Fourteen years ago, my husband and I worked together. We weren’t married then, and truth be told I’m not sure he knew I existed at the time. He was a bartender and I served cocktails on the weekends while I was in school. Getting to see him made work that much more fun. Nothing passes the time quite as well as being a smitten girl with a crush. And now, eleven years of marriage, two children and ten million I love you’s later, we are working together once again. Ryan has joined me at Milk & Honey!
He’s been such an important part of my business for a long time now. His unwavering support of me and genuine pride in my successes has quashed any self-doubt I might have felt in the past two years. At night while he cooks dinner, I pour the wine and we talk about our days. So often when I have an idea that I can’t quite pin down, he is the fresh set of eyes that immediately sees what needs to be done. When I get overwhelmed in the busy seasons, he will calmly write out a game plan for me (ranking my tasks by time frame and cross-referencing by importance…), a sort of rough draft to my work day that I can’t seem to create while under pressure. His significant background in business has been invaluable to me as well. Accounting is not my strongest suit, and I find taxes a bore, so he has lent his expertise which allowed me more time to focus on creating. Just as in our marriage, our differences have complimented each other in business as well.
This past week, Ryan took time off from his 9-5 job to learn the complete ins and outs of running an Etsy shop, but more importantly, to finish work on his first line. Because lately, his own artistic streak has re-emerged. His grandfather worked with wood, creating everything from children’s toys to furniture and Ryan learned from him as a child. Ryan would drill holes and sand the scrap pieces of wood while his grandfather worked on larger projects. This background has given him the foundation to take his creative ideas and turn them into something tangible that you can hold and enjoy. His work is as functional as it is beautiful and I can’t wait for it to launch this week to share his talents with our customers.
So what does this mean in terms of change? Very little, beyond the addition of Ryan’s fantastic product lines. If you’ve ever peeked at my Etsy ‘About’ page, you would have noticed him listed as occasional administrative help. When things got busy in the shop, Ryan would jump in to return feedback, make post office runs and fill out sales tax forms. Now you might also hear from him directly, answering your emails or returning your phone calls. All hand stamping will still be 100% created by me (I love doing it too much to share!), as well as anything that involves sewing (my grandmother was the seamstress, his grandfather the wood worker). You won’t see a change in the products I already make, but you will notice beautiful new products showing up here and there, and you will know by reading the product descriptions exactly what was made by who.
We are a family company now, and I am still slightly in shock that my beloved pastime has grown to the point that it allows Ryan and I to work together, side by side again. I know that it would never have been possible without Milk & Honey’s amazing customer base, so I thank all of you for making it possible for us to continue to create for you, together.
And now, for no other reason than I could not narrow down my favorites from our recent photo shoot with the wildly talented Eric Kelley, here are a few more shots of Ryan and I in idyllic Charlottesville, Va.