12-01-2015

Behind the Biz // Meet The Non-Creative Spouse of a Creative Entrepreneur

FILED IN: Behind-the-Scenes

Posted By: Jamie

This is Jeff. He's my husband. Imagine his surprise (and terror) when I told him I was leaving my long-time corporate career. And not only was I leaving, but I was leaving to make...drumroll...gift bags. This is the same guy who saw ZERO point in making welcome bags for our own destination wedding so you KNOW he wasn't going to understand me making a business out of it. But once he knew I was serious, he didn't doubt me for a second. He's been my biggest fan ever since.

BUT. Not so fast. There's always a but. Making such a drastic change is hard professionally and financially. It's even harder on a marriage. REALLY hard. Us creatives like to reveal the good parts of business ownership but we don't always share the not-so-good things. I could give you my perspective but today, I think it's more telling to share my non-creative husband's perspective. The good, bad and everything in-between.

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What was going through your head when Jamie told you she wanted to quit to make gift bags?

I thought she was joking. If she was unhappy in her career, I asked her if I could help build her resume. Imagine my surprise when she said she didn’t need a resume for what she was about to do. Again, I thought she was 100% joking.

What are your impressions of her first year as taking M&G full time?

It's brought a ton of change to our lives but has been very successful. I’m happy that it allows her to combine both her business and creative talents and it gives her professional and personal joy.

Tell us about yourself.

I run my own small business doing technology consulting, focusing mainly on government clients. I’m also a father to three teenagers that require my time and energy. In my spare time (when I’m not VP of Shipping & Receiving at Marigold & Grey), I play golf, work out and play even more golf.

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What’s the best part about Jamie starting the business?

The sense of satisfaction of providing a much-needed service in the market that didn’t really exist previously. I like watching her bring her 15 years of corporate experience and interpersonal skills to benefit her clients. Also, the tremendous support system she’s surrounded by in the creative community. Even in the face of working long days, technology challenges consistent with any startup, and the guilt she feels associated with doing a number on our finances, she is still far happier than ever before and I really like seeing it.

What’s the most challenging thing about Jamie starting the business?

By being a chief everything officer, it requires a tremendous amount of her time. She’s always thinking about the business. As an entrepreneur she's taking a lot of personal and professional risk that won’t be fully established for several years. Right now, she’s pouring all time, effort and financial resources into building this versus the things we used to enjoy like taking frequent vacations and having disposable income. Her commitment to delivering excellence might sound great but in reality, there will be times when it’s hurtful. For example, she’s missed several family vacations over the last year and a half and you can never get that time back. I know it’s for a good reason and her missing things won’t always be the case, but for now, it sucks sometimes.

What types of things do you do for M&G?

I try to be a sounding board for the occasional technology and process challenges that often plague small business owners. But I help with small stuff too if she's in a bind. I make deliveries. I lift heavy boxes. But mostly I keep the household going to allow her to focus on work. Making dinner, doing laundry, grocery shopping, errands, things like that.

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What advice would you give to other spouses trying to support their partners in entrepreneurship?

There can only be one boss in chasing a dream. Ask your spouse how you can best help and then strive to do just that. In other words, find ways to support your spouse’s version of their dream, not your interpretation of their dream. For example, my version of Jamie’s dream would be to focus solely on the e-commerce site. Whereas, Jamie’s version is incorporating more and more custom design work and that requires more time in the studio, time building relationships and more client attention. But her vision is what she will ultimately be best at which will lead to the most success so I support her. I also advise the spouse to understand that professional activities will bleed into your personal life and to try and find ways to have your together time without feeling like it is not enough. Quality over quantity.

What do you foresee the next year to be like?

Exponential growth so I can retire early! No, but seriously. All joking aside, I see the business expanding its geographic reach and to additional market segments. And of course more clients served.

What are you most proud of?

Her level of commitment and relentless energy she has for building a brand from scratch. Even in the early stages before she had clients, she showed incredible attention to detail in building the website, clarity of purpose in anticipating client needs, and enough confidence to share a new concept with the market, risking rejection and even failure.

What do you think she could do better?

Is this a trick question?

What’s your favorite project M&G has done?

I loved the one that went to the Salamander Resort for a corporate retreat. All I know is that the boxes had cigars and Titleist golf balls. I was trying to find a way to invite myself to the party.

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Thanks to Jeff for sharing and for all the love and support each and every day. And as you can all see, it really is a true mixture of good and bad. I encourage everyone to share what life is REALLY like in small business ownership. Things are easier when out in the open and life is meant to be shared.

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