Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Evan Gross

I wouldn't be able to do half of what I do without the never-ending support and love of my super duper boyfriend Hillsy. "The Other Half" aims to turn up the spotlight on the unsung heroes - the husbands, boyfriends, wives and girlfriends of artists, designers, crafters and bloggers... Coz I'm sure you'll agree that they deserve a little bit of the limelight after all we put them through!!!

>> Who: Evan Gross
Wife: Christine Schmidt, Yellow Owl Workshop

I met Evan last year at the Stationery Show and it was crystal clear that he was Christine's biggest cheerleader. I'd also like to point out that he singlehandedly inspired this new series - Evan emailed me about Christine's latest happenings late last year and I immediately thought...awwwwww what an awesome husband...how sweet is that? I emailed him right away, thanking him for inspiring "The Other Half" and begged him to help me launch it. And here you have it...

This picture has to be explained... This was taken around 4:30 a.m. on the night of our wedding. We rented a karaoke machine for the party and it was such a huge hit that neither of us got to use it all night. Finally, around 4 or so the party thinned out, and it was just me, Chris, a few of her awesome cousins who were still partying, and my best man Nick. We jammed some karaoke till the sun came up. It was amazing."

+ I cry sometimes during really bad tv, like Wife Swap, which is kind of embarrassing. I really really cry when I watch Friday Night Lights, which I'm not the least bit ashamed about since it is the best show ever.
+ I have an unhealthy obsession with border collies. We have 2 border collies mixes that we adopted years ago and now I can't get enough of them. When I see a dog on the street I get excited, but when I see a border collie on the street I totally flip out in excitement
+ The one thing that I won't let Yellow Owl Workshop interfere with are New York Jets games. My life is on pause when the Jets play. I sometimes sleep in my Jets jersey the night before a big game in the hopes of bringing them good luck.
+ I met Chris while working part time at a record store in DC. I was in law school at the time but when we met she thought I was just a record store dude. She got bummed out when she found out I was doing something more than that. I sort of fell in love with her right then.
+ I've started learning how to pickle vegetables, in the hopes of one day becoming the Pickle King of San Francisco. I haven't actually started pickling just yet though, so for now it remains just a dream.

1. What would you say are the three most important things that you do to support your wife in her creative endeavors?

"... sometimes she just needs someone to rub her back and tell her it's all going to be alright."

a) The first one I would say is helping her keep up with correspondence and records. She spends so much time creating, she just doesn't have time to sit at a computer writing emails and inputting accounting info. Plus even if she did have the time, she hates doing that stuff anyway. Artists. Sheesh.

b) Next would be sales & marketing. I have a huge appreciation for all the folks out there that run a small craft/paper goods/design business on their own, because it takes an insane amount of time and energy to not only create but also to do things to try to grow the business. Putting products on your website or on Etsy and waiting to be discovered is not enough. I would say that the majority of business has come from us reaching out to others (bloggers, stores, etc.). That stuff takes a long time and requires a good deal of organization. Chris doesn't really have the time and doesn't really like promoting herself (she's modest to a fault sometimes). I, on the other hand, have no qualms about singing her praises, so I probably spend 1-2 hours a day emailing people and researching other opportunities.

c) The last one is probably super obvious, but simply providing encouragement when things are tough. Her business is so draining, both emotionally and physically, and sometimes she just needs someone to rub her back and tell her it's all going to be alright. And if that doesn't work, I just bring her a bottle of wine.

Oh - can I add a last one? Just because I feel like it is the one thing I truly deserve credit for. Over the last few months, I have been spending a LOT of my free time assembling stamp sets, which is more work than most people will ever know. I've endured countless splinters and paper cuts while sanding and waxing boxes. I have nightmares about those stamp sets sometimes. I'm not kidding.

2. Supporting somebody in their passion can be both exciting, exhausting and time consuming? How do you squeeze everything in?

I'm naturally a workaholic so I don't mind putting in my free time towards helping Chris. You just find ways to cut corners a bit so that you can fit everything in. Like sometimes I'll write emails or make calls during slow times at my regular job (like I'm doing right now actually). Or you learn to combine activities - like after dinner if I would just be watching tv anyway, I'll start assembling those darn stamp sets or package up cards while I watch. Yeah, that's my life!

3. Working closely with somebody you love can be tough. Any tips on how to avoid throwing ornaments and other sharp objects at each other?

Well, you found my weak spot. I have to say this is by far the hardest part about the business. As Yellow Owl Workshop has grown, I've taken on a larger role, and sometimes I have opinions about the direction of the business. Or sometimes I just know something needs to get done by a certain date, and Chris just doesn't have the time but I have to keep reminding her, which drives her crazy (understandably so).

"The key is to always remind yourself that while this does consume a large part of your life, and is something we are both passionate about, in the end it is just cards."

There were some times when things got a little ugly, and I honestly did think a sharp object might be headed my way. I think though that we are slowly but surely finding a balance. The key is to always remind yourself that while this does consume a large part of your life, and is something we are both passionate about, in the end it is just cards. If an order goes out a few days late, world war III won't break out. We do everything in our power to provide excellent customer service to our clients and stores, but we sometimes have to remember that we are not talking about life or death here. I would much rather make a customer unhappy that he/she is getting a bicycle painting a few days late than to have Chris throwing sharp objects at me.

4. What was the strangest thing you've done to support your wife in what she does?

"I now read like 10-15 design and wedding blogs almost every day..."

I think the strangest thing for me is that I now read like 10-15 design and wedding blogs almost every day. I went from spending my downtime at work reading ESPN.com and Pitchfork to now reading Design Sponge and Brooklyn Bride. I had never before had any interest in the design world, but now sometimes I'll come home and say "hey did you see that the new Lines & Shapes just came out?" Yeah, again, that's my life!

5. Finally, what's the easiest and hardest things about working with your wife?

Without a doubt the hardest thing is not being able to turn it off. Going out to dinner, going to a bar, just hanging out in the house - we almost always end up talking about work. It's hard not to when it's such a big part of your life and you live with your business partner.

I think the easiest thing is that we have a natural chemistry so we can finish projects really quickly. We can sort of anticipate each others' next move, which helps a lot.

6. What are your current Yellow Owl Workshop favorites?

1. Reform School prints
2. This new custom designed wedding invitation she created.

Thanks Evan!!

Do you have an incredibly supportive partner that deserves a little attention?? If so, email me over at hearthandmade@gmail.com.


rebekah said...

This is, by far, my favorite feature so far on a blog. Great job!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Oh! This is just absolutely awesome Marichelle! (man you come up with the best ideas). And what better person to begin with than sweetheart Evan? I second what a doll he is(having met him along with you) and now....this interview makes me like him even more! What would we do without our wonderful partners, right? Cheering us on and as Evan said...rubbing our backs and telling us everything is going to be ok.
Such a treat! And "hi" to Evan and Chris!
ps Evan, you are SO right about Friday Night Lights, is it awesome!

Suzanne : : S.HOPtalk said...

I love, love, love this new series and this interview. Oh...and I, too, am a huge fan of Friday Night Lights. People always look at me weird when I say that, but it's true...it's an awesome show.

yellow owl said...

I totally teared up after reading this. I really don't know how I landed this amazing guy. He was the first person that believed Yellow Owl could be viable. After leaving one terrible job I turned to him and said "uhhh, so I have this idea..." and instead of laughing he looked right at me and told me I HAD to do it. Before he did all this grunt work, he gave me confidence and blind support.

For the record I only throw blunt objects.

I can't wait to read about more "other half-ers"-- perhaps a support group is required. Thanks for writing this Marichelle! Hiya Melis!

Carrie S. said...

I think Chris hit it on the nose (for me, anyway) with this comment;

"Before he did all this grunt work, he gave me confidence and blind support."

I think a lot of us that are getting a business off the ground count our lucky stars if we have someone who just BELIEVES in us...not to mention someone who comes home with a pizza, or does the dishes an extra round when we're freaking out. I don't know how I'd do it without my hubs!

Laura said...

I have just found you through decor8 and wanted to say hi! This is such a great series, the quiet background men/ women are who keep us going, walk the dog or make the tea while we are surrounded by chaos, creating away. Heres to right hand men all over the world :)

Marichelle said...

I'm so glad Rebekah!

Melis & Suzanne: Thank you thank you!! Now I really have to check out Friday Night Lights!!

Chris: I'm so happy you enjoyed the post. You two are the cutest/sweetest! And thanks for
writing about it on the YOW blog.

Carrie: I totally agree with you. Just knowing that someone believes in you is more than enough. The sales, marketing and all that fun stuff.... well that's just icing!

Laura:Hi there! And welcome!! Glad you like the new series, can't wait to feature more heroes!!

Clementine said...

wowza, does Evan have a brother??? Cuz he's just about the perfect guy, no? I want one!! ;) What a lovely new feature, Marichelle!

Marichelle said...

Thanks Cassie and I totally agree with you!!!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

awww...i love this...now i'm mad at jim for not doingmy marketing (he wants to challenge evan to a duel at dawn...
what an aweseome husband...and i love the wedding pic and the story that goes with it...this is such a great idea marichelle!

Marichelle said...

Thanks Deb! A duel - LOL!!!

design*sponge said...

i have to agree with rebekah. this is the best idea i've seen in a long time. i cannot wait to see who's up next :)

Marichelle said...

What a lovely compliment. Thanks so much Grace!! I appreciate you dropping in and saying hello.

Have a great weekend everybody!!

Anonymous said...

evan is awesome! great interview!

Marichelle said...

Thanks Joy!!

mb said...

This is a great feature but even it does not do justice to Evan. He is a great guy...and that is high praise 'cuz I am Chris' Mom and I didn't think a-n-y-o-n-e was good enough for my daughter. I am certainly glad to have been wrong. He is a keeper!

Marichelle said...

Hi Chris' mom!!! Oh wow an official seal of approval from MOM is BIGtime. Wow Evan, now I'm really impressed!