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Ode to Mothers: Celebrating Life, Celebrating Balance

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It started inauspiciously enough, more of a life experiment than a full-fledged, capitalistic business strategy.

The plan?

Open a new kind of design and advertising agency.

The differentiation?

Place the emphasis of the new company’s foundational philosophy on creative excellence rather than the bottom dollar. Emphasize a life of balance in order to allow creative spirits to flourish.

The perpetrators?

A Blonde, a Brunette and Redhead. (And one feisty bean-counter, now retired.)

On June 23, 1997, that dream was realized and thus began BBR Creative, an experiment for working mothers, devoted wives, inspired artists, and one heck of a friendship.

Pure brilliance or utter madness?

Only time would tell.

15 years later, it seems a good time to assess the success of our little life experiment.

All too often, companies tout a balanced environment on their corporate website, but then fail to take the steps to support that promise. And I understand; it’s hard to turn down clients who wield the currency that make businesses tick. It’s hard to let things go when EVERYTHING is deemed “an emergency,” and your family, who gets used to taking a back seat for everyone else’s emergencies, does so uncomplainingly. It’s hard not to cultivate a company culture that advertently or inadvertently supports employees who are diligent enough to stay late, come in on the weekends or send emails out at the wee hours of the morning, or even realize as a business owner that this is a sign to hire additional help, whether or not they ask for it.

But as part of a partnership whose beginning was founded in the world of design and not in management or finance, we wanted to redefine the art of running a successful business. We were mothers with growing families and we did not want to sacrifice key family moments for our professional success. We were artists who understood the need for balance. We understood the need for time off from “the business” to rejuvenate in order to look with fresh and inspired eyes at every project for a careful selection of clients. And as friends, well, everyone knows what a business partnership can do to friendships. Needless to say, we learned to be big girls, take disagreements in stride, and wake up to a new day.

The other night, I had a revelation. It happened at a graduation dinner for the daughter of Sara, the “redhead” of the partnership. Looking around at the table full of girls made up of my partners and the group of daughters who – oddly but loyally – bore the same colored hair as each corresponding mother, it really made me catch my breath. Our experiment was a success.

And our success wasn’t defined in the number of creative awards that poured in from our client projects, nor the tight community of employees we like to call the BBR Family, nor the continuous growth of that Family, as we continue to accommodate the work from our expansive client list.

Our success was defined by this tableau: our ability to celebrate a momentous occasion in the life of one of our daughters, a celebration that was one in a series of many life moments. Looking around at the faces of our daughters, and the pride we had in our loving, close relationships, I felt fulfilled and peaceful. We were successful in forging lives that were open enough to celebrate all aspects of life, professionally and personally.

To all the mothers out there who are balancing it all, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! And to our daughters, BBR Generation II, I wish them lives that are full, and lives balanced enough to offer them plenty of opportunities to celebrate, professionally and personally.

Thanks to Rachel Hull, who honored us with this suggestion for this Mother’s Day blog.