Ever since I met Erin, a few years back, I have been inspired by the way she balances her full-time mom and creative career. Erin’s resume includes a wide list of experiences as a handmade shop owner, an artist, a blogger; Pippin + Pearl, and last but certainly not least she also runs a design studio with her husband Tim; CooperHouse.
“We’re a two man (or man/woman, if you prefer) creative studio that specializes in web development and branding for creative businesses. We’re learning that there is a creative side to almost every business and we definitely don’t discriminate, however most of our clients are designers, artists, bloggers, interior design industry etc. I handle all the art direction/design/project management and Tim handles all the development/accounts/hosting/maintenance.”
Together, from the comfort of their home, they take on clients from all sizes and still maintain time with their two daughters, date lunches, and vacations to see family on the West Coast.
Q1) What was the inspiration behind starting your own business?
A1) Tim was the first to strike out on his own. when the agency he was working for in Colorado closed its doors 8 years ago, he felt it would be a good time to try his hand at freelance web development. He worked on his own for a few years before luring me away from my design job to be his partner. I was inspired by his vision, but was also just really craving some independence after spending 8 years working in the Air Force design department. We both have always wanted autonomy in our careers and the freedom to work from anywhere, so that is the main reason we started CooperHouse.
Q2) How are your personalities alike and how they are different?
A2) We are both creative types. I’m a painter, he’s a sculptor & musician, so I think we understand each other very well on that level especially. I’ve never worked with anyone who is as respectful as he is of my creative process and the effort that I put into my design. I spent years learning Web design and so I also have an appreciation for his abilities. I know that this company needs both of our skills and talents in order to function well. Also, I think our personalities started out as more opposite and have grown to be a little more similar. I’ve mellowed a bit, and he’s become more social. I think our strengths are helpful in our business… Good Cop vs. Bad Cop and all that.
Q3) What advice do you have for creatives and/or couples wanting to start their own business?
A3) Erin says:
You have to have your own space. We’ve always maintained separate offices in our home, even when we lived in a tiny apartment in Denver. We each focus on different aspects of the business and support each other in those efforts. Nobody is the BIG boss, we are each bosses of our “division”. We assign equal value to each of our jobs and work hard to promote productivity in each other. We have staff meetings, just like any company. We try to stay as organized as possible, which is hard for us because we’re doing the jobs of about 8 people, but we are always seeking out tools to make this easier. We regularly use Skype, Gtalk, Evernote, Basecamp, and Freshbooks. We always recommend getting help from people when you can. We have hired a full time in-home nanny so that we can be with our children, and still work from home. We aspire to have a proper studio in the next couple years, but for now, our home works fine. The world is our conference room! We love having meetings at our favorite cafes and restaurants, and I think our clients like it too.
A3) Tim says:
If you’re going to take on working for yourself, make sure you’re doing something that you’re great at and that you love. You need to be sure you’re good enough that business will come in the door and that your portfolio would give anyone confidence in your abilities. You need to love it, because you’re going to be living and breathing your work, day and night. If the idea of that doesn’t sound appealing, you probably don’t love it enough.
Q4) As an artist, wife, mom and business woman how do you find balance and maintain excellence in it all?
A4) Achieving balance isn’t this gold ring that I’m always reaching for. I know that at this time in my life, with a rapidly growing business, small babies, and a side career as a painter, that I can’t have all the balance I’d like. I read a statement recently that said, if it seems like you’re too busy to do the things you want, try saying, “that isn’t a priority” instead of saying “I’m too busy”. If it feels uncomfortable to say that something isn’t a priority, then you should endeavor to make time to do that thing. I’m getting better about making time away from work & family more of a priority. I always felt bad about saying that I didn’t want to be home with them all the time, but I’m a healthier & happier mom when I can take time to visit with my friends or go on a date with my husband.
You cannot be the perfect mother/wife/designer/artist/daughter/friend. You can only be as good as you allow yourself to be. I take moments throughout the day to sit with Elise and talk about things or color together. I am still nursing Adele, so we have lots of time throughout the day to snuggle and cuddle. I have a pretty good system with Tim where we take turns doing things for ourselves. He takes himself out to movie or he goes out with his friends, and then I go out with my friends. We try to schedule at least a couple date nights a month wherein we attempt (often in vain) to not discuss our company. We are passionate about what we do and about each other, so it’s natural that it all smooshes together, even when we try to compartmentalize.
Q5) What about your lifestyle inspires your work or makes it better?
A5) I have a dream. Not to get all profound, but I know EXACTLY what I want out of life. I don’t want a big house or a fancy car, I just want to be able to go anywhere. I want to be able to take the girls to Oregon every summer, trips to NYC, to Europe, to South America. I want to be able to work from anywhere. I want to be sitting on the Seine, eating amazing food and spending time with Tim & the girls, all while maintaining a steady income that will allow us to do so. Living in OKC is a big part of that. It’s affordable, we love our neighborhood and our community here, so I can see us always being based out of OKC, but perhaps spending different parts of the year in the Northwest (near my family).
AND NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF!
Q6) What does a typical Tim and Erin date night look like?
A6) FANCY FOOD. We don’t get out much at this time in our lives, but when we do we like to hit up local restaurants for a fabulous meal. In Denver we’d often walk to our favorite places, maybe see a show or meet friends for drinks, but since we’ve moved here, our date night is a bit more… brief (always have to get home to the babies!) That said, we love to hit up Classen Curve, or La Baguette. On that note, we often find it easier to do a “date lunch” and sneak out midday while the nanny is here and the girls are napping. You have to find time when you can, so we try to be flexible about that.
Q7) Describe your favorite business casual outfit, why do you like it, and where do you get it?
A7) I like to feel comfortable & tall. So, mostly it’s jeans & heels with a funky top. I love to shop locally at places like Blue 7 and Shoe Gypsy, but my favorite outfits are a mix of vintage & a few trendy items from Target.
In this photo (above) — Cardi: Target, T-Shirt: My own design, by Headdresses, Denim: Target, Satchel: Blue 7, Bracelets: NYC Little India street vendor, Heels: Guess (had these for ages!)
Q8) List five ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
A8) Keeping creativity fresh is a constant challenge. I’m really hoping somebody will invent a spray for that. Overall, I’d say that my painting hobby is the thing that helps keep my creativity flowing. It has made me examine colors and textures more closely and has made me more aware of composition. In fact, until last year, I was having a hard time owning my creativity. Everything felt derivative, especially with all the design blogs, Pinterest, Behance etc. that designers are immersed in. It’s hard to have an idea and feel confident that it’s something you’ve come up with on your own.
Until I started painting again regularly, I sort of felt stunted in my design flow. Now I feel a resurgence of creativity and I know it’s because I was a little too bogged down in “pleasing the client” and I’d forgotten a bit of what it felt like to create for myself. I’m sorry I don’t have five tips. I think creativity is something we’re all born with, and we have to keep searching for our best avenue of expression. For me, my hobby feeds my work.
Q9) What are your top five favorite kid-friendly hangouts?
A9) We love to hang out at Tim’s parent’s house. This isn’t very helpful for other parents, I realize, but it’s a haven for Elise with a swing set, a playhouse, a giant playroom stuffed with toys, and a secret fort under the stairs. Plus, there are always plenty of hands who want to snuggle Adele, so that frees me up a little bit.
Other places we like to visit:
- Kite Park: Best playground on the NW side (in my opinion)
- Orange Leaf: Healthy-ish treat for everyone
- Cool Greens: They will make a toddler plate with any 5 ingredients you choose
- Bell Isle Brewery: Cheap eats, Elise loves to throw pennies in the fountain, and we often hit up Full Circle for some train table time after we eat.
- Myriad Gardens: Super fun playground for kids of all ages
Q10) Since becoming a mom of two what has been your favorite family memory thus far?
A10) Honestly, on the mornings when we aren’t in a rush to work and we can just lay in bed with both girls, talking and snuggling… I always think THAT is the happiest moment.
Q11) (Complete the following question) In 10 years I want to be…?
A11) Doing the exact same thing I’m doing now, but with more money in savings. Breathing, being a mom, doing good work, having coffee every morning with my husband… and planning our next family getaway.
As Cale and I are one step closer to balancing a life with our first baby and our own creative endeavors it’s always inspiring to meet other families that are making it all work and still in love with what they do 110%. Thank you Tim and Erin for sharing a little bit about how you work together as a couple and how your family continues to grow and flex within your home based business lifestyle. It’s truly inspiring and makes this process feel not quite so overwhelming!
From the Farm
PS Your red headed daughters are adorable!
No related photos.
4 Responses to “CNY: Tim & Erin [Pippin + Pearl & CooperHouse]”
Leave a Reply