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Finding Happiness in the Little Things with Itty Bitty Bake Shop's Tiffany Houdek

I think having a child allows you to recognize and appreciate the little things in life.

And I don't know that I think about my days other than:

  • I want to be happy

  • I want to feel fulfilled

  • I want my family to be financially secure

  • and all of those things.

I think having a child makes you take a step back and see life through their eyes. It just makes you appreciate every day.

We just recently did a rebrand with a local company Studio Chartreuse (shoutout to Charity for introducing us and being on the episode 113!)

They were amazing and helped me create my new tagline:

Happiness is life's tiny treasures.

I think through our discussion you can probably get a feel for the little things being important to me. Itty Bitty Bakeshop is the name of my business, but it really comes down to my thoughts and feelings about the little things in life, making people happy and all of those things. So, that's where I'm at right now.

How do your days feel?

Are you happy? Are you fulfilled? Do you feel safe financially and otherwise? That’s what I’m focused on.

I think that's a beautiful reminder, especially when you're in the throes of young motherhood. It gives you something simple to come back to when there’s so much else to focus on. Your son is 18 months and it's just interesting for me to sit here and really realize- wow my kids are a little bit older now. My days, desires and myself have evolved a lot since then- and at the same time, this grounding phrase still applies, just in a different way for me now.

Running your business with kids

Another thing that I think is interesting that you mentioned is that you started your business before your son was born. And so you've had this iteration of what life was like running your business prior and post. Which is the same experience that I had with my previous business (and then this is a different realm starting a new one with them.)

But I'm curious: What is that like for you?

Because for me I kept noticing: How did I sit at my desk from 8 in the morning until 6 at night? What was I doing? Now I have eight hours a week to get work done and some extra time on the weekends. But how, did I run my business that way before?

Do you have those kind of moments where you're sitting there of, this is so different?

Yes a couple of different thoughts came to mind as you were talking:

Especially pre-COVID, I would take on cookie orders and I was working full time out of Westlake whereas now I can be fully remote.

So that gives me an extra 1.5-2 hours a day where I would normally be commuting and getting ready for work. But I used to stay up until like 3am and I could get up at 6am for the day and not think twice about it. Now it's like, nope, I need to be done by 10pm at the latest. I cannot do the long all nighters anymore.

Our work is art and can be therapeutic

It's really therapeutic to me. I'll turn on a podcast, audiobook or music and get lost in it.

I have been much better about that though since becoming a mom. I love the art of it but when it comes to managing my time- I can't be creating cookies when my toddler is running through the kitchen. He just wants my attention.

So it's nice to wake up early in the morning and be working on things when it's quiet. I can enjoy my cup of coffee and be decorating. Or at nighttime when he goes to bed.

I think all moms understand when you're overstimulated, to get that five minutes to yourself to just sit in silence and do what you do. It’s so nice.

Managing People Pleasing + Sales

Ultimately, I have really taken a step back since becoming a mom. I’ve tried to not overload myself with cookie orders after coming back because while this is my business, it is my part time job outside of my full time job.

So I'm constantly trying to be cautious of that when I'm getting a new inquiry from a client. Making sure that I'm not going to take on way too much, which I think has been a work in progress over the years. I think, because as a people pleaser, you want to make everybody happy and I don't like saying no.

But I’ve learned that for my sanity every order might not be the right order for me.

Perfectionism and keeping yourself in order

I've always been a checklist girl.

My family will make fun of me from the time I was like in 3rd or 4th grade, we had a giant whiteboard that our parents put in our bedroom, that we could play teacher on. And I would list out, like brush your hair, wash your teeth (a little concerning but it's funny thinking about it now.) Why was I so anal about checking off my checklist that I brushed my teeth in the morning?

Because it feels so good to check off a checklist, that's why.

It does- it feels so good. And I am very much still that type of person today. It is so helpful, especially now, having mom brain. It is real. I know people laugh about that, like, ugh, mom brain. But you were just talking about it how you have to write things down.

Yes! I have to write my notes down and I always say, if it's not on my calendar, it does not exist.

I have loved motherhood and also being five years in, it sounds bad, but I'll akin it to war, right? Nobody can understand it unless you've been through it. And it does wear on you as the years go on. I feel like right now I can barely keep my eyes open and I don't even know why. I don't have a newborn, but my preschoolers, are still up in the middle of the night.

Absolutely. It does not do wonders for the brain, that's for sure. So I find it very helpful to make a list, like I will try to plan out our meals for the week and I try to get all of my son's clothes ready for daycare, everything so that we can just get into the week.

For me, I feel like my perfectionist, list maker self has kind of went into overdrive now having a kid. Pre-child I would just say yes to everything and take on everything and kill myself trying to make everyone happy. Now that I have a baby- he's number one and his needs are number one.

I was actually just thinking about this, this past week because I'm trying to get out some pre-sale cookie ideas for teacher appreciation. And we had a couple of nice days last week in Cleveland.

It was beautiful and we were out, enjoying the weather. And I was thinking about it, like kicking myself like, I really need to get those cookies done.

Then I was reflecting like, you know what? Nobody's going to care. Why am I beating myself up about this? My son is having the time of his life on this bike ride and playing at the playground. Those evenings I could have been doing cookies, sure, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it because that's my priority. That's where I'm at. That's the season I'm in.

The Intersection of Prioritizing + Slow Living

What I'm hearing you say is that you're very focused on the prioritization. Yeah. Like when we think of that big stone analogy, right?

If we put the big stones in first and then you put in the little pebbles and the sand and all that. It feels like that's how you live your life.

I feel like as I'm learning and leaning into what feels good for us and our family, I'm having to decondition so many narratives and I'm shedding a lot of the shoulds, if you will. Leaning into how can we do less, but more quality, you know?

I am a recovering perfectionist too and I feel like this mindset work is like an onion, right? You peel back that layer and you're like, I think I got it. Then you're like, Oh wait, here it shows up again.

So I'm very much about slow living and it has been really helpful for my perfectionism. That's really what I hear you saying too is, you're being more intentional and mindful.

And what I found when kids came along is it feels like I can cut the fluff. Like you said, your child is your priority and so it just shifts everything. You're more selective, intentional, and mindful, which has made a bigger impact in my business.

I keep asking (and I think i'm getting a little annoying for some people): why?

Just the simple act of asking why paired with your point of: awareness- that makes the difference. It's the little noticing of what's going on:

  • What might be causing me undue stress?

  • Why am I doing it?

  • And is it all worth it?

Awareness, I think, is not something people were focused on before.

We weren't thinking through life in that way. It was just kind of like a conveyor belt where we just do do do and now I love that we’re shifting to be mindful and intentional with our actions.

And there are still those split brain moments, which you mentioned, right? I'm the same way where it's like my brain will go crazy and so many things will be swirling. Like:

  • This is what I want to do with the kids

  • And this is what I want to read to be better for the kids

  • And this is what I want to read for myself

  • And then this is what I need to do for the business

… it's chaos.

So I find, just like you, that a brain dump, a list of, let's get everything out on paper, organize it, and then ask but what's realistic? Like the cut the fluff again. I have all these ideas, all these things I want to do, but what is really truly the priority?

Crafting a Part-Time Business

I think it's so interesting, that this is your part time job and it sounds like you want to keep it as your part time job.

It's therapeutic, you enjoy it, you enjoy the art, but do you not want it to consume a full time space in your life?

Yes, and I think that's a great question because I think a lot of people assume that I want to take it full time. But I think running it part-time is why I enjoy it so much.

It is my fun creative outlet where I'm not killing myself. The prep work, to get ready to make a dozen cookies, it takes so much time. But if you're fully prepared and have sketched things out and you've got the plan and list, then I'm like, okay, I can knock this out. But I'm a one person show right now.

And I don't want to ever resent that. So I think keeping it fun for me and where my family can be involved is my goal.

When I get to go to markets and be a vendor and create fun things for people to come buy on site. That's fun. I enjoy doing that.

There's definitely different things I have in mind to grow the business. But I don't think that it necessarily has to be: I'm going to take on a ton more cookie orders.

A lot of the people we typically interview, it's their full time job and it's like entrepreneurship all the way. And so I always love when I have these different perspectives, like you clearly love what you're doing. You love having this outlet. And you're showing another way of, and you can do both. You can have the full time job and your creative endeavor.

The Future of Itty Bitty Bakeshop

So talk to us about future casting, what are your plans? What are you doing now that life looks a little different?

There's a couple of different ideas that I have as I’m trying to figure out ways to be more efficient being a mom and business owner and not having as much time:

  • Outside of pre-sales, like teacher appreciation and different holidays, which I love doing because I can have my say in the designs.

  • I hope to create little packages for milestones- it's a six pack of cookies for your friend that just had a baby or someone that just moved into a new house or a friend that's getting married.

    • These will be on the website and they can tweak them but from a time perspective, I already know my list of everything that needs to happen behind the scenes.

  • Also, we recently bought, a 1985 Piaggio Ape, it’s this little Italian scooter that we bought from someone in the area- she was previously using it as a Prosecco truck. We have wanted to buy a little truck or something on wheels forever to take to markets and maybe even use it to like deliver cookies cause that would be so cute.

    • So we are going to using it for nitro brew coffee on tap to go with the cookies. We're aiming to have it up and running for summer this year.

      • Outside of that, when we're not using it for markets, we'll have it availlable as a rental for events. Basically anything that can be hooked up to a tap can be poured from the vehicle. So we're really excited about that.

        • I mean, who doesn't love, a sweet treat with your coffee?

I love hearing all about your business and your mindset behind things and how mom life comes into it. And it's just such a joy to get to connect with you. I appreciate you.

Connect with Tiffany



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