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4: How To Run A Business With Your Spouse with Haylee & Russ

whimsy and wellness ep 4 run business with spouse
4: How To Run A Business With Your Spouse with Haylee & Russ
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Have you ever wondered what it looks like to run a company with your Significant Other? 

From the creative process to product development, running a business takes time, energy, hard work, and a whole lot of hustle. When you add in a spouse or partner into the mix, things can either get a little more complicated or a whole lot easier. How you approach running your business together can make all the difference.

In this episode, I am talking to Haylee and Russ, parents, partners, and co-owners of Whimsy & Wellness. Haylee and Russ have mastered business ownership and are here to share their story and insight on how they make running a successful company (and a household) look easy. They are giving us tips and advice on everything from handling conflict to drawing boundaries, and all the inspirational words of wisdom in between.

What we covered:

  • Why support matters in business and in relationships
  • How Russ’ supportive role turned into a full-time gig
  • Their biggest advice for couples who want to run a business together
  • Learning to draw the boundaries between work and family time
  • How to handle conflict when you work and live together

Links Mentioned:

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Love essential oils? Check out Whimsy & Wellness for all of your oil accessories or follow them on Instagram @whimsyandwellness

Meg: https://www.instagram.com/sincerelymegryan/

Gusto: https://podcast.whimsyandwellness.com/gusto/


Running a business takes time, energy, hard work, and a whole lot of hustle. Now, imagine having your significant other working right alongside you as you both maneuver your way through the exhilarating journey of business ownership. Not only do Haylee and Russ of Whimsy & Wellness mastered working together, but they also have incredible advice that they’ve implemented to make their partnership work both during and after work hours- and they are sharing that with us today!  

Meg: I feel like whether people own a business together, or it’s just working under the same roof with your spouse, this could be helpful for people. And so I remember being interviewed by you guys and you saying my husband Russ is here, too. And I was like, Oh, that’s so cool. So I’m excited for people to hear your story. So let’s just go back to the very beginning because you’ve technically always worked together, right?

Halyee: I mean, kind of, yeah. At the beginning, Russ wasn’t really working for us. He bounced a lot of ideas off of me, but never physically working or anything like that. But a lot of questions. 

Meg: But you met at work, right? 

Haylee: Yeah. So we worked together at Macy’s. That’s how we met. We were both managers there. But we managed different areas. But the crazy part was actually, I worked at a different Macy’s in the Sacramento area. And I was wanting to stay at Macy’s and my manager at the time wanted me to really stay there. So we were all really pushing for me to stay at that Macy’s. But what happened was Ross at that other Macy’s got a promotion, which opened up a position and because it was the first open position at the time, and I was next in line. I had to take that position at that other Macy’s where he worked because he got promoted. So that was kind of fun for me that both of us were able to get promoted but we didn’t know each other when that happened.

Meg: Yeah, no, that is, I think that’s so cool. So in a way you’ve always worked together. Thinking about it, that’s pretty rare. And cool. 

Haylee: Yeah, that’s true. We were on the engagement committee at Macy’s. Where you keep your employees happy and engaged. And we planned events. I did all of that. We were on that same committee together.

Meg: I love that. That’s so cool. Okay, so let’s go all the way back. How was Whimsy & Wellness started?

 

How Whimsy & Wellness Started

Haylee: So I started Whimsy & Wellness four and a half years ago now. And it was after I had my second miscarriage. I was in between jobs at the time. And I had gotten this little machine, a lot of people know them as a Cricut. It’s like a version of that. And it basically cuts things for you. 

So I just want to be creative with it. And I had the idea of putting vinyl labels on my roller bottles, because it’d be prettier than washi tape and trying to figure out what was in them. It helped me stay organized. And I was like, why isn’t somebody doing this? Because it’s so much cuter than that. So I was like, well, I’ll just start a little Etsy shop, because I was only working part time. I can maybe bring in a little bit of income to help our family. That’s really all I thought it would ever be, is this little Etsy shop, but it just grew little by little, and then kind of it was like a big snowball, and it just kind of kept growing.

Meg: That is so crazy. I love that. So Russ, when did you hear about Whimsy & Wellness?

Russ: Just kind of as everything continued to happen. I mean, she went from being heavily into oils and trying things and having people over and going from that route to then making her own bottles and products and asking like, what do you think? Do you think people would like this and what do you think people would like to send? It was just a lot of answering questions until it just kind of seemed as though it wasn’t just the questions anymore. It was just happening. And then just more and more questions, well, so I’ve got this money saved up. What do you think I can do with it? Do you think I can go with this route? Can I do something like this? 

She was very smart in not overextending yourself early, but taking it slow and not saying, okay, cool, I’m gonna go out and conquer the world. She took it step by step. And it was good, because she learned her way through it, the hiccups and the bumps and the trials and tribulations that come with starting a business. And it just kind of grew from there, where she was getting busier and busier, and her days, were getting more consumed with it, and she was getting more ideas, and she just can continue to work through it.

Meg: Wow, that’s crazy. So then, what was your role in that? So you’re listening to all of your ideas and kind of being like the soundboard. And Was that your role? 

The Supportive Role

Russ: That’s when she first started. I was the supportive role in what she was doing. So if she said, Do you think I can invest in this and do this? Can I put some money towards this? And I would just say, go for it and it was a lot of the supportive part of it. Because she grew this from the start. It was all her. She was researching as she went, so it wasn’t just, Oh I’m gonna make beautiful products. It was, oh, I have to figure out how to do the taxes part. And I have to figure out how to do the marketing. She wasn’t just creating a product, she was also creating the whole process. Even though there’s no guide to starting a business or a checklist that you can just go cool. I did this thing on day one, and I did this thing on day five. She was coming up with all of it on her own. So I was just doing everything I could to be supportive, and positive and helpful in that regard to make it easy for her.

Meg: Right, which I feel like is so important, because I’m sure there are people who have this idea for a business or they have started a business and their partner either is like, this is a waste of money. Or maybe they don’t even have a partner or really any sort of person. I feel like having just even someone to just listen. So he’s been so helpful, right?

Haylee: Yeah, it was very helpful. I can’t imagine getting to where we are, or even half of where we are, if Russ was like, No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Or like, Yeah, let’s not do that. It would be so, so much harder. I mean, obviously, I don’t think it would be impossible, people do it all the time. But I think it definitely made it easier. And it made it more fun, and just feels much better throughout the whole process, knowing that even if I did make a mistake, or like I did maybe choose to invest in the wrong thing, or that one idea that he was like, Yeah, and I was all excited about didn’t do as well. He wasn’t going to be like, yeah, I told you. He was just always very supportive. 

Meg: So when did you realize that this isn’t just this small little Etsy shop for fun? This could be like a big deal. Did you have like an aha moment? Or was it slowly?

 

Making Whimsy & Wellness Full Time

Russ: Yeah, it was the nights where we would be working all day, and we’d come home and do our dinner and hang out and everything. And then I’d be like, okay, it’s time for bed. And then she’d be like, well, I’ve got to do orders tonight. And then she would be up for the next hour to however many hours it would take her to fill orders and get them sent out. And that was when I realized that she was realistically on this bigger path. She’s very busy. And she spends her whole day being creative and thinking and doing all the business parts. And then in the evenings, that’s when she made sure that she was getting all the products out to the customers.

Meg:  Right. Wow, that I love that. So cool. Okay, so, um, Haylee, what were some ways that Russ supported you and encouraged you in the beginning? Was it just kind of being that sounding board, or were there other things that were really helpful when you were first starting?

Haylee: Yeah, I think definitely the sounding board was very helpful at the beginning. He always acted as that until at one point, he’s like, okay, I don’t know anymore. I’m not the best judge for that. Go ask the girls. I have some friends that also own businesses and we would talk. He was always very helpful with that and supportive in general. 

But when he was still working at Macy’s, he would leave calendar alerts in my phone. He’d schedule events, basically, they pop up in my phone that would alert me and it would just say, I’m so proud of you. And then an hour later, it’d be a different one. I love you so much. And then I’m so thankful you’re my wife. He would just do it randomly. So I knew as soon as one popped up, I’d make sure I wouldn’t look at the rest for the day. Yeah. So fun. And he had sent flowers for different things, just randomly with just really sweet notes, just saying how he was so proud of me. And yeah, so little things like that. The encouragement was great. 

Meg: Yeah. If you’re like a spouse or someone is starting a business, you don’t have to know about essential oils. Russ wasn’t an oil guru. But he just loved you and encouraged you.

 

Why A Supportive Spouse Matters

Haylee: Yeah, exactly. Most of the time he had no idea about things I was talking about. He just didn’t like social media. He doesn’t even like to have an Instagram account, or I think he has one but isn’t on it, exactly. But I’d be trying to figure out stuff for social media. And he’d be like, yeah, good idea. Whether he thought it was or not, I don’t know. But he was always supportive. Yeah, I think you definitely don’t need to know. Super in depth anything. I mean, I barely knew what I was doing. So yeah. He said yeah, I’ll do it. 

Meg: So when did the conversation Abras leaving Macy’s to come home and work Wednesday, like full time? When did that conversation first happen? And what did that kind of feel like and look like?

Russ: I know a lot of times when Haylee says something, she means it, but she doesn’t mean it. So she said, you should leave your job and we can do this full time. And when she says that enough, you realize that she’s not just saying it just to say it, but that she’s saying it because she has some pump behind it. 

Kind of like when she says we should move this in the backyard, or we should move the playroom in the office and you hear it once and then you hear it a second time. And then you hear it a third time and you go Okay, well, yeah, she’s very serious about this. So the overly mentioning of it is part of the key. And then just realistically thinking about how well the business was doing. What were we tracking? What ideas do we have? And a lot of it came down to us knowing that we just needed to take a risk and start talking about it being an actual, something that could come to fruition.

Running A Business With A Newborn

Haylee: Yeah, but it started mostly after we had Posey because I worked for Russ to keep his job until Posey was like six months old. So I had two employees that would come to the house, and they were friends, but they would be helping make products. But then we had a newborn baby and I was also taking care of her all by myself during the days. 

So we’d have people at our kitchen table making products and I’d be trying to help them when Posey was sleeping. But it was kind of at that point where I was like, Okay, I can’t really grow this and be the sole caretaker of Posey. So we talked about a few different options. And obviously, one of the options is childcare. But that costs money. So we kind of did cost analysis on childcare versus Russ coming home. And I think the thing that really solidified it for us was we had lived off of just one income before. Like when I was starting Whimsy & Wellness, we were only living off of Ross’s income, basically. And it was hard. But we did it. And so we were like, well, if we did it before, we could do it again. Imagine like then you’re home. We would be able to have like all summer with our son, my stepson Mason. And he’s never been able to have that much time with him before. Right? So I was trying to really just imagine we’re in charge of our own schedules and he worked retail so holidays were always rough.

Meg: Yeah, painting that picture of freedom. So did it feel scary to make the jump when you finally did it?

 

Making The Jump Into Full Time

Russ: Oh, yeah, it was scary because you have a job, you have a consistent paycheck and it was a very good job. Very well compensated and so to know that you’re giving that consistency up to know that you can have up and down months, you can have really good months, really slow months, and you don’t know how many in a row you’re going to have of each or any of them or either. Then you have to think about all the other things that come into it like benefits and all those things that you’re so used to and are just very easy and very comfortable to now take a risk on. 

We might have to be very, very, very conscious of everything that we’re doing now, for the business and our personal lives, as opposed to just worrying about your personal life before. You have to worry about how the business is doing as well. And it was really scary to make that jump, because you don’t really know how it’s gonna go until you do it.

 

Advice For Couples Working Together

Meg: So do you have a piece of advice for someone who maybe, is at that point? Whether they have a newborn or not, but they’re at that point if like, I need help or something’s got to change or maybe their spouse just hates their job. Or their business could be at a point where this could grow if I have more help, but like, I just can’t without help. What would your advice be to them?

Russ: I would say invest in yourself, if you know that you have the hard work and determination to do it, then invest in yourself. Because if you know that you’re gonna put 100% into it and you’re not gonna just expect things to happen. But you’re going to say, we’re going to have sleepless nights, we’re going to have long weekends, we’re going to make sacrifices to do this, and we’re going to do it together, and not resent each other if it doesn’t do well or blame someone if it doesn’t do well. If you’re just gonna enjoy the successes and the failures as a group then definitely think about it. Make sure that you have the ability and the means to and a supportive system. We always feel like our family is always very well behind us as well, too. So, our families always play a key role in this because they’re very supportive of our ideas and what we do as a company and a business, and it’s always helpful to have friends and family that support you as well, too.

Haylee: Yeah. And I think it’s important to make sure that, like Russ said, that you’re both committed to it. Because not every spouse wants to do what you’re doing. And that’s okay, too. So I think it’s just having those hard conversations to make sure you’re both committed to moving forward together. That is really important. And then I think, for me, it was helpful to feel reassured that we had a backup plan. In case. Because like you said, it’s like you have an up month and down month, and what if we just all of a sudden started having a bunch of down months? It’s scary. So backup plan,  Russ left his job on really good terms. And they loved him there. And we always knew that if we needed to, that he could always go back and get a job. It might not be the same exact job, but he could get some kind of job. And that was when we were first starting. I think that really helped me feel better. Just having a backup plan of some sort.

I also think it’s important, if you’re wanting to do it to just jump in. It’s okay to do it because it kind of forces you to be even more committed to your idea or your dream or your business. Because you’re like, Okay, this is all I got so do it well. And I think you will end up working harder if it’s your only thing. But I will say the backup plan kind of helped us feel comfortable in making that leap, I guess.

Meg: Yeah, I could see that for sure. What was like the timeline of that? What was the timeline of Whimsy & Wellness starting and then Russ coming home full time?

Haylee: Yeah. So about two years into the business that happened.

Russ:  Yeah, I would help do things. There would be projects or something that needed to be done. And I would help out. But then once I jumped into it, it was a lot more. Almost to the point where she was like, okay, you need to slow down, I know you want to jump into this. 

I was printing orders as soon as they would come out, and she’s like, you can’t print them that quick. If a customer has a question or needs something, you have to be able to get out or  and I would be building bottles and she’d be like, okay, it’s 11:30 we go to bed now.  So I mean, I was jumping into it, but also not jumping into it too, too much. But you want to make sure that you give it the time that it needs to be successful. 

 

How To Draw Boundaries Between Work & Home

Meg: That’s a great transition to my next question. Love having boundaries. So how do you draw those boundary lines of work and family time? How do you make that work? And even Russ and Haylee time. I feel like especially Russ and Haylee time. Because even if you go out to dinner, when you’re a parent you get a babysitter and then you go on a date and it’s like, Let’s talk about the kids. So how do you do that? How do you not talk about the business all the time? And how do you draw those boundaries?

Haylee: I mean, I think being really honest, we don’t have great boundaries. It’s hard. Like you said, Whimsy & Wellness is like our fourth kid that we’re literally around all day, every day. And it’s really hard to have those boundaries. And I don’t know, what do you think?

Russ: When it was just us, it was easier because we were supporting us. But now that we’ve grown bigger where we’re supporting so many others it’s hard, because we’re doing this for us, yes. But we’re also doing this for the people that work for us. But early on in the boundaries we always tried keeping and we always still have tried keeping our weekends as a time where we spend the most family time. On the weekdays we take the time, between afternoon and bedtime, to make sure that we’re always sitting at the table to do dinner as a family. 

And then we spend the time for bed and getting to bed. But then once the kids are asleep, we go right back into work. And pre COVID, we always would always try and find ways to get out and go do fun things. It’s been a lot harder the last six to nine months getting time away to do things because we’re basically home. 

But I feel we’ve always been good about getting out and doing things together. But also doing all the things that we want to do as a family to make sure that we do those as well. So our kids understand what we really believe in as a family. 

Haylee: Yeah, we do a good job with that. But all the rest of the time, it’s work. Right? Kind of when we wake up until we end up going to bed. It’s basically work to night. We try to remind each other like, put your phone away. I’m sure like everybody has that problem, right? Whether you’re working or not from your phone, but we try little things. But yeah, I definitely think before COVID it was easier than now.

Meg: Right? Yeah. And it’s probably hard to set the boundaries when you love it so much. Like you said, it’s like your baby. So with your new launches and new things happening, like you guys just got this new warehouse. It’s fun sometimes to be like, okay, I just have to check this or work on this. 

Haylee: Yeah, I think there’s definitely parts that we enjoy. And of course, parts we don’t. And for me, I think the motivation of working at night is more that I just want to get that checked off my list. So I don’t have to think about it anymore. I just get a little bit ahead. And then Russ will be over on his computer doing something small. And then he’ll be working on it so that I can work. And then I’m like, looking over and he’s still working. I’m like, Okay, I guess I’ll keep working. That’s the problem is we exist, like if one of us is working, the other ones like okay, well, I guess I might as well work. 

Russ: Yes, it has helped us keep more physical work here. Whereas everything was in our garage and being delivered to the garage. And it was just easy for me like, Oh, we need some product back in stock. So I would go out there and grab stuff and start putting it all together. But now having it all here centrally located at the warehouse, makes it harder to do that. So it’s more of the technical work that we do. But it’s a lot of fun having this because we now have people that are here with us as well, too. And we love growing the company so we can grow people and everything as well, too. But it is nice to have somewhere new to go for the few hours that we typically do. But it is enjoyable to go somewhere other than the living room.

Haylee: Yeah, it has helped keep those boundaries a little bit. Before you worked from home, you ate from home, you slept, you did everything from home. And now it’s kind of nice, like you said to be able to go to work, have that little bit of separation. So when we walk in the door to home, like you said, it’s like, okay, now it’s family time. We’re going to do dinner together. We’re going to do this together. It definitely helped having the separation.

Meg: Yeah, I didn’t think about that. But even vice versa, like when you are at work, is laundry not tempting you or like how stuff isn’t tempting you?

Haylee: That’s definitely a rough thing letting laundry sit for more than five minutes, I think. I think it’s five minutes to be done. Like literally last night, I was helping him fold clothes that our kids had worn that day. I was like, Oh, okay. I need them. But at least it’s that level of extreme and not the other way around where it just never gets done. So, right. Don’t complain, don’t complain.

How To Handle Conflict When You Work Together

Meg: Okay, so let’s talk about conflict a little bit. So there are two ways of going with this. So

the first is like, just the unavoidable conflict of like, being married? And how do you deal with that, especially now being in a warehouse and having employees around you? How do you kind of deal with all that?

Haylee: Well, I’ll just say I am not great with conflict. I don’t enjoy it. It’s very hard for me. And so I just tend to avoid it, which is not the greatest strategy. But yeah, so I avoid it a lot. And I think Russ and I are both just very easygoing in our personalities. So I’ll speak for myself. If something’s bothering me, it’ll take me probably like a day or even longer to like, finally say something about it. Just because I don’t like to bring it up.

Russ: The hard thing for me too, is I tend to try and forget about things too. And I keep myself busy, which is hard, because then I just don’t really think about it. So I think that the hard part for both of us is she’s a peacekeeper and I’m a loyalist and a helper. We’re not interested in creating any kind of conflict. So we’ll just find other things to do. And then once it’s built itself up and then we definitely talk through. It just takes a while. 

So it’s usually never any quick conflict or conflict that’s happening in the moment. Which is good for me. Because then I think about it, and I think, gosh, is this really that big of a deal? I get myself an opportunity to think, okay, was this really a problem? Do I really need to address this? Is this really something that’s that big of a deal? And if it is, then yeah, we get to talk about it a day or two later, like Haylee said, when she comes to terms with it as well. But usually it’s something that we try and decide, is this really what’s important to us right now? Or do we have other things that are more important?

Meg: I feel like that’s good. Because I’m sure it’d be awkward for the people there if you guys were like, just fighting in front of everyone. Since we talked about personality types a little bit,  will you guys share your enneagram types too? Because I think that’s interesting.

Haylee: Yeah. So I’m an enneagram. Nine, which like he said, is the peacekeeper so literally one of the main things is we avoid conflict.

Russ:  Yeah. And then I am a type six. I am a loyalist. 

Meg: I think it’s a good pair. I mean, I’m a six, so maybe that’s bias, Oh, what a great match. But I think especially at least conflict wise, it’s very chill.

Russ: We do have to kind of convince her. Well, I should speak for myself. I have to convince myself to be like, okay, you said this is actually bothering me. I need to say something about it so that it can get resolved. Rather than just having this like awkward, I can tell something’s bothering me I can tell something’s bothering you. going on for like days and days and days. Right. Kind of draw some things out every now and then. But eventually it gets worked through in a mostly very calm and like just talking situation.

Meg: Yeah. And then how do you deal with like, work conflict? Did you disagree on a Whimsy & Wellness type thing? Now or especially maybe in the beginning? Was it harder going from just Haylee most of the time to like okay, now this is like, also restless baby, too.

Haylee: Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, I have a really terrible memory. And when I try to think about when he first joined, I don’t even remember. Maybe it was just like having a six month old, no sleep, running the business. Do you remember? Remember what it was when he first came on? Did we have conflict?

Russ: No, I think we’re both very open minded. So we both don’t mind having each other share opinions. And I think for Haylee too, she knows if I’m gonna speak up about something. I’m usually pretty passionate about it because I’m usually very easygoing. So it’s a concern or an idea, or something and I’m just like, Yeah, that’s great, then there’s nothing. If I’m saying something, then that typically means that I have the opinion on the matter. Very seriously. She understands that okay, Russ has got some feedback on this. So, let me see what it is. 

But I’m also very understanding of all of the feelings that Haylee has with things as well, too. So if she wants to see something a certain way, then I’m going to make sure that it happens that way. Because when she sees something, she’s got a great eye, she has a great idea, I want to make sure that it comes to life in the way that she wants it to look. 

Haylee: I think what’s always helped us not have too much conflict working together is clear roles and responsibilities. Russ and I are similar as far as we deal with conflicts, but otherwise, we’re pretty different. Like, Ross is super organized, like extremely organized, like imagine all of our Lindsay Wallace product fitting in our garage somehow that now is in like a warehouse that’s like five times six times seven times the space that we had before. It all fit there. Because he somehow his brain allowed him to figure that out. I would never be able to do that. I am like, I’m much more creative. 

He quickly took over operations the very like, I was gonna say boring, but that’s not nice. Boring to me. Processes, printing and shipping orders. What’s the best method of doing this? With things like that I didn’t care as much if he wanted to do it his way because I’m like, sure. As long as it’s getting done, please like, Thank you do it. Right, we want to do it. And so I think that has really helped. And it’s continued. And even now, like, as we’ve grown, like our roles,  kind of changed a lot. But I think especially with this warehouse. And so we’re, we just have to be okay, like talking about that and saying like, Well, what do you want to do in the business? What do you want your role to be? And then respecting that and helping each other understand the roles. It’s fun.

Russ:  When she talks about something, I’m not thinking about what she’s saying, I’m thinking about the other side of things. So she would be like, oh, we’re gonna do a convention, what are your thoughts? Oh, well, we need a table and we need to make sure that we have the right technology. And she’s like, No, what product. 

We’re never really thinking about the same thing. When she says, warehouse, I’m thinking we need racking, we need packing tables, we need supplies, we need to make sure we have all these things. She says, Well, I’m thinking in the office we would probably do a mural, and she’s thinking about the flooring or what’s gonna go on what walls? 

I’m like, Yeah, that’s great. But I need to make sure that we have all this. So we’re both definitely different thinkers. And in those regards, where we’re never really thinking about, we’re thinking about the same thing, but never in the same way.

Meg: Right, which complements each other. Because if you both cared about the mural on the wall, you’d probably have some conflict.

Haylee: Yeah, we’d get on the floors, because there’d be no racks in here. Yeah, it’d be a problem Exactly. It has worked out so well having his brain because my brain is not like that. And it’s so helpful to have that other perspective.

 

Why Roles Are Important

Meg: Right. So you would advise a couple that just started working together to sit down and get real clear on roles? 

Russ: Yeah. I always believe that if you like what you’re doing, you’re gonna do it so much better than if you don’t like it. Agreed? 

Haylee: Yeah. And so when you’re having that conversation, figure out what part of running the business do you enjoy? And if you don’t know yet, that’s okay. Work together to figure it out. Because eventually it’ll become pretty clear pretty quickly, I think. 

Russ: Yeah, yeah. And I think too, even if you’re not working with a spouse, because your spouse is who they are, and you can’t upset or hate, you can’t make them fit into what you need in your business, necessarily. So I think it’s really important to look at what are your needs in your business and make sure that you’re able to fill them with either yourself or your spouse? And if you can’t, then consider hiring somebody to fill that need. To make someone fit into it, because eventually, I mean, it can work for a while – but there will be a point where you’ll need to hire somebody.

Haylee: Yeah, right. And you don’t want to feel resentment. It’s not worth forcing your spouse to do something they don’t find interesting

 

The Hardest Part of Working & Owning A Business

Meg: Exactly. Ok, so be super honest. You might have to avoid conflict for a few days – I’m just kidding! But what’s the hardest part of working and owning a business together? 

Russ: I think the hardest part is not thinking about work. I think the hardest part is we go to work together. It’s different if she worked somewhere and I work somewhere and we came home, and we had a chance to talk about different things that happened at work and be able to empathize or talk through things, but we both work together. 

So when we get home, we don’t have the ability to stress about what happened at work. We’re talking about more work, and what’s coming up and all those things. And so I think the hardest part for me is that we are always talking about work or doing work.

Haylee: I was gonna say something similar like the boundaries. So hard. I think we’re pretty good about our family boundaries. Like he said, weekends and evenings, but I think the Haylee and rest time is like, Yes, that’s right. It’s very rare. Yeah. And I think, there’s a lot of factors at play, obviously, the big one being the business. But then as we mentioned, COVID makes it hard to go out and do things together in a way we may be used to before. 

And I think, having young kids, we have a nine year old, almost three year old, and then a 15 month old. And when they’re around they take all of your attention. So even when we’re around as a family, it’s not like a rough scenario, like having nice conversations.  We’re literally just telling them, don’t throw that, don’t hate your sister get off, get off, stop running. Don’t climb on that. Yeah. And then when they go to sleep we just work again, so maybe we just need to prioritize more. Right?

Russ:  Yeah, I can see it would take like being so intentional.

Meg:  Yeah, I could see that for sure. Mm hmm. Okay, what’s the best part? What’s your favorite part about working together?

 

What They Love About Working Together

Haylee: My favorite part is that we’re in control of our schedule, as a family. If we wanted to take a long weekend, it’s not like, Okay, well, let me ask my boss if I can get that off. It’s late. That’s what we used to do before. Especially around holidays working retail from October through the end of January, you couldn’t take any time off. Like it was just not allowed. And so hard to be like, what do you want to do for Thanksgiving? Or what vacation should we do? Or when should we do it? It’s 100% up to us. And I really love that.

Russ: I would say the best part is when we get to celebrate successes together about working together, because seeing an idea go from start to finish isn’t just, Oh, we ordered this product. And we put it on the site yesterday and then it sold. It’s months of preparation and picture taking and ordering and getting it together and projecting it. And how many units and all these things, and then when we’re able to finally present it to people and they really like the idea of seeing how well people receive the products that we make, because they are all out of love, love for what we do. And it’s all Haylee’s ideas, and she comes up with these things, which is something I cannot do. 

I’m already thinking about where I am going to find warehouse space for it. And she’s thinking about how beautiful it’s gonna look so great in this photograph, and collaged with these others. That’s great. You need to find out where I’m gonna put it when you get here. But being able to see it, do well and see that people respond to it, and that they enjoy it, and that they like it. And then when people share how much they enjoy it, it also means a great deal. And it’s part of what makes it the most fun is seeing how much people appreciate what we’re able to offer them on our site.

Haylee: I love that. Yours is way better than mine. 

Russ: Can I do every day to celebrate it together? I get to tell her how proud I am. I get to tell her how it’s her business. And it’s been her business since the start and I could do all the operational things possible, but it doesn’t do anything if she’s not coming up with all these great ideas and these products and these things. It’s fun to see all those things happen. So that way I can tell her how great you know this is and thank her for being able to allow us to do this with our family, and  support our family. Right?

Finding Pride In Your Work

Meg: And doesn’t make you so proud to hear her being like, Okay, I have this idea, this thing. And then like months later or a year later, they’re launching and they are flying off the shelves. Does that make you so proud? How does that feel?

Russ: Anxious first. Things you are ordering. I’m always thinking in that regard, but once you get past that initial, okay, I am very excited and happy to see how she gets us from start to finish, because it’s amazing to think that she’s built all these relationships, she’s found all this out, she’s researched all these things. These are all, like I said, she didn’t have a book that said, Okay, if you’re going to be doing essential oil and accessories, these are the things that you have to do. Like, she’s just coming up with it as she goes, and there’s no text on what’s happening right now, or in the future, it’s all things that are gonna come up, and things that are gonna inspire her, and she’s gonna see and think and feel. And none of this is written yet. And it’s crazy to think that in a couple of months, we’ll have something new, and it’s gonna all happen, something that she had thought up and brought out and came to fruition.

Haylee:  Russ isn’t saying that, I start that product development process and get all of the pieces of it to the warehouse. But then after that, like, I’m really not involved anymore. So like he, him and our warehouse team are basically at that point, do everything else. So they make sure that the product comes together and is built in the right way. And it’s quality controlled, and that it gets on to shelf space that somehow was made at some point of worrying about it and condensing things and moving things around. And then at that point, once it sells they’re also the ones that are pulling items off the shelves and packing them nicely to get to our customers. 

So I think that’s kind of what he’s saying is it’s really cool to see when something does well, because really, I think it’s both of us. And like we talked about before, just our minds working differently, and that it would be either one of our jobs would be like he said, almost impossible, if not very, very hard. Right.

 

Advice To Couples Who Want To Work Together

Meg: So if there’s a couple listening to this right now, and they look at you guys as like an inspiration, and just like a couple sentences, what would your advice be if you could sit down with them and have coffee? And they’re just like, what should we do? What would your advice be?

Haylee: First of all, that’s sweet somebody thinks that that’s an inspiration.

Russ:  I would say do as much as you can on your own until it gets to the point where you need to involve others to get their help. We did as much as we could. We reached our capacity until we said, we need help. And we found great people that helped us be just as successful as we were able to do it, but we were just able to do it at that magnitude anymore.  

If you can hire great people and find great talent, we’ve been extremely lucky to have people that do the work at our warehouse. Our warehouse manager and our employees here, and then  everybody else that does all of the things that Haylee is more associated with, which is our online and social media and marketing and get others involved that can help you be as successful as you are into the next level, I would say, you can.

Haylee: And I think my advice would be if you’re feeling ready, if you are rested, I like just talking about this idea of like, let’s work together and be in charge of our own schedules and do this thing together. It seems very scary to just do it.Try to have a backup plan, if you can. We’ll help you feel better as you make the decision moving forward. But just do it. Because if not, would you regret never trying it? You could always go back, you can always find a job somewhere if you needed to. But I think that you are worth it. You owe it to yourself. It’s worth trying to do together.

Russ:  Right and there might not ever be like the perfect time like. Leaving something secure will always feel scary.

Meg: Yeah, for sure. What is so inspiring to me is your kids get to watch you do something that’s like out of the norm. And then maybe when they’re dreaming for their own lives, they’re not like, Well, I have to do it this way, like the path that everyone takes. They can maybe be like, my parents didn’t do that. That makes me like, want to cry. Because that is so powerful for your kids. 

Haylee: Yeah, I agree. You’re making me want to cry. It’s true. When we work from home, they don’t understand because there’s so little that we’re like working. But I think it’s important to let your kids see you working. And now we get to say like, Oh, she’s like, where are you going in the mornings, we’re going to work. She’s like, I want to come.

But I just feel like you said, I think that’s really, really cool for us. And even Mason, he’s old enough now to where he does get it. And he will come. And he’ll help us. Well, when we were working from home, he would be helping us. And now sometimes he does come to the warehouse with us. And he’ll just started capping battles.

Hayle: It’s so cool that he gets to learn. We’ve offered to pay him and he chooses instead to be rewarded in candy. But of course, they value money over candy. But for now, we’re like, Alright, we can get you some candy. Yeah.

Meg: All right. So we’re gonna do some quick, rapid fire. I want to give you both a chance to answer these questions that will be given to every guest. So the first is, what’s one lesson that you wish every woman could learn?

 

Lessons Every Woman Should Learn

Haylee: Yeah, I think that I wish that every woman felt like they could believe in themselves. And no matter what it is that they’re doing, not just in business, but in anything that they’re wanting to do with their goal, or dream or even just anything at all. They can do it. 

Yeah, like something even as simple as, for me, I’m not a good reader. I mean, I enjoy reading, but I just don’t do it, it’s never a priority. Right? Just something even as little as like, I can do it. I can read this book from start to finish and just believe in yourself. Because I think if you can do that in any task, no matter how small or no matter how big, whether it’s like just committing to reading a book from start to finish, or to like growing a business. If you believe in yourself along the way, I think that your chances of succeeding are much higher. And you’re worth it. You’re investing, no matter how small or big of time, or whatever that looks like for you, you’re worth it.

Meg: I love that and Russ, I’m excited to hear your answer. Because I feel like as a husband, but also as a dad, like your girls are so little, but when they’re grown women, what’s one lesson that you hope they know?

Russ: I think that it’s probably very similar to Haylee is that they can go and do anything that they want, that they can create their own path, they can decide to do something, whether it’s scary or easy.  That it’s something that they can do, and that they have the support to do that. So I think it’s one thing to do it, but then to know that you have people there that believe in you, and that will help always be there for you. I feel whatever decisions that they want to make, I think would be great, and that they’re gonna make them and they have the support of us. So I think a lot of times, it is knowing that they have someone there that will be there for them through thick and thin. 

 

Their Biggest Inspiration

Meg: Okay, and who inspires you most? And then why?

Russ: All right. I know it sounds scripted, but I say Haylee because I would not have imagined 5 or 10 years ago anything that she would have been able to come up with. Not that I didn’t have that with her. But I would never have known that I would be doing this because she decided that this is what she wanted to do with her life, that she wanted to create a business and that she was going to start it from the ground up. And she had helped along the way with people that inspire her and people that helped give suggestions and feedback and things but she did everything from start. 

It’s amazing to think of all the things that we do now. And those are all things that she had to find. Before we started doing them, she had to look into and research and she had to ask the questions and all the things that go around taxes and everything in general that comes with owning a business. When you work for a big company like I was, you just don’t think about that, because you’re not involved in it, you’re just involved in the day to day at the location that you’re working, you don’t realize all the big things that come with owning a business or running a business until you’re doing it. And to know that she did all that on her own. Until I came in it is amazing, that she was able to put all that together and, and also, have kids and also be a supportive wife, and just all the other things that we do in life to be able to do all of those things. It’s pretty amazing.

Haylee: Thank you. You’re great. I definitely thought of Russ, as someone that inspires me. But the answer I was gonna give was our team.  I should say, Russ is on that team, too. And I think I just think that our team is full of amazing people. When I go back to it, what inspires me is like, the good in people, if that makes sense, because there’s just so much going on in the world that you could easily just focus on the negative and I just think that seeing that people do care about each other, and people do want each other to succeed. And people are generally kind people. And I think our team is full of very kind and caring people. And I think that that is why I do what I do. And I think our customers are also just so kind and caring. And we are only doing this for our customers and our team. And just knowing like something little that we do, providing a pretty way to put your oils on each day or have it displayed on your shelf. I just think it’s so important to have a reason to make somebody smile. And I think our team does that very well. And Russ does that extra well. Yeah. I could go on and on about Russ, but I’ll spare you. 

Meg: I’ve actually recently heard – this is a little tangent off the team thing – Brene Brown, my girl, saying that culture is how you’re the people in your business behave when you’re not around. And I like you guys. It’s hard for me to say this because I’m part of your team. But like, everyone is so kind and amazing even when you’re not around and like you’ve built such a great culture. So it definitely is inspiring to be a part of or even just to watch is so inspiring. 

Okay, so this is a little lighter question. What’s your go to essential oil roller or diffuser blend?

Haylee: All right, my favorite diffuser blend right now is spruce, orange and vanilla. Try it right now. It’s like you’re walking in the woods, but like eating while you’re eating a cream sizzle. 

Meg: That sounds so whimsical. That’s the most whimsical, like just a little frolic in the woods with a creamsicle. 

Haylee: Well, it’s wintertime outside and you’re freezing. I don’t know why. But it smells really good. Let’s just leave it at that.

Russ: Mine would be cinnamon bark or clove and orange. Those are kind of like two left those cinnamon bark or clove and orange are my go to’s. 

Haylee: He’s always loved clove. He’ll just open the bottle and smell it and put the cap back on.

Meg: Okay, well you guys are so sweet and kind and are such an inspiration. 

Before I came onto the Whimsy & Wellness team, your bottles were always so pretty and just amazing. But then meeting you guys, it was like oh my gosh, you’re nicer than your product. So, I know that this will encourage people and help them. Thanks for being on the podcast. Maybe I’ll have you back on your own podcast again.

Join Haylee Crowley, Creator of Whimsy + Wellness, and Meg Ryan, content creator at Whimsy + Wellness, to talk all things wellness, entrepreneurship, motherhood, and womanhood.

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