Living With Less: Make money doing what you LOVE!

One of my favorite parts of a Hearts at Home conference is our exhibit area.  Not only do we have great organizations for moms represented, but we also have some unique mom-created and mom-owned businesses.  This year, I met Julia Chen who blended her photography hobby and graphic design knowledge into a mom-created business called Lifeverse.

In our book, Living With Less So Your Family Has More, Mark and I have a chapter titled “Income: Make Money Doing What You Love.”  We’ve always supplemented our income with some variety of a home business: teaching private music lessons, speaking and writing, installing flooring (that was Mark’s business…not mine!), and now Mark has a handyman business.

If you’ve ever considered starting a home business, Julia’s story and experience may encourage you.  I asked her three questions for us to gain wisdom from her journey:

What do you like best about having your own business?

My favorite part about having my own business is working from home. In 2004, I took the leap of faith of quitting my job designing books for Tyndale House Publishers to be able to stay at home with my child. The Lord has blessed that move above and beyond all I could have asked or imagined, as I truly thought in my heart I was giving up art and design, which is a huge part of who I am. He not only has allowed me to freelance for Tyndale ever since a week after quitting, but He also birthed in my heart this brand new art which has turned into a business of its own. To be able to do what I love, create and express what is in my heart and head all the while being a stay at home mommy of my 3 kiddos is a huge blessing. The pro is I get to work in my jammies while they are in bed; the con is it does get hard to separate work and life since both ARE at home.

How did you move your hobby to a business?

I began my art as a personal act of worship, while trying to memorize the fruit of Spirit for a bible study I was a part of. At the time, I had an almost 2 & 4 year old and was sickly pregnant with my third child. I would write Scripture on notecards and place them around the home. One day, while brushing my teeth and looking at the Scripture on the mirror, I thought to myself, “I should design these, I am an artist for crying out loud!” So, I did. I gave them to my entire Bible study. They encouraged me to do the church craft show. I created 12 designs for that first show and completed the show with a nursing 6 week old at my side (I apparently had no clue what I was thinking!) After almost selling out of my product, I knew I had reached a cord with people and others told me about, a website which is essentially an online arts and craft fair. I opened an ETSY shop in March of 2008 and within 2 months of selling online, DEMDACO contacted me to license my work! A miracle every step of the way!

What wisdom would you share with another mom who wants to create their own business?
My wisdom would be first of all, be sure you have your husband’s full support. Even though it is your business, I firmly believe you are a team and need to be unified on this endeavor. You should also research product currently out there, whether online or at local craft shows or boutiques to see how they are pricing their items and displaying their goods. I also contacted several artists and asked for help, concerning supplies such as shipping envelopes and all the little business things you may not think of. Start small, little by little to ease into it and if at any point you are not loving it, quit. And, of course, give it all over to God, trusting Him with your dreams.

Today I’m giving away one of Julie’s prints. You can see them all HERE.  If you would like to enter the drawing for a print of your choice, simply post a comment between now and Friday at noon CT (at if you get this by email) on this post.  Share about your home business or what you love to do that you’d like to make money doing!

Also Julie is generously offering free shipping through this Friday for my blog readers. Simply put in the coupon code JILLFREESHIP when you check out and you won’t have to pay for shipping!


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54 thoughts on “Living With Less: Make money doing what you LOVE!

    • Katie,

      A home business doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I do know, however, of many moms who are successful with things like Mary Kay, Scentsy, and other companies like that. Those don’t need any kind of a hobby. At the same time, I’m not a salesperson so I KNOW I wouldn’t do well on something like that. That’s why my home businesses have been more “service” oriented than sales oriented.

  1. I am a full time nurse in the ER and amom so life is very busy! But on the side I also sell Jewels By Park Lane jewelry. I would love to work less and my full time job and only have more parties which allows me more time at home with my family!

  2. Those prints are just beautiful. Thank-you for sharing your story. I have wanted to start my own business to, but i am afraid. I think I’m worried money wise, but God has put a great idea in my heart and I should just go for it and see what God does with it.
    God Bless!

  3. it’s so hard to do soemthing like that…for me, it’s one thing to make a new recipe and have it flop…because it’s just a few ingredients and a disappointed family…and then some Taco Bell…but it’s so hard to put yourself out there, because if you don’t succeed, it’s not only potentially expensive, but fairly public too! No one wants to publicly fail. (Oh vanity, thy name is Jeannett!)

  4. This is such an awesome article to read at this time in my life. I recently started selling some of my own creations such as wreaths, vinyl items etc. I am so excited about this venture and hope to one day be like Julie a stay at home mom and entreprenuer. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have been seriously contemplately starting a business of furniture revamping. Her advice is exactly what I needed to hear today!

  6. I have recently started selling Usborne books, and am currently working to grow that a bit. I LOVE children’s literature, so it is a perfect fit for me…even though I never thought as myself as a salesperson!

    I also really enjoy sewing, so I wouldn’t mind being able to sell some things. Right now I give them as gifts, but selling them would basically allow me to afford to keep sewing :). But I am very slow at it, so I don’t know.

  7. I am chasing after my dream of being in ministry. I just resigned from my job and am trusting the Lord to provide. This article was perfectly timed for me! Thanks! The artwork is beautiful too! 🙂

  8. Loved her story and the prints. Have contemplated a home business, but just haven’t found anything that grabs at my heart yet. For now, just keeping up with 4 boys is enough for me.

  9. What an inspiring story!

    I am a full time engineer and a part time waitress and at home, I consign for others. I do all of their dirty work for them for a part of their profit and I also sell children’s clothes on ebay – I would LOVE to turn that into a full time job and possibly store one day! Although, I feel it is impossible to do with the amount of debt that we have right now, but I am working the Dave Ramsey plan and will one day, hopefully, be able to pursue my dream!

  10. I love kitties, but.we.can only have two right now. I would like to take care of kitty cats; It’s fun when we have neighbors ask us to house sit for their pets. I think that could turn into a job someday. 🙂

  11. I taught special education for 7 years and always wanted to be home with our children full time. When we were able to afford for me to be home, it was a huge blessing! Since my children are in school full time (I have one in high school, middle school and elementary school), God opened the door for me to develop my love of photography into a business 2 years ago. I love it because it allows me flexibility of schedule (I set my own hours), I have no overhead cost because I don’t own a studio, I shoot on location and I can still be there for our children before and after school, when they are sick and volunteer at their schools! It’s been a blast to see how God is also using this gift He has given me to bless others…he shows me opportunities for serving others through photography.

  12. I also met Julie at the HAH conference this spring. Her prints are so beautiful. I am currently staying at home with my kids as the Lord allowed me to quit my job when I had triplets 5 years ago. They start kindergarten this fall (sniff sniff) which I get anxious just thinking about it! I plan to ramp up my own professional organizing business then. I have been doing it here and there but with 5 kids, there’s not much time. I think my niche will be photos/albums because i love to do it, and moms are always telling me that they have all their kids’ stuff in a box and don’t have the time or inclination to scrapbook. God bless!

  13. What an inspiring story. And what inspiring art! I used to love to write… I still do love it, but have just not pursued it much. I keep thinking one these days I’ll start a blog and a writing class. Maybe when the kids get a smidgen older.

  14. Wow, what wonderful work she does. Her story is definitely inspiring – thank you for sharing!

  15. I loved Julia’s booth at H@H this year! Her prints are beautiful!

    My big hobby is scrapbooking and doing various artsy projects. Just recently I began designing and cutting quotes and bible verses out of vinyl (to stick on walls) and selling to people in my community. It started out as a way to raise money for a missions trip that we are going on in 2 weeks and it’s turning out with even more opportunities. I enjoy it because it’s, like you said, something I like to do so it doesn’t feel like “work.” Besides my fun hobbies, I’m a SAHM of 3 🙂

  16. What beautiful artwork. For over 11 years I was a Creative Memories consultant while being a full time Mom and homeschooling teacher. I loved this business as I made so many wonderful friends, loved opening my home to these women, girls and the womans husbands. It was a wonderful ministry and one that I got to weave my faith in to and share deeply with some of these women. One day again I look forward to another home based business but right now I am focusing on the ministry of being a Mom, homeschooling teacher, and ministering to others in what ever way God is leading me (meals, support, taking care of their children…..).

  17. I enjoyed reading this today. It comes at a time when I think often about what I could possibly do from home. I have hobbies I enjoy but I just don’t like charging people for them. I like blessing people with my gifts. Even if I did charge a small fee it wouldn’t cover the bills that need to be paid with my hobbies. What I really love is encouraging women whether it be in writing or by speaking to them I just get so rejuvenated from it. Jill do you have any encouragement on how I could get started with something like this and possibly be able to make ends meet with our family at the same time? Our first child was born this April and since then we have made the sacrifice for me to be part time which I love, but I know someday I really want to be home full time. My husband also wants this, but is working full time and also going to school almost full time in order to finish his degree and get a higher paying job. Thanks in advance for your encouragement!
    God Bless!

  18. I just started on Etsy with Jolene’s Odds-n-Ends. Right now I have homemade doubles strength vanilla extract and h0memade, better-for-you body cream…all natural ingredients! I am working on expanding with other products in the near future like bar soap, shower gel and body spray…just seeing where the Lord leads me in this. It works out wonderfully as I can do it from home, just working on the start up costs and supplies….

  19. I LOVE the Daily Bread portrait! Was just meditating on that verse yesterday!! Hope I win because that’s the one I would choose…funny because if I could make money doing something I love it would be baking bread and cinnamon rolls!!

  20. I love Julie’s work and I love Julie! She did the cover design for my memoir Craving Grace, and has been such an encouragement as a woman working from home. Thanks for the interview.

  21. My mom and I have a dream of opening a boutique that would sell baked goods, miscellaneous antiques and linens, as well as other items that cater more to a simplified life. We talk about it often and I really hope that one day we are able to make it happen. In the meantime, I love hearing about other moms who have been able to make a living doing what they love. I ran my own medical transcription business for 8 years, but it was more out of necessity than true passion. A note to Julia: your pictures are stunning!!!

  22. I love Julie’s artwork and admire her savvy for creating her own business. After the birth of my third child, God lead me to “redefine” myself as a stay at home mom. With my first two, I worked full-time directing a pediatric weight management program for a prominent health system. From that job, I gleaned a lot of purpose and independence. Today, I realize that I am most fulfilled by supporting my husband, managing my household, and intentionally parenting my 3 young kids. I pray that I never have to go back to work outside of the home again. To help bring in money, I provide volleyball camps and clinics to young athletes in our area. After playing 5 years of division 1 volleyball, and being blessed with a passion for the sport, I decided to keep doing what I loved. I feel like I am reaching precious young ladies, and I pray that they can see God through me. I also make my own soap, chemical-free deodorant and body butters. I started Alpine Bliss Naturals, LLC a few months ago and have sold quite a few products to my friends. I’d love to start a website and get the company rolling, but am unsure about it all. Julie’s site on etsy encourages me to get going….

  23. I love to crochet. I have sold some but mostly give it as gifts. I would like to start a business. Maybe some day.

  24. Her work is so beautiful! What a good idea that she had to help her memorize Scripture, and how God has blessed her because of it. Makes me think I should get creative in an approach to memorizing Scripture. Wish I could just have her artwork all over my house!

  25. Reading about memorizing Scripture and making money in the same post reminds me of what I heard a pastor say in rebuttal to complaints about how hard memorizing Scripture is, he said, “If I told you I’d pay you a thousand dollars if you memorize this verse this week, you would do it.” Hmmm…very convicting for me!

  26. Thank you for posting this inspiring story! I am blessed to be able to stay at home with my two year old daughter and three year old son. I would love to start a freelance writing business in the near future.

  27. I frankly have not had any desire to start a home business…I LOVE my job as a stay-at-home-mom! 🙂 However, I have my hairdresser’s license and used to work in a salon and have often contemplated going into a nursing home weekly or bi-weekly and doing hair for the residents there for free. I LOVED doing roller sets on the older women that came in while I was in school and it’s not something that you do very often in a salon anymore. I’ve missed talking with them and hearing all the wisdom and stories they have to share…and they’re just plain fun to be around! Maybe sometime in the near future I can get that ball rolling! Thanks for sharing a great story today!

  28. I make ‘tears in the bottle’ and also teacups with poems attached. I also make a photo book for new babies to capture pictures of baby with the family and special friends so that the baby will see what everyone looked like when they were born. I add who loves baby most of all–JESUS! Just fun little things that come up. I have sold items at a school fair and given the money made to the school–stuff like that. I have always like the ‘bloom where you are planted’ idea. I want to bloom where God plants me!

  29. I’m a crazy nut whose home business is a dairy and meat goat operation – which includes laying hens. The hens are paying their way, but the goats will take much longer. However, I totally LOVE my goats, and they do provide fresh, delicious milk for our family. If I can ever get enough of them milking at the same time, I will be able to make all our own cheese and other dairy products as well. Unfortunately, our state has very unfriendly regulations concerning home dairying, so I can’t sell those products to the public. That’s why I keep the chickens – eggs are not regulated like dairy products. I found Julie’s advice very helpful!

  30. love julie’s work! thanks for sharing this inspiring interview. i am not a mom yet, but have been thinking about where my career is leading me and what options are out there for me. i love art, it would definately be a dream come true to be able to include art in my daily job/career! Lord show me !! 🙂

  31. Oh those prints are beautiful!! I have grown to love blogging…writing seems to be how I communicate and express myself best. I would love to be able to make a little bit more money doing it…but there are SO many wonderful blogs out there! 🙂 I do have ads on my blog that make a little bit…and every little bit does help!!

  32. I Love hearing stories like that and it’s always been a dream of mine to make my job work for me (not the other way around). My husband and I actually want to go into business together and open up our own restaurant.

  33. Beautiful prints. I work 1-2 days outside the home, but teach piano lessons 2 evenings a week so I can be home with my 9 month old. I also make quilts on the side, but haven’t been brave enough to sell any on

  34. I would love to have my own business selling antiques and doing interior design! Maybe someday!!!

  35. Inspiring! Beautiful Creations! I’ve always enjoyed writing and have been giving some thought about opportunities to pursue more of that from home.

  36. Beautiful work! I used to sell scrapbook supplies and memory albums…I loved teaching the “art” of scrapbooking. The reason I loved the business was that I loved taking pictures. Many people have said I have the “eye” for a good picture….would love to attempt Professional Photos for others, but scared of possible rejection. How do you get past that?

  37. Absolutely beautiful artwork. I too have worked from home with my own business. I had an advertising, graphic design, and promotional products business for years. I now sell promotional products VERY part time. I have toyed with many business ideas, but I am in a holding pattern waiting on the Lord. He called me to homeschool almost 3 years ago, a journey I said I would NEVER do but absolutely love. I keep trying to put plans in my future, but they appear to be my plans and not His as they keep falling apart. So, I am waiting, trying to be patient. I don’t know why I really look for something else to do because I love my “job” as a wife, stay-at-home mom, and homeschool mom.

  38. I can’t imagine having a home business while homeschooling 3 little boys but I would dream of a bakery business!

  39. Jill-I love how you have allowed God to work through your life and your business. What an awesome testimony that when we yield to what we are called to do, God will use our gifts for his purpose. My goal has been to start something that would be encouraging to young moms in the business of life. To blog, write bible studies and pray and encourage moms in their task of raising followers of Jesus.

  40. I love thrifting and yard sale-ing! I’ve started selling items I find on eBay for a profit. It’s not much, but 100 bucks extra a month goes along way for us!

  41. I work part time in children’s ministry (10-15 hrs/wk) and really enjoy it. I tried having my own business for a while teaching mommy and me classes, but found it stressful– the time I wanted to be able to put into my business versus what was realistic with being mommy collided. It is very easy for me to get into my work, and then I felt like it made my mothering suffer. For me, going to a place to work limited hours is easier to manage. I do think about trying it again now that my daughter is older, but we also homeschool, so I worry that the balance would be difficult.

  42. Beautiful! What a wonderful way to share scripture!

    I would love to make a living speaking and writing. I am already doing both…just not making a living at it! Actually my husband makes the living already but with 8 children and lots of needs in the world I would love to be able to accomplish some financial goals while pursuing my passion and ministering the women.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing this article! Julie’s work is beyond gorgeous…and just think, the world may never have know the beauty of her art if she had kept traditional job, and lived a “traditional life.” My hat goes off to you Julie, you inspire me beyond words!


  44. I am a SAHM to 4 under 6, so life is busy, but I am starting up a business in the fall. It’s a franchise, but it’s right up my alley (singing and children), and I can’t wait!

  45. Julie photographed my wedding this past May at the Naperville River Walk & our pictures are BEAUTIFUL!!! Her love of photography definitely shines through in her work 🙂 Her success is such an inspiration to me.

  46. I would love to have some sort of cupcake business. I love ’em to pieces, and there is a big craze for them right now. Would like to weave that into my quilting hobby.

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