This Mother Hustle Interview is with Inga, Artist, gallery owner and mother of three. It is a real tale in 'just taking the leap and going for it! Very inspiring and I love Inga's attitude towards creating a meaningful authentic life for the whole family.
Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are and what your family looks at the moment.
I am Inga. Swedish name…for no logical reason. Born and raised on the north coast of Ireland. Pretty well world travelled… and currently living and loving Cornwall. My ‘crew’ consists of my mother, my husband and our three little wild & wonderful children. Daughters Cora (7) & Indigo (4) and our latest little edition is our son Harbor (15mths).
We have a rather unique family business, as we own and run our own art gallery 'North55’ on Church Street in Falmouth, showcasing our own large statement artworks.
We are mainly found along the coast of Cornwall, in, on or by the sea. At home where we have our studio, or in our gallery in Falmouth.
Tell us all about your business/ side hustles/ work life and where we can find you?
I was previously a teacher and Head of Humanities in a large secondary school. Up to the point of having children I loved my job….and then I had children of my own. I put 100% into everything I do and could not put all my energy into both ‘jobs’ long term. So I chose the one that was most important to me - being a mother. Thankfully I have an incredibly brave and uncompromising husband, who agreed that to raise our children and have an authentic and fulfilling life, we needed to look at how to sustain our life style in an alternative way. His mantra is ‘there’s always a way’..I got it tattooed on my foot the month we embarked on our new ‘journey’!
Art and painting in particular was always a passion of mine, and I had been raised with my own mother teaching full time and painting ‘on the side’ to pay for our holidays and trips around the world…. I had often painted artworks for our own home as well as requests from friends etc. My husband, who also paints, suggested us combining our works and opening our own gallery.
On the way home from an idillic Christmas spent in Cornwall in 2013, we had an instant thunderbolt moment of what we were going to do. By that Easter I had handed in my notice and rented a beautiful space to use as a gallery on the high street in Falmouth. I had some artworks of my mothers and husbands, and painted like crazy when the kids where in bed to add to my own collection of artworks.
Everyone said we were crazy selling art in Cornwall which ‘is coming down with art’..but even to this day…no other gallery is like ours! We produce large, bold statement works, and mainly abstract works only. Today, 3 and bit years on, we have a thriving family business - run between the three of us…my mother, my husband and myself..selling our original abstract artworks from our welcoming and eclectic @north55gallery and online www.north55gallery.com
How do you find the Juggle with work/ family/ life / childcare etc?
With three very different children’s needs to take care of - I find that being prepared is key. Having healthy snacks, quickly prepared food (though I still regularly cook their meals from scratch) and a cupboard of ‘activities’ that the older girls can occupy themselves with for 10mins is vital if I need to go photograph art in the studio to send to a client or answer emails! I have little ‘routines’ down to a fine art - such as leaving everything ready for dinner and bedtime in the morning before we leave the house. Giving our children plenty of fresh air through trips to the park and beach means, they are pretty good sleepers - which is invaluable to allow my husband and I time in the studio and together…as that is really the key to it all. If you are happy and feel empowered..you can pretty much handle everything. I am also incredibly lucky to have the help and support of my own mother, who often comes over from Ireland to help out in the gallery during school holidays and even allowed me to have a kind of ‘maternity’ leave too!
We also redesigned our studio so that in the summer months we can be working whilst watching and being involved with the children playing in the garden.
I always approach anything with the view of how can I make this work for all us or to run as smoothly as possible! We also took on extra space at the back of our gallery in Falmouth and made that a cosy little snug room for the children to relax and play in when we have to nip into the gallery for while.
As people often find who are self employed - its hard to ‘switch off’ but my husband and I try to ensure we have ‘date night’ once a week and holidays are essential part of keeping everything in perspective and spend uninterrupted time as a family.
What would your ideal balance be, and are you close to achieving it? If not what needs to change?
I don’t think we are far off that actually. We are very lucky to be able to live the way we do..yes we make sacrifices and often have a constant juggling match - but we make the most of our time together and are a really close family unit.
Ideally I want my husband to join me full time in our gallery and then we eventually get to the stage we can hand over to staff that aren’t family! ‘Letting go’ of your business is a difficult thing particular when its a personal as ours. We create the art we sell. We are the face of the business. But to be sustainable, we know we need to delegate more!
Why did you decide to work for yourself?
To be empowered enough to be able to put my children and family first and not just live dictated to by employers who see family as a distraction. We also strongly believe that you can do most things you set your mind to…and if juggling our own business with children and painting too is our reality then I gladly accept! Yes we sacrificed the regular income, but it makes you grateful for what you’ve got.
Would you say you have been more productive since having children, or less?
A million times more. They need a roof over their head, food and clothes for a start. In the early days..we made massive personal sacrifices just to maintain our lifestyle. But it brought its rewards…we really value what we have and have learnt to live a pretty simple but authentic and exciting life and I think thats a great setting to bring our children up in.
What is your favourite thing about being a mother?
The cuddles…especially the spontaneous, out the blue ones that are priceless. I look at our children and see them as a purer, more innocent version of us and they inspire me to go back to a time that wasn’t as distrusting, stressed out or tired! They motivate me to be a better person. A kinder, more patient, gentler version of myself.
Also the memories you gather up with them along the way as a family are what make it all amazing. Our children can be quite bizarre at times, and its those silly times that can stick with you and make you smile long after the moment has passed.
And your least favourite?
Having to say to them ‘just give me a wee minute’… my children (and husband) now are fully aware that my ‘wee minute’ is usually at least 30!
What do you love about where you live and what does your ideal weekend look like?
The fresh air, beautiful beaches and wild seas. Our ideal weekend is breakfast together around the table, then wetsuits on and down to the beach to get in the sea and rockpools. Then back home for warm baths and then dinner in the garden by the chiminea. We live Redruth which is pretty much in the middle for everywhere we want to go! As a family we are online as @thecornishcrew as I find Instagram is my family photo album and diary of our year, as well as a quick and time saving way of keeping in touch with people/family that live far away.