my small business heroes

Happy Monday! This is the first day of September that resembles a somewhat normal schedule for me. I’ve been caught up in a tidal wave of work, travel, guests, and photo shoots for so long, I almost forgot what the dry ground of routine looks like. And I have to say, as someone who has perpetually chosen the grounded path, learning to surf those crazy times was both thrilling and terrifying at various points. I find myself now thankful for a moment to breathe and catch up with the daily tasks that need to be accomplished, so that I can get back out there on the water and find new opportunity in the weeks to come.

Over the weekend I had two rather well known Texan guests, Kendi of the amazing Kendi Everyday and her adorable photographer husband, Bryan. I slipped a sneak peek of our Diversey photo shoot on the site this weekend featuring Kendi and a local Chicago talent, Meatball, a bulldog puppy who made her way into the look book as well. Though I will go into more detail about the shoot and working with Kendi and Bryan later when the lookbook is complete (hopefully early next week), I have to say that I adore both of them more than you can imagine. It was like meeting up with the oldest and best of friends.

I’m now taking it upon myself to help them transplant to Chicago (wink, wink). In order for this to happen, Bryan’s incredible photography business needs to thrive here in the Windy City. So here’s the shameless plug: If you are engaged (or know someone who is) and in need of a fantastically easy to work with photographer and talented stylist (Kendi knows how to make anyone look beautiful in photos) in Chi-town, please reach out to Bryan at

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled posting.

My Small Business Heroes

Though I’ve admired and followed the careers of many successful business owners for quite some time like Rebecca of Rebecca Minkoff and Blake Mycoskie of Toms Shoes (would love to meet him!), I have to admit that when it comes to true, unadulterated admiration, my hat goes off to those who grow their businesses while juggling full-time careers.

The unsung heroes of business are those who work their butts off to make their passions become their paychecks while balancing a busy life which often includes mortgages, marriages, children, and car payments. I don’t have any of these expenses or responsibilities and for me going full-time straight out of college did not include the risks and income stream that so many, many small business owners have. Though my path was certainly not easy, by spending 40 to 50 hours a week on my business from the get-go, it’s not surprising that it has grown and flourished. I get to decide where my time is spent each and every day of my life.

But there are others out there, many of whom are my dear friends, who work on their passion and purpose after hours. They are hustling to get their business revenue to match their income from their 9-5 job so that they can become the keepers of their calender. At the end of the day, I often find myself burnt out from working and I go for a run, chat with a friend at Matissee during their Wednesday night wine special, or watch Greek (please don’t judge). All the while there are thousands of people getting home from an unfulfilled day at an office to start their second job, their small business.

It constantly amazes me when I see my friends take the steps needed to wean themselves off of employment to self-employment. It’s intense and never ending. When I know that friends like Crystal are getting up at five in the morning to do magazine work before work and then see her up on email at midnight the same day, it amazes me. When I hear how Piper is excited for vacation so she can work on her business, I think to myself, “that’s not really a vacation, that’s just more days in a different office!” When I hear how Kendi and Bryan spend their ‘free time’ setting up photo shoots for their blogs or preparing to shoot a weekend wedding, I wonder when they relax.

And not to mention all of the moms out there who juggle raising kids with blogging and business. Jill is a great example of this. I don’t know how I’ll accomplish half of what I do now when I’m responsible for raising young children.

So what I’d like to make clear is that though so many full-time business owners get a lot of attention or applause, I think the real cheers belong to those who are on their way to full-time self-employment. They are the inspirations so many people need to see, they exemplify what it takes for those who want to chart their own path to entrepreneurship.

Thank you Crystal, Piper, Jill, Diane, Alaina, Kendi, Bryan, Tieka, and everyone else who work to make their dreams come true while balancing a full-time job. You inspire me and so many others more than you will ever know.

If you are also doing double duty with your career and small business, please leave a link and email below. I’d like to send you a short thank you note for being such an inspiration to me and so many others.

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  1. Niki

    I am one of those working my way up to self-employment and it really is an amazing ride. Sometimes I don’t know how I have to energy for it all but I guess it comes from being passionate about what I actually want to do! Thanks for the shout out to all the “midnight hustlers” like me. 😉

  2. Jill

    Jess! I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes and I’m at the coffee shop! You can’t do this to me! 🙂 That is so sweet of you to give me such an amazing shout-out and encouragement! It is thrilling to know one’s passion and making it a reality is a roller coaster ride with more ups than downs. I am honored to be in such amazing company! You inspire me endlessly!

  3. Hi Jess! I’ve been tirelessly working on La Bela Bungalow {my e-decorating and interior styling business} for the last several months and I’ve loved every minute of it. I just launched my website and I plan to continue devoting every ounce of my spare time to making my dreams of being my own boss a reality. Thanks for the inspiration you share with us. It has really helped me along in my journey!


  4. I’m doing the day-job thing while trying to grow my business and it’s exhausting! But it’s wonderful to finally have a project that is motivating and exciting rather than coming home in the evening to veg out and just dread the next morning (which is what I used to do). I still dread the early mornings, but I love knowing that I have stimulating work waiting for me when that clock strikes 4:30!

  5. Cathy

    I would also like to tip my hat to Jess and all of the small business owners and small business starter-uppers out there. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss so I took a chance this weekend and started my own blog. It’s obviously just one baby step in the grander plan, but I wouldn’t have the confidence to do it if it wasn’t for all of you. So THANKS!

  6. Rachel

    Hi Jess! I’ve been building my music therapy/children’s music blog and business, Listen & Learn Music, for the past two years now. I also work full time at a school and run a private practice out of my home studio in the evenings. But my 12-hour workdays haven’t deterred me from pushing my business forward…in fact, they have motivated me even more (because someday, it would be nice to NOT work 12-hour days!). Your blog has also helped motivate me — it is reassuring to know that others are making it work. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. April

    Hi Jess! I’ve been working on getting my women’s consignment boutique up and running while working full-time and being a single mom. It’s been a dream for a long time and I’m finally making it a reality. My last day of my current day job is October 1, with my store opening October 16. Your blog, and also Piper’s dream, have helped motivate me more than you know. Hats off to all the ladies out there working to make their dreams come true!

  8. I work full-time at the corporate office of a staffing agency, but my true passion is teaching yoga. I’ve been balancing both responsibilites for almost 1.5 years, and I have to be honest: the more I teach, the more I want to teach. I just love sharing my passion for yoga with others! Thanks for the uplifting post about following dreams…

  9. Oh, Jess. This is so encouraging, because the pace you describe is exactly where I am. It’s exhausting but so very fulfilling. And I’m thinking about taking on part-time work on the weekends, so I can make it happen even faster!

  10. rachel

    This is so inspiring! I don’t have a business, but I would love to do it…and the fact that so many people are juggling businesses with full-time work (the latter being my current situation) I feel very bolstered that it is a possibility!
    Keep up the good work, everyone! 🙂 xx

  11. Jenny

    I just want to say that Jill inspires me daily – she really helped me to see my blog in a new way! She’s really inspiring! All of the people you mentioned are very inspiring. Dream Bigger – just like the Franklin necklace I ordered ;o)

  12. Meghan

    Reading this post totally made my day! I work with lawyers by day (at my full-time job) and brides by night on my wedding resale site, Savvy Cinderella ( Your blog is so inspiring as I makeunder my life so it reflects more and more what I want for myself. Thank you, Jess!

  13. Flavia

    This post is so inspiring! I’d like to say that I’m juggling starting a business on top of working full-time, but truth be told, I’m letting the stress of my day job take over all of my energy. In turn I am not making the time to work on my side business as much as I’d like. I’m taking inspiration from these wonderful ladies to help me refocus and get back to working on my dreams! Thanks!

  14. Linda

    what a great post! i am actually living proof of what a blessing it can be to see the other side. my husband worked a full-time job and started a blog in his spare time right after we got married. we now are both able to stay home and work on our business. it’s amazing and i’ve seen the benefits of his discipline and me not always encouraging him. he is truly amazing and i’m lucky to have him.

  15. Fabianna

    This post is super inspiring. I don’t know how I just found your blog but I have been glued to it for days. You are so inspiring, motivating and overall awesome! I myself work a full-time job, as a lawyer, but I am trying to grow my small business where I sell beautiful necklaces and rings made of natural stones. Thankfully I did fashion PR prior to law school so I have all the skills to get it going, I just never seem to have all the time I need! It’s exhausting to come home after to work to work on my shop, but I just love it so much it’s not like work. I just wish I could do it all day instead of from 6-11. Thanks so much for this post – made my day and gave me the energy to keep pushing on!

    1. Jess Lively

      aw, that’s so awesome! I wish you so much success with your business and law career!

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