This episode is pretty honest and raw. It’s also kind of sweet. It really is both, and we felt it was an accurate depiction of the highs and lows of working with family. We hope you enjoy it!
You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.
In this episode, we interview our husbands Jeremy and Trey, in addition to talking about our working relationship as sisters.
-Here’s a link to Emma’s changing dreams blog post from 2014—this is the one where she talks about her choice to close a chapter on her acting dream.
-Since we mention about our apps quite a bit in this episode, here’s a link to each of them: A Color Story, A Design Kit, Filmm and Template. We also had two more apps, A Beautiful Mess and Party!Party! that have been retired.
And if you new to our podcast, see our full archive our show notes here. 🙂
Miss an episode? Get caught up!
- Episode #14: How To Prep Your Home To Sell For Top Dollar
- Episode #13: Hibernation Wisdom
- Episode #12: Elsie’s Forever-ish Home
Elsie: You’re listening to a A Beautiful Mess podcast. This is going to be a very special episode because we have guests for the first time. We’ve never had guests on the show before, but today our husbands, Trey and Jeremy are stopping in to talk about what it’s like to work with family. This is one of the most requested topics and we’re finally tackling it. Are you scared?
Emma: I am scared. Also, we’ve never really like interviewed before. So like, been the people doing an interview. So I don’t know if we’ll be…
Elsie: We suck at interviewing.
Emma: Yeah, I think we suck at it, but we’re going to give it our best shot people.
Elsie: Yes. OK. So just to kind of set the scene for what kind of family business we run. Emma and I have had a blog company together for 10 years now. We’ve been doing it for ten years. I just discovered. Isn’t that crazy?
Emma: I think more than 10 years.
Elsie: Well, 10 years together.
Emma: Oh, OK. Yes. Yeah.
Elsie: So we’ve worked together every day now for a little more than 10 years. And then our husbands both have worked for us or work for us in different positions through the years. We will be talking to them and interviewing them a little bit throughout the episode. But Trey currently is the CEO of our app company. He totally runs the app company. It’s all under him. And Jeremy currently works on the podcast and also shoots videos for our blog. So anytime we have a sponsored video. Other than that, we have worked a little bit with other family members through the years. But it’s this episode is mostly about working together as sisters and also working with our husbands.
Emma: Yes. And just for a tiny bit of background, although I want to keep it short. But so in college I worked for Elsie a little bit. She was selling prints on Etsy and I did all her shipping and her customer service. So that was like my intro to working for my sister. And then I moved away after college. I wanted to pursue acting in Los Angeles. So I did that for a few years. Failed, might talk about that sometime in a different episode. There is a post on our blog about it, which I’ll link in the show notes that abeautifulmess.com/podcast If you want to read about that. But once I returned home from that endeavor back to Missouri, I started working with Elsie again. And shortly after we started working together that time, we decided to become partners. And for me, that dynamic is important to explain because those are two very different things to be working for someone versus a 50/50 partner. And since then, that’s the 10 years that Elsie is referring to of working on a blog together. And now we own multiple companies together. We have app companies. And yeah.
Elsie: I thought it would also be cool to explain our different fighting styles because…
Emma: Yes, everyone wants to know. That’s like the number one thing people are like, do you fight? And I’m like, of course we fight. I mean, what do you think? We’re humans. So yeah.
Elsie: We obviously fight. We fight with each other. We fight with our husbands. I fight with Emma’s husband actually the most. But…not as much anymore.
Emma: You guys have pretty fiery personalities.
Elsie: But we have some good fight stories. They’ll be in this episode. OK. So my fighting style is kind of like a petty little bitch and it’s like I can’t let it go.
Elsie: Well who’s telling the story, me or you?
Emma: I’m going to re-explain it, though. Just telling you now. (laughs)
Elsie: OK. My fighting style. This is how I see myself OK? You can say it differently, is like kind of, can’t let anything go. And I do think I’ve improved on this. But it’s still like a part of my instincts that little things like become very big to me. And I will like want to full stop, everything we’re doing over something that I like see in the blog drafts that I don’t like or something in a meeting. And there’s like one part of the plan that I don’t agree with or whatever. Like, I can be just kind of hung up on little things and kind of hard to work with in that way because I am a little bit controlling. Then it’s like also like picking lots of little fights, like lots of tiny confrontations.
Emma: Yeah. You’re kind of like firecrackers. You’re kind of just like, popping all the time. Little ones though, so it’s just like boom, boom, boom, boom, you know. You just go along that way.
Elsie: Yeah. Yes. So. Yeah. If you know how to handle it. Great. Like Jeremy, he knows how to handle it. If you don’t, it could be pretty annoying. And Emma’s fighting style is more like we think from our mom and it is like you can do 10 annoying things in a row and she’ll like let them go and ignore them. And it almost seems like nothing bothers her. But then on the eleventh one, you’re going to pay.I
Emma: I blow up. I’m the grand finale fireworks.
Elsie: She is an explosive…yeah. So yeah, my fights are tend to be kind of like little and kind of stupid and hers tend to be the kind of things you never forget someone said for the rest of your life. (laughs)
Emma: (laughs) Hmmm, which one’s better?
Elsie: No, they’re both really bad.
Emma: No, I…
Elsie: It’s just like, would you rather have it once or twice a year or would you rather have it every day a little bit. I don’t know.
Emma: (laughs) Oh, yeah. I’m thinking we’re trying to give a little bit of advice in this episode, maybe, but also just kind of giving our perspective. So I feel like I need to explain a couple of things about me and what I’ve learned over the years from working with family. So another thing I’ll say real quick is if you go all the way back to the very first episode of this podcast, Elsie and I talk about ourselves for the entire episode and we explain our enneagrams and we explain a little bit about ourselves. And I feel like if you haven’t heard that you might go listen to it, because I actually think a lot of that stuff comes up in fighting like…
Elsie: That’s true.
Emma: Sure. Once you understand like I’m in Enneagram Nine, it makes a lot more sense why I’m like, I’ll just kind of let things go, let things go. And then eventually I feel like, OK, this one, I’m not gonna let go and I have to win it, you know? And that’s not a smart way to fight, just for the record. But that is kind of part of my personality. But anyway, so a couple of things that I do that I’ve learned over the years. So the number one thing I would say is that I have this tendency and I still do this, but I think I’ve grown a lot is I tend to overextend myself where I kind of become a little bit of a martyr, a little bit of a, you know, I’ll do it all. Don’t worry. I don’t need any help. I I’ll take care of it. Oh, you want to do that? I’ll make it happen. Yeah, I do that and do that. And then I make myself so unhappy over time because I don’t really say what I want. I don’t really stand up for myself. And then it becomes a problem. And then I blow up. And really, as you can see from how I just explained it, it’s really my problem. The issue is that I should not take on so much that I can’t handle the workload. That’s not smart. I should also, if I don’t want to do something or if I think something’s a bad idea, I should vocalize it. I don’t have to be a jerk about it, but I should stand up for myself and my ideas. You know?
Emma: And I think I’ve gotten better at that over time. But I definitely have this tendency to just take things on and like just want to take care of people. But then it becomes too much. And then I blow up. And that’s not healthy. A couple other things. I feel like I’ve learned over the years to others that I’ll say real quick. So, one, I have a really hard time asking for help. And I think I’ve grown a lot in that over the years, but especially when we were first starting to work with people. It’s like we would hire someone, but that I would never really ask them to help me with my workload. They would just kind of start to take on all their own stuff, which is fine. But it’s like it’s like…
Elsie: Yeah, it was like kind of missing the point.
Emma: It’s kind of missing the point. Yes, exactly. And I think part of it is I always feel like, oh, I don’t want to ask someone to do something for me that, you know, might come off like it’s not enjoyable for them. But then it’s like, OK, so you’re just gonna do all these like super time consuming task, but you’re still gonna pay them to do just fun stuff that doesn’t make any sense. There needs to be a balance there. You know, it’s I don’t know. I have a hard time with that. I think I’ve grown a lot in that area over the years but…
Emma: Did used to have a hard time with that. And then another thing is, I tend to take things too personally. And I especially think these have been my big fights with you over the years. Elsie…
Elsie: Oh they’re sad.
Emma: I have two big things I get mad about Elsie for. And this is the main one which is I am not super confident in my own creative work and a lot of what I do at A Beautiful Mess isn’t creative. I do a lot of stuff you never see on the blog. You’ll never see it. It’s just very administrative type things, business type things, and it’s really fun and I enjoy it. But it’s not something that’s like so visual. But then I also do write posts and create content, take photos, all sorts of things like that. And I really enjoy that part of my job. For me, it breaks up this other side. I like to use kind of both side of my brains is what it feels like. I get to be creative, but I also get to do business work, which I enjoy. But I’m not super confident my creative work. So if Elsie gives me some kind of harsh creative feedback or says she wants to cut something that I worked really hard on, I’ll take it really personally. And sometimes I I’ll just let it go. But after a few of them, especially if there’s been multiple ones, I have a hard time…
Elsie: I used to be kind of crazy with trying to cut things.
Emma: Yeah. Which became a weird dynamic too, because one it makes me feel like oh my work wasn’t good. So I feel bad on that front.
Elsie: It wasn’t just you, it was everyone.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah. But then the business side of me is like well we need this amount of content so we can’t cut everything Elsie like that just doesn’t even, you know. So then I start to feel like that piece of it too. So it’s this weird dynamic. Yeah. So that and then I think the other thing that I’ve had a hard time like that I’ve learned over the years and that I’ve seen from working with you is the creative feedback side. And then also like you are, like you said, such a detail person and I’m just not I am not a details person. I’m very like big picture. So I’ll get very frustrated if you’re like wanting to hone in on this one little thing and I’m like, who cares? Do it. Do it black. Do it white. Do it upside down. It doesn’t matter. That is not important. And I don’t take the time to really be like, OK, this is important to her. And. It’s not that it’s not important. It’s that it’s not as important as this other thing that I’m worried about. So I need to just take a few minutes to explain that. And, you know, recognize that I can’t just think whatever I think is important. That’s the only thing that’s important. It’s not really fair.
Elsie: Yeah, I have learned a lot about my weaknesses as well. I will say that like working together as a family has probably been like my biggest source of growth in my life. I mean, maybe becoming a mom. I don’t know. I can’t even say like this has really, really helped me grow as a person, though, I’m going to say my weaknesses. But I also feel like there’s so much better than they used to be. Like, it’s not even funny. Like how insane this stuff used to be getting hung up on details. I kind of said that before and I kind of have a tendency to always want to be starting over and never wanting to finish. So like the number of times that I have called Emma on the phone and said, can we rename our whole business or can we, should we make a new mood board? Should we basically have this like drastic 180 change? And she talks me out of it, is like 100. Would you say like…
Emma: Yeah, it’s been a lot. Anytime you try to rename the business, I get so mad at you. Yeah. We’re not doing all that paperwork.
Elsie: Nobody likes their blog name if they picked it 10 years ago or ours is 13 years ago now. So yeah, I like it okay. But I wouldn’t name it that now. And I’m just going to live with it forever. And my 4 year old is like trolling me over it. She doesn’t even think it’s a good name. (laughs)
Emma: (laughs) Nova.
Elsie: I know have a thing called baby bird syndrome, which is like if someone else touches your baby bird, then it’s not your baby anymore. It’s not, you know your baby anymore.
Emma: Yes, you do.
Elsie: And you don’t want it. I have that pretty bad. And I think it’s it’s a control issue and it comes out a lot in creative projects. So I have a hard time working in groups. I think most of us do. Well, I don’t know. I do.
Emma: I love working in groups.
Elsie: Working in groups where everyone really gets to contribute used to be like my nightmare and now it’s something that I’m able to thrive in. So I’m proud of that. Sort of like letting go of not, not everything having to be completely my vision was a struggle for me for a long time. Still sometimes is. And then my last big weakness is I have drastic changes in my opinions about aesthetics and style and trends and what I like and don’t like changes drastically from year to year. So I used to be. I used to want our whole blog and like all the writers, to be cohesive. And it caused a lot of problems because not everyone can like stay on whatever was inspiring to me at that time. And then six months later, a year later, it had changed. So, yeah. Now I can see that I was kind of driving everyone crazy and myself in the process. And a lot of our biggest fights in the early years were about something that like, where I basically thought I had superior taste to other people, which now I can see is super shitty and wrong. But yeah, it was — that was a problem for a long time. So anyway, back to working with a family. Let’s tell a couple of little fights because I know the people want to hear the fights. Right? Okay. Well, I’m just gonna off a little a couple of snippets. Right.
Emma: Yeah. Do it.
Elsie: Yeah. So I mean, I know for sure that we had a fight, at one point when I lived in Missouri in my living room where we said that we wish we had never been partners. Like, that’s like the darkest place it can go to.
Emma: I don’t remember that.
Elsie: (laughs) Oh my god, Emma!
Emma: I’m sorry!
Elsie: You seriously don’t even remember it. Okay well then I guess I’ll just tell it. I don’t remember it that well. I just know that those words were said.
Emma: Wait, where were we?
Elsie: In my living room. At my house on Bend Street.
Emma: OK…which living room?
Elsie: The bottom.
Emma: Upstairs? Oh the bottom. Nah I don’t remember that.
Elsie: It’s OK. Well that that’s the darkest point that it’s gotten to. I think the funniest fight at least for me, like the most humiliating is…Don’t say this didn’t happen by the way. It did. But you’ve said before it didn’t happen.
Emma: Well I’m going to say it didn’t happen if I believe that. So…
Elsie: We, OK. We had a fight in an airport once where Emma yelled at me, like, not yelled, but like, yeah, basically yelled was like angrily talking loudly like in front of like a lot of people. And I was just like, please stop. Please stop, please.
Emma: What was I yelling about?
Elsie: OK. And this is what is sad but true. The only reason we were having that fight is because it was after the trip to Charleston that we took for your birthday. It’s because I made the trip too many nights long and you were sick of me. So now we almost never stay in hotel rooms together anymore because I’ve noticed that Emma gets sick of me really fast when we stay in a hotel room because it’s like too much 24/7. But if we go on a trip and we don’t stay in the same room, then we miss each other. And yeah, so Emma’s like a person who needs her space.
Emma: Okay for the record…yeah. It’s not that I get sick of you, it’s that I get sick of everyone.
Elsie: It’s fine it’s fine it’s fine. I’m not taking it personally, but like it was crazy. Like you yell at me at the airport and people were like watching. And I’ve never had a fight like that at any other time in my life. That was like super public. So I think it’s funny now.
Emma: I remember one time at airport. Maybe this is the time. I don’t remember where we were coming from or going to. But you…we were we were about to miss our flight. We were connecting. And so we were like kind of running to get to the next flight because our previous one had been delayed or something. And I thought for sure we were probably going to miss it. And then you were like, do we have time to stop at the Starbucks and there was this line. (laughs) I remember being…I wasn’t like, I don’t really think I would have yelled. But if I…if this was the same time and I was like, kind of sick of you and needing alone time, then maybe I did. And that was shitty of me. But that seems possible.
Elsie: That wasn’t the same time. I always almost miss my flight because I always want to go to Starbucks.
Emma: You’re kind of. I just think you are too optimistic about flights. You just don’t think that you’re going to miss it. And I’m just like worried until I’m on the flight. And then I’m like, OK, we’re not going to miss it because I’m on it. I think we should also say…
Elsie: …a funny fight. Should we tell a fight about Jeremy and Trey?
Emma: See, I’m the worst. I really don’t remember. I’m very like future focused. That’s why I like I have a hard time. I try to…
Elsie: I’m glad you don’t remember.
Emma: …not spend time evaluating like the past, because I really don’t think I do. I just kind of like barrel through life sometimes and I totally forget things. I’m actually really grateful we have our blog because we could have had other businesses. But like it’s kind of a way for me to remember my life so I could go back and look at it.
Elsie: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I just want to say, like working together as sisters for more than 10 years, like the first…I started the blog when I was 24. So like it’s like growing up together in some ways and it’s like being married in other ways. It’s like we’ve we’ve changed and grown together. And I think as long as you just keep doing it together, it kind of doesn’t matter how painful or how many fights you had. You know, as long as it’s all good in the end. Right?
Emma: Well, here’s a couple things, because I wanted to talk about some of the reasons why I think it works for us kind of in the hope that like people may be able to evaluate if it’s going to work for them. So here are two reasons why I think I can work with you. And it works really well for me. And the number one is I, like, really trust you. I just like know that you can be like harsh in your criticisms in the past. You’ve really grown out of that. But I just always trust you. I know you would never screw me over like you just wouldn’t. So I think you sometimes…
Elsie: Thank you. I feel the same.
Emma: …can be like a little bit. You could be ditzy or you could forget me or you could, you know, like you could do something like that. Maybe. But I just know that you would never intentionally ever screw me over or hurt me in some way like that. So I just, like, trust you. And I think if you’re ever going to work with someone in like a partnership dynamic, whether they’re family or not. You need to have a certain level of trust. You should also get all your paperwork signed and so that if you ever have to go to court, you have all that stuff. But I don’t really. We have that stuff just because you professionally, you should have it. But like, I trust Elsie, like, all the way. So it’s just one of those things. So that, and then the other thing I would say that works for our dynamic for me is that you are such a like, optimistic, excited person because I will have like maybe three to five ideas a year and Elsie will have like 50. So, and that’s a lot, I guess. Like, I could see other personalities finding that overwhelming and yeah, sure, I need like my personal space sometimes. But like, you make me very excited to work and you make me very excited about life. Like I reach for so much more because I work with Elsie. That’s why I’m constantly trying to talk her into moving back home because I’m like…
Elsie: Oh Emma.
Emma: …my life’s a little bit better when my sister is around because yeah, I need some space. And yes, we have our own lives and I want you to to do what you need to do for your marriage and to live your life. And I’m so proud of you. But I like having you around because it makes me reach more. It makes me like, you know, I just tend to be a very, like, chill, I’m just going to like stick to what I’m good at. Everything’s cool. I’m just going to chill out. And that’s great. That’s a good attitude. But I think you really forced me to see like more potential and reach. And I think that’s part of why we work together. For me.
Elsie: Thank you. But you have to admit, it’s better working long distance. It’s it works better like functionally. Right?
Emma: I think what has been the biggest help in the last few years and you might disagree because we could totally have different perspectives on this. But I think you becoming a mom changed you in a lot of ways. That made it easier for me to work with you. And I think it’s because you have this whole other very important thing in your life that I am in no way, like I show up to be an aunt. Sure. But like I in no way you don’t need me in your parenting life. You don’t rely on, Like I’m not part of it. Right. It’s you and Jeremy. You guys are doing that. You’re the parents. And so I think you just have this other side. So part of your passion now is very directed towards being a mom. And so I’m only getting like 50 to 70 percent of your passion, which turns out is actually still plenty because Elsie has a lot of passion. So I think, too, you’re just more like less controlling because you’re like, I’m going to let some of this stuff go because guess what, I have some bigger fish to fry because I’m a mom now and I got that to do.
Elsie: That’s true. I did kind of like adapt the whole Jesus take the wheel about our business a couple of years ago. So I was like, well, I can’t like micromanage everything anymore. And I don’t know. And I think also. OK. So I want to say the things I’ve learned from you. It’s not just, it’s not just that I am so, you know, much more mature. It’s that I have like watched for years, like the way Emma does things differently than me. And I definitely learned some things that work better from her. So Emma is like an ultra focused finisher. You really, really, really finish things. So the other day when you were on the cruise, I had this meeting with Keely. This is gonna be like your ultimate compliment.
Emma: I really wanted to be in that meeting. I was so disappointed.
Elsie: It’s OK. It’s about a print shop that we’re launching later on this spring. And I’m not giving a spoiler because it’ll be way more exciting when you can see the prints. But OK, so we’re launching this thing and we have to build a website for it. And there’s a whole bunch of steps we have to do to prepare for it. And in the meeting, I was just like pretending to be Emma and doing everything Emma’s way. And I was like, we’re not building a whole new website. I was like, use the use the exact same style and artwork as the blog has, do all the same fonts, all the same stuff that we don’t have to pick anything like. And I was just try. I was like, all we need to do is focus on the prints and the art and the promotion, you know? But don’t spend like in the past, I would have spent like a month like designing a whole new, like, fun looking web site with all these little bonus features and all this cute stuff, which is great, but it doesn’t help you get to your goal.
Emma: You would have spent a month deciding what to name it.
Elsie: Yeah. That’s true. She was like, what should we name it? And I was like, A Beautiful Mess Print Shop because yeah, I was like, we’re done with fun names since we, we decided to like wind down our Oui Fresh brand. So Oui Fresh is like the funnest cutest name ever. And I did spend six months thinking of that name.
Emma: It’s a good name.
Elsie: Yeah. We’re gonna miss it, but. But some good deals on lip gloss in the meantime.
Emma: Oh yeah, really good deals.
Elsie: Anyway, I feel like I’ve learned so much from you just being able to. Yeah. Like. Power through a project quickly. Instead of getting hung up on like every small decision and it’ll still be a ton of work and, you know, a ton of energy to get this thing done, but so much easier than it would have been if I was micromanaging the whole thing in a kind of psychotic way. So, yeah, I’ve learned so much from that. And I also feel like I’ve learned so much about just like being organized and responsible and a good manager because Emma really, really is a great manager. If for anyone who owns a business or runs a business with employees, the hardest part is managing your employees. I don’t think anyone would say any different. It’s the most, it’s the worst part for most people. It’s what ruins a lot of businesses. And Emma basically taught me how to do it. So anyway, I feel like this episode has gotten way more…I thought I was just me funny stories about me and Trey fighting, but it’s actually gotten pretty heartwarming.
Emma: Yeah. Well, I think we all I mean it’s obvious, but we all really do like to work together because otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it this long. You know, we would have imploded long ago if we couldn’t do it, and we almost have a few times. But that’s life that’s working with passionate humans, you know, which we all are. But in our own different way. Now we’re gonna jump into chatting with her husbands. And first up is my husband, Trey George, who’s the CEO of our app company A Color Story. And he has been working for our companies since before we were married. Here’s a little bit of our conversation.
Trey: Hey, I’m Trey. I’m married to Emma. I guess we’ve been married now, what, seven years now?
Emma: What, seven years?
Elsie: You don’t know?
Emma: Not really. It’s six and a half.
Trey: Seven years we’ve been together, actually. Eight years, so.
Emma: Oh, are you trying to save it? How long have you worked for me? (laughs).
Trey: I guess…(laughs) So I’ve done A Color Story for four years. And prior to that it was two years. So yeah, I think it was after about a year of dating was when we started working together. So. Yeah. What? Yeah. Seven years.
Emma: And before you worked for A Beautiful Mess, just cause a lot of people don’t know this, you used to work at an ad agency. You worked at a few in your career.
Emma: And at that time you were at an ad agency. So you’ve come from a marketing background.
Trey: Yes, I did.
Emma: And we had been dating. And you basically just kept telling me how we should do things different or better. And I was like, this guy’s got a lot of ideas. Maybe he’ll just work for us. Yeah. And then you did.
Emma: Was that scary at first? Did you have a lot of people say, oh, you’re gonna work for your girlfriend?
Trey: Honestly, I think that’s such an unspoken concern that no one really said it. If that makes any sense.
Emma: What about your dad?
Trey: Well, my dad didn’t worry about that. Like and my dad’s like a good example of how that was the unspoken concern and everything he voiced was like round about. Like he was like worried about me working for a company that was owned by two people. He said that partnerships often struggled or something like that. He said that a lot of those end up like collapsing and they have too much infighting and all this. So he was like his concern came from there. And then he was also nervous about small businesses and how long it was going to last and all of that. But I can’t help but think that there’s probably like an underlying, you know, hey, you’re about to work for your girlfriend. Are you sure you want to do this?
Elsie: So he so he didn’t say anything about that part?
Trey: No. Not really.
Elsie: Oh, okay.
Trey: I think it’s one of those. I think it’s one of those things that’s like, it’s an unsaid concern that everyone’s kind of like…like where I almost have to just come out of the gate and be like, yeah, I know. I work with my girlfriend. It’s fine, though. I started on with sponsorships with A Beautiful Mess. It was the first thing I did for a little bit and then over time transitioned into managing the app first on A Beautiful Mess with that app whenever we were doing things that are underneath it. But then as we went on, we decided, hey, it would make a lot more sense if we tried to incorporate this new idea, which became A Color Story into its own thing. And so then whenever we did that, I managed A Color Story, which is its own separate entity from a A Beautiful Mess. And that’s where I spend most of my day now.
Emma: Yeah. You’re the CEO of A Color Story.
Emma: Do you have any advice for someone who’s considering working with family or is there anything that you learned about yourself or about working with family that you would want to share?
Trey: I think that, like I said, there’s a common idea that, you know, working with family is inherently bad. You hear people say things like never work with friends or family and especially never work with family. And I don’t I mean, obviously, we don’t think that’s true. But I do think a strong reality is that if you have any sort of issues or if you have anything unsaid or unspoken between yourself and this friend or family or whomever you are working with, it’s going to come up and not necessarily literally or directly. And that’s actually what makes it worse, is because if you have something between the two of you, if you have some sort of issue that’s between the two of you that you haven’t said it’s going to come up in other weird ways, like in ways that manifest themselves at work, where you’re fighting about work, but you’re not fighting about work at all. Like you think you are, but you’re not. And so and then it becomes way more vicious and just really toxic situation. And if you don’t tackle it, then you won’t you won’t survive in that environment. Like, there’s just no way. Like, I think both both the work relationship and the relationship relationship, I think would struggle to survive something like that. And so it’s really key to like if you feel yourself getting worked up over dumb shit, it’s just like pull it back a little bit and see, like, OK, what what’s really going on here? And so I think it is in order to make it work, you just you have to power through that personal stuff otherwise…
Emma: Can you give any kind of example?
Trey: Yeah, we need a story.
Emma: Because I totally get what you’re saying and I’m thinking of all my past issues.
Elsie: Yeah. Tell a fight that you had with Emma. And then tell a fight you had with me. He usually fights with you more.
Emma: We have married fights. A different episode.
Trey: Honestly. Yeah. With with with Emma. It’s a big like honestly like a thing that we’ll go back and forth on as I have. I have a tone problem you might say? (laughs)
Emma: Yeah. You might say that. You might say that.
Trey: And so just the way I’ll react to something. A lot of times like I’m really careful with my words but I’m not very careful with my tone. And so…
Emma: Or facial expressions.
Trey: And so there’ve been a few moments. Like, I can’t even remember what the thing was about. There’ve been a few moments like that where you and I have had have had it out where we were talking about work and there was just something and like I think you were just suggesting an idea. And I just kind of shot it down immediately, but not in any rude way. Like nothing…
Emma: You weren’t meaning to be.
Trey: It’s not like the words I said were rude, it was just the way I said it was pretty rude. And so…there’ve been things like that. And then. Yeah. Elsie and I probably fight the most, but it’s it’s a more like straight forward argument.
Elsie: Since we’re not married.
Trey: Yeah. It’s very much…
Emma: I mean you don’t see me and Jeremy fighting though, so maybe you guys are just hotheads, have you thought of that?
Trey: That’s possible. Yeah. I think there’s one time I really wanted Elsie to be in on a meeting…this is a meeting that we usually would all show up for in person. This time we were gonna do it as a conference call. And she decided to call in from like a coffee shop or something.
Elsie: I was in my car. I was on the phone, in my car.
Trey: And it was like it was in my mind. I’m like, this needs to be the most important meeting. You should be like blocked off in a room somewhere. It should be this whole thing. That was my impression of it. And her impression of it was, I can take this from a car. And like, right as we start the meeting, like, basically…
Emma: Oh yeah, I remember this. Yeah, I was like I was like, I gotta get out of this room.
Trey: It was like, right as we started the call. So basically, we’re about to, like, conference and with like all the, you know, quote unquote important people. I think it was a sponsor. We were about to conference in with the sponsor. And like, right as I’m about to connect us, I’m just like, oh, you’re in a car right now, SIGH, I think it was just another thing. I’m just like I think I was like, oh, that’s fine. And then I just click over. She could like tell that I was furious…
Elsie: You said, I’m really disappointed in you. I’m 100% sure.
Trey: I would believe it.
Emma: Well she’s a hundred percent, so.
Trey: She’s a hundred percent. But. Yeah. And then I click us over and connect us and that’s how we started the call.
Elsie: And then we just like pretend like everything’s fine. Cool. Yeah.
Emma: In my mind I was like Elsie. Just try not to cry during this because I would’ve cried.
Trey: Yeah. It was a bad one. And then we like went back and forth about like…
Elsie: Let’s talk about a time when we’ve cried, because it’s been those haven’t there. Little crying at work?
Emma: I cry all the time at work, but now I work by myself so it’s easier.
Trey: Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve never really cried over work. I guess that’s not relatable.
Elsie: Well have you ever made someone cry?
Emma: I just want you to know in case no one’s told you: it’s twenty twenty men can cry.
Trey: Oh boy.
Emma: …if you want to at work, at home, wherever you need in your car. That’s where I do it a lot in my car. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I do think if you have any unsaid is the point of this was that if you have any unsaid like stuff between you and someone else, and I think it goes deeper, if it’s family, then it can come up. Then it’s just tough because then it’s like you are you’re having a fight that is about something like not turning something in on time or not being in the quote unquote right place for a meeting or someone suggested something kind of dumb in a brainstorm and someone said that, you know, or whatever, but that it all the sudden becomes much bigger and deeper because there’s all this other stuff.
Elsie: Can you tell us how you feel like you’ve grown or changed like directly as a result of working with family?
Trey: I don’t know if it’s directly related to working with family per say as much as it is just working with you and Emma. I think…
Elsie: Well, we’re your family and that’s what we’re talking about. Who else did you think we were talking about?
Trey: I mean, it’s personality specific. I can’t really speak as much to to family in general, as much as I could say what it’s like to work with you and Emma. It’s kind of changed my perspective on what’s possible. I think also being part of it, being a small company helps a lot, too. But I think I have this notion of anything is possible in ways that I didn’t before, because when I was working for the larger companies, you kind of just feel like you’re in a just a cog in the machine a little bit. And with this and then with working with the attitudes to the two of you have, it’s very inspiring. And it really does. It makes me think like, oh, we can we can try anything. We can just go for it. I mean, it may fail. It may be terrible, but we can do it and it’ll be fun the whole way. So I think that’s the that’s my biggest growth that I’ve had over these past six or seven years. It’s like it’s just…it really has it’s changed my mind on what I what I thought you could do. And it’s I now realize it’s a whole lot more so.
Elsie: Wow. That’s amazing.
Trey: I’m happy to work with friends and family because, you know. Yeah, being again, being productive is cool, making things is cool. But it’s also relationships. And so I like to be, I like that I get to spend so much of my professional time with people that I love. Like that’s I don’t know is really, really fulfilling. So it makes makes work…I don’t dread work ever.
Emma: Yeah. I think it gives it a deeper level of meaning to work with friends and family. Not to say everyone should do it, but I just think it definitely does give it this more. You know, I’m actually spending time with my family while I’m working.
Trey: It can be that.
Elsie: Yeah. Some of our happiest memories, like if we had to say our happiest memories as a family. Some of them at least are gonna be memories from work.
Elsie: Which is kind of different. So yeah, I hope people hear that from this episode, even though it is really hard and sometimes tricky and sometimes in some ways maybe not the best for your family dynamic. It’s also at other times it is the best.
Emma: Next, were chatting for a little bit with Elsie husband, Jeremy.
Jeremy: I’m Elsie’s husband. My name is Jeremy Larson, and I do videography for the blog and I also work on music for the podcast. And what else do I do? That’s it.
Elsie: That’s it.
Emma: That’s good. I just I’m going to add to it, though, because I do think Jeremy is the one person on our team. Like everyone kind of knows what he looks like because he’s in photos with Elsie, Elsie’s husband. But I don’t feel people really know what, like all the things that you do at our blog and in our companies. So Jeremy is also in his other life, he’s a music producer and he has his own career path. And all those things. So for this episode, though, we’re going to tell you about what he does at our companies. So over the years, he has made videos of us doing stuff for sponsors or things you’ve seen on our blog. So videos, all the music you’ve seen and basically any video or any podcast or any app that’s come from us. Jeremy has pretty much made all of that stuff, pretty much, there’s probably a few things that I’m forgetting that he didn’t make, but for the most part, like 90 percent or more, Jeremy made it. And he also wrote an E-course about how to take and record and edit video. And he also is half of the podcast course we have, that’s with Young House Love and it’s about recording great audio and editing it. So Jeremy is like one of those people that you probably will never really see him except for in like family photos with Elsie. But he actually does a lot of things. And many of the things you’ve seen us do over the years would not have happened or and definitely would not have sounded as good if Jeremy hadn’t put it out, but. But you still probably don’t know that he did it.
Elsie: So we finish editing the podcast basically every single weekend at the last minute on our kids naptime.
Emma: Oh gosh.
Elsie: Yeah. So he’s he’s working for the blog every week. Mostly the podcast right now.
Emma: He’s the behind the scenes hero.
Jeremy: Mostly I’m breaking down boxes…
Emma: We all do that. So. That’s the worst job ever and everyone has to do it.
Elsie: Yeah. No, I told my therapist that boxes are like a problem in my marriage.
Elsie: It actually it is a real problem.
Emma: Do you have any advice about if someone’s considering working with a spouse or working with family? Is there anything that you would warn them about? Or is there anything that you would say? Oh, yeah. Actually, it’s better than people say. Or what would be your. Would you tell people to do it? Would you say don’t do it? Would you say do it but here’s my advice…
Jeremy: Regardless of what you think. Like you’re just bringing your family life to work with you. All the little passive aggressive things like they sneak into the work. So like if we’re shooting in the kitchen or something. And that morning, you know, we’ll know that we’re gonna do like a shoot and Elsie’ll, let’s say she’s like making breakfast or something or her like making a soup or something else for the blog and completely destroys the kitchen knowing that we’re doing a video shoot and then doesn’t clean it up like I always think in my mind. This is totally intentional because she knows that as her videographer, she can totally just ask me to clean this up. Like when we start…and it’s it’s dumb things like that that like you just bring to work with you that you…
Elsie: That didn’t even happen. It’s totally made up.
Emma: Trey and I had a fight, I remember it. And he’s not on right now. So I kind of hate saying this, but we. One time one morning he was complaining about all the dishes in the sink and he was saying, you know, “oh, well, it’s because you food blog”. And I had just…I got so upset and I was like I pointed to each dish in the sink. Which one was from food blogging and which was from us living and which ones were like his. And then he was like, OK, I see that. It’s so it’s both, you know, but it was like this moment where we were both. It’s just like, you know, you think someone is thinking one thing like, oh, she’s gonna make me clean this up because I know I’m supposed to be working right now or whatever. And really, it’s just like probably Elsie was just not thinking, you know.
Jeremy: Well, like, it makes your fight so much stupider. And like in hindsight, more funny because it ends up it’s like, do you remember we had a big thing with the sprinkles? Like the sprinkles were on the counter and, you know, I just wiped it. It’s something so ridiculous. But, you know, it’s just the nature of things. If, you know, if I was a videographer working for a different company, that, you know, someone that I wasn’t related to. Of course, I would go in and just like make this space work and I wouldn’t have a second thought about it. And, you know, if she had hired someone else that she didn’t know, she probably be more prepared to like you just bring that stuff with you into the shoot. And, you know, it just creeps in. But…or whatever was like going on, you know, that day or that morning. It’s just impossible not to to bring it to work with you.
Jeremy: But we’ve also, we both…Elsie has had like a really big part of a very, very, very big part of my career almost…sometimes I feel like she’s had like more of a hand in it than I’ve had in my own career, at least the successful parts of it. It is like one of the most rewarding things that you can have in a marriage is when you’re married to someone that’s like you’re your biggest fan or your biggest promoter like Elsie does….she’s done a lot of photos for me and help with design work and all that stuff. And. And when your spouse is like on your team and knowledgeable and everything has good taste, it’s really, really rewarding. It’s really nice. And yeah, it’s just a it’s a good feeling.
Emma: Oh, yeah. Elsie has definitely been a megaphone for you for many years. She’s always I mean, Jeremy’s crazy talented.
Emma: And I think you have always wanted to point that out to the world, which is one of the things I love about Elsie. She’s definitely…
Elsie: He’s amazing.
Emma: …a cheerleader, literally. She was. And also still really is. So but I did that. When you were talking about the sprinkles, Jeremy, it was making me think too about like we were talking at the beginning about the boxes. That’s one like unique thing that I think you and Trey both have to deal with as far as like somewhat working with us. But also just being married to bloggers is that we do have a lot of messes in our homes because we use our homes for content and for work. And you know, we are like for me especially, I’m often like working on some kind of project for work, either in the kitchen or like on the dining room table and making some kind of craft. And I dont clean it up every single day and every now and again. It does cause some frustrations. ‘Cause I think it’s tough when your house is like, I’d like my house to be clean, but I recognize that my wife works and that is important and I do care about it. So there’s like this weird dynamic for us. It’s helped a lot that we got like a cleaner some years ago. We have someone clean our house once a month and I think that’s been really helpful for us. But yeah, is there anything that you would want to say around that? I think you guys have a cleaner, right?
Jeremy: Yeah. Yeah, we do. And that’s it’s just a necessity.
Elsie: Yeah. We consider it like an investment in our marriage, we did it for a couple of years. We didn’t have one. When we got home from China with Marigold, we got one right away and we’re like, no, it’s time to like, you know. Yeah, do this because we were going crazy.
Jeremy: We lived in this house that Elsie, you know, her really good taste and design sense has allowed us to live in a place that I think is really, really cool. And I feel I don’t feel as appreciative as I should because I live in this house. I get credit for it. When people come over, they’re like, oh, my God, like who? You know, who picked out this painting or who designed this? Or, you know…Elsie did all of it. And I get to live here, you know? And I didn’t even really have to make any choices, I just default to her on everything. And so like I get some default credit for it. You know, for just like living here in the house. And I should be more appreciative. But it’s like, you know, you can’t hold onto those things forever. You try to. But then at the end of the day, you’re still just like breaking down boxes and being pissed like in your own head.
Elsie: So in Trey’s at the end, he did kind of summarize like the high. The high. Best part of working with your family.
Jeremy: Yeah. Having having someone on your team is really amazing, especially, you know, in my case, being married to someone who I really do trust and has very good taste. That, you know, I joke around about, you know, that. You know, when she gives me compliments, it doesn’t really sink in. It doesn’t matter. But it really does. Like, you know, in the end, because of the fact that she does have such good taste and good ideas that if she didn’t like what I did. I know that…I would just stop, I would just quit. The downside is that your day to day little arguments become about smaller and smaller things that really, really don’t matter. And it’s tough. Bring in all of your personal and family life into work with you. You know, whatever that is. I think that there’s something healthy about leaving family life at home and then going to work and doing your job. And then you come home and you know, your family time is your family time. So I could, I could certainly argue either way. But what, between Elsie and I, the way we have it works. I think it works really well.
Emma: Thank you so much for listening. It was actually really fun to talk about what it’s like to working with family and to have our first guests. And I just want to put it out there that this year in twenty twenty one of our goals is to double our podcast audience in a way that you can help us reach. That goal is by sharing this with any friends, family, anyone who you think might enjoy this little podcast we’re creating. Share it with them. And that would mean a ton to us. Thanks.
I really really enjoyed this episode! It gave good insight as to what it’s like to work with a sibling which may not be easy sometimes. And I really enjoyed hearing from your husbands! Especially Jeremy, who always seems a bit more quiet and serious and hearing him come to life in a very honest way. Please bring the husbands back, maybe for an episode on marriage? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice 🙂
Omg the part where Emma tells Elsie that she is so inspired and excited by her and that she trusts her to the max is so so sweet! I feel the exact same way about my sister!!!! You guys are the best – thank you for sharing!
I loved this episode because I also work with my husband but don’t know anyone else who does and was interested to hear someone else’s perspective on it. Honestly, it sounds like you guys have the working with your spouse thing pretty much figured out! I just kept wondering what enneagram numbers your husbands are! I binged the podcast, so now I’m caught up and am pretty sad I have to wait each week to listen again.
i was SO excited for this episode! our spouses are such an important part of us and it was fun getting to know yours a tiny bit more (i say tiny because i really hope they’ll be back on in the future!). i feel like it’s been really hard to get a feel for the hubbies. jeremy came off as a total sweetheart and trey is so knowledgeable! so fun discovering these things. i think you could make a really great part 2 for this series with a more structured Q & A and answering listeners questions about this specific topic. also with more funny stories please!!
I seriously love the podcast. It’s the one podcast that actually improves my mood. (I’m looking at you, weekly news podcasts). I’m sure you’re not hurting for podcasts suggestions, but especially after having Jeremy and Trey on, as well as some of the conversations you’ve had in the past, I’d love to hear an episode on marriage. Obviously it’s different for everyone, but I’d love to hear an ABM episode on it.
Can I just say THANK YOU for making your podcast available on Monday mornings??? Does anyone else love this? It makes the commute so much more enjoyable. I’ve loved your blog forever and the podcast just makes you both feel even MORE like real people to me.
Yes! Sometimes it’s Monday’s one redeeming quality.
Loved the episode and getting a peak into what it can really be like to work with family. Super interesting.
Emma, I’d love to hear how the cruise went in an upcoming episode! I’ve been debating on going on one so it’d be cool to hear your take.
Hi! Has anyone else reported in an iPhone the latest episode not showing up for them? I only see up to episode 14 and I’ve refreshed and even restarted my phone. Weird!
Weird. What kind of iPhone do you have? I have an XR and it shows up for me. So… I don’t know. Maybe try looking on iTunes, Stitcher or any of the other options where the episode is hosted. Like you can google it too and find an option than other our site (in case it’s something to do with our website and your phone… but again, I have no idea really)
I loved this behind the scenes look at what it’s actually like to work with family. You girls are so brave to share! Thanks for giving us this sneak peak at the reality of your business-it is endlessly fascinating! Elsie mentioned certain ideas that she’s turned down for the blog–very curious to see some of those if you’d be willing to share and explain why you passed on them 🙂
I mean- this was years ago. So nah. XX!
I’ve always wondered how you sisters work together so well! I can’t imagine working with my family – we argue enough as it is, haha!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog