You probably recognize Emily Maynard as the sweet, Southern, single mom from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. But now, she’s making her mark on the world in ways beyond reality television: Most recently, she’s embarked on a journey to design and release a jewelry line with Towne & Reese, a boutique accessory line based in her hometown of Charlotte, NC.

As the mom of 7-year old Ricki, Emily quickly learned that taking on this kind of business venture presents some intimidating challenges—like figuring out how to balance her time between work and family. But after realizing the depth of her passion for accessories and design, she found a way to make it happen—and gained an incredible sense of fulfillment along the way.

To learn more about her journey, I chatted with Emily about her new venture, finding inspiration, and juggling business and parenthood. Read on to learn how she made the leap into entrepreneurship and the advice she’d give to other moms who want to do the same.

 

What made you decide to make the jump from being a full-time mom to being an entrepreneur?

My daughter, Ricki, is in first grade now, and since she’s gone for most of the day, I actually started getting a little bored while she was at school. To fill the extra time, I was doing a lot of things I didn’t find very fulfilling—like wandering around Target! I wanted to do something more constructive with my time—something that I could work on every day and be proud of in the end.

First, I had to figure out what I’d really enjoy doing. Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is to try to make a career out of what you do when you don’t have anything to do. So I thought about what that would be for me. At night, after I put Ricki to bed, I’d usually browse Pinterest—like every other girl in America!—for outfit ideas and beauty blogs, or watch YouTube videos about how to create the perfect topknot. It was easy to figure out that I’m passionate about beauty, fashion, and everything that has to do with being a girl.

Once I realized that, things really fell into place. There’s a company here in Charlotte called Towne & Reese, and I love all of the jewelry—I actually wore several pieces throughout The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. When things calmed down after the shows ended, I became good friends with the owners, Christie and Jessica. One day, they approached me and asked, “Would you want to do a line together?” I never thought I would have that kind of opportunity, but I was so excited to jump in, learn the process, and work toward that ultimate goal of launching my own line.

What’s been the most challenging part of creating your line—and what’s helped you overcome that?

It’s been a lot of work. From logos to packaging to the actual design process—there’s so much to it. But overall, I think the hardest part has been changing my mindset to think of this as a major business venture and remembering that I’m not just doing it for fun. Of course, it is fun and I love it—but I have to take it seriously and do the not-so-fun things, too, like responding to emails instead of letting my inbox overflow—something I’m terrible at.

There’s no way I could have made it through these challenges without Christie and Jessica at Towne & Reese. They’ve been my mentors throughout this entire process. They’ve been so patient with me—which is saying a lot, considering I call them almost every day to ask questions like “What do you think about this?” or “How should that look?” Having mentors to guide me through the design process and business decisions has made a huge difference.

What’s been your favorite part of the process?

The creative process has been really exciting. In the beginning, I tried to draw the pieces I had in mind—but it turns out, I can’t draw to save my life! So, I got my inspiration from a lot of different places, like my mom’s jewelry box and antique shows, and then explained my vision to someone who was much better at sketching. Eventually, we got samples of the pieces back, and from there, it was all about narrowing it down—changing little things like stone colors and chain links. I loved everything about the process of making those ideas come to life.

But even more than the initial design, I can’t even tell you what it was like when I saw everything come together for the first time. To see the pieces I designed in the packaging with my name on it—tears came to my eyes. When you’ve been working on something for what seems like forever, it doesn’t really hit you that it’s all actually going to happen until you have it right there in front of you, in your hands.

What advice would you give other mothers who want to start a business, but aren’t sure how to juggle a new venture with parenthood?

Ricki’s almost 8 years old now—it’s taken me that long to figure out that this was what I wanted to do, and I beat myself up about that. But I think it’s really important that as mothers, we give ourselves a break. We do have a full-time job—and that’s being a mom. So, you don’t have to rush. Give yourself the time to figure out what you want to do, what you have the time and energy for, and—most importantly—what you have the heart for, and then go do that.

It’s hard being a mom and an entrepreneur—I’ll tell you that. So when it comes to juggling your work and your kids, it’s all about balance. For example, I work through the day while Ricki’s at school, but once she’s home, I try my best to put away my cell phone, put away my laptop, and really focus on being a mom. In the end, I hope to inspire Ricki to do something that she really loves—but show her that she can make time for family, too.

Read more about Emily at emilymaynard.com and visit Towne & Reese at towneandreese.com.