You may remember Artemer from our introduction to the brand last fall, but this week, I wanted to focus more on co-owner (and mother of four!) Tanya Mikaeilyn. As a creative business owner and mother, I am always fascinated by other entrepreneurial families and hearing how they handle the balance. Like Tim and myself, Tanya and her partner Tomer co-own and operate a prosperous, busy jewelry business while raising children in a city.
I decided to feature Artemer for our Mother’s Day partnership after seeing their gorgeous new Diamond Initial Necklace and, frankly, immediately wanting one for myself. Initial pendants are a beautiful, touching gift for any mom (new or experienced), and this year, Artemer’s version is just so elegant. We’re accepting pre-orders (with 10 percent off!) for this pretty necklace through Saturday, April 3rd, for guaranteed pick-up by Mother’s Day, so go ahead and get your orders in!
Meaghan: Tanya, thank you for taking the time to chat about your experience as a mother running a small business. How many children do you have?
Tanya: My pleasure! We have four girls!
Meaghan: Your studio is in Tel Aviv, Israel, which I know has different maternity policies than the United States, but, as a fellow small business owner, I’m sure you face similar constraints that I did in that maternity leave just means less income for your own business. Did you take off time from work after having your kids?
Tanya: This is a complicated answer because it was different for all of our children, depending upon what stage we were at with our business. Our oldest daughter, Mia, is 15 years old – she’s my stepdaughter. Tomer and I started dating when she was 5. She lives with her mom, step-dad, and little brother. We have her for the weekends, holidays, and anytime she wants to.
One and a half years into the business, we had Avigail (she’s seven now). It was just Tomer and I running the business, we didn’t have employees yet, so I had a “maternity leave” of seven days and got back to answering messages, packaging orders, and taking photos of our jewelry in between breastfeeding. One year and 10 months later, we had Ronya (she is six now). At this point, we had three employees, so I could potentially have a proper maternity leave. What ended up happening was pregnancy complications, nearly three months of hospitalizations (NICU unit included), and Tomer being basically a single dad for all of this time, plus running the business without me… 2015 was pretty rough year for us. But, at the end of three months worth of hospital nightmare, we were very lucky because I was healthy and eventually was able to come home with a healthy baby in my arms. After some hospital reality, having a healthy child is a blessing I learned not to take for granted. The same year, we moved our house and our studio from the Jerusalem area to Tel Aviv, with two babies and a ton of equipment. And… at the beginning of 2016, I got pregnant again. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, and couldn’t imagine myself going through another pregnancy so soon. But I did. We were a team of five at that point. We had our youngest daughter, Ilil, at the end of 2016 (she is four now). I did finally have a proper maternity leave of nearly six months, in the comfort and coziness of our home, and with the help of an occasional babysitter. It was true bliss… but after six months, I couldn’t stay home for another day!
Meaghan: Thank you for sharing your story. 2015 sounded rough, but I’m so glad you were able to get through. I remember the year after Nolan being born being so fraught. I completely underestimated the postpartum roller coaster that I was to go through and really struggled that year to feel sane while balancing everything. Tim had so much riding on him that year in terms of running the business without me while also providing all the necessary parenting support I needed; it was really difficult.
Like me, you work with your partner and run a creative business. How do you balance your family schedules with the work you do together?
Tanya: For me, running a business with my partner feels like a true luxury in terms of family life balance! Being an online business also allows us to have more flexible and adaptable schedules. We constantly adapt our schedules to our family needs, to our business needs, and also to our own emotional state. Tomer and I are 50/50 in the home-work ratio. But we also look at each week individually, and if there’s a week when I feel especially exhausted at home, he’ll step in and take on more hours with the kids that week. While I’ll spend more time at work (that’s right – work is rest time for us!). And sometimes, I just want to spend more time with the kids, or I know that Tomer has a very stressed week at work, so I let him take more hours at the studio while I’m with the girls. The same goes for Tomer.
Meaghan: I completely relate! Work time is definitely a respite from the craziness of parenting, which feels so strange to say. Each week changes in terms of who is home with Nolan more and who is at the shop more. And, with COVID, all the support we had a year ago just disappeared as a feasible solution. How did your family adapt to the pandemic?
Tanya: Since COVID began, we are also homeschooling our kids while running our business.
Meaghan: One thing Tim and I talk a lot about is whether we want Nolan to learn our trade, and honestly, we both feel against the idea because we don’t want him inheriting a business and taking it for granted. Do you want your kids to follow in your footsteps, or do you see them pursuing other fields?
Tanya: Yes, I do! But I also want them to find their own paths in life based on their passions and talents. So, whatever happens, is fine by me!
Thank you, Tanya! We love your work.
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.