Breadwinning

I’m the sole provider for our family now. Officially.

I posted a single political link out of a dozen cute and fluffy links in last Friday’s Honor Roll, and it got people all riled up. One person was so incensed that she tried to insult me personally, calling me out for enjoying my “fancy shopping trips” while Brandon was collecting unemployment. That’s not true, but I hadn’t realized the misconception I may have been fostering by not providing an update sooner. It’s hard stuff to write about and I’d been putting it off, but no longer. Here’s what’s going on with us.

Brandon and I met in 1999, when we each worked full-time at Barbara’s Bookstore in Oak Park (making just over $6/hour in the beginning — go us!). We began dating in 2001, moved in together a while after that, and were married in May of 2004. Just before we were married, Brandon left the bookstore for a job in printing that paid more. He was there until he lost his job in January.

I left the bookstore in late 2004. I had already been working a second job which was to continue for a little longer, and I took a seasonal retail job at the first west elm store. When that was over, I decided to pursue my dream of owning a stationery business and I started Pink Loves Brown. I also took on freelance web design projects as Smart & Lovely while the stationery business took off. I started this blog in 2007, and I realized that the blog would eclipse the stationery shop a couple of years into it. The money I made from advertising was a nice bonus at first, and eventually it became enough to call the blog “a job” with a straight face.

Brandon liked the work that he was doing (managing prepress), but the environment was a bad one. We’d always hoped that he could quit eventually, but it helped support our family and provided health insurance. When he unexpectedly lost his job earlier this year, he was on unemployment for a few months while he looked for work. As I took on more projects though, it became clear that we could make it work if he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. In July, he stopped collecting unemployment. We got rid of COBRA and bought our own health insurance (which was difficult and expensive). It’s scary to be the sole supporter since I have such a non-traditional job, but it’s working right now. If we need to reevaluate in the future, we will.

I make money in advertising and sponsored posts here on Making it Lovely, and I also write for Babble, Better Homes and Gardens, and Glidden. I’m saying yes to a lot more work than I would have before and I’m working a lot, but we’re doing well. Last year was the first year in which I earned more than my husband. This year I’ve been doing even better, and I hope to eventually be able to replace his lost income.

It wasn’t under ideal circumstances, but it seems I’ve managed to cross another item off of my Lovely Life List. A big one.

Life List Item: Make Enough Money to Support My Family

Thank you, everybody, for all of your support over the years. Especially recently. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you, and I’m humbled by you and grateful.

392 Responses to “Breadwinning”

  1. Katherine September 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a sole provider for my family as well and I find it very inspiring to hear the stories of other women in the same position. You are awesome and amazing. Keep rocking out.

  2. Erin September 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    You go girl – as someone now trying her hand at living on her website I respect all that you put into it and empathize with the fear and stress of it all! I may have to pick your brain for tips one of these days. Cheers to you and your lovely family!

  3. Anne September 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    I just want to say that went I read that someone wrote that comment I said out loud, “What a bitch.” I’m sorry you have to deal with that kind of stuff. Keep being awesome.

  4. Jess September 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    GO you! You deserve it, this is a lovely blog and I’m glad you are making a living doing something you love!

  5. Carrie254 September 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I think it’s really admiral that he voluntarily quit un-employment. Many people would milk the system as long as they could.

    I think that people who judge are generally jealous because they are not happy. At least that is how I used to be. Now I’m very happy, much nicer and way more easygoing.

    You do you, and don’t worry about the rest.

  6. Sarah September 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Thank you for your courage and vulnerability in posting this. I love the blog and am so happy that you have found what works for your family. It saddens me that people can make such cruel and insensitive comments simply because they disagree with you politically. But I am also proud that our president is taking an active stance in the preservation of free speech. Keep posting about topics that are important to you.
    (http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/09/obama-addresses-the-united-nations-136598.html

  7. Nicole O September 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such an honest and transparent post. When you write things like this, it reminds the reader that on top of being a great creative mind, you are also a real family who deal with some of the same real and difficult issues that many of us deal with. Just like me. Except that your house will always be much much more well decorated than mine. ;)

  8. Dottie September 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    RIGHT ON, GIRL!!!

    I’ve been doing this for awhile too and it is great and really empowering, but very stressful at times (hello health insurance). I give you a lot of credit for doing it as graciously as you have.

    Sorry some haters have to hate on all the hard work you put into this blog and doing a lot of other work to make this lifestyle work.

    xo!

    - Dottie

  9. Josephine September 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Yay you! All of you, in fact. And I’m sorry you feel you have to justfy yourself.

  10. Bethany September 26, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I’m glad this post was more framed around gratitude and less around justification.
    It’s great you want to share about how your family is making their way through the world. Particularly as a woman running her own business. I mean I appreciate the transparency, but there is no shame in unemployment while looking for work.
    And to folks wanting to shame you for your posts, your sponsors or an unemployment check, well… shame on them.

  11. shelley September 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    You. Are. Awesome! Ignore those mean comments, you’ll always get some. But keep your head high and keep right on going. Love your blog.

  12. Holly September 27, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    I have more respect for you than ever! Isn’t it great making a living at doing what you enjoy?

  13. kate September 27, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    I’ve been visiting your blog for years and it’s my all time favorite, just beautifully done in every way. Your success is so deserved!

  14. Mrs. Davis September 27, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Thanks for sharing! I’m SO glad that things are going well with all of your “Lovely” pursuits and you are providing for your family! My husband and I have a very non-traditional schedule, and although he works, he is able to spend tons of time with our kiddos, and I think it’s so awesome. The kids are really going to benefit by having a stay-at-home dad and such a wonderful mom, too! And, for what it’s worth, I found your “offensive” link absolutely inspiring and shared it on Facebook and e-mail. Way to root for your hometown guy! I always look forward to checking in with your blog. Thanks!

  15. Kate Challis September 27, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    I was saddened to hear that someone would make such personal comments. Try not to take it to heart and don’t let it change how you blog. Keep being yourself (including putting in the occasional political comment). It’s what makes your blog so wonderful. If some readers don’t like it so be it, there are more that admire and respect you for it.

  16. Lindsey September 27, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing Nicole. It’s sad when the ugly side of the internet rears it’s head in unexpected places. But it does happen. You have so much to be proud of. Keep the beautiful posts coming!

  17. Barb Boyack September 27, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Nicole I guess I am a lone dissenter here, you have a lovely blog and I appreciate all your hard work, but I don’t come to ready decorating blogs for politics anything. Doesn’t matter if I agree with you, or disagree, I just think politics belong somewhere else..

    Keep up the good work, and I am not a hater..Just a grandma who thinks politics is a personal choice and doesn’t need to be on a blog of this type..

  18. Stacy Hofman September 27, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    You rock, Nicole! Brandon rocks, too! Keep going with your head held high!

  19. Katherine September 27, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Geez, I was kind of hoping you’d put MORE political stuff along with your awesome design and family entries. That 90/90 thing was so cool. I hope the haters don’t silence you! You’re the greatest! We all love your blog at my house!

  20. vernonlee September 27, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks for sharing this in particular and the work you do in general.

    I imagine there’s a solid market for a specific how-to that you might sell as a printed and/or ebook. A year in self-employment on the web – a work & occasional personal diary with an occasional interview with other people in adjacent careers who manage to make it work. And, since by you, goes without saying that it’d be beautifully designed :)

  21. katiedid September 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    You are amazing and I am happy to say one of the very first blogs I started to read. It has been so fun to see your life changes and see your family grow. You keep on going and you are allowed to have an opinion! It makes you a whole person…..and not everyone has to agree. They do need to show respect however! You go!

  22. la petite maison September 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Hi Nicole. I have followed your blog for many years. I’ve long known that you and I fall on different ends of the political spectrum, but in spite of this I’d like to think that we could be friends in real life. I’m always up for a civil discourse! Anyway, I think it’s great that you and Brandon have found a way to provide for your family while still doing what you love. Cheers!

  23. Courtney September 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I also forgot to mention a shout-out to Brandon. I come from parents who are teachers (teaching Child Development no less) and many statistics show that fathers who stay home with their children during their formative years (0-5 especially) raise more well adjusted children and have a stronger bond than most. Best of luck to you and your family, you’re doing an amazing job!

  24. Krissy September 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Congrats Nicole!! That’s awesome news and good for you. (Also, boo on the mean people, I think you should shop more, you have excellent taste.)

  25. laura September 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    you go girl!

  26. Valerie September 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Nicole, Kudos for being honest and breaking the mold. Love reading your more personal posts :) Keep ‘em coming!

    best!

  27. Cristina September 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Nicole, haters are gonna hate. Keep doing what you do. We love and support you!

  28. Jayme September 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I think that person wanted to pry. It was a little bit unclear from the last post how your family was going to pay the bills. So insulting you was their way of making you spill the beans. Still what a @$/!! Totally mean and uncalled for. People need to mind their own business and not get so upety. No one is forcing them to read your charming, well designed, well maintained and interesting blog.

  29. Ilene September 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    Good for you! What a great ole model you are for your kids, and the rest of us! You go girl! And how lucky of you to have such a supportive husband!? Thanks for sharing.

  30. judy September 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    You know, Nicole, I find your work life as fascinating as your blog (and I think I’ve been reading your blog pretty much since the beginning). You’ve created such a unique and imaginative way of making a living. I have nothing but admiration for you and your lovely family.
    Keep up the great work and don’t let the negatives get you down. You are a real trailblazer. And so is your dear husband.

  31. Ila September 28, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    You are making a great job! It is so enjoyable to come visit and read your blog. You deserve evey bit of your success!

  32. Azra September 28, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Good for you Nicole! You can’t please everyone, so why not try to please yourself.

  33. Cara September 28, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Congratulations on all your success! I’m in a different field but am currently the sole breadwinner and I understand the pressure.

    I missed the original political post so I just skimmed the comments. I doubt I could have bitten my tongue and responded with as much grace and good humor as you did. I also follow Capitol Hill Style. I have different political views than that blogger and her opinions are occasionally shared because of the nature of her blog. Despite that, I still read it because she respects other viewpoints and the content of her blog is just too amazing to miss. Hopefully, those who had a negative reaction to your link will come to realize the same thing applies to you.

  34. nic September 28, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Nicole – I have immense respect for couples who don’t let being straightjacketed into traditional the male/female roles determine their lives. And I thank you for your honest post. It makes you more relatable when we see that your life is not all “shiny and perfect” (just like us!)

  35. raeleneb September 28, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Good for you Nicole. Be you. And be proud. Woot!

  36. Jeanne September 28, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    What all the nice people already said! But really, what happened to civil discourse? When did it become acceptable to spew and hate those with a different political view? I read blogs from people who are conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, independent, mormon, baptist, catholic, muslim, hindu, black, white,pro-homeschool, pro-traditional school, creative and not so creative. I may not agree with every opinion hat every author has, but I usually learn something from them all and it helps me to understand their viewpoint. Long live free speech! Celebrate our differences!

  37. Jacqueline Ashby September 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Nicole, you don’t have to justify your financial situation to anyone. Your husband paid into the system and he deserves to collect what contributed (like the rest of us). You just keep doing what you are doing and don’t mind the distraction.

  38. Sharon September 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I think it took GUTS for you to put that link on your blog. It also takes GUTS to blog and put yourself out there for the world to judge. You don’t have to justify to anyone how you, or your family, spends your money. Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and unemployment are all safety nets that were developed by LIBERALS because we recognize that sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and we have to help each other out. We are all in this together and sometimes, it takes a little while to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and some people (disabled, children, elderly) won’t ever be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We have to help each other. That’s what it’s all about! Not judging others. I have visited your blog several times but never officially “followed” you. I am officially one of your proud blog followers now. You go girl! We’ve got your back.

  39. Nicole Busick September 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Nicole, I love your blog and I’m so happy to have found it. You are an inspiration! Creative work, kids and a husband! It’s so much work and now you get paid. It’s a great accomplishment. I did like to hear about where you started. It’s encouraging. You are one of my favorite blogs. Loving your striped dresses lately. Cheers!

  40. Nicole RJ September 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such intimate details of your life with us, and boo to whomever felt the need to so cruely rain on your parade. Go you for doing such an amazing job and being able to support your family with your blog and freelance writing!

  41. Zaida September 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Wow, thank you for sharing, but truly it’s really not my business how you make your money! I’m sorry you were insulted with a bunch of political rhetoric. People want to jump to illogical conclusions. Honestly, I find it downright hateful that someone insulted you and your husband. You have the right to post who you are voting for–it’s America people, last time I checked it was a free country. Long live the right to vote!

  42. Nikki September 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    I only know you through your blog, but I’m proud of you. This year my husband quit his (very unhappy) job to pursue music full time. My little Etsy shop and upcycled clothing business has taken off, and right now it’s the only income we have. It’s not nearly enough, and we don’t have insurance, but it’s kind of amazing to even consider that I could be the breadwinner. It’s been a big shift at our house. I can’t overstate that. But it’s also been a pretty amazing journey. So happy for you, Nicole… keep up the great work!

  43. caitlyn September 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Nicole, I am sorry that someone lashed out at you so viciously. Thank you for sharing openly and honestly about a situation that is really none of our business. How exciting that things are working out for you and your family!

  44. stevie September 29, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    1) That link was awesome
    2) I like to know my bloggers politics
    4) Anyone who says this is not the type of blog for that is being silly, this is YOUR life/lifestyle! This is the “type” of blog for everything anf anything that you have to say!
    5) CONGRATS cause the whole situation that you guys have going on sounds preeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeety awesome.

  45. RebeccaNYC September 29, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    I am just catching up on my blog reading, so I am a little late to comment on this. As total strangers, your financial situation is none of our business and yet you have shared such a personal part of your life with elegance and candor. I am sorry that your passing reference to a very interesting political website caused such a firestorm of hate. Even if people disagree with your political beliefs, hatred is not an acceptable response, and I am really sorry. You handled the whole thing with such grace. xoxo

  46. catherine September 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    unemployment is called “unemployment insurance” for a reason – you pay into it. it’s amazing how ignorant people can be about the so-called “forty-seven percent.” you deserve to collect that! and most people who complain about unemployment have likely never been laid off. good for you for making it work.

  47. Emma September 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Amazing history you must be so proud !
    After reading it I feel more motivated and inspired. You and your husband are such a wonderful team <3

  48. Mandy October 1, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    I just read some of the comments from that post. What a bunch of meanies! Whatever, your blog is awesome and you are one talented lady.

    Party on, Nicole!

  49. Ser October 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Way to go, mama!! I really enjoy your work, so thanks!

  50. Daryn Murphy October 2, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I think you are amazing…have for years. Keep doing what you are doing…no press is bad press even from haters!

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