Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”
By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.
No. 135: Katie Brown: Founder/Owner of Fashion Line KBLA
Where I live: Eugene, OR
Job: Owner/Founder of women’s clothing line: Katie Brown Los Angeles (KBLA)
Kids: I am a mother to two glorious, marvelous beings: Eli is 16 and Sasha is 12. They couldn’t be more different, and simultaneously, more alike. They challenge me in ways I never knew possible while taking me to a place of love, adventure, and mystery all beyond my wildest dreams.
Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
In my previous entrepreneurial life, I was a restaurateur. My business partner and I opened four restaurants over five years while raising five small children between us (two for me and three for her). At the peak, when we had all four restaurants running (130 employees), we decided to launch a cocktail mixer company (CRAZY!!!). Two weeks (literally) after coming up with the idea, we flew to Dallas to pitch to the team at American Airlines. You should have seen us: we were like 2/3 of the Three Stooges, at least in our own eyes. They loved our concept and our product, but my goodness, were we out on a limb. We didn’t even have a co-packer, labels, anything! Anyway, while we had all this business stuff going on, I considered myself a mother first and foremost. I did my best to mother as if I were a stay-at-home mom. I kept telling myself: “Anything is possible. It’s all about how you think about it. You can do this and more!” WRONG. There is such a thing as too much, and I was well into that territory. I was so stressed and overworked that I felt like I had a boa constrictor around my neck at all times.
Now I am on to the next chapter of my life. I have launched a clothing line. My philosophy is to be more aware, more balanced. I try to be gentler on myself. Work smarter, not harder. Slow down a bit and allow myself to be creative, think about how to approach this new world with humility, confidence, clarity and passion. The ride is so up and down, no matter how much I try to find a solid course. And, honestly, I love it.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Having it all… Hmmmmm. What does that actually mean? Does that mean you get to put as much time and energy into work as it takes to leap into stratospheric success? AND spend all the time needed to raise your children with exposure to art, music, sports, down-time, instilling academic curiosity, snuggle time, reading time, time with friends, time outdoors… etc., etc., etc. AND nurture your significant other? AND your extended family AND your friends? Oh yeah, and then there is…. you.
No, I do not believe that anyone has this concept of “having it all” nailed down. Women who are really engaged in life as stay-at-home moms, career women with no children, or women balancing both, are on a continuous learning curve, with realities changing and swirling around them at all times. It’s a constant experience similar to riding a wave on a surf board: You just do your damnedest to stay up, have fun, and avoid the sharks.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Carving out enough time to get exercise. Surprise, surprise.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am getting better at being more realistic and therefore, easier on myself. That’s huge. There is nothing like working in what I call “Ferrari’s fifth gear” and still treating myself as if I’m not “doing enough.”
Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend to others?
Nope. It’s a day-to-day experiment.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? “Be passionate.”
From your mother? “You always have a choice.”
From your spouse/partner? “Read more.”
From your kids? “Mom, can you get me….?”
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Doing yoga and drinking more water.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
To appreciate myself.
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
To appreciate myself.
What part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
The President of the United States.
West With The Night by Beryl Markham.
What are you reading right now?
Nothing. But I should be.
Activity? Visiting at length with girlfriends (I wish I could say working out).
Food? Ice cream.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
5-6 (not enough).
What do you read every morning?
I listen to NPR.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: make super tasty chocolate chip cookies.
I wish I: had a better singing voice.
My kids: are the center of my universe.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Just go for it.” and “Fuck fear.”