This month I honestly couldn't wait to feature my next wholehearted hero. To me, she represents courage; she gives freely and often turns her circumstances into an opportunity to learn and to grow. I pray you are inspired and challenged by her words!
I met Mary when I was in college at Baylor University. She was a friend of one of my roommates and offered to take photos for us. Mary was so kind, easy to be around, and made the experience so much fun. Fast forward a couple years, and I got in touch with Mary sometime last year about her work with Momma Bear Magazine. I was busy dreaming up the idea of starting a magazine and Mary graciously allowed me to pick her brain and ask too many questions about her role as magazine editor. At one point Mary even video recorded herself answering my questions and sent me the files so I could reference them later. Blown away by her wisdom and generosity, I've always admired Mary from afar, and after getting to know her a bit more, I was even more impressed!
Mary recently announced that she's taking some time away from Momma Bear Magazine to stay at home with her girls while her husband launches and promotes his new coffee shop business. When asked about this new change, Mary replied (in typical Mary fashion), "It's a happy decision!" The timing of this interview may seem a bit funny, but I'm inspired by her choice to listen to the needs of her family and tend to her own heart in the process. Enjoy!
1. One thing I admire about your is your intentionality to share what you've learned and gained through personal experience with others. You are vulnerable and honest, yet you so gracefully and tactfully invite others into your life. Does this come naturally and why/how did this become a value for you?
Thank you! This definitely comes natural to me, which I'm really thankful for. As a teenager I read a ton of autobiographies and memoirs, and I think after seeing how vulnerable my favorite authors were with their readers, it showed me that it was actually very powerful and endearing (to the right audience) to be honest with others. Also growing up in the church, you hear so many awesome testimonies of people sharing how God helped them overcome hardships, and I guess I just got used to people being open with one another. I feel a lot of freedom and healing when I share. Especially when other people tell me that what I share has helped them in some way. I mean, if you're struggling and having to figure out how to get through something, you might as well make the most of it and try to help someone else by teaching 'em what you've learned, right?
2. I love following you on social media - your little girls are the cutest and I'm in love with everything you create/design! How did you originally build a following?
I had a blog since seventh grade, then myspace, then instagram, ect. But as far as who was following me and why, being from a small town really started it all. I was an artsy girl in a town of cowboys and cowgirls. They wore cowboy boots and I wore paint-covered converse. I stood out without even trying - and I mean that with the most humility possible. I'm really thankful to have been in a town that welcomed my differences instead of making me feel like an outside. Anyway, I was really different both in what I wore and what I did in life. And I think just by making different choices and going against the grain in a happy, excited way (not a rebellious way), people were excited about listening and watching what I would do next. I think my real "following" started of course when I started taking instagram seriously. I love photography, so this was a natural outlet for me.
3. How did you build a consistent brand that carried over into each business you've started/launched?
Repeating the things you love is basically how you brand yourself. I used to be timid about my love for rainbows, but now I incorporate them into nearly everything, which has created consistency. Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room, how they would describe you to their friends. And the more I repeated what I loved, the stronger my brand got.
4. How do you remain true to yourself through social media?
I only do what I love, and I don't look at other people to figure out what I love. For instance, I genuinely don't like woodsy, natural stuff. I just don't and I never have. My parents and I moved into a beautiful A-frame in Colorado when I was 10 and it had beautiful wooden beams everywhere, but they were brown, so I cried and cried and begged to paint my room pink. So you can guess how I felt about this whole boho wood-everything, white-everything trend that's been happening lately ;) I mean, I tried, I really did, to be all modern and hip, but I just can't. My inner Lisa Frank Fan Girl just can't do it. Also, there's this huge fad of using an emoji as a caption on instagram, or saying cute one-liners or something, and I just don't get it, ha! There's nothing wrong with that, but I just prefer to be all emotional and long-winded, and I'm not gonna shove that down because it's trendy. And guess what? People still like me anyway, so yay! Another important thing, when I want to make something, I don't look at Pinterest first. I don't scroll my insta feed. I just start making it and I keep going until I like it. And if it ends up sucking? I'll just start over ;)
5. What are some daily, weekly, or even monthly rhythms you put in place to stay on top of life and healthy / whole at the same time (both professionally and relationally)? And how do you bring others into this with you (your husband, friends, family, ect.)?
I eat a huge bacon and egg burrito for breakfast! I've found that I just really need a huge dose of protein first thing in the AM or my whole day is off. Some of my friends don't even eat breakfast, ha! I also just started using the "First Five" app and it's a total game changer. Instead of scrolling instagram to wake up, I use this; it's awesome. Then I go to the gym for about two hours and get some alone time (there's free childcare at my gym!) and workout. Next I typically try to take at least a 15 minute nap as the girls nap, and then I clean the house as fast as I can before they wake up. My emotional, spiritual, and physical needs are all met by breakfast, my First Five app, and the gym. Then I can serve my family by cleaning the house and spending the rest of the day playing with the girls.
Every week I make a batch of giant breakfast burritos, and I think this is honestly the best thing I've ever done for myself! I also make a lot of my lunches in the crockpot, which is so stress-relieving knowing I always have lunch taken care of. I serve at my church on Wednesdays, and attend on Sundays (huge part of my rhythm!).
Marten and I really try to go on at least one date a month, as well as host some friends for dinner. Gotta take care of that social life!
6. Looking back, what would you say to your younger self and how would you motivate others to do the same?
Dear younger self, you are enough. Please understand that your career does not define you. Seriously. I know people keep telling you that, but it's important you understand. There is a life beyond your computer screen. Go hang out with friends. Go take that roadtrip. Don't buy another camera lens- use that money on a trip to Europe! And you know, no one is going to be mad at you if you just be yourself. That decision you're worried your friends will disagree with (like getting a red coat instead of a black one), they really will still love you anyway. Also, you are really good at designing, but designing a new website 15 times isn't going to bring you new customers. Marketing, sales calls and networking will. So get off the couch and go meet people. Networking is just making friends with people who happen to also run businesses. It's not scary, and it's not taking advantage of anyone. By the way, you're actually really going to love being a mom. And surprisingly enough, one day you'll even like it more than your career. Yes - like it MORE than your career! Crazy, huh? And lastly, the success of your business has absolutely nothing to do with how much God loves you, and everything to do with His perfect timing and will for your life. You are taken care of beyond measure.
Mary is a business owner, photographer, magazine editor, and stay-at-home mom. She launched Momma Bear Magazine a few years ago, a culmination of several of her creative gifts and talents. Currently she's choosing to stay at home with her kids and support her husband's new coffee shop, Kainos Coffee. You can follow along with her life through her instagram - you'll quickly become attached.