Every time we meet someone new the first question we get asked is “What’s it like working with your significant other everyday?” followed by “How you manage your work time versus your free time if you don’t have a normal 9-5 job?” And today we are going to answer all these questions and MORE! We asked you all what you want to know as well as thought of some of our most asked questions, and we are going to answer them to give you a glimpse into how we work each day and the best tips and advice we have for making it work! We’re still trying to figure out our own balance, so we don’t have it all figured out yet by any means, but hopefully these will help you understand our dynamic and individual roles a little better!
Q: What are your responsibilities during the work day?
S: A little bit of everything and more! I do emails, planning ahead, decorating cakes, and coming up with ideas. I handle all of the business related things like billing and invoices and talking to clients; I really love getting into business mode. I still take photos sometimes, and I edit them all in Photoshop and Lightroom. I also manage our employees (did you know we have two employees outside of Kyle?!), and make sure that they have work to do and are feeling good with what they’ve been tasked.
K: On an average day my responsibilities are a lot like a level 10 Production Assistant’s! I work on setting up posts before we photograph them, baking cakes and cupcakes for Sam to decorate, I maintain the cleanliness of our studio space and anything else that needs to be done. Gradually I’ve been making more and more cakes, donuts, cupcakes and cookies since I started working for Sam, so she has a little less stress, but she still handles making them look pretty!
Q: What do typical work days look like?
S: A work day for me starts as soon as I get up and ready which is usually 8am. I typically start off answering any pressing emails for the day. I’m always trying to keep my inbox clear, which sometimes feels impossible! After getting everything ready for the day, I head over to the studio to work on the tough stuff at 10am. Usually we are shooting one to two projects in the morning when we have the best light, and once those are all shot, I start the editing process. While I edit, I answer more emails, watch Real Housewives, and browse Pinterest, Google, and Instagram for inspiration. We try to eat lunch around 2pm, and then we prep for the next day’s shoots. After the work day officially ends at 6pm, I keep answering emails and brainstorming for another hour or two. I’m still working on making sure my workday ends when we leave the studio, but sometimes there’s just too much to do and that’s not possible.
K: On a normal work day, I wake up at around 7am, get dressed, and make breakfast, then pack anything that goes to the studio. At 10am the workday at the studio officially starts, and I typically set up any shoots that need to be done, as well as prepping for anything that has to happen through the rest of the work day. The rest of the day is spent either assisting in shoots, crafting things for the rest of the week and making sure the studio is clean and stocked on supplies. At 6pm we leave the studio and the official work day ends and I prep our dinner once we get home.
Q: How do you balance being a significant other and employer/employee?
S: It can be really hard being both a boss and the fiancé, because during the work day I am still having to make sure I’m running our business and managing our employees. As with any job, there are times where I feel we aren’t working hard enough or things aren’t getting done in the right way. No one enjoys telling people they messed up or they were wrong, and it’s definitely worse when it’s your best friend, but I think I make up for it when we aren’t working by giving him lots of candy (seriously, the kid lives on Haribo!) and by letting him know when he HAS done a good job and how proud I am of him. When we are working we both know that we have to be respectful to each other and that in order for us to have fun we need to do our jobs. Sometimes it’s weird telling Kyle to clean the studio or to set up for a photo shoot, but he is still my work partner too. We try to set boundaries where during the day we make sure to have strictly a work relationship and I don’t address any issues in ways that I wouldn’t address them to any of my other employees.
K: Sometimes it’s difficult balancing being the significant other and being an employee, because there are boundaries that need to be respected. As much as I love kissing Sam, and I can’t do that when we are working, because it’s not very professional! I sometimes forget that I have work to do and instead putz around and Sam has bring me to task. As much as I want special treatment, in order for us to have a positive workplace, Sam can’t have any favorites, and I have to make sure I am working, otherwise no jobs would ever get done! When it is just the two of us out on a photoshoot though, I tend to be a little more of a significant other. She has the best smile when she is laughing at a poop joke or having fun, and it’s easier to do that as fiancé Kyle instead of employee Kyle. Plus, on hard days, I can still be a fiancé and an employee and support her at work before I hug her at home.
Q: How do you handle disagreements at work?
S: Even though it seems like we have fun all the time, we do have disagreements on especially hard days or days where it seems like everything is going wrong. It always helps me to stay grounded by remembering that we’re always going to have some bad days and just because we’re having problems one day, doesn’t mean we can’t pick everything back up tomorrow and fix it. It’s really difficult to feel the pressures of social media and constantly feel like you have to be creating something better and I sometimes bottle up that pressure and get stressed out on a shoot when things aren’t going right, but it’s important to communicate stresses and let your partner know what they can do to help in those situations. We both love and respect each other though and even if we’re in work mode, it’s not okay to blow up or get mad at the other person. Disagreements at work aren’t worth hurting your significant other, and in my experience, they can always be fixed in a more responsible manner later.
K: It can be hard on stressful days not to crack under the pressure, and sometimes tempers can flare up, but we can’t have a yelling match at work! When disagreements come up, we try to talk them out right away, because if we don’t address a problem and find a solution it can ruin the workflow. The most important thing to do is respect each other, because at the end of the day we are partners, in the business and outside of it, and if we can’t solve a disagreement at work, we can solve it at home.
Q: How do you decide when the work day ends?
S: When the emails are finished, and there’s nothing else left to be done, the work day ends. Sometimes it’s at 6pm, other days it can be at noon! The best part about working for yourself is that you do get to decide the hours you work, but sometimes things last longer than you thought they would, or go much faster then you had planned. As much as everyone says you should have a clear end to your work day, it’s hard when the work can be super fun or when you’re on a roll with editing. It’s hard for me to step away from work sometimes because I always feel like I can be doing more, but I’m learning to accept that I’ll do my best work when I’m rested as opposed to forcing more work when I’m burnt out.
K: When there’s no more work, the work day ends! Just kidding, there’s always more work to be done, whether it’s on a personal project or deadlines that need to be met. For me though, the work day typically ends around 6-7pm when we are at home and I start making dinner. Once dinner is made, we eat it together at the table or in bed, and then we watch some of our shows or a movie. There are days where that doesn’t happen because we have projects that need to be done or problems with photos that pop up, but when that happens, we try to set aside free time as soon as we can.
Q: Is there a secret to balancing work and fun when you are a freelancer?
S: Since I’ve started this job, I’ve come to realize that the secret to balancing having fun and being in a relationship with work is being flexible. Sometimes we have to work Saturday through Monday nonstop to get an important project done, and then have almost nothing to do for the next three days. If you can treat those days as your weekend, while still doing the easier tasks that your job requires, then you not only keep on track with work, but have your own weekend to enjoy. Besides, there are no lines for brunch, ice cream, or the best movie seats on a Wednesday at 1pm! Once you realize that the weekend is just a term describing when you can stay in bed together and eat ice cream, you can make it happen whenever you want!
K: I think the biggest secret is allowing yourself to relax. Sometimes we get so caught up in deadlines that we forget that we DO have an hour to spend eating a full meal together or cuddling or napping. Sam has taught me that even if you have to work hard all weekend to meet a deadline, if you have no work on Monday, that becomes your weekend. It’s making the time work for you, instead of you working for time. If all else fails, you can always set aside 30 minutes to eat your lunch or dinner, and spend it with each other. Sure having a full 2 day weekend is great, but making and eating dinner together every night during the week can be just as fun, if not better.
Q: What do you do if you don’t think the other has done something of the best quality?
S: Oh this is a hard one! It can be super tough to talk about when things don’t look as good as they should or if a cake came out wrong, because we tend to think of it as being something wrong with us. If Kyle messes up cupcakes, I try to let him know what he did that caused the problem and how to fix it without being mean or upset, and that everything is a learning process. He has learned SO much in such a short period of time and no matter if something is done wrong or not, everyone always has room to grow and learn!
K: This is the worst! Usually this tends to happen to me, because even though I’ve been working for Sam for almost a year, I still haven’t mastered her styling or baking skills. I have to try not to get upset and take it as a personal failure, and just try my best to take the next picture better or bake the next cake more precise! Sometimes Sam has the solution to what went wrong, and I can fix it by listening! When Sam produces something that isn’t the best, I try to figure out how I can fix it and encourage her not to give up.
Q: Was Kyle always on board with what you do?
S: This was actually something I was SO nervous of when I started dating again. In my experience before with classmates at school, because they didn’t understand how much work and time actually goes into what I do, they didn’t understand that this is a very serious and real job, and kind of wrote it off as just being a silly hobby. When I met Kyle he was so understanding and willing to learn everything about what I did for a living. Even before he officially started working at Aww Sam, he would help with brand shoots when he could and was incredibly supportive. I had no intention of him ever working with me (I really just appreciated whatever help he could give me), but when his job at Nickelodeon came to an end and my work started to pick up, it seemed natural for him to join the team!
K: I think I was! When we first started talking Sam told me she worked in advertising and once we had met she explained how she was basically an Instagram star. 😉 I’d been following lots of nature influencers so I had a simple understanding of how it worked, and I knew how much work went into Sam’s job even on the first date! I never knew that half a year later, I would be working with her, but I’ve learned so much in such a short time!
Q: Do you always agree on everything (projects, brand collaborations, outfits)?
S: We do agree on everything! In fact, I can’t think of a time where we’ve disagreed on brands or anything creative driven. Most of our disagreements are small like whether or not a photo is actually in focus haha! When it comes to brand collabs and projects, we make sure to only work with brands that make sense with our ideals and goals, and that we can fit seamlessly into our own brand! In terms of outfits, I always feel like our personal styles meet somewhere in the 60s/70s. I love wide pants and big patterns and Kyle is more of a retro t-shirt kind of guy, so our outfits and styles naturally fit very well together. We’re both very loud, eccentric people (I’m more on the introverted side but show my personality through clothing), so it’s easy for us to see the loudest clothing item on a website and immediately gravitate towards it!
K: I think that the majority of the time we do agree on almost everything. At the end of the day Sam is the final decision maker on all things business, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s super smart and tends to choose the best path for us, and if we went with my ideas, we would have a very strange feed filled with nature photos! Ha! She created this business and built this business from nothing, so I trust her decisions in making sure we’re doing things that are the best possible outcomes for our job.
Q: How do you make sure you aren’t always talking about work?
S: I’m so into the business side of things (I could seriously talk business all day) that I sometimes have to reign it in and remember that not everything is about contracts and creative concepts. I think like Kyle said, it’s good to have joint interests outside of work and to find time to do things that don’t always require an Instagram story or a photo. It’s easy to get caught up in making everything a photo opportunity, but I’d rather go out for the whole day and take zero photos to make sure my mind is completely off of work topics.
K: Great question! Work tends to sneak it’s way into almost everything we talk about, so it’s important to make sure that there are activities you can do together that are unrelated to the job. For us, ,that’s playing pinball or watching a movie. We like to talk about how movies are made or actors in the movies, and luckily this doesn’t relate back to work at all. If you can foster shared interests that are far removed from work, it is easier to avoid talking about it. But even then, work sometimes creeps in, like posting a story of pinball or our rainbow dessert.
Those were some great questions! Hopefully all of your burning questions have been answered and you’ve gained a little insight into what it’s like working with your significant other! And if not, or if you think of any more, let us know in the comments below, and maybe we will do a part two!