"Just seeing your concepts come to life in print is amazing," says Janette Baker, a former advertising art director for Real Living magazine who since leaving her full-time role to bring up her baby (and blog her first-time mothering experience) has parlayed her passion for print into a flourishing business.
My Sweet Prints specialises in "original art for the home, nursery and heart". There is a warmth to Janette's work, which incorporates whimsical paper cut styles, birdies sitting in family trees, family homes, owls, alphabets, tandem bikes, love hearts, cutlery and genial admonishments ("Say Please and Thank You"), that her customers clearly appreciate.
"After producing a few prints to give as gifts for friends, people who saw them would tell me I should sell them," says Janette. "So when I came across etsy.com and madeit.com.au and saw how easy it was to set up a shop online I took the plunge and it's all just grown from there. I now have around 25 stockists and my own website. It keeps me very busy."
After excelling in Art and History at school ("I have always loved art, creating and collecting") and putting a Fine Arts degree on hold, she veered into the accounts department of a big Swiss bank, which was followed by a role in marketing and customer service for a small ethical investment company. "That's where I got back to my 'roots' creating their marketing material and upgrading their website," she says. "I then decided to study Graphic Design at Shillington College."
It was ACP creative director Caroline Innes who gave Baker her start in the world of glossies after looking over her portfolio at the recommendation of a friend. She started the next day as a designer in the advertising department for the homes titles.
"I worked across the four homes titles – House & Garden, Burke's Backyard, Real Living and Belle – learning the ropes, and then when the Advertising Art Director on Real Living left I was placed into the position. It was a dream come true as I love Real Living and had been a devotee since its launch."
After a year in the role, Baker transitioned into the role of Advertising Art Director for the company's food and lifestyle titles, which saw her dip her fingers into lots of pies, including the launch of BBC Good Food magazine and working with Sony to create a technology booklet specifically for women. Then she fell pregnant and went freelance.
"I decided that the multiple titles and multiple deadlines weren't doing me any favours," she says. "Although it meant giving up the job title and job security, freelancing was great as I got to work on lots of different ACP titles. I really enjoyed the experience and variety."
Then came My Sweet Prints. Gaining media mentions in The(sydney)magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, New Idea, Real Living, Shop for Kids and Shop Til You Drop, as well as finding herself part of story on work-from-home "mumpreneurs" on A Current Affair, the business allows her the flexibility to juggle family and work commitments.
"While I'm writing back to a customer or writing a new blog post, the washing machine will be going or dinner is cooking," she says. "The downside is that it can be hard to switch off and I often have to make a conscious decision to put my laptop away at night so I don't get distracted by work."
"I've always got some sort of hobby or project on the go," she adds, "whether it be sewing, painting, decorating or planning parties. I also just love hanging out with friends, going away for the weekend, and just general family time with my husband and son."
Baker credits Real Living editor Deborah Bibby with being an inspiration ("She has an amazing eye and very definite ideas on how she wants her mag to look"), her faith has kept her grounded as she's negotiated the demands of career and family.
"I've really learnt to trust in God's timing and His plans," she says. "It's so easy for self doubt and worry to creep in, especially when you're running your own business. I don't claim credit for any of the success that I've had with My Sweet Prints; it has all been because of the gifts, opportunities and timing that God has given me. As the Proverb says, 'In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.'"
Girl With a Satchel