Shuffling into the kitchen, I swooped up my laptop and coffee and headed to the table. After saying a quick, silent thank you to the heavens for gracing me with the morning quiet by way of sleepy kids, I logged into my favorite photography forum to find a post from my online photography friend, Bree Hester, announcing that she was closing her portrait business doors.
My jaw was in my lap, and my fingers couldn’t fly across the keyboard fast enough. I needed answers. I needed to know what the what happened! How could she fold up shop when she had just poured so much into creating a photo business?
Turns out I wasn’t the only one with the question. Moments after her post, she was deluged with similar, disbelieving questions. “What?” “Why?” And naturally, “Are you drunk?” (I may or may not have been the one to ask that last question).
Her answer was beautifully simple and gave me my first peek into the world of doing something that you love rather than settling for something that you’re good at.
She shared with us that while she loved photography, it wasn’t going to work with her transient lifestyle (her husband’s work called for them to move every few years). In her discovery of what wouldn’t work, she fell upon an alternative. And that alternative was cooking and blogging. She married two loves and created Baked Bree.
As odd as it may seem, I was particularly proud of her. I had never met her in person, but she made me beam from the inside out. I felt like she had “gotten out.” She won the race. She found her passion. Her True North. She was doing what made sense for her lifestyle and made her heart happy.
Naturally, I HAVE to interview Bree for my first Tenacious Mom post, right? Out of all of the women on my list, she’s been on my radar for the longest time simply because she did what I help women do – find their passion, balance that passion with family life, and help them them feel like themselves again.
Here is Bree. In all her honesty and brilliance.
. . . . . . . .
Q: What ignited the spark? How did you discover your food-blogging passion:
A: I have always been a good cook, and food has always been a big part of my life. I took a few pictures of my youngest son and husband eating a piece of peanut butter pie that I made, and on a whim decided to post those pictures and the recipe on a separate blog just for my family recipes.
Shortly after that post, Baked Bree was born. At the time, I had no idea that food blogs even existed. I seriously thought that this was my genius idea! I had never heard of Pioneer Woman or Smitten Kitchen. I was clueless. Luckily, I had a post go viral very early on, and before I knew it, I accidently had a new career.
I didn’t plan on becoming well known or dream of having more than 17K followers on Pinterest or more than 20K on Facebook. I had no idea that you could make a living off a blog, let alone that I would be able to do it.
In the end, I became a full-time blogger who also does food photography, recipe development, and writing. Recently I went back to school study nutrition and coaching and now have added those skills into my work too. I guess you could say that I have had a lot of sparks. :)
Each day is different, working on different projects for different clients. It’s fun, exciting, and at this point, I can’t imagine going back to a traditional 9 to 5. It has been the best possible situation for me.
Q: Once you knew what you wanted to do, what was your first step to creating it?
A: I jumped in feet first. I am very decisive, and when I make up my mind to do something, I just do it and get it done. A little research and then and a whole lotta work. (Told ya she was tenacious!)
Practically speaking, I like to envision the final outcome and then work backward to make it happen.
I reverse engineer and break what needs to be done down into smaller pieces.It is easier to manage, and I like crossing things off of my to-do list.
(I love this trick! Everything in your life can benefit from looking at the desired outcome and working backward.)
Q: Do you have a critical piece of advice for a mom who is dreaming about her own business?
YES! Don’t wait!
The world is missing out on what you have to offer.
(Okay. That’s a quotable. BURN. IT. ON. YOUR. BRAIN.)
photo courtesy of Bree Hester
Q: When did you feel like you finally made it?
A: I have never really felt like I have “made it.” There is always someone that I feel does it better or bigger or smarter than I do. What has changed is how I deal with those feelings. Everyone is on their own journey. I can’t compare where I am to where they are.
I guess I “made it” when I turned my focus on me and my business, and not having to compare myself to the blogger next door.
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A: The most satisfying thing has been able to say “no” to things that let me say “yes” to the things I want to do.
When I first started, I said yes to everything that came my way because I feared that if I said no, the opportunities would dry up. I finally learned to use the word “no” and then I had the time and space to do the things that I wanted. (Amen! I wrote about the power of “no” a short while ago.)
Q: What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A: There have been many a night I was up working while the rest of my family was blissfully asleep. I don’t sacrifice sleep nearly as much as I used to, but I definitely don’t spend as much time with my husband or friends as I would like. You have to plan your leisure time as much as you do work. Thankfully I love what I do, so it doesn’t hurt too badly.
I don’t consider this as a sacrifice at all, but worth mentioning – I get help when I need it. I have my house cleaned, have as much delivered as I can, and frequently have a babysitter watch the kids when I need some extra time. I also outsourced some little tasks that I don’t have the time or energy for like website fixes and designing my newsletters. (need help outsourcing? Check out this post.)
Q: What about the business/personal sacrifices you’ve had to make to be a successful mom?
A: My family comes first 100% of the time. That is a non-negotiable for me. I’ve had to pass on a lot of opportunities because I was going to miss something important, it was too long of a commitment, or because my kids needed me more.
I plan my life around my family, not around my business.
I can’t be a good mom while I’m answering emails during homework, and I’m not a good business person when I am on a call and my kids are screaming and fighting (why is it that is always when I am on the phone?). I have set firm work hours and firm family hours. (Such a fantastic, usable tip! If you’re not already hyper scheduling yourself, start now. It’ll save you so much frustration!)
photo: Lilly Blue Photography
Q: You have another business outside of Baked Bree, and it’s one of the reasons I feel like we’re kindred spirits, can you tell us about it?
A: Of course!
I help overwhelmed moms let go of perfect, lighten up their bodies and lives, by putting themselves back on the to-do list.
I have a 6-week online program called Lighten Up!. I truly believe that when moms learn to take care of themselves by eating well, stressing less, loving their bodies, and being happy, that the whole family will be healthier and happier. My life has not always been so efficient and organized. But these days, I feel great and am truly, truly happy. I teach women how to live intentionally and simply.
Q: Working with kids at home requires top notch organization. What is your morning routine?
A: My morning routine is a nighttime routine.
I am so not a morning person. Happy mornings happen before I go to bed. I do as much as I can before bed that I possibly can. After dinner I run the dishwasher so that I can empty it and wake up to an empty dishwasher. I swear this is the key to a good day. (Ditto!!!)
Lunches are packed, clothes set out, the house picked up – my brain works better in a clean and clutter free space, so it is worth it to me to take the 20 minutes to do this.
I check the calendar and see what is up for the next day. I make a mental plan of how I am going to structure my day. Then I go to bed with a clear head and get a good night’s sleep not worrying about what the next day will bring.
When I wake up at 7:25, I take my oldest to the bus stop (at 7:35, I wasn’t kidding about not being a morning person) and then come home and have a smoothie for breakfast. I get the little kids off to school, get dressed, and start my day. (This whole evening plan is straight-up genius – quite possibly the best takeaway from this entire post! And another brilliant quotable!)
Q: Finish this sentence: “More moms should ______________”
A: …remember that our job as a parent is to raise our children to be happy and independent adults. In order to do that, we have to model what that looks like. It means having interests that are our own, taking good care of ourselves, being in meaningful relationships, and being happy.
It means that we need to have lives outside of our children.
. . . . . . . .
Okay, can you imagine a higher note to end on? That is where the magic is, ladies! And Bree encapsulates it brilliantly. I’m beyond thrilled with her responses and mindset. She is more than an inspiration, she is a leader. Someone to look to when feeling like we’re drowning. She’s making things happen, and at the core of it? She’s paying attention to herself. Or, in her words, putting herself back on her to-do list.
Bree, I adore you. Thank you for sharing your heart and insight with us!!!
P.S. Need a little help discovering your True North? I can help. Message me or check out my online coaching programs. Remember what Bree said, “The world is missing out on what you have to offer!”