whimsical world around us, including family life. My best selling cards have been those which resonate with customers the most, so what better than to take inspiration from parenthood itself in all of its chaotic glory, both the ups and the downs!

My daughter Tilly inspired me to create the Mother’s Day card below. She loves to be creative so I wanted to create a fun activity card for Mum’s on Mother’s Day, one which can be cherished and kept as a keepsake for years to come.

8. Do you have any advice for other Mums thinking of setting up their own small business?

  • Be Organised – Write ‘to do’ lists and set challenging tasks at times when you’re at your most productive. You have to maximise the time you have to ensure your time is best spent!
  • Don’t burn out – Time out is just as important and by making sure you get good quality family time you feel refreshed and ready for the challenges ahead.
  • Explain to your child why you work so hard. I find this helps my daughter to understand that treats come with hard work. I’m proud she sees me as a strong, independent, working Mum.
  • Be patient – I’ve learnt that it takes time to see results so be patient and think about the bigger picture.

9. What’s your creative process?

My ideas come to me at the strangest of times often just as I’m falling asleep at night! I have to make a quick note so I don’t forget by the morning! Sketching ideas can be really useful, but when deadlines are tight I often approach them directly on my iMac. I use Photoshop and Illustrator to create my designs, with the aid of a wacom tablet and pen. This helps mimic the pressure and sensitivity of drawing and makes the creative process as natural as possible.

This year I’d love to explore procreate, a creative app used on a iPad. This would open up even more artistic possibilities and at 45 I feel I’m never too old to learn new tricks!

My favourite time to design is of an evening on my laptop! I find that’s when I’m at my most creative. It’s a peaceful time of day with no distractions as my daughter’s in bed and with the dog curled up next to me, I’m at my most relaxed and productive!

11. What do you like most about designing Mother’s Day cards and where do you get inspiration?

Whilst pregnant I made some amazing Mum friends through a local NCT class, most of whom I’m still in touch with today 9 years on! What bonded us was the similar experiences, we shared, both good and bad as first time Mums. It’s often the whimsical observations of motherhood which inspire me the most. Humour was so important in my friendship group to get us through those early days and still is now so it’s important for me to reflect this in my designs.

12. What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed and why?

Cards 1 – 4 were inspired directly by my daughter. I love to create cards based on my own challenges as a first time Mum.

  1. Thanks for Wiping my Bum
    Definitely ones of my faves, inspired by the nitty gritty tasks of being a parent, which will forever be funny!
  2. Baby Shark
    Inspired by my daughter’s obsession with the Baby Shark song, which she sang over and over, so subconsciously I think she made me design it, ha ha!

  1. DIY Mummy Card
    My daughter loves to be creative so I wanted to create a fun activity card for Mum’s on Mother’s Day, one which can be cherished for years to come.
  2. Mum’s Taxi
    The title says it all! I think I may even need to add it to my job description 🙂 Definitely one which I hoped other Mum’s can resonate with.
  3. Mum you’re pawesome
    14 years ago I became a dog Mum for the first time! I can totally identify with the love you feel for a pooch as they’re part of the family.
  4. Oh Mum Nessa
    Because who doesn’t love the fabulous Nessa from Gavin & Stacey!?


Silky Rose Design

1. Introduce yourself…

Hi, I’m Sarah, and am a proud mum of two daughters, Rosie and Grace. I live with my husband and our two girls in Ruislip

2. What gave you the idea of starting your own business?

After having my first daughter I returned part time to the job I had before, as I wanted to be able to spend the precious early years with my babies. I was fortunate enough to have family members caring for her while I worked my two days After completing our family with our second daughter, I started to think about ways I could earn more money that allowed me to still be home and spend time with my girls.

The ultimate dream was to be able to do something creative and get paid for it, whilst still being able to be at home with my family. Since the pandemic, our previous childcare arrangements are no longer possible, so juggling childcare between my husband and myself, it has become even more important to achieve this.

3. How did you get started?

I didn’t just decided to design cards and that was it – it was a series of trial and error finding my way onto this path – I tried to launch a couple of etsy shops, that never really took off, as I didn’t dedicate enough time to growing them.

It was in 2017 I bought an ipad and procreate, and started a drawing challenge called Making Art Everyday… I learned a lot following this daily art practice and discovered the more you draw the better you get! Looking back now at some of my earlier illustrations really highlights this. A lot of these illustrations have made their way into the first collections of cards I created.

I knew I wanted to launch a business once my youngest was in full time school, so I set this as my goal to aim toward. In the mean time, I spent a lot of time researching and learning about licensing and creating art, and just figuring out what I would do with illustration. Another of my great loves is stationery! Is there anything more satisfying than a new notebook and pen?! But I finally knew where I would focus my business – stationery design!

However, it was when a designer friend on Instagram suggested I try uploading some card designs to Thortful in Feb 2021, and her nudge in that direction was just what I needed! In a couple of months I had 2 best selling Father’s day designs, and it was a Squid Game card that caught the attention of Soula from the London Studio, who helped me bring my designs to Funky Pigeon.

4. What challenges do you face?

The biggest challenge is time! That old cliché that there isn’t enough hours in the day. I still work my part time job, 2.5 days and then the rest of the week is for my design work.

Plus keeping on top of all the school admin, like homework, reading and remembering to send in everything they need to be taking in every day, and just the general day-to-day parenting. Achieving the perfect work/life balance is tricky, and I always feel guilty that I’m neglecting one or the other.

5. How do you get around the challenges?

The company I work for are very understanding with childcare and family responsibilities and I am very lucky that they give me flexibility within that role. To balance my design work around my family, I can work during school hours 2 days a week, and also tend to work late into the evenings once the girls are in bed, but also make sure me and my husband have some time together at least a couple of evenings – even if most of them end with me falling asleep on the sofa and being terrible company! It’s a juggle, I won’t lie!

6. Describe your typical work day…

Every day starts the same with the morning rush to get everyone ready and out of the door, and off to school. If I’m doing my part time job, I work 9-5 doing that and then I find those evenings are my favourite for just sitting and drawing. As well as trying to create illustrations for cards, I also use it as a way to relax, so it doesn’t actually feel like work.

On the days I dedicate to my design work, I generally start the day with the admin side of things and get any of that out the way, then I am free to get into the designing , until it’s time to collect the girls from school. Then I spend the hours after school with the girls, and if there is a pressing deadline, I will pick up work again once they are in bed. However if there isn’t anything looming I am trying to get better at having a bit of down time to watch something on the TV with my husband.

7. Do your children/family inspire your work?

Both my husband and children are my biggest cheerleaders and are so supportive of me pursuing a design career. They also inspire a lot of my designs too, from offering up suggestions and ideas, to observations of family life than can translate into relatable cards! Mostly the designs based around asking for snacks – constantly! My wider family also inspire card designs – My dad “just resting his eyes” card, is 100% my own dad!

8. Do you have any advice for other Mums thinking of setting up their own small business?

Stick with it and don’t try to do all the things at once! It doesn’t always happen overnight, but if you are serious about starting the business, put the work in, and don’t give up – setting smaller achievable targets along the way can help you see the progress you are making. Also be prepared for your path to change, and that where you end up, might not be something you initially planned, but could lead to great things.

9. What’s your creative process?

The ideas for designs can either come flooding out of my brain, or leave me sitting and scratching my head for inspiration. It’s not a steady flow! Once an idea has struck I make sure I have a note of it, either as a caption or a sketch. I create 99% of my designs in Procreate, and work in many many layers which give the flexibility of moving things around for the best composition. Any sketches I do are incredibly basic, and I prefer to create the full colour illustrations straight off the bat, rather than refine sketches. The part I prepare the most is my colour palette, but as far as a process goes, I draw and tweak, draw and tweak, until I’m at a point I’m happy with. I then close the drawing and come back to it the next day. I find coming back to it helps me iron out anything I hadn’t noticed whilst I was drawing. I tend to work quite quickly – which I think has come from the prompts of drawing in the Making Art Everyday art challenge, but as I’ve progressed I try to be more thorough with my process, and find coming back to it a day or so later helps make it better.

10. What influences or inspires your Mother’s Day designs?

I think that once you become a mum, you have an automatic, unspoken affinity with other parents. Other mum friends become close due to shared experiences of motherhood, and you form friendships on a whole new level. Then there are the bereaved mothers, or the people struggling to become mothers. I have been there myself, so I remember how it feels. I try to make my designs as inclusive as possible, and help people be seen – whether it is humorous observations about parenting, or letting people know they are being thought about on what may be a difficult day for them. I would love that my designs bring a smile to the face of whoever opens the envelope.

11. What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed and why?

Some of my favourite designs for Mother’s Day are the Please Can I Have a Snack? Bestest Mummy card – this is the number one phrase that comes out of my girls mouths, so is completely inspired by them.

I also love the Broccoli card! It came from one of my earlier illustrations and I thought it would be perfect for a Cute Mother – daughter card.

I really enjoy creating portrait cards too, so my Tom Hardy Bedtime Stories card is also one of my favourites, as I know a lot of Mothers get excited when he’s reading the Bedtime Story! A little behind the scenes story of this card is that I almost completed a whole portrait of Tom, but when I zoomed out it looked more like Jon Richardson from 8 Out of 10 Cats! I have no idea how I managed that, but I went back and started from scratch, and this card is the second attempt at drawing Mr Hardy.

I also had a lot of fun drawing my Elton birthday card. He was so much fun to draw, and I love all his over-the-top outfits too. His flamboyancy completely inspired this card of his 50th birthday celebration outfit. I still laugh at my own joke on this card!

The Two Mums card is an example of how I try to think inclusively when designing cards. There are so many different types of families out in the world, and I love to help them feel recognised. I hope to keep growing my inclusive collections.

And lastly, but no means least – one of the most important cards to me is the white feather customisable card. This is designed for Mother’s who have lost children – the mother’s with empty arms. I have a couple friends who have lost babies either through stillbirth or miscarriage, and I know from them that one of the best things you can do is to say their child’s name. A lot of people shy away from talking about it from fear they will cause upset, but on Mother’s Day it’s a good time to let people know you haven’t forgotten what they went through. This one comes from the heart.