Simplicity Series: Caroline Vasquez
April 12, 2016
Hi, friends! I am the founder and designer behind the brand Paloma’s Nest. Together with my husband and business partner Jose, we create handcrafted heirlooms that celebrate all of life’s special moments- from wedding day keepsakes, to children’s furniture, and personalized Christmas ornaments to commemorate your family year after year, our timeless pieces are meant to be passed on for generations. Our business started in 2007, and as we grew quickly, I was frequently contacted by other artists and designers seeking mentoring and guidance in how to make a living from their creative work. This led to Handcrafted Consulting, where I coach and mentor small business owners on all things e-commerce. But it’s not all stats and styling and SEO: I help creatives to empower themselves as entrepreneurs and to create a fulfilling business that functions on their own terms. I discovered my true purpose and passion through this work, and I am currently back in school earning my graduate degree in Professional Counseling. But above all, first and foremost, I am mom to two children, Paloma (age 9), and Valentin (age 4)- they are the light of my life!
How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?
I have a lot of “irons in the fire” these days, so it is really essential that I take time to myself when I get the chance. Right now that means that my hour-long commute to the University has become “me” time. Without emails or other distractions, I am able to listen to podcasts (we are a bilingual family, so Slow News in Spanish is a recent favorite so I can improve my skills!) or just spend the time in silence. The long drive allows me time to recharge and to think through decisions for myself and the family, but also for the business and for consulting clients.
What’s your favorite beauty secret?
My nightly bath is a non-negotiable: so after the kiddos are squeaky-clean, it’s my turn! I live with chronic back pain, so a soak with Epsom salts is a pampering necessity. I love essential oils for their physical and psychological healing properties, and these eucalyptus salts are my favorite.
What’s your favorite go-to outfit for a quick polished look?
Blazers and scarf! I find that throwing a tailored blazer or jacket on top of nearly anything instantly makes me look and feel more polished. As a creative business person (and in my role as a counselor), it is essential to look professional, but with personality. I credit my year spent living in Europe as a high school exchange student as being influential in my understanding of the “importance of a great scarf!”
What’s your favorite quick-prep dinner for your family?
Roasted Chicken! It seems to be something the whole clan agree on- it works for my high-protein diet, and I can stretch it into two, even three, meals for the family. I either buy one already pre-made, or roast one at home over the weekend. I love to shred the leftovers to use in enchiladas or salads throughout the week.
Tell us your favorite Instagram account to follow and why?
The accounts I follow are so varied and so diverse, it would be impossible to pick just one! I think the most important thing to remember about social media is to create boundaries. If someone’s account doesn’t inspire you, don’t follow them out of some imaginary obligation! Just like you wouldn’t continue to have a coffee date with a friend who always leaves you feeling self-conscious or anxious, don’t invite those people into your life through social media, either.
What tradition or routine is important to you?
Family dinner and bedtime routines are so important for keeping us all feeling connected. I cherish the time I get with both of our children right before bed- reading stories, singing songs, and catching up on the details of their day.
What’s in your purse?
My purse could actually use some simplifying, as it is currently a large tote full of school books, files, and my planner! I do control “the clutter” by using zippered pouches: “work stuff” like pens and thumb drives in one, “kid stuff” like tiny coloring books, matchbox cars and a spare snack in another, and “Mami stuff” like lip balm, mints, phone charger, and hair ties, in a third. My sweet friend sent me these beautifully crafted hand-printed pouches as a reminder of the Lone Star State (I’m a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin), and I just love them!
Where do you find your inspiration?
A few years ago we moved from Texas back to the Connecticut shoreline (where I grew up) in order to be closer to family. I am constantly inspired by the history here that is visible around every corner- like the Colonial and Victorian architecture in our quaint little seaside town, and the antique furniture and collectibles tucked away in tiny road-side shops. So many things here tell a story of years gone by, and much of it has survived for many generations. We hope that what we design for Paloma’s Nest will commemorate the lives of the people we craft them for, and will be cherished long into the future.
We know you’re a busy lady! How do you balance all of your work responsibilities with your home life? Any tips for our readers?
Our schedule is often planned down to every moment of the day…so staying on track and sticking to the plan is essential for the whole family to be in sync. However, we do our best to leave weekends totally free from plans so that we can all be together- even if that means just lounging around and doing puzzles in our pajamas, or doing housework. If we need to work on the weekends (which we often do, just to get everything done), we do it together. That’s the benefit of having our business as part of our home. The kids will join us and work on a project of their own- in the wood shop, or in the ceramics studio.
What’s your favorite app (or other tool) for helping you do life?
So many! Since our entire business is online, I need to be able to easily access everything on the go. I am hardly ever in front of the computer anymore- so I recently treated myself to an iPhone 6s Plus. The large screen size is more gentle on my eyes and makes switching between tasks a breeze. Yes it is large- but it’s like my command center! From responding to customer emails, to sending PDFs with Genius Scan, to keeping Valentin (our four year old) busy while waiting for his sister to finish her ballet class (the Letter Tracer app is his favorite, and I love that it helps him with his penmanship skills!)
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