A Day With the Basics—Liz Bohannon

We love to see how families use Tubby Todd every day. Follow along with our series, A Day with the Basics! Today, we are hearing from from Forbes Top 20 Speaker, Liz Bohannon, mama to two and owner of Sseko Designs. Follow her on Instagram to follow along!

Q: Give us the history on you! And would you mind sharing one or two things that many may not know about you?

A: I’m a Midwest-native who transplanted to the Pacific Northwest where I hope I’ll be forever and ever amen! I work with my husband and together we run our company Sseko Designs and raise our two sons, Theo (2) and Will Wylder (6 weeks!). As for things that many people don’t know, we live in what I call an “urban commune” that we built with our best friends smack dab in the city of Portland. We live in our own separate “skinny homes”  but share property, possessions, lives, meals and…well, life! Community is an incredibly high value to both my husband and I and our little village is a really important part of our lives! Also, NO ONE knows this yet because it JUST happened but we just bought an old VW Westfalia and can’t wait to go all in on #vanlife! I thought it was a too-good-to-be-true Ebay fluke (These days, I’m always trolling the Internet in the middle of the night while nursing and getting myself into trouble, HA!). After having my eye on it for a few nights, I told my husband about it right before the bidding period was ending and within two hours we went from half-joking about it to being the proud owner of “Big Red!” Ha! Let the adventures begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Tell us about Sseko Designs. What’s it like being a mom, a business owner, and many other roles all at the same time?

A: Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that is creating community and opportunity for marginalized (and AH MAZING) women across the globe. I studied journalism and moved to Uganda to learn and write about issues facing women and girls living in extreme poverty. I eventually traded in my pen and paper for some some leather and a sewing machine and started a fashion company that would help enable some of the smartest girls in the country to continue on to University and become leaders in their country (and our world!). We make the most stunning leather goods, footwear and apparel. And to top it off, the products are sold by impact entrepreneurs (called Sseko Fellows) here in the U.S. that are using their passion and platforms to build small businesses that create change and opportunity not just for themselves but for their sisters across the globe! As for being a business owner and a mama, I’d say it’s what Glennon Doyle calls “Brutiful!” It can be brutal at times because both in my business and my family, I know the buck stops with me (and my husband) and there is an undeniable weight that comes with that level of responsibility. But it’s also the life of risk and adventure and fulfillment that I would choose to live 1000x over. I love the creativity and autonomy that comes with being a creator in all areas of my life…whether dreaming the future of our company, our family culture or our community.

Q: Can we know a little bit about your day to day as Liz Bohannon? What is a day in the life? 

A: Well, right now I am on “maternity leave” so a day in the life looks like LOTS of snuggles with baby Will and when he is napping, lots of emails and calls to keep the company moving forward. Luckily, I have AMAZING colleagues who are carrying the load while I am taking time to love on Will but as any entrepreneur knows, you’re never really truly “out of office”. In normal life, you can find me at our HQ in Portland working on design, marketing or business development. If I’m not in Portland, you might find me traveling domestically (I do a fair amount of public speaking and meeting with Sseko Fellows across the U.S.) or traveling around the globe to work with our artisan partners. If I’m lucky, you’ll find me in Uganda leading trips of Sseko Fellows to meet their colleagues in East Africa and learn more about how the beautiful products they sell are made! This is my FAVORITE part of the job for obvious reasons!

Q: What would be your advice to young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business and balance their lives?
A: Now may not be the time for balance! I know this isn’t a popular era where “balance” seems to be all the rage all the time, but the truth is, there are seasons where balance just isn’t realistic or honestly completely necessary. Sometimes the best advice is to forget balance and do absolutely everything you can TODAY so that someday you can have the balance you desire for the long haul. There were years where I had no balance at all! I lived out of my car, worked 18 hours a day, slept on strangers couches and in $5 hostel basements in East Africa to get my dream off the ground! Or, take one of our rockstar Sseko Fellows. She’s a teacher with a (very cute!) toddler. She joined our team and right out of the gate and was booking herself solid with trunk shows and Facebook parties working almost every night of the week. She knew it was completely unsustainable and she had a plan. Instead of pulling back for fear of getting out of balance, her and her husband communicated a TON about what they could let go of for a few months and how he could pick up the slack in order to give her business this solid foundation and momentum. Your “All In” seasons may (like mine) be years or like Laura, just a few weeks or months but all good entrepreneurs know that a season is just that, a season. Are they always balanced or sustainable? Of course not! But now here I am on a Thursday afternoon, wearing my baby, working for myself and getting to be my own boss and create a life that does actually feels pretty balanced and sustainable all because there was a season of “All In.” Laura’s business has a solid foundation and she is well on her way to building a thriving career that not only will serve her family but will create an impact for women across the globe all because she was willing to live in Crazy Land for a few months. I spent the better part of a decade living in Crazy Land but that has paid off and given me the freedom to create much more balance in a season where I do actually require it! (Like RIGHT NOW!) Like everything else in life, I encourage entrepreneurs to have the discipline and courage to ask themselves what they REALLY need and when and not feel a bit guilty if that’s different than what other people tell you you SHOULD need, whether pulling back or going all in.
Q: We love hearing people talk about their dreams. What are some of yours? They can be simple + small, some bucket list items, or an overall grand hope for life.

A: Raise my boys to be good men who use their voice and privilege to bring justice and light to the world. Continue to build a thriving community of women who are hilarious and passionate and collaborative and building a brighter future for themselves and their sisters. Travel the entire Northwest with my people in Big Red!

Q: Do you have a favorite Tubby Todd product?

A: The Lavender and Rosemary Hair and Body Wash! To be honest, I keep a bottle of it in both the kids’ bathroom and ours! It’s the only soap product anyone in our house uses (big or small!). I love the scent and love even more knowing that it’s healthy and clean.

Q: Let’s talk about bath time! How do you and your babes make bath time fun?

A: Bath time is a family favorite. My boys are both still really young and I love bathing and showering with them! My oldest and I play “Movie Theatre” which is actually a game my sister and I invented when we were kids. We dim the lights in the bathroom and pull the shower curtain shut and pretend to watch a movie and narrate what we’re seeing on screen. It’s so fun (and hilarious with a very imaginative two year old!) I also just bought Theo his own “shaving kit” so we can “shave” together in the shower!

Q: Lastly, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from being a mother?

I’ve learned that the human capacity for giving is greater than I could have imagined. To be honest, one of my greatest fears going into motherhood was that I was too selfish. That I would struggle with the change of a lifestyle I loved. And while I do miss certain aspects of my “pre-kid” life, yet, tapping into my reserves and pushing my boundaries of giving and sacrifice for my kids has inspired me to think about other areas where I can continue to challenge myself! Also, I’ve discovered that Mom Guilt is absolutely propaganda and is keeping women from being who they were created to be. When we attribute all negative emotions to “Mom Guilt” we rob ourselves of the richness of being a dimensional human with lots of complex emotions. When I start to feel the Mom Guilt narrative creep in I try and STOP ans ask myself what mix of emotions I am actually feeling: sadness? longing? Anxiety? Passion? Calling? Frustration? Tension between two things I love very much? this self awareness allows me to both sit with my emotions and make a more effective plan for moving forward instead of wallowing in the “inevitably” of the supposed Mom Guilt plague?

Thank you Liz! We love following along with your beautiful family.

 

xx Team Tubby

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