Hi Jessica! I'm so excited to hear about your story...
Tell us a little about yourself, business, and family.
I'm Jessica Bates. I was born in Nashville and have lived here for most of my life, except for the brief few years I chased my now husband (& business partner & baby daddy) around the country. My husband Mark & I co-run Red Room Software, where we make websites and apps. I also am a writer. I write SEO optimized content for clients through Red Room. I also write poetry and fiction. My first book is available on Amazon and locally in Nashville. It's called Birth & What Came After: poems on motherhood. I'm in a monthly writing group that meets in East Nashville, and I run a monthly book club at Atmalogy. You can find more info about my writing at: https://
At what point in your business did you have children?
My husband Mark Freeman started Red Room Software in 2010, though at that time he operated under a different name. Since then he's rebranded, brought me on board as the Writer/Marketing Director, and grown his business. I've always been a writer, and I published a few short stories before my son was born. In 2014, I became a mother, and my writing took a turn. I started writing poem after poem about motherhood, birth, breastfeeding, exhaustion, and the endless love I felt for my son. Some poems even deal with death and anxiety that motherhood can often bring. From those poems grew my first book. Thanks to my son Dax, I have accomplished my main goal in life, publishing a book. And I'm ready to do that again and again and again.
How did that affect the way you run your business?
Well, of course I have a lot less time now than I used to have. And now I'm expecting my second child in May. So being a mother has taught me a lot about time management. I actually work best under pressure, so the time constraints can be a positive if you choose to see it that way. And I do, most of the time. Having Dax was the only reason I wrote Birth & What Came After. And as for Red Room Software, my husband and I are a lot more motivated now that we have a family to support. It's been a blessing, and also a really tough journey. We've learned a lot about ourselves along the way.
What is one trait of yours that you hope your children inherit from you?
My flexibility. My ability to try something new and possibly fail. My deep love of reading. OK, that's three, but you get it.
Have your children influenced the work you do in any way?
Now my writing focuses a lot more on mothers, children, and family bonds. But it still has elements of speculative fiction or sci-fi. Now when I read, I notice scenes with birth and/or breastfeeding, and I log those on my blog. I think it's important to see realistic scenes of motherhood and parenthood in fiction. Parents sacrifice a tremendous amount to help their little ones grow, and sometimes that's frustrating and other times it's the most glorious work you can imagine.
If your children are older, do they ever help you with your business?
Not yet. My son is 3. But you better believe I'll put him to work as soon as I can! Although, my son is on my book cover with me, so he did help me that way. Oh, and also, he's the sole reason I wrote my book! So I guess he did help, sort of, even if he wasn't even remotely conscious of helping.
I know being a mom and an entrepreneur can be a tough job. How do you treat yourself on special occasions? How do you celebrate the small victories?
I did tons of yoga before I got pregnant. It taught me a lot about breathing, about listening to my body. Now I know to stop and breathe. To meditate. To run a hot bath and read a book when I need a break. I try to find a few minutes for some yoga and stretching. It keeps me sane. Those are the ways I celebrate small things & treat myself. Also, a trip to McKay's to buy books is always a great treat. I also enjoy food, so treating myself to take out at one of my favorite restaurants is a simply joy, but food is love, and I use it to heal. I'd love to say I take a spa day or book myself a writing retreat. I'll do those things in the future, when my kid(s) are a little older, but at the moment, I'm their mom and they need me. So my treats come in bite-sized packages, and I'm OK with that. I can already tell how fast time moves, and how quickly they'll grow. I am honoring this time as best I can.
What advice would you give to a mom thinking about starting a business or a business owner about to have children?
DO IT. You can do all the things you want. My Dad told me, when I was thinking about getting pregnant the first time around, "You'll never really be ready, so you might as well do it." And he was right. There's no way you can prepare for the earth-shaking changes that will come. And some days it will feel like you've accomplished nothing. That's part of it. But if you have a good support system and a dream, your business doesn't need to die just so you can be a mother. It's totally doable to wear both hats. Sometimes you'll feel pulled apart, but you'll always feel alive and full. And when life gives you a window and your kid is chill, you'll be SO motivated to work that it will pour out of you. So, go for it. Embrace it, lean in.
Do you use any tech/apps to keep your life together?
I have tried a few apps to make lists. I don't work well with lists. They stress me out. I use the calendar on my phone which syncs to my computer, but that's about it. I scribble lots of notes and ideas in different journals. It seems haphazard but chaos is lovely to me. One amazing tool I use for writing is called Scrivener. It's a very powerful tool. I first used it only for fiction, but now I'm using it to write our Red Room blog and an ebook, because it works so seamlessly and allows you a lot of room to revise, re-order chapters, and set word count goals. I encourage anyone who writes for pleasure or for business to check it out! There's a free trial. It can be difficult to use at first, but after a few Youtube tutorials you'll be a pro.
Where can we follow your story online (website/social media links)?
I'm on IG the most, though I have FB & Twitter too. Please follow my writing account or my Red Room account, or both if you're interested!
Red Room Software