Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mark & Jenna

>> Who: Mark & Jenna
Wife & Husband team, Whimsy & Spice Brooklyn Confectioners

1. I was valedictorian and spelling bee champ of my middle school.

2. Also in middle school, I was a practice hand model for my aunt who was learning how to be a nail technician. I used to have to walk around with long, fake, brightly painted acrylic nails. It was embarrassing.

3. I've been dying my hair myself since I was 16 years old. That's a lot of hair dye - Manic Panic, Henna, L'Oreal, Revlon, whatever is on sale at Target.

4. I cut the whole family's hair, Mark and the girls. Sometimes I will cut my own hair as well. I don't like getting professional haircuts so I only get it cut once, maybe twice a year.

5. I've been to a Judas Priest concert.

1. What would you say are the three most important things that you do to support Mark in his culinary endeavors?


1. I try to give Mark honest, constructive criticism on his cooking, but also stay out of his way to do his thing. I know I can be overly opinionated on food (among other things) so I just try to tell him what I think without acting like a Top Chef judge (which is what I'd probably like to do) .

2. Since Mark does all the cooking and food shopping, I clean the house and manage our finances. I think Mark mentioned on his half of the interview that I was obsessive about a clean house. He was probably trying to word it diplomatically because I'm a total weirdo neat freak, but since I work from home, I have to have the space clean. Clutter is very distracting, especially when you make your living as a minimalist designer.

3. When he's not watching the kids, I watch the kids so that he can go to the kitchen to bake. We tag team on the babysitting.

2. Living with someone who works long and irregular hours can be tough... from missed dinners to not being able to do simple things like relaxing and watching your favorite shows together as often as you'd like... How do you stop the craziness from impacting your relationship?

Jenna: It used to be harder! And it used to suck! Mark worked a lot of long hours when he was a restaurant chef, but even worse, he worked every weekend and all the major holidays, so I kind of feel like we've hit the jackpot in terms of figuring out how to work our respective businesses, but be around the kids as much as we are. Even though our days are hectic, we try and make sure to have family time at least 1 (or partially 1) day on the weekend.

3. What was the strangest thing you've done to support Mark in what he does?

Jenna: Try weird concoctions like avocado cheesecake and white truffle ice cream (the fungus, not the chocolate).

4. What is the easiest and hardest thing about being Mark's other half?

Jenna: The easiest AND hardest thing about being married to Mark is his mellow, easy going personality. It's pretty great to be around someone who is as drama-free and even-keeled as Mark, but sometimes it's infuriating when he can't understand why I get so pissed off at something, especially if it's something that should piss off the both of us, but I'm the only one getting pissed off.

5. What's your all-time favorite Whimsy & Spice product?

Jenna: Ack, I get asked this all the time and I can't answer it, so I'm just gonna say Mark's ice creams and sorbets are my favorite. Not a Whimsy & Spice product yet, but maybe one day.

6. Supporting somebody in their passion can be both exciting, exhausting and time consuming? How do you squeeze everything in (work life and home life)?

Jenna: By working till 2am (that is 6 kid-free hours!!) and sleeping 5 hours a night.

1. I have never eaten a fast food hamburger.

2. I have probably cracked close to 300,000 eggs in my life.

3. I can't stand needles, even fake ones on TV.

4. I don't know how to tie a necktie.

5. My goal in life is to retire in Hawaii.

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


1. Jenna's usually very busy so I do all of the cooking and food shopping for the house. If I see that she's been working for hours without eating I'll bring her a snack or make her an espresso.

2. I've been known to give her some technical support with her computer in the past, though these days it's usually limited to clearing paper jams and untangling cables, not because she can't do that stuff herself, but because she hates doing that kind of stuff.

3. The last and most important thing is looking after our two kids. There are many times when I'm out working and Jenna is home watching the kids even though she also has work to do, so when I'm around I do my best to give Jenna time so that she can focus on her work or keep the kids from screaming while she's on a conference call.

2. Living with someone who works long and irregular hours can be tough... from missed dinners to not being able to do simple things like relaxing and watching your favorite shows together as often as you'd like... How do you stop the craziness from impacting your relationship?

Mark: I believe our situation is very unique. We both work long hours, but we spend most of that time at home. In that sense it's good, seeing as how other couples can go for days without seeing much of each other. It's not often that we actually get a lot of free time together, however, but when we do, we try to relax and enjoy a movie and a glass of wine or something. It's not always possible, but I would suggest taking just a few minutes each day to just sit and do nothing.

3. Your apartment doubles as Jenna's design studio, you live in the city, so I'm assuming that space is a luxury. Could you give us a sense of what it's like living with an art director/designer + full time mom? Please describe what typically happens once you come home from a day of baking [apartment door opens]...

Mark: Our apartment is a pretty good size for a NYC apartment, but we do have quite a lot of business-related stuff, so we try to keep it well-organized which is important when you work from home. Jenna will probably be the first to admit that she can be obsessive about keeping things organized (which may be one of the reasons why she is such a great designer), and by living with her for so long I think some of that has rubbed off on me. When I come home from a day of work I usually get dinner going right away. After dinner I get the kids cleaned up and ready for bed. They are almost always sleeping by 8:30.

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

Mark: This may not qualify as "strange", but it was definitely above and beyond what I normally do. Many years ago, not long after our first daughter was born, Jenna needed to ship some papers overnight at the last minute. I volunteered to run them down to FedEx, but it was almost closing time so I hopped on my skateboard and rode down to the nearest office. They told me to go to a different office since they had no more scheduled pickups that day. So I skated over there and was instructed to go to yet another office, this one much farther away in Brooklyn. So I skated home, hopped in the car and drove. After a good 30 minutes of waiting in line I finally had the package shipped, overnight from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I could have taken the subway and delivered it faster myself.

5. What is the easiest and hardest thing about being Jenna's other half?

The easiest thing is having a wife who is so creative and has such a good eye for pretty much everything. Her style and taste define our household from the decor, to the furniture, to the kid's clothes. She can be quite the perfectionist, so I would say that the most difficult thing for me is to try to live up to those standards. It seriously took me a couple months to remember how to correctly fold the bath towels so they would fit into our shelves just the right way.

6. Please choose one of your personal favorite projects that Jenna has been involved in.

Mark: I've enjoyed all of her projects, but I would have to pick her work on coleccioncisneros.org as my favorite, if for no other reason than it is the one that I am most familiar with (I did some of the sound design for the project). This was the first major project she worked on and I was amazed by how beautiful it was, the originality and variety of the content. It's not surprising that it won many awards.

Thanks Jenna and Mark!!


My @ tha Hotness said...

They are super cute and have adorable kids.

Leciawp said...

Great interview! I now adore them both even more :)

ShySiren said...

What a terrific interview! I live and work my "day job" with my husband at Four Eyes (web design company) and also run an Etsy shop, Shy Siren. I can see myself & my husband in a lot of the above, and I am thrilled to see another couple working it out through the ups & downs/trials and tribulations of running a business and staying happily married!

City Chic Country Mouse said...

Mmmm, I love Whimsy & Spice! I really enjoyed this interview! You are cute family and I liked reading your random things :)

Kate8085 said...

I just love reading these!
This couple is one of the best,
their interview was too cute!

b a i l e y d o e s n ' t b a r k said...

Thanks for sharing Mark & Jenna! Hi Marichelle! :)

modernemotive said...

Great interview.

I can't imagine working with my other half so to see you guys do it so successfully (I'm sure it's not always easy) deserves a huge pat on the back.

Here's to much more success - both in life and business. You guys deserve it.


nole @ oh so beautiful paper said...

They are the sweetest couple ever. What a wonderful interview!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

How adorable! I love hearing more about the fantastic duo behind whimsy & spice.
Thanks you three!

renee anne said...

wow I loved this one!! I mean I love them all, but when I was reading this I was nodding along thinking, wow this sounds like me and my partner! If only we were super cool and could work from home too!! :D

jennifer said...

Yay, whimsy and spice! Totally love them!

Lauren Haupt Estes said...

such a creative, hardworking, nice, talented and adorable couple. totally inspiring.

Xenotees said...

Yay! How wonderful to get to know these 2! They are amazing & I am a total fan of what they do- & who they are!