Monday, September 1

The Tuesday Ten: Ma! Motherhood with an Attitude's Janalee Chmel

Remember the hilarious Ma! Motherhood with an Attitude contest and review I did here? Well, hold on to your seats because I've got a great Tuesday Ten interview with Janalee Chmel, the writing half of the hot mammas duo! Read on for some mom-pranuer insights and laughs.

Q.: So tell me a little about your company and the inspiration behind it.
A.: When my daughter, Delaney, was about 6 months old, I became really frustrated by the lack of greeting cards that expressed what I was going through. All the stuff out there seemed to be way off the mark. It’s like all the card companies out there were in a conspiracy to make motherhood look easy… it’s like the June Cleaver image of wife-hood. All the items were pastel, contained cute ducks, and talked only about the deep joy. While I was experiencing profound joy, I was also experiencing a huge shift in priorities, isolation, confusion and frustration. So, I started writing the greeting cards I wanted to receive! However, I am about as artistic as a mop so, for years, I sought a partner who was artistic and shared my sense of humor. Enter (business partner)Tiffany!

Q: So many good ideas never get past the idea did you make your business a reality?
A.:I must say that this little biz never would have gotten off the ground without the incredible synergy that Tiffany and I share. We not only complement each other, but we honor and respect our different approaches to business and art. The result has meant that we can tackle many different projects and goals simultaneously. We use every inch of our left brains and our right brains! If I had to slog through this alone, I guarantee it would be moth-balled by now. That’s not to say it’s EASY! Being mothers, freelancers AND entrepreneurs is incredibly challenging. To that end, we also allow pause in our business for when motherhood and life become overwhelming. In that way, I think, we are able to maintain forward momentum!

Q.: Your products tell it like it is for moms everywhere. It's kind of like the crap-filter is turned and the writing on your products is just so honest and funny! Where do you get your ideas?
A.: THE CRAP FILTER IS TURNED OFF! I LOVE THAT! Well, my muses are clearly my children, but I also get a lot of ideas from other moms. I also see stuff that makes me mad (perfect parenting propaganda) and I try to write about the opposite – such as the joy of imperfect mothering!

Q.: The pictures are priceless...tell me how you decide which to use on your stuff.
A.:I’d really love Tiffany to answer this one, too, because she’s so incredible at matching words, art, and photos. I must say, though, that asking moms everywhere to send us their best shots really inspires us. Of course, we get some photos that are precious but just not “ma!” and we can’t use those. However, we get some that make us bark out loud with laughter and sometimes we figure out ways to use them. Ultimately, our goal is to always let our customers (fellow moms) be PART of who we are. We will never be some big, glam, aloof card and gift company because our very business model requires that we stay in the nitty gritty with our mom customers! We need them! We ARE our market!

Q.: Okay, back to the sayings...We've all seen what made it past the cutting board stages. Share a few gems that got ditched.
A.:Oh, good question! Let me go back to my files… Here’s one that we may still use (All our work is copyrighted, folks!) We want to celebrate MOMS on their kids’ birthdays, so we may do a line of cards for moms that celebrate THEIR accomplishments on their kids’ birthdays. Here’s one: (outside) It’s your baby’s birthday! (inside) Today, we celebrate the day that destroyed your sleep forever.

This is just a quip I wrote to myself about carpooling:
“Carpooling: A world in which she who owns the biggest car has the most ‘best friends.’
She who owns the four-seater hybrid is the social equivalent of a high school theater geek.”

We plan to cover just about every phase of motherhood, from birth to empty nesting. One mom said, “You need to do a card for Motherhood after Menopause!” I loved that.

Q.: What's your funniest mommyhood memory to date? A.:Seriously? I think the whole damn thing is a laugh riot if you tilt your head the right way!

Q.:The best part of being a mom? And what's the hardest?
A.: I think those two go hand-in-hand. The harder something is, the more I value it. Of course, it ain't hard to get snuggles and that may be my very favorite part of mothering. I just dig snuggles!

Q.: If you could have one mommy superpower, what would it be?
A.: Hormone Eraser! I fear the teenage years with two daughters!

Q.: Sneaky chef or eat-those-veggies-now! What's your parenting style?
A.: Eat those veggies now. Totally. And guess what? My girls LOVE salads!

Q.: What's on the menu for dinner tonight? (and can I come over?)

A.: Penne pasta with grilled chicken, pinon nuts, and cherry tomatoes. You may come over if you bring wine!

And there you have it! And in case I forgot to post this already because my head is up my wahoo I've been so busy, let me get you all in on the sweet 10 percent off code for Berrie Sweet Picks readers over at ma! Just enter code "berriesweet."

Who's up for my next Tuesday Ten? I'll let you know as soon as I do!

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