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From Burned Out & Pregnant to 6-Figure Design Business with Christi Cooper

About the episode

In episode of the Mom Owned and Operated podcast, Rita Suzanne and Christi Cooper discuss raising a family, running a business and remembering yourself.

Christi Cooper is the designer and creative strategist behind Cooper & Heart Creative—with 22+ years design experience—she works with coaches, service-providers, and course creators to help them level up their brands by designing beautiful, conversion-focused sales pages and websites they LOVE to share. She also exclusively offers a “Design Done in a Day (or 2)” VIP service which is a fun and collaborative way for her clients to get amazing design results quickly.

You can find Christi on her website, Cooper and Heart and on Instagram

This episode is sponsored by Google Workspace

Listen to more interviews by visiting momownedandoperated.com and apply to work with Rita at ritasuzanne.com/apply/

Listen to the episode

Show Notes
Rita Suzanne 00:01
Welcome to the Mom Owned and Operated Podcast, the podcast about moms and for moms, where we have candid conversations about running a business, raising a family, and remembering ourselves. I’m your host, Rita Suzanne, a single mom of four, digital strategist and provider of no nonsense business strategies and tactics. Hi, this is Rita Suzanne. And this is mom owned and operated today I have my friend Christie with me. Christy, please tell us all about you, your business, your family, all of the things.

Christi Cooper 00:42
Yeah, I’m Christi Cooper. I’m a mom of two young girls – currently seven and three. And I am the co owner designer, all of the hats over at Cooper and Hart creative where I work with online coaches and service providers to help them create beautiful websites, sales pages, and all of those things.

Rita Suzanne 01:09
And what do you use to make all of the things are you like a WordPress person, Squarespace like, what are your what is your thing?

Christi Cooper 01:17
Yes. So I work. Um, I actually work in a couple platforms. I work on WordPress with Elementor. And I do a lot of work in Kajabi.

Rita Suzanne 01:28
Okay, nice. Okay, so before you started doing design, what were you doing?

Christi Cooper 01:35
I was doing design. I have been doing design since I was 17. So it was my first job. And it’s been every job since then. Until I started my own business. So yeah, I, I went to design school and got a bachelor’s degree and worked at a design agency for a while of the agency kind of life. And I got burnt out. And I was and then I had my kids and I needed something else. Yeah.

Rita Suzanne 02:10
So I mean, how was the transition from going from working at an agency into starting your own business?

Christi Cooper 02:20
It was slow, because I am pretty risk averse. And I’m the main income earner for my family. So it was like my, my job had the highest salary. So that was paying all your bills. You know, my first daughter was young. And I was just so burned out. So I started doing freelance work on the side, you know, design work on the side. And because I didn’t want to have a conflict with my agency, I really kind of went into the online world. And so then I kind of naturally progressed to serving online businesses that way, so I didn’t have to, I didn’t have to do I’m also an introvert. So I was like, I don’t want to go to networking events locally. Like I don’t want to talk to people. How intimidating so yeah, so I spent two years on this doing a side hustle to my main day job with a toddler, baby toddler.

Rita Suzanne 03:15
That had to be a lot to to to juggle, especially and I can see that there would be a lot of pressure being the main, you know, breadwinner and the provide, I mean, obviously, like, I’m a single mom, so I completely get it. Although, you know, you’re not single, but you know, having to bring in all the income by yourself has to be a lot of pressure. But you have your husband there to help you with the with the kids and stuff. So that’s definitely a bonus. Right?

Christi Cooper 03:46
It’s a bonus. Yes, it’s a it’s definitely a bonus. Yeah. But yeah, it definitely was a lot of pressure, especially in the beginning. And that was a lot of pressure to put on my new business because I when I went full time, I just had my second daughter, you know, so I had I had a newborn. And then I was like, well, full time business time. I gotta make some money.

Rita Suzanne 04:11
Yeah. I mean, in addition to the pressure, they’re a good motivator, right? So

Christi Cooper 04:18
yeah, I was pressure and kind of like, well, we’re gonna sink or swim. So you know, I just kept going,

Rita Suzanne 04:26
and you and you and you are swimming. You are going, you’re doing great. So let me ask you, how did you get into like, websites and sales pages in particular, since you, you were starting out as more of like, were you doing print design initially? And then you transitioned over to websites, or how did that?

Christi Cooper 04:49
Yeah, so I did a lot of website design at the agency. You did design and then you sent it off to the developers and they would like code it right? So I did do website design. As far as the actual design part, I just didn’t build them. So I kind of learned those skills myself, like I taught myself WordPress, and I took some trainings. And then I started getting into some marketing trainings online. And then like that really, really helped. Really understanding like, how websites can be more effective, how sales pages work, how the sales funnels work, like all of that stuff, really, I just learned a lot of it, I just absorbed it. And then started applying it to client projects. So

Rita Suzanne 05:39
yeah, I think that’s one of the most important things for us as designers to really understand, especially online marketing is so important, right? Your website and your sales page are tools to help with your marketing. And what would you say is like your biggest obstacle when dealing with clients and things like that?

Christi Cooper 06:05
My biggest obstacle, um,

Rita Suzanne 06:10
I mean, it could be in in relation to working at home with your children, and you know, trying to serve clients and take care of yourself as well. Yeah,

Christi Cooper 06:21
it’s probably time management. And just and I’ve really been working on that lately. Like, I used to work nights and weekends to try to make up time that I thought I needed to do for business work. And then I just, I had to stop because I was getting so tired. And I was like, I’m gonna burn myself out again. Like, I don’t need to do that. And so I stopped working weekends, I stopped working nights like now I can’t imagine, like, going back to work after dinner. Like, that sounds terrible. But I did it for years. So, um, yeah, it’s been, I would say, the biggest obstacles when I was in the early stages of my full time business was definitely just managing the kids and work time and like client calls and like all of that like, and then it eventually got to the point where it was actually the pandemic, and the pandemic hit. And my husband just had a part time job, which was helping with the bills. But at that point, he wasn’t, it was an hourly wage. So he just, he couldn’t go into work. So he wasn’t making any money. And so we were just like, well, we’re just going to let you quit your job. And then I’m going to support us full time. And then you can watch the kids more. And then I can have work hours time. And that was a big difference. And I know everyone can’t do that. Right away. I feel very lucky that I was able to do that. But it definitely helped. But before that, like I definitely understand the juggling act of like, doing all the kids kids little and little kids, they need your attention so much like, oh, gosh,

Rita Suzanne 08:03
yeah, it’s a lot. I mean, I completely understand because, you know, trying to do all the things like time management, I think one of the biggest struggles or obstacles that people have when running their business is setting boundaries, especially in the beginning, right? You want to make all of your clients happy. And so therefore you as as a service provider, will burn yourself out work work work, work, work, work non stop in order to try to make everyone happy. And you know, I I felt it where I was literally rolling out of bed and not you know, not showering not taking care of myself not and my kids were three and five I think when I started are maybe four and six when I first started so they were really little and and I still I was just like rolling out of bed. I just been like I need to prove to everyone that I can do this thing, right. So I had so much practice, I had quit my job and moved across the country. And I’m like, I have to show everyone that I can do this, you know. So the first thing one of the first things that I did though was take my email off of my phone. And that was like my number one boundary that I had from because I was so reactive. If I woke up and I looked at my phone and I saw something that a client needed I would drop everything for whatever they needed. And it didn’t matter what it was like I have to help them right now. Like

Christi Cooper 09:42
yeah, I have the same impulse and I did the same thing I took my work email off my phone. First I turned off notifications and I took it off out of my Gmail and then yeah, like now like okay, like I check my work email during work time. I’m not doing like, but and I have that training like that impulse to people, please was also kind of leftover from my agency days where they would like peer pressure, they would like walk over to your desk and five minutes after they sent you an email and say, Hey, have you seen that email? So it just kind of like trained you to, like, always be in your inbox, which was not healthy for getting work done.

Rita Suzanne 10:26
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I’m the same way. I still keep mine open. But I don’t look, I don’t look at it. And I try to only really respond a couple of times during the day, but I like you and don’t work on the weekends. And I cannot imagine where, before I was working every single day. And then all of a sudden, on a Tuesday, in the middle of the day. I’m like crashing and burning for like three days, like I don’t want to see talk do nothing, you know?

Christi Cooper 10:55
Yes, yeah, it’s so true. Like, we have to give ourselves time off. Like, you have to give your brain arrest your body arrest, like, you just have to, you have to step away. You can’t just work all the time.

Rita Suzanne 11:07
Well, especially when you’re trying to do something creative, because I would find myself being blocked creatively, not being able to really serve them because I was so stressed and overwhelmed that it couldn’t like so you have to give yourself a break. But you know, speaking of like self care, and all of the things one thing that I love to talk about and focus on is, you know, our businesses are so important, and so are our families and our kids. And I find that a lot of women once we have kids, then we kind of put ourselves a little bit to the backburner. Now, if you add a business into that, then we also go again to the backburner even further. So I like to add

Rita Suzanne 11:55
Hi, it’s Rita Sorry to interrupt this episode, I wanted to just briefly jump in and talk about today’s sponsor, which is just a little bit more email chat. So I want to talk about my favorite email provider that I use, and that I recommend to all of my clients, and that is Google workspace or Google Suite. I think they’ve changed the name again. So what I love about G Suite or workplace, whatever is that I’m able to manage my email, multiple email addresses multiple domains inside of one email inbox that looks just like the Gmail that you are already familiar with. So if you are looking for a professional email that you can manage from anywhere, along with access to your own business, Google Drive, folder, platform, all of that stuff, then you definitely need to check out G Suite. I know that a lot of hosting companies do offer business emails. But using Google workspace, it definitely makes things so much easier. That way, if something happens with your website, your email is still intact, it’s still there, still, everything is still good. Your calendars are connected, you can add tasks, you can add everything else in order to keep yourself organized and keep those boundaries set in place. So if you do decide to check it out, you can get two weeks free by using my link, it’s Rita suzanne.com/g. Suite in that G suit, you can find the link in the show notes. And if you do sign up and you love it or if you even if you hate it, please let me know. I would love to hear how it’s working out for you. Now we’re going to get back to the interview with Christy

Rita Suzanne 14:00
asked moms, how are you able to still remember yourself?

Christi Cooper 14:06
Yeah, so I’ve been working on this and I have started. I’ve committed to where I always do yoga every morning. So and it’s not long. It’s not like an hour class. It’s like 10 minutes, 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes of yoga. I’m just off an app on my phone. And I do that every morning. And then I also try to get a walk in and depends on the weather, but because where are you located in Oklahoma, so I’m kind of it’s cold, it’s warm, it’s cold, it’s warm. I get it.

Rita Suzanne 14:42
But I think the yoga is good anyways because we sit so long or you know, we’re sedentary for so long, especially, you know, behind our desks and stuff. So any type of stretching is good. And you know, like, I love that you have your own office. You go in there you close the door and you You are working and doing your things. So, um, one of the things that we talked about before we jumped on this was how you hit your second six year, year. And so tell us more like, what, how did you? What is the thing that helps you reach that goal? And those milestones?

Christi Cooper 15:22
Yeah, so yeah, two years in a row, six figures. Um, so working on my mindset helps. So I did hire a coach, I know coaches on for everyone, but it really worked well for me. And if you find the right fit, I think it does work for you. So mindset, made a big difference, just being more confident being more consistent, really just believing in myself. It’s just and that’s always, always the struggle, right. And that, I think, combined with doing the VIP design phase, which I know you’ve done, and or you’ve kind of shifted yours, we were talking about that. The just simplifying how I offered my design services just made it easier to sell. So,

Rita Suzanne 16:12
right, and the the benefit to the design days or intensives. However, you know, whatever we call them, yeah, is that, you know, the client gets to see the work right now, instead of in six weeks, or in six, you know, three months, or however many months it takes, you know, because what have you found to be the biggest benefit of switching to the day rate model. Like for the clients, what have they shared is like, why they get so excited about it.

Christi Cooper 16:46
They really, they just really like that it’s a streamlined process. And like they know, their timeline and like what they have to commit to beforehand. And it’s not a lot of back and forth, it’s not drawn out. And it’s really exciting on that day, when they get to see like the transformation. They just think they just really love it. It’s so fun.

Rita Suzanne 17:12
And I love when you tell somebody that Oh, it’s you know, X amount of dollars for the day. And they’re just like, what, like, but they don’t realize the amount of pre work that goes into it, the strategy sessions, all of these, these other things that happen before the actual day. Like I think that that always, you know, people are like, wow, like, that’s more than I charge my that’s more than my attorney charges. And I’m just like, well, it’s not all one day, you know, it’s spread out, you just actually get the work on the one day,

Christi Cooper 17:50
right? Yeah, we do a lot of prep work beforehand, like and I do, you know, some mental planning and work and I make sure that I’m prepared for that, that day of actual creation and implementation. So yeah, and that’s also part of the value of what you’re getting out of that day. Like, doesn’t matter if it takes me a day or two days. If I told you it took me two weeks for the same price for the same result, like

Rita Suzanne 18:16
I feel more valuable than

Christi Cooper 18:19
does it matter? Right,

Rita Suzanne 18:21
it’s like that old thing that people say like I shouldn’t get penalized, because I work quickly, you know, I should be value add versus a penalty. So I completely agree with that. So if you if a mom came to you, and she was thinking about starting her own business, what would be your advice to her?

Christi Cooper 18:46
I would say go for it, you can do it. I believe in you. And everyone can do it. It’s there’s so many opportunities now, for moms working at home, like you don’t have to, you don’t have to go and sell like the MLM kind of stuff if you don’t want to, like you can do whatever it is that you feel inclined to do. And I would also be prepared to kind of explore your mindset stuff, because that stuff comes up when you’re running a business so much more than just regular life. So yeah.

Rita Suzanne 19:22
Oh 100% My, my favorite thing to tell people that is that if you have any issues, and start a business, and guess what, they’re all gonna come up, they’re all going to come out. And you can either deal with them or you’re probably going to have to go back to getting a job, you know, so yes.

Christi Cooper 19:45
So true. Like all of the self doubt all of that. You know, stuff that you’re afraid of like all of that comes up in business. And it’s not something you expect when you’re first like I didn’t expect that when I did Like, Oh, starting a business, I’m gonna have to work on my mindset. What is that? Right? I don’t, I don’t even know if I really heard that term mindset before

Rita Suzanne 20:09
either getting into business so that and especially in our industry, I remember the first coach that I worked with, and she told me, you need to work on your mindset. And I was thinking, what is that? What What do you mean?

Christi Cooper 20:25
It took a while, like I kind of eased into it and started learning a little more about it. So it takes a little bit of time to kind of wrap your head around it, but it really has made a difference, because all the internal stuff in your brain comes up so much.

Rita Suzanne 20:40
Yeah, and it helps the you know, it just I think it helps you move forward and progress. And so going forward, what are your plans? Like? Do you have any other plans to like, scale your business from here and go? Like, I don’t know, like even more six figure year seven figures. But yeah,

Christi Cooper 20:59
so I, I, I’m an ambitious person. And I also think, why not? Like, if I can make six figures I can, I can make seven. So I am working towards building a million dollar company. It’s a lot of changing and shifting and scaling. But um, yeah, I’m excited about it. So right now, I did start a template shop, which is for the same people that I serve with my custom work, but just people who are in earlier stages who can’t afford custom design. Right, right. Um, so I do currently offer a Starter Site, website template kits for WordPress and Elementor. And then I’ll start offering sales pages and a few other things like that. But, um, yeah, and then I also want to hire a designer this year to kind of help me manage some of the kind of easier VIP days that I do. And I also want to offer a template implementation so kind of an in between offer between VIP days, and just DIY templates. So people who need a little more help, but can’t quite do the custom work. So yeah,

Rita Suzanne 22:09
I love all of that. Okay, Christi. So where can everyone find you online? Where are you hanging out? Yes, so

Christi Cooper 22:17
I’m on Instagram at Cooper and heart. Or you could go to my website Cooper and heart calm or my templates site is I heart templates.com

Rita Suzanne 22:28
Oh, that’s so cute. I love it. Alright, Christi, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

22:36
Thank you Rita.

Rita Suzanne 22:39
And there you have it, I want to encourage you to remember that being a mom who runs her own business is not easy. We all struggle but just keep moving forward. And don’t forget to make time for yourself as moms we are usually the first thing to go to the bottom of the list. If your business is overwhelming you and you need real solutions, not just some sugar coated suggestions apply to work with me at ritasuzanne.com/apply

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