This week, we’re visiting with Tara Street and Kathleen Shannon of Braid Creative. This amazing sister duo has a rocking business—but they are also down to earth and honest about the hustle, and we can all appreciate that!
Tara and Kathleen offer branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs who want to blend who they are with what they do. They helped me get clear about my vision for La Petite Peach when I went through their Braid Method last year, and their blog has become my go-to for business advice.
I think you will love these super cool, mindful mamas!
Are you a morning person? If not, how do you handle getting up early with your kid(s)?
Kathleen: Yup! I love waking up early and getting a head start on my day.
Tara: I’ve always been an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person so I have no problem jumping up and taking care of “all the things.” My challenge is that I want to tackle all the tasks before I take care of myself. So good hair and outfit days really depend on my ability to slow down and actually take thirty minutes to get ready. And since I work for myself from home, that doesn’t always happen (especially if I don’t have any client meetings that day). But I do always regret it if I don’t take the time to be put together enough to feel like a creative working from home instead of someone calling in sick to work! That’s not a good look or a good feeling.
What is a typical weekday morning like in your house?
Kathleen: My son Fox (1.5 years) is still waking up around 5:30 or 6 – I’ll usually bring him in bed with me and we’ll doze for another hour or so. Then we wake up some time between 6:15 and 6:45. My husband gets the tea and coffee going while I make some steel-cut oats and a waffle for Fox. We sit around the breakfast nook table and Fox likes to watch PBS on his iPad while we peruse our favorite sites on our laptops. Around 7:30 we all start getting ready for work and daycare. I take Fox to daycare on my way to the boxing gym for a morning workout.
Tara: I have two boys, Charlie (11) and Sam (7). My husband, Chris, is an art director for a weekly arts, news, and culture publication. I work from home with my business partner and sister, Kathleen (who lives across the street), in a cute little city neighborhood with houses from the 1930s to 1950s and big giant trees everywhere.
I feel a little bit silly giving answers for a mindful morning post because my mornings can get pretty chaotic: packing lunches, making breakfast, getting the kids to get dressed and brushed, finish their eggs, finish their milk, find their homework, find their shoes, and for the love of Pete, get their SOCKS ON (socks are always the most make-or-break moment in our mornings) – and then throw in a mildly tense argument about how the dishwasher is loaded with my husband (though really, he loads it, so who am I to complain?).
But after all that, we always walk to school together. All four of us as a family. And then it all. calms. down. I feel super lucky that my husband works so close by (a benefit of living in the city – no long suburb commute) and that I work from home.
What’s the best part of your morning?
Kathleen: I love my morning oats!
Tara: Hands down, walking to school as a whole family. Once we get going we have really great conversations or use that time to brush up on spelling lists or multiplication memorization in a really no-pressure way. We get to hug our kids and give them big waves when we get to the school, and you can tell they just feel really great and proud that we’re all together. Then as a bonus, my husband and I get to walk home together by ourselves, with no interruptions, and just talk. Or just walk without talking. I sometimes wonder if other parents drive by and think, “Oh, how cool” or “What do they do for a living that gives them time to do that?” or simply “Hmmm. I should do that tomorrow.”
Now that Charlie, my sixth-grader (what?! That’s still crazy to think about), has an earlier school schedule plus a short drive is involved to get there, I take him and some neighbor friends early, and I am that mom who has the window rolled down, watching him walk off with his trumpet in hand and his HUGE backpack (did I mention homework? For all you young moms with babies, it gets easier, but homework is like the diapers of having older kids) and I think, he’s still a little kid. These are the last days of little-kidness in his face, in the way he walks, in just his unembarrassed stride. And I soak it in.
Then our younger one, Sam, gets to walk to school with just Mom and Dad. I thought that would be sad, but oh man, he just soaks up the attention like a sponge. He makes us all hold hands! So if we were making the other parents think we had some little dream family before, now they must really think we are too good to be true. I would say to them, “Yep, for that moment we are, but come to our house around homework time and you’ll know we’re just like everyone else, shouting, whining, negotiating – anything it takes. But that’s life!”
Describe your morning in just 3 words.
Kathleen: Cozy, family, real.
What’s a non-negotiable in your morning?
Kathleen: Breakfast. I have to eat to be happy.
If you could get someone to take over any part of your morning, what would it be?
Kathleen: I would love to have a professional makeup artist come over every morning to help me put on my face.
Tara: I’d have someone do my hair and makeup for me! I can see why celebrities do that! Oh wait, did Kathleen say that already? Sisters think alike.
So I’d also add someone to pack lunches for me. My boys like completely different stuff in their lunches – from the kind of drink to the way their sandwich is cut, it’s all completely opposite. I get really withering looks from them when I meet them after school and find out I accidentally switched their lunches. I just say, “Oh poor you, you had to eat a triangle sandwich instead of a rectangle one!” Ha.
Coffee or tea?
Tara: I didn’t even start drinking coffee until my 30s and I’m certain it’s what gave me the extra “jolt” I needed to start my own creative business after a lifetime of rule-following, ha! But I like to wait until after my kids are off to school to have my first cup so I can actually sit down and really enjoy it as I start answering emails and warming up for my true work of the day (which is writing). If I get into the writing headspace too quickly, though, I’ll completely zone out and forget about my coffee, which makes me so sad! I missed it and now it’s cold! Argh! But, wow, I just wrote some awesome branding copy like it was no big thing (which isn’t always the case if you’re a creative) so I can’t get too sad about it. Plus by now, it’s almost lunchtime, so it’s a double win!
Some days Kathleen will ring the doorbell after her morning workout and we’ll walk to the coffee shop on the corner together. Even if I’ve already had my coffee and I’m completely in the writing zone, I always pause (even if my brain is still focused on my laptop) and say, “Yep, let’s do it.” Because sometimes those morning coffee walks are the only chance we get in our whole busy week to really check in with each other, not only as business partners but as sisters. We try to keep the conversation a mix of both! When we get there, if the coffee guys already recognize me from my morning visit, I get an iced green tea on my second trip.
Wow, my coffee answer is really long! That must be telling.
What do you do the night before to make your mornings feel easier?
Kathleen: I go to bed at a decent hour.
What comes to mind when you think of mindfulness?
Kathleen: I suppose just being present and grateful for where you are.
How do you find mindfulness in the morning?
Kathleen: It’s easiest for me to think about the tasks at hand in the morning – my brain isn’t usually spinning with all my to-do’s and life’s demands until AFTER work.
Tara: Beyond the walk with my family, or even a second walk with my sister, if I still feel anxious or “off,” I’ll light a candle by my laptop to signal to myself, okay, it’s time to just focus on writing. That’s definitely the most in-my-own-head I have to be all day. And once I get there, it’s like I’m in a time machine. Suddenly I look up, it’s lunchtime (yay!), and I’ve created something.
My afternoons are nothing like that. They can be filled with meetings, or emailing, or getting the kids back home, or just feeling “done,” you know? Plus I’m really not into early evenings, mostly because it means homework and making dinner (not my thing). But mornings? Nothing beats a great morning. I’m so grateful I’m a morning person by nature. I need to remember to be thankful for that.
How are your mornings different on the weekend?
Kathleen: Fox stays with my parents on Saturday nights so we get to sleep in a little on Sundays and will sometimes go out for breakfast before picking him up.
What were your mornings like before you became a mama?
Kathleen: Honestly, about the same. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to maintain our long, calm mornings.
What’s your dream morning?
Kathleen: I’m living it!
Bonus: What are you working on right now? Tell my readers about what you do and any fun projects you are working on. Shameless plug!
Kathleen: I’m really enjoying producing and co-hosting the Being Boss podcast. We just had a retreat with 75 boss ladies in New Orleans in October and it was so. much. fun.
Tara: I’m working with a food photographer, a designer-turned-coach, a fine-jewelry maker, and a travel blogger who wants to curate her own travel-inspired online retail shop. I’m guiding them through the Braid Method, a one-on-one process we use to help creative entrepreneurs hone in on their creative expertise and learn how to show and share (and sell) that expertise to their dream clients. At the end, we write and design their brand platform, from their logo to their best brand messages to their selling slides. We package it all up and then they are totally set with this treasure box of brand goodness to use as they start updating their website and social media platforms and begin having conversations about what they do with complete and total creative confidence.
But not everyone can work with us one-on-one, so we also just launched a seriously comprehensive Braid Method Branding ECourse for Creative Entrepreneurs. We are so proud of it, and I have to say, my mornings have been a little easier since that was launched! Big writing projects can really get you anxious but I’m so proud of it, and our “Braiders” have been love, love, loving it.