Maven Monday: History in Skirts – a Spoonie mom with a small business

Hey, hi, how are you friends? I’m glad you’re back with us in the space where we talk about creativity, motherhood, and fulfillment all in light of living with chronic physical/mental illness. This week, I have another Maven Monday interview for you all. And, while this series will be a once a month feature in the future, this month I had a special opportunity to do two, and so, I did just that…

This week, allow me to introduce my friend, Rachel Ellis, the brilliant mind behind History in Skirts. A mom of two in West Virginia, Rachel & I first connected as women in ministry with chronic illness. Come to find out, we had even more in common. Let me give you a glimpse into our conversation, and some of what she shared about business, about motherhood, and about being a chronic illness warrior.

*Tell us a little about you. What should we know?
I’m a mom. Married, and living in West Virginia. I went to school in MO at Evangel, were I met my husband. We’re back in WV. I run my own business and I’m a freelance journalist.

*Tell us about your business. How did it start? What do you hope to do with it as it grows?
I run History in Skirts, which is a business where I do presentations for schools and events, focusing on women in history & their impact. I have narrowed it down to 12 women to start with.
It started because I’ve been running a business for the past few years that has gone through different plans. Then, I was thinking of being a princess for a party because they can make a decent amount, and I have a theater background. Then, I was talking to an English teacher friend and let her know if she needed a Jane Austen to come in and read as “herself” and share a bit, I’d do that. She told me they don’t read a lot of women authors, and that sparked this idea for History in Skirts.
As for the future, I do have a vision for it to become a nonprofit in the future. So, right now, it’s under my business umbrella, but I do hope within a year that it will become a nonprofit.

***SIDE NOTE: When she told me her English teacher friend said they don’t read a lot of women authors, I was so sad in my heart. History and literature are full of amazing women, and students need exposure to that. Be it Austen, O’Conner, Harper Lee, a Brontë sister, etc. Students should be able to explore the lives and works of the amazing women who have gone before.

*How has chronic illness affected your life, and what’s it like as a mom of two littles also getting a business off the ground?
Knowing limits and expectations has been affected. I used to be a big overachiever, and like to work under pressure. I always like to have a lot of projects going on at once. This has forced me to re-evaluate my expectations.
I recognize now if I want to get 6 things done, I need to make sure they are all practical for the time span given. (Candice here: And, she and I talked about this very thing in terms of both business and motherhood).
Another way it’s changed things, and I have to think about in my business is that this not only affects me, but those around me. Like, I may get inspired and want to spend 6 hours sewing on a costume, but I know I can’t because it might mean being in bed the next day, which puts more on my husband or requires me needing my mom to come help with the kids. So, I keep them in mind and weigh everything that way.,

*What advice would you give other spoonie moms who are either recently diagnosed or have new symptoms that want to start a creative business/hobby/ministry, but just don’t know what to do/where to start? Or those who can’t do their hobby the way they used to due to symptoms?
First, change the expectations. Sometimes, it’s a matter of changing our ideas of what we can handle. I always think you can do everything, you just can’t do everything all at once.
Second, sometimes it’s just a matter of doing your hobbies in a new way, or a similar way. So you still get that creative outlet, but it’s better for your life situation.

*And finally: How can people support or follow what you’re doing with History in Skirts?
We have a Kickstarter going until June 26, 2021. It’s not a donation campaign, so it’s all or nothing. I also have merch available on the website. Then of course, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

A big thank you to Rachel for coming on and talking with me. I love what she is doing with this new business, and really encourage you, if you’re reading this before June 26, consider giving to the kickstarter. And, anytime, go follow her social media and buy some merch.

If you want a cozy space on the internet where we chat about being creatively fulfilled in motherhood and chronic illness, follow this blog, check out our YouTube, and follow me on Instagram (my internet home away from home).

Rachel’s Links:
Facebook: History in Skirts
Instagram: @historyinskirtswv

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