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Ryemarkable Heather Kellie Freeman

Family info: Married to Rye native Scott Freeman with 2 children, 7 and 9

Pets: A tiger kitty named Chloe and a Aussie Cattle pup named Mabel

Name and description of your Organization/Business:

I'm the artist and owner of H.macdo Paper Co., an online stationery brand inspired by life along the Long Island Sound. I sell greeting cards worldwide through my e-commerce website, Etsy and Amazon Handmade. I also sell wholesale to small shops around the country, including local shops right here in Rye. I'm an artist, surface pattern designer and a business woman.

How would you describe your work?

My work uses hand drawn elements, paint and digital mediums to create illustrations, hand lettering and pattern design for greeting cards and stationery products.

Before becoming an artist, did you have another career? What did you do?

I’ve always been an artist who loves to make things by hand and enjoys the challenges of building a business from my art. I hold a degree in Visual Arts & Technology, specializing in animation from George Mason University. I love technology and the blend of product creation and e-commerce has been a perfect match for me. In the beginning of my career, I was working for a media company designing illustrations and motion graphics work for television and other media in Manhattan. I began freelancing and working independently as a motion graphics artist in 2010 and then worked privately as a boutique animation studio with a number of clients all over the country.

Meanwhile, I was crafting handmade holiday cards for friends and family each year. I loved the tactile feel of holding a card in my hand, seeing my artwork printed on beautiful textured papers and adding heartfelt messages brought so much joy. Unlike the fast-paced world of big city client work, designing greeting cards felt like an intentionally slow and meaningful practice. Just like my Mom and my Grandmother, I loved the way sending handcrafted cards made me feel and created a special connection.

When my husband and I decided to start a family, I began shifting my focus toward designing and creating greeting cards full-time.I built an e-commerce website using WordPress and opened an Etsy shop to begin marketing and selling my line of unique hand drawn greeting cards inspired by life living along the Long Island Sound.This shift allowed me to continue pursuing a creative life as I took on the full time responsibilities of early Motherhood with our two young babies.

What inspired you to pursue this path?

To this day, I am still inspired by the blending of technology and art. I love to create something by hand and then put it out into the world to help others connect in a meaningful way. I’m still amazed by how technology and the internet has allowed me to build a business and create income from my creative passion. It has provided me the opportunity to work at home while raising our kids.

What type of art do you create, and what mediums do you prefer to work with?

I create illustration art with watercolor, gouache, pencil, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. After creating a series of sketches or painted work, I scan my original drawings and paintings into my computer. I then use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to further refine the art and color palettes. From there I create motifs, repeat patterns and illustrated art pieces that are used for greeting cards and stationery.

How do you balance your artistic pursuits with your responsibilities as a mom? Any tips for other creative moms out there?

One of the reasons I chose to pursue a product-based e-commerce business while raising my children was to create a work environment with flexibility that allows me to be present with my children on a day to day basis as I am also the full-time caretaker for our kids. Walking them to school and picking them up has been a great joy and a great source of creative inspiration. When we walk together, we notice the beauty of the changing seasons, bond over our plans for the weekend and try to answer all life’s most pressing questions.

I work on my art and run the business operations, packing orders and marketing while the kids are at school and then attend to the kid’s after school activities in the afternoon. I make it a goal to start making dinner by 5:00 during the week so that the kids have enough time to wind down and settle into a bedtime routine that includes reading together each night. I am often inspired by the picture books and illustrated children’s books that we find at the Rye Free Reading Room and Arcade Books store!

Can you share some insight into your creative process? Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?

For me, inspiration comes from observing the seasons and unique coastal life along the Sound. I often become inspired on my walks with my kids and on daily walks with our dog. I fill my phone with pictures of everything that inspires me and have a daily practice of sketching and painting those outdoor moments. I’m always keeping my eyes open to the natural beauty around us here in Rye.

Are there any specific themes or messages that you like to convey through your artwork?

While many of my visual themes are inspired by nature and coastal life, I also like to convey themes of encouragement, support and wellness in my greeting card offerings. I’ve received feedback from customers that they are on the look out for sympathy cards that are not depressing or empathy cards that are uplifting along with a need for every day birthday, anniversary and thank you cards.

What are some challenges you've faced as an artist and a mom, and how have you overcome them?

Being an artist, running a business and being a Mom is a delicate balance. I definitely have to pace my expectations at times and parent while running the business with the mindset of embracing the long game. I use a big calendar to write out everything from my kid’s weekly school events and activities to each goal I want to reach in my business for that season. It’s a practice of staying alert to my children’s shifting needs, consistency in my art practice and careful planning in order to make slow intentional growth in my business and maintain a healthy life/work balance.

How has being a mother influenced your artistic style or the subject matter of your art?

My kids are a constant source of inspiration for my work and card designs. My Happy 1st Mothers Day card is a homage to my early messy days of motherhood. When wipes were everywhere, diaper bags were bulging with teething toys, bottles and spilled snack cups. It remains a best seller to this day on Etsy and was even featured in the Business Insider Mother’s Day Gift Guide.

Do you involve your family in your artistic process? If so, how do they contribute or participate?

My family and my environment is the heart of my artistic process. My kids are often with me when I’m doing something for the business and I try to make it fun for them. We put on music while I’m packing orders or get a special snack together when I have to do a Post Office run or business errand. Some of my best selling greeting cards are inspired by my life as a Mom, gardening or a simple pleasure from our family life.

Have you collaborated with other local artists or organizations in your community?

Over the years, H.macdo Paper Co. greeting cards have been featured in Papyrus Stores, Stationery Trends Magazine, Business Insider, ArtsWestchester and my business has collaborated with the Rye Farmer’s Market, The Rye Historical Society Artist Markets, SOUL RYEDERS and The Rye Arts Center Rye’s Above Public Art Butterfly Project. Locally, H.macdo Paper Co. greeting cards are available for sale at Rockridge Deli and Flower shop and Rye Beach Pharmacy.

What are some of the highlights or achievements you've had in your artistic career so far? Any particular milestones you're proud of?

I love working on anything that will get H.macdo Paper Co. involved in the Rye community. I have enjoyed partnering with SOUL RYEDERS for a campaign every Fall to help raise money for their cancer support programs through the sale of greeting cards throughout October and November. This year will be my sixth year in a row.

How do you stay motivated and inspired during times when creativity feels elusive?

Never stop learning, I’ve found this to be the best advice from other professional creatives. Invest in your education. Between art creation and the ever evolving developments in technology there is always something new to learn and inspire through online courses and communities of other creative businesses. A lot of courses are designed to go at your pace and offer online support groups to lean on for help or guidance when trying something new. This has been the key to fueling creativity when I’m feeling stuck.

Are there any specific resources, such as books, websites, or workshops, that have helped you develop your artistic skills or expand your knowledge?

Skillshare is a great resource for any one looking to brush up on tech or creative skills. In 2018, I took Kate Hunt’s Proof to Product Paper Camp online course to learn everything about launching wholesale. it led to exhibiting at my first trade show in 2020 in NYC. This past spring, I took Bonnie Christine’s Immersion Course to learn everything about art licensing and surface pattern design. For any one interested in making a move to creative entrepreneurship, Two Weeks Notice by Amy Porterfield is an inspiring book.

Can you share a memorable story or experience related to your art that you'd like to pass on to other moms?

Last summer, I was honored to participate in the Rye Art Center’s RyesAbove public art project. I was nervous to exhibit along with so many incredible local artists and painters. It was also the first time I had worked out side my preferred medium of paper using a different raw material -a steel sculpture in a the shape of a butterfly. But the challenge pushed me out of my comfort zone and brought me closer to my community in ways I hadn’t expected. I took my kids to the unveiling party and opening speeches in the Village Green. To share that experience with my kids and to be able to bring joy in the form of public art into our home town was one of the proudest moments I’ve felt as a local artist and Mom.

How do you manage your time effectively to juggle your artistic pursuits, parenting duties, and other responsibilities?

I break the day up into family duties and several work blocks. I like to plan 3 months ahead by mapping everything out on a 90-day calendar. I can break down my short term goals to complete a much larger goal a lot easier this way. With a printed calendar I write in all family plans and school breaks first. Next, the business goals and deadlines that I want hit in those 3 months. I write everything out on the calendar so that I can refer to it every day. And then reevaluate again for the following three months. This way, I don’t get too overwhelmed in the planning process and can adjust as needed.

Another aspect I analyze in my daily life is where to outsource and delegate tasks both in family and business. This takes time to observe what our specific needs are over time. I use the High School Senior Internship program each year to get a little help with inventory prep and am looking to hire a part-time studio assistant within the next year.

Have you faced any criticism or skepticism from others? How do you deal with negativity?

Oftentimes the most destructive criticism I’ve had is the criticism I have of myself. When I find myself getting grumpy or frustrated and going down this path, I talk to my husband and say all the things that I’m feeling out loud. He helps me to talk through it and get to the root of my negative thinking. Oftentimes it is because I’m not nourishing a certain part of my life that needs attention, lack of sleep or burn out. It often means that I need to slow down. Talking with someone whom I love, trust and can be completely vulnerable with helps to gain perspective and shift my mindset.

What advice would you give to another mom who wants to pursue her passion for art but feels hesitant or overwhelmed?

My advice to other Moms who want to pursue a creative career is to just start. There are many resources on-line that will inspire and get you headed in the right direction. Start making marks in a sketchbook or writing down your ideas in a journal every day. Over time, you’ll begin to notice what makes your self-expression special and your unique potential will shine through. Find a business coach and an on-line community of other like-minded creatives that can inspire and guide you. Keep investing in yourself and your education.

How do you handle self-doubt or creative blocks that may arise in your artistic journey?

Take a break and spend more time outside and with family. Prioritize exercise and sleep. I remind myself that it’s human nature to experience negative thoughts come and go. Focus on your unique traits and passions without judgement.

Where do you see yourself and your art in the future? Any specific goals or dreams you'd like to achieve?

For the future of H.macdo Paper Co. I am excited to expand my art offerings into several other product categories within the next few years. I look forward to launching new journals and 2024 calendars late this Fall and plan to exhibit at the Surtex Trade Show next spring to connect with art licensing opportunities. Next May, I am also planning to run my first half-marathon with SOUL RYEDERS.

Website or social media links?

Sign up for my newsletter ——>

Follow my work on Instagram ——> @hmacdo_paper_com

Shop H.macdo Paper Co. ONLINE —> and H.macdo on ETSY

SHOP LOCAL —> Rockridge Deli and Flower Shop and Rye Beach Pharmacy


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