15: From Stay At Home Mom To CEO with Natalie Ard

Natalie is the founder and CEO of Star Kids Company and their flagship products are the Christmas Star From Afar and the Easter Story Egg. The Star  From Afar comes with a book and wooden nativity scene. Each day, the star hides and the 3 Wise Man go find it. It is a Gospel centered alternative to the Elf On The Shelf. The Easter Story Egg also comes with a book and a set of nesting eggs.  Each of the nesting eggs helps tell the story of Holy Week.

I knew Natalie Ard before she was Natalie Ard. She and I grew up in the same small town in Northern IL where everyone knew your name and knew your business. Back then, she was Natalie Jeffords, her brother Aaron was a year ahead of me in school, her mom taught me to tap dance first in her garage and then in the town hall,  and her dad started out as my high school shop teacher but by the time I was a junior, he was my principle.

I invited Natalie to be a guest because she is someone who went from being a stay at home mom to CEO. And not only that, her job requires a lot of travel.

In this episode we talk about:

  • How something that started really as just a hobby turned into a company.
  • How Natalie prepared her business to get her product in retail stores.
  • How Natalie got her product on QVC.
  • How Natalie handles heavy travel seasons at work while still making sure her family thrives.
  • The importance of boundaries and priorities in life and business.
  • How to she handles an intense season of travel for work.

Our big takeaways from this interview.

God puts the right people in your path to help you along the way.

Natalie sent her first drafts of her manuscript to her former high school English teacher, Mrs. McGuire, who was delighted to help. She was a trusted expert in Natalie’s life.

Grassroots marketing really works.

In the very beginning of Star from Afar, Natalie posted about what she was working on on Facebook and emailed her family and friends to share her excitement. She asked them to forward on the information to anyone who might be excited about it. She tapped into  her local market by selling at local vendor fairs and craft shows.

There is no such thing as balance, but priorities are a great thing.

As Natalie’s business grew, her priorities and boundaries had to shift. She had to say no to some social engagements while she was building her business. There wasn’t as much free time in her life as there was before she started. Natalie realized she needed to create margin and space for self care, time for her family, time with her husband and time with the Lord just as much as she needed to create time to work on her business. She realized everyone starts the day with the same 24 hours and it was up to her to decide how to spend them.

Busy season work tips:

  • Cross reference your schedule with your spouse or partner early. In Natalie’s case, she and her husband plan their January work schedule and calendar in October.
  • Ask your community for help. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family and neighbors to help with carpool, after school activities or childcare.  Natalie often flies in her parents, so that her kids can keep their schedule the same.
  • Bring your kids into what you’re doing as much as you can. Share photos and videos from your destination. Video chat with them as your schedule allows.
  • Let go of control, you’re not at home. Don’t let things you can’t control consume you. Trust your that your care team has homework, school lunch and school activities handled.
  • Be all in, wherever you’re at. If you’re traveling for work, but that hat on as much as you possibly can while you’re gone. When you come back home, put that mom hat back on and reconnect with your family (instead of coming home from a work trip and diving right back into work).

Links Mentioned:

Connect with our guest:. Natalie Ard is the creator, author, and illustrator of The Christmas Star From Afar® and The Easter Story Egg™. She is a wife and mother to three and has build the Star From Afar Kids company on the foundation of creating inspirational, interactive games and toys that help children play with a purpose. Star Kids Company creates toys and games that are both meaningful and playful. We desire to inspire children and to spark their curiosity and creativity. We strive to develop products that deliver positive messages and create lasting family memories. Connect with Natalie and Star From Afar: Website / Instagram / Facebook

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