Between managing Hauswitch’s unbelievably cozy storefront, writing a book, rolling out a line of natural home cleaning products, and fighting for enviable levels of work-life balance, it seems like Erica Feldmann has to have some kind of magic up her sleeve to make it all happen. Turns out, it’s actually a lot of boundary-setting, some self-care, and a very soft couch to return to at the end of the day (and yeah, maybe a little magic). Here’s a look at her 9 to 5:
I usually wake up between seven and eight, and there’s not really too much that goes into deciding that other than how I’m feeling. My wife makes us breakfasts every morning (a luxury), which is kind of our thing.
I just finished writing a book called HausMagick with Penguin Random House, and it’ll be out early next year. While I was still working on the book, I’d wake up earlier and get a few hours of writing done.
After breakfast I take a shower and do the five or six minute walk over to the store. I get to walk through the historical district in Salem, and it’s overwhelmingly beautiful in the mornings, especially on sunny days. I feel so lucky every time I walk into the store. We open at ten.
In the morning, I usually try to get an Instagram together. Full disclosure, sometimes it takes me two or three hours to get a post together. It’s crazy! Obviously I owe a certain amount of success to Instagram and I love the medium. There’s a lot for me wrapped up in it in mostly good ways, but I will say that over the past year or so it has evolved. I definitely put effort into it before, but now the stakes feel higher and it’s gotten to a point where it takes hours and hours, like, every day. I tell other entrepreneurs that ask about it that you need to post every day. Recently, for my own personal work-life balance boundaries, I’ve cut it down to every other day or so. Usually if it gets to be longer than that, I start to get twitchy and feel like a failure. The thing is, I’m just spread really, really thin, so there just isn’t two to three hours a day every day anymore. But, usually that will be one of the first things that I do because I like to have the post up by one at the latest.
Usually me and whoever I’m working with at the store, we’ll get lunch, and that’s when I’ll open my computer and take on all of my emails.
We’ve grown a lot and I’ve been able to delegate a lot more to my employees. That’s a position I feel comfortable with because I was in a small business management position for about 15 years before I started Hauswitch. My partner says I’m very good at being the executive, and what she really means is that I’m really good at bossing people around.
My assistant manager is an angel person, and she is now fielding all of the customer service emails. My store manager Cheryl is great at managing the press requests and PR kind of stuff that I don’t even understand at all—it’s still shocking that anybody wants to talk to me about anything.
In the afternoon, I’m usually talking to vendors and working on collaborations. People definitely come to the store and we map out projects. I think it’s important because being inside the store is such an experience, and it really is the best way for me to lay out where I’m coming from and what my brand is, how everything fits together. When I first was thinking of opening the store, I had a consultation with Jessie Susannah from Moneywitch—she’s incredible. She was basically like, “I think Hauswitch needs a house. People need to come in and feel what you’re doing.” And I do think that’s what resonates with people, is coming in and sort of feeling the vibes, even though I know that sounds kind of cliché.
I have pretty strong boundaries about when my work day ends, and I have really strong boundaries about taking two days off a week. On Sundays and Mondays, I won’t even open my emails. It’s so important! Listen, in our space, and by that I mean Hauswitch and the New Age community in general, self-care is so important. The way I see it, I didn’t work this hard to start a company that runs me. I have this idea (which I think unfortunately is a little bit radical still), that I’m going to build exactly the business I want to build. A lot of that has to do with being mindful about using my phone, because so much of what we do when we’re on our phones is totally unconscious. At one point, I noticed that I was bouncing back and forth between Safari, email, and Instagram all day. I think it was around October of 2016, I just could feel how totally fried I was, and I moved those apps away from the first page on my phone.
I’m from the Midwest, and we put in our fucking elbow grease. I worked full-time all throughout college and all throughout grad school. If I’m going to do this, it’s going to be in alignment with the lifestyle I want, and the lifestyle I want is to put in my best effort forty hours a week. Of course there are days I wake up early, like to work on the book before going on the store. I’m like every other entrepreneur and I am always working to some extent, but I’m trying to keep boundaries pretty clear from a mental health and self-care perspective.
On nights that I come right home after the store, I like to cook dinner—I find it really meditative. I then settle into my couch, which I’ve nicknamed, “Soft Island”, and then me and my soft cats and my soft couch and my soft blanket just chill and watch Netflix or reality TV like everybody else.
If there’s an event at the store, it’ll usually start at seven, so we take the hour between when the store closes to get set up. It could be a moon meditation, a boundaries workshop, or a macrame workshop, for example. They’ll typically go until nine, and then we put the whole store back together.
I try to go bed around ten, and then I read maybe. My days usually end at Soft Island.
As told to Oset Babur for The Thirty-One Percent