Whitney Robinson is the founder of Freshly Given, a line of fine handmade leather accessories.
Whitney graduated from Duke with a degree in Computer Science and kept pretending the next job she landed in that field would be “the one.” This, of course, didn’t happen. After many failures, she decided to go in a completely different direction. She began by writing a blog to house her interests, and then she started playing with leather and nose-dived into a life as a designer. Freshly Given’s signature accessory is an envelope clutch. Whitney’s designs earned her a Style Finalist designation on Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards in 2014. Today, she channels her creative spirit into sourcing the leather and designing patterns for her successful brand. And she has found that dream job she was searching for in growing the Freshly Given brand.
1. When did you first learn how to code?
As a sophomore in high school, I was accepted into a pre-college engineering program at Carnegie Mellon. As I remember it, it was a gaming course where I first got a taste of programming.
2. What inspired you to start Freshly Given?
A late term pregnancy loss that crippled me in many ways. The pain was too great, and I needed a change. Freshly Given was the creative challenge I need to move forward and heal.
3. What was your biggest challenge when starting this business?
Knowing zilch about physical product design and explaining it to others. With a degree in Computer Science, many didn't understand why I'd take on such a project. Freshly Given has made me a well-rounded developer of "things."
4. What is your favorite super-mom moment raising 3 kids under 4 while also running a successful start-up?
Scheduling phone/video calls around nap time is like playing god. I've figured out a time when 2/3 of the kids are sleeping. Usually I'm breastfeeding my little girl trying to keep her quiet because she's refusing to take her nap.
5. What advice do you have for moms looking to start their own company?
My kids are home with me all day, so I have to let quite a bit of my expectations go. There's really no need to beat yourself up about things not going as planned. I am very honest with myself about the stage of life I'm in. Kids need a lot of attention, and I hear they grow up fast. Take it all in stride, learn from your kids, work when you can, ask for help, force yourself to smile - it changes everything.