Name: Mary Boyden / Age: 23 / Current Company: Momma Bear Magazine / Title: Editor & Founder / Years in Business: Three Years / Education: One year at Abilene Christian University for Journalism, One year at Pratt Institute for Photography.
What was your first job after attending art school in NYC? I started my wedding and portrait photography business when I was sixteen and continued to pursue it during and after school. So when I finished my year at Pratt Institute, I simply continued to shoot and work, well, for myself! :)
You have many skills from website design and photography, to product styling and jewelry design. How do you decide which projects to tackle and which ones to leave? Why thank you! Right now, I am only pursuing Momma Bear Magazine. Last year, I attempted to pursue ALL of my interests as separate businesses (Mary Boyden Photo, Mary Boyden Web Design, YAY Paperie, Whimsy Jewel and Momma Bear). I thought I could do it all, but I quickly learned that quality over quantity should win every time. Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should. Now, I ask myself, “Whose life is it going to positively change? What is the time commitment, what is the cost analysis? Will I actually enjoy every bit of this- not just the fun stuff?” Those questions really help weed out projects. Also- Momma Bear encompasses every single one of my talents. It’s so much fun.
You recently started and published a magazine geared towards motherhood. Can you tell us about Momma Bear Magazine? Momma Bear is a bi-annual publication that recently went to print thanks to a successful kickstarter. It is GORGEOUS and I’m completely obsessed and proud of it. We believe there is a way to have a great, fulfilling life as a woman while carrying the weight and responsibilities that come with being a mother. We believe in grace over perfection, and community over competition. We exist to hush the lie that a woman's life is over when she becomes a mother.
How did you come up with the concept and branding of MBM? Momma Bear was born both out of my personal insecurities as a woman (like how I seriously don't understand the concept of cleaning), and my desperate need for hope that being a mom was in fact going to be- gasp - cool. I spent most of my life being terrified of motherhood. I was scared being a mom meant the end of my career, the romance of my marriage, my freedom and the beginning of being grumpy and frumpy. As an aspiring career woman, I thought others would perceive me becoming a mother as a failure. I thought they would look at me and think, "Ah, she had so much potential, but now... she's just a mom." My perspective needed to change. So I started reaching out to positive women I found online and in my community who were living examples that motherhood just doesn't have to suck. You can be fashionable, fun, creative, positive, and heck- even career driven- while living out the ultimate adventure alongside your children... motherhood.
As far as the visual brand, I wanted to create something both classic and creative. Timeless design with bright modern pops of color. It took two years to create the right logo (thank you a billion times, Kaitlyn Husmann), and I spent days upon days pouring over magazines like Kinfolk, Darling, HOORAY!, and studying brands like Kate Spade, Chanel, and Ban.do. Pretty diverse, but it all came together perfectly. The hardest part was not letting my own personal rainbow-tastic style influence Momma Bear too much. That was hard. But we did it, yay!
MBM covers many different topics, such as wardrobe creations, topical articles, and personal stories from women. Is there a particular theme throughout the magazine and how do you decide what to publish? They say there’s no manual for motherhood, but at Momma Bear, we are trying to make one. Note! Not a parenting manual, a motherhood manual. Everything in a woman’s life that now is effected by her child is what I am interested in covering. So, what kind of fashion is now relevant to her kid-friendly days? What is she struggling with as she balances her own passions separate from her responsibilities as mom? How is she feeling, what does she need emotionally? What structures can we help her create to be the CEO of her home? What does she really need a friend to tell her? What are others taking for granted in her and she needs recognized and applauded for? Our spectrum is broad, and we aren’t just for “one” type of mom. My aim is to make moms from all walks of life feel welcomed and supported by us. Things I’m not interested in? Helping her parent her kids-which is what many mom magazines are focused on. I get really annoyed when I open up a magazine for me, mom, and see nothing but stuff for my kids. Everything is always about the kids, and moms feel guilty when they want something that’s just for them. I want to change that. Mom Guilt can be crushing. I’m interested in anything that can relieve her burdens and make her smile. I’ve found that my reader really doesn’t need help or advice, she is a great problem solver. She just needs to know that it’s all going to work out. She needs a positive example she can point to and say, “See! I can be stylish, too! I can have interests outside my kids, that’s okay! Look! She had a c-section like me, and she is doing great! Everything is going to be okay! I’m a good mom!” Anything that echos that, I’m interested in.
You are so busy with everything you offer, how do you manage to balance home life with your personal life? My husband and I are becoming rockstar time-managers. He is also starting a business right now (coffee roasting!), while working a full time job, and I stay home with the kids and work when they sleep (that’s about 8 PM-2 AM). We are busy. I have one day a week where I work all day while my husband watched the girls (9 AM-2 AM...or later). My husband and I make sure to take one full day and just be a family. We also make it a point to have our fav netflix and junk food marathons often which keep us feeling really connected and happy even though we feel like we are constantly working. We help each other out, too. My husband also helps with shipping, takes care of our legal and accounting work, and helps me not be so stressed (LOL). I help him with his business occasionally too- I did their branding, website, photos, and packaging. Team work! Speaking of team work- I have an incredible team of volunteers who help me make MB happen, and my in-laws watch the kids about once a month for a whole weekend where I have a total “get work done” frenzy. I am so blessed. I definitely could not do this alone. Also- I take naps everyday, clean lightly but not as much as I should, and I go to church and bible studies that help keep me feeling centered and supported. I also eat a lot of chocolate, so there’s that.
Every creative entrepreneur has her ups and downs. What do you consider your career highlight? What is an obstacle you have had to overcome while pursuing your creative projects? Obstacles? Too many to count, none worth mentioning really. Dumb stuff like computers dying and memory cards getting deleted. Highs? Many of those, too, but the night we reached our kickstarter funding goal… nothing will ever compare. We had a party at my house that night to count down to end of the campaign. That morning, we were only halfway to our goal and needed over $7,000 by midnight. I had kind of silently accepted that we just might not make it. I was still hopeful- just guarding my heart. I was showing a slideshow of our digital mockups to our guests when my husband shouted that we had jumped up to like, $10,000 or so (only needed $5K more!). I felt numb I was so excited. We all started posting to social media like crazy asking people to share and help us reach our goal. About an hour before the end of the campaign, I was in the kitchen just casually discussing bacon with my paleo friend (like the pro CEO I am, you know), when marten screamed “BABE! WE DID IT!” I swear the house was shaking from all the jumping and yelling and I feel like there was a confetti cannon going off (which there wasn’t, but totally should have been). It was mind-blowing. By the end of the night, we had raised more than we even needed. And now, here we are!
What future goals for your Momma Bear brand can we expect to see from you in the future? So many amazing things. The magazine is only the beginning. First of all- many more print issues. The next one will be out in Spring 206 and you can pre-order here. I want them to be collectable and be something my readers can hand down to their littles one day. I also see a coffee table book coming, a conference, creative retreats, e-books, e-courses, and heck, maybe even a maternity line. With the right team and time-management, we can do anything we put our hearts to.
What is one piece of advice you would give to the creative woman who is considering starting her own business? One?! Oh man. I could write a book (maybe I should? Just kidding. Maybe?). Ask for help. Do the stuff you are really good at and no one else could do for you, and get help (delegate) with the rest from people who can do it better than you. It’s worth it. For instance, I am actually quite terrible at accounting, distribution and marketing. And I don’t always have the patience to style things the way I want or follow through with things that are hard for me. Michelle Luke takes care of styling shoots and the MB instagram, my husband Marten takes care of accounting and shipping, Teryn Skye and Jane Graybeal take care of sales and marketing, and I am left doing things I am great at- finding content, web and layout design, and photo. As women, especially small-business ladies, we often feel pressure to do it all. We can do a LOT ourselves, but we can accomplish more together than we can alone. Stop competing with those that are “better” than you and start collaborating with them.
Currently creating: Issue Two of Momma Bear!
Currently planning: Our first event in Portland in 2016!
Currently dreaming of: Chocolate. I’m on a diet. I just really want some chocolate, y'all.
Currently reading: Submissions? Ha! I don’t have time to read much else these days. But the last book I read was, of course, #GIRLBOSS and it’s every bit as amazing as everyone says it is.