A small-business owner whose company took off after appearing on 'Shark Tank' shares her favourite trick for staying productive

Susan PetersenWeston ColtonSusan Petersen, founder of Freshly Picked.

Juggling work and life as a small-business owner is hard enough, but when you’re also a mum and a wife on top of that, it can feel nearly impossible at times, says Susan Petersen, the founder of baby moccasin and apparel company Freshly Picked, which was featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in January 2014.

Petersen tells Business Insider the only way to stay productive at work and be a good parent and partner at home is to find balance. Her trick for doing that: unplugging Friday evening through Monday morning.

“On Friday night, I log out of our company social-media accounts and close my email,” she says. “Consequently, my Friday afternoon is usually pretty busy buttoning up all of my work. I don’t turn things back on until Monday morning.”

Petersen says she noticed she was “getting really into work on the weekend,” which wasn’t good for her, her company, or her loved ones.

She continues: “Our office is a very collaborative workspace, and I get so much more work done during the week when we are all working on projects together than I do when I am trying to get something done on my own.”

Also, she says, “as a working mum, some of the only uninterrupted time that I get with my kids is on the weekend. I need it, and they need it. I always come back to work on Monday feeling recharged and ready to tackle big things when I’ve had time to relax with my family.”

Petersen founded Freshly Picked in 2009 after having trouble finding well-designed baby shoes for her son, Gus. The frustrated, cash-strapped mother of two bought a bag of scrap leather at a yard sale and decided to find a solution to the problem herself.

Working at her kitchen table, Petersen experimented with designs and eventually created a pair of soft-soled shoes “that not only looked cute, but also stayed on Gus’ chubby little feet,” according to her website.

That’s when she realised she was on to something.

But money was tight for the young Utah mum. To earn some cash to start her business, Petersen knew she had to get creative. She tells Business Insider that she persuaded her brother, who owns a window-installation business, to let her keep the old windows that he was removing from the houses in the summer of 2009.

She spent two months banging the glass out of those windows and then sold all of the aluminium frames to the scrap yard at the end of the summer. Her earnings: $US200.

It doesn’t sound like much, but she says it was enough to get her business going.

She used the money to buy her first hide of leather. Since then, Freshly Picked has exploded.

Freshly PickedWeston ColtonFreshly Picked moccasins.

Last year, Petersen appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and Nordstrom began selling the moccasins. Freshly Picked was featured on “Ellen” this May, and the company now has nearly half a million followers on Instagram.

Petersen says her company sold 102,000 pairs of moccasins through its website in 2014, and has already sold more than 117,000 pairs so far in 2015. She recently launched a line of hard-sole shoes, too.

With all that going on, it’s imperative that Petersen stay focused and productive at work. Her “unplugging” strategy, she says, allows her to “be in the moment” while at home and at the office, which benefits everyone.

She first implemented this “unplugging rule” about a year ago, “and yes, it was hard to get used to,” Petersen says. “Now I look forward to the weekend to be unplugged. Of course there are some weekends where we have deadlines and I just have to work, but overall I love it.”

“My kids are growing so fast,” she says. “I really feel like I blinked and all of the sudden, they are bigger. Turning off my phone keeps me present and I don’t miss anything. It has also encouraged my kids to stay off of electronics.”

This, she says, makes her happy. And a happy boss is a productive boss.

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