I have found that being a small business owner that it can be hard to get away from my work, especially as my work and my personal life are often intertwined. I try to take an entire weekend day where I really take a break from work and focus on spending time on my family. It’s really important both to my personal well-being and for my family’s for me to have a day where I can really focus on them. On Saturday Sam, his mom and I took Eve to a local sheep shearing festival (I may live in a city, but just a short drive away and it feels like you’re in the country) where we listened to music, learned about herd dogs and watched them in action, and of course watched a sheep get sheared.
In the afternoon while Eve napped, Sam worked on refinishing on a set of outdoor table and chairs we bought at our neighbor’s yard sale (for a bargain price of $20!) and i worked on clearing out our front porch (one of my goals for the month) and made a little play area for her in the kitchen (we also managed to buy a play kitchen at that yard sale). I have been wanting to buy Eve a little set of table and chairs for her to sit at, but I realized that the wicker coffee table my parents had handed down to us and the little chair we also bought at the yard sale made for the perfect setup for Eve.
As she starts to get older, I am having so much fun doing more projects with her, like gardening and finding ways for her to help me cook. I have these visions of going on local adventures and doing home and craft projects with her as she (and hopefully a sibling) gets older. I had a really active imagination as a child, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Eve does as well. I can only imagine what types of things we will dream up together, like the mom and son duo who I have the pleasure of interviewing!
Lisa and her 9-year-old son, Michael, are the founders of Mission Unboxable, a subscription box service of Top Secret Missions for kids that you can purchase on Etsy. As they describe it, “Each mission takes creativity, science and imagination to a whole new level. The simplicity and excitement of each mission encourages children to think outside of the box, while the convenience and ingenuity is definitely a parent-pleaser.” I’m very pleased to have both Lisa and Michael here today to tell you a little bit more about their Top Secret Missions.
Tell us a little bit about your work and how you got started with it.
Lisa: During the summer of 2013, my 8-year-old son Michael and I spent Tuesdays together. As a way to bond (and do something that did not involve electronics!), we started creating Top Secret Missions. We had such a fun time creating and completing the Missions, I thought that other parents might want to try it, and of course Michael wanted to share his Missions with every single kid in the universe. On a whim, I opened an etsy shop to sell our Missions as a monthly subscription. Parent bloggers loved it and our family was featured on the front cover of our local newspaper with the title “Mission: Awesome”. Before we knew it, Michael was nominated as one of five kids for Young Inventor of the Year for the Chicago Toy Show 2013. He didn’t win, but we got to meet the inventor of the rainbow loom and he signed Michael’s loom with a sharpie! He didn’t get the award but he was treated like a celebrity at school the next day!
What’s the story behind your business’ name?
Lisa: Almost every domain name on the internet seems be taken, so we had to be creative. Once we decided on selling the spy kits as a subscription box company, the name and slogan just evolved naturally.
What do you like most about having your own creative business? What do you find most challenging?
Lisa: I love sharing such a fun experience with Michael. He has so many creative ideas. I want to give him an outlet to use that creativity in a way that helps other kids foster their own imagination. Hands down the most challenging part of the business is finding the time to do everything. Now that Michael is a little older he helps out a lot more with packaging and putting together the kits, as well as his own ideas on how to expand and market the company.
Michael: I like that I can add a new Mission any time I want to our company. It’s not like Minecraft where I have to wait for an update…but I guess the kids who buy our kits have to have wait, which stinks. I think the most challenging part is coming up with the Missions because it takes a long time to get every detail right.
What inspires you to create?
Lisa: My kids inspire me to create new products and add new things to the company. Their imaginations have no limits and it’s so cool to live in a world where anything is possible.
Michael: What inspires me to create? I create because it’s fun to do
What do you think motivates others to buy handmade?
Michael: I think others buy our Missions because it is unique to etsy and you can’t find it anywhere else.
What is your favorite handmade item you have bought or received?
Lisa: The drawings and gifts my kids make for me at school are my favorite handmade items. I love knowing they are thinking of me when they are there.
When you are not working on creating Top Secret Missions what do you like to do with your time?
Lisa: I’m a mom of four kids and work as an attorney by day.
Michael: Play video games
What is something people might not know about you?
Most people do not know that all the profits from the company are going into a savings account for my kids’ college fund.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to others with their own creative business?
Lisa: Do something you love, because when it gets hard, it will help you get through the rough patches.
Michael: Never give up and keep on trying
Thank you, Michael & Lisa, for joining me on my blog today!