As an author, app creator and mother of seven, Vanessa Quigley needs to be smart with her time in order to tackle her busy schedule. One of the ways she saves time is Chatbooks, an app Quigley co-founded that automatically creates quality photo books from your phone.
“One day, I became painfully aware that not only did I not have baby books for my youngest three children, but I didn’t even have any printed photos of my youngest," Quigley says. "I needed to create an automatic way to get my photos off my phone and into my hands and the hands of my children.”
Chatbooks, which launched in 2014, is Quigley’s solution to this problem. The convenient app creates and ships a photo book to you every time you add 60 photos to Facebook, Instagram or your iPhone favorites. “It’s like getting a subscription to your own life.” Quigley says. The app’s stats speak volumes—their launch video has more than 70 million views, and the app has been downloaded over a million times with 3,000-plus five-star reviews. At only $8 a book, it’s a no-brainer for any busy mom.
Quigley calls Chatbooks her “ultimate life hack,” but it certainly isn’t the only trick she uses to get by. You can read about the rest of them in her new book, “Real Moms, Real Hacks,” which chronicles the tips she has found most helpful throughout her years as a parent.
Quigley tells Mom.me how she makes time for her huge family and busy career.
Describe the moment when you were inspired to write “Real Moms, Real Hacks."
Chatbooks has a Facebook group called #momforce where moms can ask questions and get advice and inspiration. One day we asked: “What is your favorite mom hack?” and we were flooded with so many great tips that I wish I had known as a younger mom. It got me thinking about all my mom tricks and the great hacks I’ve learned from my sisters and friends, and I decided a book must be written!
As a mother as well as an author and entrepreneur, how do you make it all work?
Instead of chasing an imaginary point of “balance,” I embrace the idea of my “life’s work.” I’ve accepted that I’m always working—whether it’s at Chatbooks, home, the kids’ schools, church, the gym or in my community. My life’s work is to be my best self so I can help others and make the world a better place. I’m happiest when I stay focused on that goal, even if that means my to-do list is never complete!
When did you first feel successful?
As an entrepreneur, I first felt successful when I hand-delivered Chatbooks to a friend and then watched the tears flow. There is something very special about physically holding photos that had been stuck on your phone. That emotional reaction was proof that we were on to something!
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
I hope that as my girls watch me chasing my dream, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and learning to do hard things, they will feel empowered and brave enough to think big and go after their own big dreams. I hope my boys learn that when a woman sets her mind to something, amazing things will happen—and that there’s no such thing as girl’s work!
Has there been anything about writing “Real Moms, Real Hacks” that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
As I asked my sisters and friends for their favorite mom hacks, I was surprised by how many said they didn’t have any! Every mom has a trick up their sleeve, and once I’d start sharing mine with them the floodgates opened. We moms need to give ourselves more credit for our ingenuity!
What's your advice for moms who are looking to write their own book?
Write about something you know! As the oldest of 12 children and a busy mom of seven of my own, I’ve learned first hand how to hack your way through this crazy adventure of motherhood, so the ideas and words came easily. I’d also advise aspiring authors to find a great editor. Fresh eyes are always a good idea!
What sacrifices have you made as a mom, author and entrepreneur to keep everything in balance?
There was a time when I volunteered for every committee and field trip at my kids’ schools and cooked dinner from scratch every night. But this is a different season in my life. As a busy entrepreneur, I keep reminding myself of that and try to stay focused on what’s essential to my family and business. And that just might mean more takeout!
If you could have lunch with any business person/founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to chat with Jessica Alba, founder of The Honest Company. I was an actress in my younger days and I’m fascinated by her transition from actress to entrepreneur, as well as her vision for helping families by providing safer consumer products. Our mission at Chatbooks is to strengthen families, and I’d love to find a way for Chatbooks and Honest Company to work together one day!
What hacks have been most useful in your own life?
Time flies and kids grow up so fast, so for me the best hacks help me make the most of the time I have with them. By cooking double batches of our dinners and only washing my hair every four (or five!) days, I have more time to connect with my kids by snuggling them, reading a good book together, or going for a quick hike to watch the sunset.