One of the coolest things about being a creative entrepreneur is that all rules and standards of a traditional nine-to-five day job are thrown out the window. For example, we don’t have to work nine-to-five. And the word “nepotism” is replaced with “collaboration”.  In fact, working with family can act as a shortcut to solving problems and growing your business faster than you can imagine. 

I first started working with Tara at an ad agency. We were often self-conscious about the fact that we were siblings and tried to play down our sisterly sympatico when it came to our working relationship. But now, as creative entrepreneurs and business partners we see this as one of our biggest strengths. We haven’t worked with any sibling teams (yet) we have had the pleasure of working with a few of husband / wife duos. So while we often refer to our Braid Method as “brand therapy”, when it comes to working with spouses sometimes it feels a bit like marriage counseling too. It’s fascinating to see how aligned and in-synch these couples are – and it’s equally as interesting to see where the disconnects in business vision surface – and helping them bridge those gaps.

Sometimes I like to fantasize about working with my husband – I imagine brainstorms over breakfast and celebratory make out sessions after an awesome business victory. But on the other hand, I can vividly imagine some pretty intense days that would turn into cold nights, completely obliterating any sort of work / life balance. Cold nights might be a common occurrence for the Twin Cities-based creative entrepreneur duo, Ben McGinley and Laura McGinley Holway, but only weather-wise. This husband-wife team is striking a balance and keeping work and life inspiring (and temperaments occasionally high) with McGinely Motion, their partnership that provides video promotion plus strategic consulting for working artists. So I asked them a few questions, and they shared some great advice, on what it really takes to work with your spouse. 

Cool Hot McGinley Motion

Laura Holloway McGinley Motion

Ben McGinley Motion

How did you guys meet? 
Ben: Laura and I have been working together in some kind of capacity since 2005; we have worked together at restaurants, in theaters, on film sets, and most recently as creative consultants and story people for freelance-types. We met each other on the job and so work has always been a natural environment. 

What is the hardest part about working with your spouse? 
Laura: The hardest part is that we spend a lot of time together scheming big things and working on problem solving – which can be pretty intense. We both have a tendency towards stubborn control freakdom, and we don’t always speak the same language. I’m very big-picture and idea-generating oriented, and Ben really sees the details and steps necessary to make something happen.

Ben: The hardest part of working together is we spend a lot of time together.  While this is a positive and healthy thing, we can quickly grow burnt-out on each other’s company. 

What is the best part about working with your spouse? 
Laura: The best part is that we get to share the joys and pains of putting ideas into action. Whether collaborating on a performance piece or a business plan, it’s been endlessly satisfying to share the process of making things. Few people know my strengths and weaknesses the way Ben does, and he’s great at calling me out when I need someone to. Although we have very different work styles, we complement one another well. And, Ben’s just really fun – it makes the hard stuff more enjoyable. Also, it’s really awesome to be able to take a break and make soup or go on a walk with your favorite person.

Ben: We are sickeningly in-synch with each other. We’ve got a shorthand vocabulary we can use and this makes the process of making things happen very efficient. Laura is great at getting the best ideas on paper; I’m great at taking all those ideas and simplifying them into a cogent, concise narrative and then, ultimately, hands-on producing the final deliverable.  

When it comes to working together, how do you manage the ever elusive work / life balance? 
Laura: Over time we’ve both become better at identifying what we need to feel a sense of balance. Exercise, time to plan and cook meals, and social time are essentials. We sit down and schedule everything ahead of time, and once it’s on the schedule it becomes non-negotiable. Scheduling helps us make space to take vacations, take workshops, and stay connected to our artistic community. We’ve learned the hard way that if we don’t make time for it, it just won’t happen. It’s really about advocating for priorities and adjusting those priorities as needed.

Ben: The other thing that helps us with work/life balance is that we are as obsessed with food, travel, and art as we are our jobs.  We have to make time for those things because without them I am not a very pleasant person to be around. If we’ve got some extra cash on hand, we’ll buy plane tickets to go somewhere in 4 months.  We found that if we never made time for vacations, we’d never go on them.  This sounds like a simple, ‘no doy’ notion, but trust me we learned the hard way after we realized once that we hadn’t gone on a trip for over two years.

Laura: We recently moved into a larger living space, where we each have an office. This has made the boundary between work and life clearer: when the door to the office is closed, we’re more likely to put thoughts of work aside and focus on other aspects of life. Obviously, it’s not always that easy.

Ben: I’m only in my home office if I’m working; otherwise, we’ve got our ‘family space’ where we’ve got comfy couches and our Apple TV.   Working from home is also excellent because if we’ve got a light day we can steal away for midday walk or late afternoon gym visit.

Laura: Lastly, I think it’s important to remember that there won’t always be a healthy balance of work and life. Sometimes I waste a lot of energy panicking when things aren’t in balance. Instead, it’s more beneficial for me to hunker down and work hard, and remember that crazy out-of-balance times (caused by a heavy editing schedule or the madness of tech week) aren’t forever, as long as you remember the balance that you’re aiming for. Temporary madness is ok. 

Creative Couples McGinley Motion

Any advice for couples who are thinking about working together? 
Ben: Working with your spouse is hard. I think a lot of people assume that Laura and I work together easily, and that’s not the truth. But, we’ve slowly gotten better at collaborating by learning to value the other’s perspective, by being patient, and by talking openly about how to improve our working relationship. 

Laura: 
• Over-communicate everything. Our saving grace is that we’re both pretty hyper-communicative. We talk through our fears about working together, as well as our expectations. 
• Designate roles, just like you would in any collaboration. It’s important for Ben and I to each have responsibilities that are our own, and these often play to our individual strengths. 
• Make space for projects and activities (or even dates with friends) that don’t involve the other person. Seeing other people is key. And, taking time apart makes me appreciate Ben even more.
• And, like they teach in theatre improvisation, practice saying ‘yes, and’ when working through problems. Meaning, add onto and refine your partner’s idea, rather than being a nay-sayer. It makes for more more efficient problem solving. And, it makes you practice listening.

Are you and your spouse in business together or thinking about starting a business? Tell us on Facebook


Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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Do you dream of the modern day mom and pop shop fantasy? You know – working with your family (or your best friends) in the cutest little corner storefront, getting the chance to do real good on a real local level, natural light illuminating your counter, creations, or wares?

Well, Sara Kaplan and Matt Runkle have created this reality for themselves. When you look through the store windows of their urban corner grocery, Native Roots Market, you see locally-sourced produce, farm-direct meat, and thoughtfully-curated pantry staples – not to mention a spice bar (Matt’s “baby” in particular) that is unrivaled by anyone around and instantly creates raving fans. All combined, it’s an intentionally holistic experience that they’ve created and continue to grow together. 

It makes quite the pretty picture. A true modern day entrepreneurial fairytale. But keeping it all in the family isn’t just storytime magic – it’s hard work.  So we asked Matt and Sara to tell us the best parts and the hardest parts of being partners in life, and in business. 

Native Root's Quote 1

Native Roots Quote 2

When asked, what are the best parts and worst parts of working side-by-side with your spouse, Sara and Matt gave us same-but-different answers, which are fitting since their passions are on the same page – but their styles are distinctly different. (Note: we didn’t let Sara and Matt see each other’s answers until, well... now... so that’s always fun, too. Feel like we’re stirring the pot a little. Hee, hee.)

Sara’s Answer: THE BEST PART of working with my husband? Getting to spend a lot of time together. THE HARDEST PART? Getting to spend a lot of time together.

Matt and I are really passionate about the same things – good food, building community,and sustainability. Sometimes it's hard to turn off work-mode and focus on family time, especially since we live & work in the same building. Though we are passionate about the same things and have the same goals, Matt & I have very different work styles and we tend to not actually well together. But like you & Kathleen, our strengths complement each other. Neither of us could do what we do without the other one.

- - - 

Matt’s Answer: THE BEST PART of working with my family is two-fold. One, I get to be with my child all the time and watching her grow up is worth more than... well, it's priceless. 

The second part is knowing my partner in a business sense. It's easier to steer the company as a whole because we often have the same direction overall.  The various "discussions" are intensely packed with information. We both read about our industry and are well versed in it. This leads to a better more refined experience for our customers.

THE HARDEST PART is, it never stops. It becomes all-encompassing – even overwhelming. A large number of people get to clock out and put on a different hat. We don't get that choice, this is simply who we are and what we do, it is the fabric of our work and life. They say a farmer is tied to the land. I now have a deeper appreciation of that statement.

Native Roots Sign

Native Roots Quote 3

Native Roots Quote 4

Native Roots Quote 5

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What’s your modern day mom and pop shop fantasy? Is your town in desperate need of some close-knit business spirit – or do creative entrepreneurs run rampant? Share with us on Facebook!


Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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Sarah Von Bargen has been blogging at Yes and Yes for over four years. She’s turned a seriously personable writing style (warm, knowledgeable, funny) and a knack for content curation into a dream job - most recently launching Solution Sessions, an online-overhaul for big and small business alike. The opening statement on her professional site says it all: “Some people call it ‘content marketing.’ I like to call it ‘making you awesome on the internet.’” 

We recently spoke with Sarah about the meandering path that led to her current dream job, her flexible travel/work schedule, and finding your niche. And yes - it was awesome.

Sarah Von Bragen's Path

Braid: You're an amazing writer. Tell us a little about how you got on the path to creative entrepreneurship.
Sarah: Gosh, thanks so much! My path has been sort of meandering. I've been writing for almost 15 years, starting with a BA in English Lit and internships at a newspaper and an ad agency. I worked in the corporate world for a few years, burned out, became an ESL teacher and then spent seven years traveling the world, teaching and going to graduate school in New Zealand.

In 2009, I started reading blogs and there was a very specific type of blog I wanted to read - I couldn't find it, so I just decided to write it myself! For the first time in my life, I wrote in my own voice about the topics I was interested in - rather than using my journalist/pr/copywriter voice to write about hunting permits/retaining walls/paper towels. I must have lucked out and happened upon a "hole in the market" because a lot of people read my blog and really liked it! I know. I was as surprised as you.

About two years ago, companies and individuals began to approach me about helping them make a name for themselves on the internet via clever copy and fun, engaging blog posts. Eventually, I created an official, professional website shilling my services and the rest is history. Now, I'm completely self-employed and location independent. It's pretty dreamy.

Braid: You have a fantastic blog, Yes and Yes. How has that impacted the success of your business and / or personal growth? 
Sarah: I owe 95% of my current career to Yes and Yes. Many of my initial clients and collaborators found me through my blog. I found Kim Lawler (who designed both of my sites) through a comment she left on my blog! I've met great friends and been afforded totally insane, I-would-never-in-my-wildest-dreams-have-imagined-this opportunities because of my blog.

Aside from all the professional benefits, the readers of Yes and Yes are some of the smartest, kindest, coolest people I've ever encountered. I'm regularly amazed and flattered that such great people want to read my writing. They really makes the world seem like a smaller, sweeter place. (I know. Stop puking in your mouth.)

Say Yes to Travel

Braid: All of the creative entrepreneurs we work with are passionate about travel. You're quite the world traveler yourself. How does travel impact your business (maybe even good and bad)? Do you always work while you travel? Or do you take proper vacations?
Sarah: I am quite the traveler! I spent six weeks in Europe this summer and I'll probably spend six weeks in Georgia and North Carolina this winter. Just like everybody else, travel refreshes me and fills me with tons of new ideas and heaps of energy. It helps me get out of my head and remember why I designed this weirdo lifestyle/career in the first place. It gives me the time and space to be creative in totally different ways and really, actually think outside of the proverbial box.

I pretty much always work when I travel, mostly because I'm a workaholic who genuinely enjoys her job and find self-worth in concrete accomplishments ;) And honestly? I get bored with beaches and museums after a while. But I've traveled and worked enough to have developed a system that works for me: breakfast in a cafe, work till noon, do fun stuff for the rest of the day, check email once before I go to bed. It's not for everyone but it's a balance that works for me.

Braid: How do you balance your personal writing projects with the ones that make you money? Do you ever get writer's block? How do you deal?
Sarah: I don't have any sort of official system to balance the two, but I usually try to write two or three personal pieces each week.  And luckily, because of the way I've structured my business model (and my dorkily good money management skillz) I rarely have to take on a client or project just because I need the money.

The unofficial title of Yes and Yes (at least inside my mind) is 'things I find interesting' and because I cover such a huge variety of topics, I very rarely get writer's block. I mean, really, I just write about the stuff that I would want to read about. Right now I'm working on three blog posts: '10 Perfect Crumple-able, Mash-able Travel Dresses,' 'Reading/Watching/Writing Outside Of Your Comfort Zone,' and 'Your New Favorite Shot.' 

Solution Sessions

Braid: You just launched an amazing new packaged service called Solution Sessions. Tell us about that! 
Sarah: I do a lot of copy writing for clients; helping them sort out their sales pages, about pages, etc. And they all know they need a blog but they don't know what to write about, how to promote their posts, or how to network with other bloggers. After 4.5 years and almost 2,000 blog posts I know all that stuff backwards and forwards! So I put together a one day, one-on-one intensive for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them with all of that stuff - in one fell swoop.  

After two telephone calls and six hours, I give them a three month blogging editorial plan, a list of 10 unique-to-their niche bloggers to pitch, a blogger engagement plan, 2 pitch templates, a basic social media plan, and a list of suggested improvements to their website. The clients who have completed the session just loooove them and I'm so, so happy to share all that learned-the-hard way internet insight.

Thanks for chatting with us, Sarah! If you need help making your corner of the internet a little more awesome check out Sarah’s Solution Sessions and her blog Yes and Yes.

We love featuring creative entrepreneurs – and we hope you love reading about them just as much. Let us know what else you’d like to see in our creative entrepreneur features on Facebook.



Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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