Boss Lady is a series by Social Stylate that shares personal insights from creative women in business. Recently we spoke with entrepreneur, blogger and new mother Kathleen Shannon. She is the talented woman behind the blog, “And Kathleen,” and one of the founders of Braid Creative & Consulting. Kathleen’s yearning for adventure led her to a new direction in life.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Kathleen Shannon. I live in Oklahoma City with my husband Jeremy and our son, Fox. These days my favorite things are morning cuddles with my babe, grabbing a midday cup of coffee with an inspiring friend, dinner parties filled with lively conversation, and watching an uninterrupted episode of Mad Men.
You worked your way up in the advertising industry and suddenly quit to travel to Nepal. Walk us through your decision to quit advertising and how you made the transition.
I booked a trip to hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp when I was still working a day job. The problem is that my job only allowed three weeks of vacation (which is actually pretty generous) but the trip was four weeks long. I didn’t necessarily quit so I could go to Nepal but it was nice to not have to figure out how to make extended time off work with my creative director (who also happened to be my sister).
I think I was going through some serious philosophical transitions – from taking life-changing trips to eating more locally. Advertising just no longer fit in with my higher purpose. I remember one day at my parents house running the idea of quitting my day job by my sister (again, who also happened to be my boss). She was immediately supportive and excited by the idea. My husband was also incredibly supportive – emotionally and financially – of my decision to quit. I’m not sure without such a tight-knit I would’ve been able to leave my day job.
Now you work with your sister at Braid Creative & Consulting, doing branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. What made you decide to start a business together and how do you make it work?
I had been freelancing for a year when my sister began feeling increasingly dissatisfied at her job in advertising. She was the creative director VP and had been fiercely loyal to her company for 13 years. We started to fantasize about working together and slowly it became a reality. The leap felt huge and scary. And to be honest, that first year was hard. Fortunately, being sisters and best friends we have a kind of short hand that expedited the growth of our creative career together. It took a lot of communication and honesty to shape Braid Creative into the kind of business we wanted it to be.
What is the biggest mistake you see clients making when it comes to branding and business?
I wouldn’t necessarily call these big mistakes but the biggest challenge our clients have when it comes to branding and business is generally feeling scattered and offering too many different services to too many different kinds of clients. You would think that being everything to everyone would bring you loads of income but instead it leaves people not knowing how to hire you.
How do you stay inspired to constantly make new content?
Every time I do coaching with a client I’m given new topics to tackle on my blog. Beyond that I read a lot of business self-help books and listen to podcasts. These always get my gears turning which in turn becomes content.