Business Bites Episode 120: Relationship Success in Entrepreneur Couples

Relationship Success in Entrepreneur Couples

Episode 120 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: Are you and your significant other both entrepreneurs?  Listen in as Rachel sits with Angie Keilhauer and Marissa Boucher as they share tips on how they strengthen their relationship while keeping their own businesses running strong. 

 

What you will learn:

  • why it’s important to recognize what your significant other needs out of a relationship
  • why it’s imperative to have open communication
  • ideas on how to be supportive of each other personally and in business
  • how to be adaptive in your businesses when you need to be more present in your relationship
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Rachel Brenke:
All right guys, welcome back to the Business Bites Podcast, I am your host, Rachel Brenke. This is episode 120, and we’re doing a little something different today. You guys know I normally do solo casts or I interview only one person. Today, I’ve brought on one of my favorite couples in the entrepreneurial world to talk about balancing your relationship when both of you are entrepreneurs. By now, you guys have already heard the bio, the amazing things that they’re both individually doing, so let’s just dive right in. I guess, Angie, give us some insight how you got into all the amazingness that you guys are doing, and then Marissa, I’ll hear from you.

Angie:
Well, first of all, thank you for saying we’re your favorite couple, I feel like we’ve peaked. Yeah, I’m a singer-songwriter, full time touring musician, and I’ve been with Marissa for five years. Marissa, you want to tell them what you do?

Marissa:
That was a quick … You can do a lot more than that. That was the most humble background ever. I am a photographer. I own a studio in San Diego, I currently live in Nashville. It sounds complicated, doesn’t it? And I also help to educate and coach other photographers as much as I possibly can. And I love both aspects.

Rachel Brenke:
And that’s actually how Marissa and I met. I cannot believe it’s been five years already though. That’s incredible. So how, with everything going on, and by the way, if you’re listening to this in the future, we’re recording this during the COVID, Coronavirus crisis, but with everything even before that, all of us being quarantined at home, I’m just going to jump right into the relationship stuff. How do you guys manage your both individual pursuits, but still reconnect with each other. Is there one specific thing or?

Marissa:
Yeah, I definitely can speak to that for sure. Because I know that Angie and I have very different love languages. And so, for me specifically, my love language is quality time, and we both travel a lot. And so, I had a relationship demand with her at the very beginning, and that was for her to get a Google Calendar, for us to share a Google Calendar. Because if we didn’t block off a certain timeframe, months in advance, and I’m talking not vacation or anything, I’m just talking a weekend where we’re both in the same city, it just wasn’t going to happen.

And so for me, being able to vocalize what I need and request it without being embarrassed, I guess, or feeling too demanding, I think that was something that was tough to learn, but I needed it. And I think she’s a little bit more acts of service, so I have to keep that in mind and try to do things for her that help her out, like doing the dishes. The little things. But really, I mean, I think The Five Love Languages book was … Oh that was another relationship demand, I made her read that book.

Angie:
Yeah, I mean I think that in most relationships there’s usually one person that tends to be a little more right than the other. I think that that’s a lot of times, there’s usually one person that has a better intuition with things. And Marissa really has one of the most incredible intuitions of business minded and the like and visuals minded that I’ve ever known. And I think where that gets tricky is since my business is different than hers and I have a different idea of what I want it to look like and stuff, sometimes she sees things that will work much long before I do. But I, have this controllingness about my business and I think she has learned that if she gives the suggestion and takes a step back, I usually follow her advice and if she’s pushy with it and then I just don’t want to do it, which is so biased because that’s just how we naturally work.

But I think if you’re in a relationship with an entrepreneur, it’s important to give advice, especially when you see that something’s going wrong. But I think it’s also important to let each other make mistakes and not feel like, even though it does affect your life whether their business succeeds or fails, it’s still there’s a lane that they should be allowed to be in on their own. And I think Marissa has done a really good job lately of learning how to support and not try to push.

Marissa:
Yeah, I’m a pusher.

Rachel Brenke:
Well, what I love about that is putting this into the context of your relationship in many of the listeners is that Angie, I feel like you have a lot less flexibility maybe than Marissa does. And so, Marissa, my question on that is how do you give that intuition and that advice to Angie, but also separate it from your own, maybe emotions and feelings. So, you talk about quality time, but if Angie, she’s on tour, she’s going out for shows, obviously when we can leave our homes, how do you separate that desire and that yearning for that quality time, but also still be able to provide a objective view?

Marissa:
Yeah. I mean, I’m a working progress on that one if I’m honest. Honestly it’s really hard because she gets to do some really exciting things. And in order for me to still run my business, there’s things that I have to say no to like, it didn’t happen because of Corona but she was supposed to go to London and do basically a tour, mini tour in Europe and free plane ticket, free lodging, everything. And I have to be like, “No, I’m going to stay home and work in my home office while you do that.”

So, it’s hard but it’s gotten easier over time and I just have believe that those opportunities will keep coming in the future and they will line up. And the more that I can focus on myself right now and find … I think a lot of it is finding joy in my own work too because it can be hard to not see all the exciting things she’s doing and be like, oh I just want to ride on your coattails a little bit and help you out, support you and focus on you. That’s the way I’m wired. But yeah, I think the more that I find joy in my work and purpose and service and all that, the happier I am and then when I can join her, it’s a little bit of a tree. I’m not sure if I answered your question quite right, but.

Rachel Brenke:
No, definitely. And, it’s interesting, you guys are living in Nashville, you moved out there for you all to be together, but you still have the studio, Marissa in California. How do you juggle that and fit this into this … I mean in normal times not right now.

Marissa:
Yeah, well I actually adapted my business model so that when I go out to California, I’m trying to about every six weeks, of course that’s not the case right now, but I have adapted to more of a marathon formula while I’m there. So, we’re doing two big packages a day in our studio, six days in a row, and then after my six day, then I see friends and family and get to just enjoy San Diego a little bit. So, it was really about adapting my business. And then when I’m in Nashville, I’m focusing on marketing for the studio, but mostly I’m focusing on coaching for other photographers and helping them with their business model and their brands and all that stuff. Yeah.

Rachel Brenke:
That’s awesome, that’s great. And by the way, listeners, I am going to be linking all of our stuff, specifically what Marissa is referring to of coaching and working with photographers. I might put it on the episode page, so it’ll be rachelbrenke.com/epi120.

Marissa:
Awesome thank you.

Rachel Brenke:
Angie, I want to ask you specifically, I mean I’m stumbling over my own words because I feel like I’ve gotten to know you through the internet and this is our first time actually talking. I’ve known Marissa for how many years. What led you to, or was it more of just an organic happening choice for you? I guess what I’m trying to get is you guys both cross promote each other very well, whether you realize it, I mean promotion of your brand, of your relationship. Have you had pushback on that in your career and other people that have mentored and worked with you since you guys are in two separate industries or what does that look like?

Angie:
I actually haven’t had any pushback despite us being obviously two females and I’m in the country market and I’ve been in major offices, like for example, when we released a music video where both of us were in, clearly as a couple, I was in Leslie Fram’s office at CMT, Country Music Television and I was telling her about the idea for the music video, not unapologetically just telling her this is what I want to do and without even blinking an eye she’s like, “Yeah, well I love the song. So the second it’s done let me know and we’ll put it on CMT, premiere it, whatever you guys want to do.” There was never even a hesitation. So, what I like about that is I feel like it’s a really full circle moment from the days of, what happened to Ellen and Chely Wright, and so many other artists that were thwarted because of that.

So, my rule for myself is, and I feel this should be true for any entrepreneur that’s worried about whether their personal life or personal choices will affect their brand is if it’s not going to hurt anyone. If it’s something that’s truly you, do it without apology and without hesitation. So, the goal isn’t to change somebody’s mind, it’s to shape it. So, I don’t try to make a statement, I just try to change the dialogue, if that makes sense.

Rachel Brenke:
No, it definitely does. And I think that’s one of the things that I love about entrepreneurship. I mean, you’re talking about the progression just of society and acceptance, but also in entrepreneurship, 10 years ago when I first really got into the game, you didn’t have all this be transparent, be authentic. You had to have this really polished look, and then how we ended up on this podcast is that I felt more connected, not that I don’t love your music and love your photography, Marissa, but I connected with you guys as people. And so, I love seeing that on multiple levels, you guys can share one another and share who you are and connect on that level.

Marissa:
Well thank you Rachel, that’s really encouraging actually because I feel like especially in the chaos of the last couple months from the tornado to this, I feel like we haven’t been doing as much of it as we used to. And I loved it. And so I feel like you’re encouraging me right now to remember that that’s just such a fun aspect of what we do together.

And like Angie said earlier, we definitely try to stay in each other’s own lane and we are the CEO of our own business, we don’t have combined businesses, but I think that that is one area that we really thrive in and have fun sharing. And, I don’t think we ever share with the intention of thinking that it’s even promotion. So, it’s a good reminder in a way that there’s that awesome aspect to it as well.

Rachel Brenke:
And I probably shouldn’t use the word promotion necessarily. I just was thinking with Angie’s new awesome song that came out, I could see all of that, but I guess there’s just more of an injection of personal life.

Angie:
I definitely get a little more flexibility to do that. I’m not selling printers, I’m a musician, so my business by nature is very personal. So, I’ve been able to do that. And because Marissa is comfortable with that light, I don’t have to worry about sheltering her from it.

Rachel Brenke:
Any notes, whether, all different types of relationships out there, everyone has their own opinion on how much you should share on your personal life. So, and I know there’s definitely things that you guys don’t share, but I don’t have that guarded feeling. And I think that helps to enhance both of your brands, but you’re just being authentic. But I do think it helps to enhance it a bit. In that train of thought, do you have discussions about what you’re going to share about your relationship? Because I know especially with Marissa, we being photographers and creatives probably a bit more on the touchy feeling and connect with clients that way especially with doing boudoir photography. You want to connect on so many levels, but are there lines, I mean do you guys talk about what you’re going to share publicly?

Marissa:
Well I think that I have a little bit more of a dark humor than Angie, just on a funny note, I think that sometimes I want to share some of our moments where we’ve done something absolutely ridiculous or something and she’s, I’m not going to say that she’s … She’s just a little more private than I am, a little bit actually. Whereas, I want to just share absolutely everything. And as a photographer, I’m always wanting to take these pictures of her and post them and she’s just always like, “Oh no, that’s a little too …” I mean, we don’t take any risque photos like that. But, she’s a little more private than I am. So there is a balance there. So yeah, I don’t know, what do you think Ang?

Angie:
I would say the same. I think that’s about right. I mean, we’re both pretty open, but I think communication is key. I know everybody says it in every relationship ever. But especially if you’re two entrepreneurs or two people that are running their own business, not only talking through, hey, I’m going to have to … Because I think it’s very easy to make decisions like well, I have to do this to save my business or to do this, and that pressure is so real. And as CEO, you constantly have to make big decisions very quickly.

And sometimes like for example, when Marissa schedules a week in Solana Beach, I want to know to have that in the back of my mind, so I’m not trying to save that Sunday for us. But it’s hard for her to communicate that with me while she’s also communicating with her team and juggling a million other things and having to make the decision in a minute.

So it’s the same with social media. It’s so easy to just post something because it’s funny or whatever, but it is nice when she … I mean we’ve been together for five years now so she knows the things that are like, oh I’m just going to check with her first. And, she does and most of the time I’m fine with it. But I think that communication is, when you’re sharing your personal story online is a good thing.

Rachel Brenke:
Agreed. Have you guys seen any opportunities come about from sharing your relationship and being so transparent online?

Marissa:
Well we’re on Rachel Brenke’s podcast, right?

Angie:
And my fans love Marissa. What’s cool is we’ll go to a show and I’ll be on stage and obviously she’s sometimes helping me sell merch or just hanging out in the crowd and people will walk up to her and be like, “Oh hi.” Which is great for me. I heard, I think it was Russell Brand, Brunson something, not Russell Brand, Russell Brunson. He was just doing a podcast and he was saying how annoyed he gets when he’s at an airport and somebody runs up to him and starts talking to him and just basically pretend his wife’s non-existent. And it’s like, this is my most important person in mind. This is my whole world sitting next to me, and you’re ignoring it like it’s nothing. So, I think what’s really cool about sharing your story is that she gets to be included when people run up. And sometimes people are more excited to meet her than me because she [crosstalk 00:15:21]-

Marissa:
That’s not true, but-

Angie:
It’s true. It’s true. I [crosstalk 00:15:23] get really excited sometimes to meet her and that’s really sweet to see.

Marissa:
Only if we’re at a photography event. That’s the only time that happens. I think the opportunities we get because of social media and meetings so many people like Angie was talking about, I mean our network of friends and acquaintances that have turned into friends it’s just wild how many people we know.

Rachel Brenke:
So, on the flip side of that, have there been any opportunities that you’ve had to turn down willingly or otherwise in the interest of relationship or just simply because scheduling didn’t go-

Marissa:
Oh yeah, poor Angie has a list of those things that she’s had to.

Angie:
Well, I mean-

Marissa:
Not so much for me, but.

Angie:
I think with, for example, with any job really that involves something in the service industry, you create your schedule, you have your income set and then you always want to go, oh. So, my rule that I’ve learned to do is by juggling a full time job obviously and trying to figure out a relationship is figure out the number that you’re comfortable with to make every month that it’s not just the number you would need to survive, but the number with a decent cushion, don’t get crazy with it but just a decent cushion and you’re paying everything and you feel good. And if you can make that number, which is still putting money in your savings, then you’re allowed to say no to things. And that’s been my goto.

So, if she asks me to not do something and I’m like I haven’t hit this number and it’s a number we both have agreed on, then she understands when I have to say no. But if I’ve hit that number and it’s so easy to just want to say yes to everything because you don’t know what you’re going to make three months down the road. So.

Marissa:
But the issue with her line of work is if she said yes to everything and then me, myself included, I guess I’m the same, we would never see each other.

Angie:
Never have time for each other, yeah. I think that’s the balance is really listening when she says, I really need a weekend with you. I really need a Sunday. To me as a musician, I don’t look at the week as the day of the week.

Marissa:
She never even notices when it’s Sunday.

Angie:
Yeah. I just know whether I have a show and what city I have to be in. So she’s like, “I need a Sunday,” and I’m like, I don’t know what a Sunday means. Why don’t we just take off a Monday together? And she’s like, “It’s not the same.”

Rachel Brenke:
So there’s love languages and there’s actual English language itself. I love it. So both of you guys came into this, I mean entrepreneurs prior to meeting, what have you learned from each other that’s been an asset through your own separate careers.

Marissa:
I’m going to have to think about that for a second. I think that there’s a lot of things, but I know that there’s a real good nugget there, let’s see.

Angie:
So, these are things that I’ve learned from you.

Marissa:
Yeah.

Angie:
Oh gosh, I’ve learned so much from Marissa. Mainly, I think one of the biggest is how to truly lead and treat employees. I’ve never had employees, but I do have an amazing team and I’ve learned that having employees and leading has more to do with humility and true compassion and kindness than it does being an amazing guru or a business owner or hard-lined or pride or those things that you consider like broad chested, crazy strong leader isn’t necessarily what works. It’s the humble leader that is willing to take a hit even though it wasn’t their fault and hold it in and not make a big scene.

I mean I’ve seen so many very difficult things happen to Riss and I just watched her absorb it and her team has no idea. And I think so many entrepreneurs can probably tell that story. And I think watching someone go through that, it helps me understand what my team goes through and how to create compassion and kindness with them and to know how to ask for things in ways that people feel empowered to help you. So, I think that’s honestly the biggest thing I’ve learned from Marissa.

Marissa:
That felt good, thanks. I think there’s a lot that I’ve learned from Ang, but I think that probably one of the biggest things is she meets so many people on the road and she’s so much more outgoing than I am. I’m a little bit introverted and she turns fans into friends, into family basically. And I’ve seen her do it over and over and over again, and it’s really opened up my mind too, and now we have these network of friends that, I’m friends with people that I normally wouldn’t have crossed their paths otherwise, probably. And they’re just so different than what has always been my typical network of friends for whatever reason.

And it’s just made me, I don’t know, it’s just made me so much more outgoing I guess and excited to meet new people and spend time with new people and really just let them in. I think I always had a little bit of a guard up with new people, and so I’ve even seen that filter into my world of photographers and clients and everything. Just getting much closer and deeper with them and talking real talk during, not to … That’s Angie song name. Just real talk during the session and the photo shoot and everything and going beyond the surface even more so. So, that’s been one of the biggest gifts is to watch how she interacts with the world and learn that I don’t always have to be so guarded.

Now, when we first got together and her career started, I lost my mind when I found out that when she went on tour, she would couch surf and stay with total strangers.

Angie:
That was early on. That was early on.

Marissa:
Maybe not that far, but that’s what I mean about her, her openness and trust. And just, she’s amazing like that.

Rachel Brenke:
I did notice Marissa and I was thinking about this as I was prepping for the podcast. I’ve noticed over the past how many years of seeing you online and interacting that it has seemed like you’ve become more outgoing. And then I know I was thinking, well, isn’t that just because Instagram has provided a platform of stories and all of that, but I definitely have seen you grow into and inject more of you into the brand.

Marissa:
Yeah, thanks, I like hearing that.

Rachel Brenke:
Yeah. So, I’ve enjoyed that. That’s something that I noticed. It’s funny, I was chuckling while you were telling me what you’ve learned because that’s what I’ve noticed out of you since you guys have been together.

Marissa:
That’s awesome, and I would say that that’s very true. Yeah. And you just absorb the energy of the people that you’re near. So, it’s like through osmosis, is that the right word? I’ve just taken on some of her traits.

Rachel Brenke:
That’s awesome. All right, well this has been absolutely incredible. I’m going to put you guys on the spot. Are there any last tips, big things that you could leave the listeners with that they can take and put into their own relationship?

Marissa:
Well, I would say if anybody has not read that Five Love Languages book, I think that that is … So, have you ever read it Rachel?

Rachel Brenke:
I have read it and actually I re read it within the last few months and I’ve noticed that it’s been 10, 15 years since I read it before, my love language hasn’t changed as I’ve aged.

Marissa:
That’s interesting, I like that.

Rachel Brenke:
So that would be my tip perhaps is to stay on top of seeing if your love language changes at all.

Marissa:
I would also say, and I’ve learned this, I’m not afraid to say that I go to therapy, which I absolutely love. It’s one of my favorite things to do, who doesn’t love talking about themselves, right? But is to not be afraid to ask for what I feel like I need whether it’s in the moment or in general and to be okay if the answer isn’t yes to what I need and to work through that also. But to just be specific rather than milling around and hoping or being disappointed or something like that is to actually communicate that.

Angie:
I think my advice is simple is just plan moments together, whether it’s a vacation. First of all, if it’s a vacation, plan a vacation that’s not a work trip.

Marissa:
We never do that. We need to work on that.

Angie:
Or even if it’s just dinner or you can’t afford a vacation and just have a weekend maybe at the lake, do it in a place where you can comfortably put down your phone and your computer, and the main activity is talking to each other. I think that a lot of healing for us has happened in moments like that.

Rachel Brenke:
So, what are you guys doing right now to not get on each other’s nerves but also still have that actual connection because you can coexist in a house and orbit around each other, since we can’t go anywhere, but what are you guys doing right now to purposely give each other space but also purposely connect.

Marissa:
Well, thanks to the tornado and the new place we had to [inaudible 00:24:34]. We have separate offices.

Angie:
Yeah, she can close the door on me now, me and my singing.

Marissa:
Because before we were sharing, it was a big office but I didn’t realize what a challenge that was until we were …

Angie:
I tried to tell you, she was like, we’ll just share an office and I’m like, I’m a musician.

Marissa:
I had noise canceling headphones and that still-

Angie:
Which by the way, during the tornado I walk into the office and I’m like, “Riss, we got to get in the bathtub now,” and she has her noise canceling headphones thinking I’m just over-exaggerating and then the lights go out and she’s like, oh God.

Rachel Brenke:
When you guys posted that story, I could just see Marissa looking up and smiling and Angie’s like, “Get out now [crosstalk 00:25:16].”

Angie:
Exactly what happened.

Marissa:
Yeah, I think for us we could work until we go to bed, every night that’s just our personalities. I think that for us, usually one of us will say, hey, what time are we stopping tonight? So we both know that we have a stopping time and what that time is. Now, one of us almost always has to be like, hey, it’s 7:45 but that’s okay, it’s just it at least creates a reason for us to stop and connect. And like you said, not just orbit around each other, but actually … I mean even if we’re just watching TV or making a meal or cleaning up the house or something, it’s still not sitting on our computers and ignoring each other.

Rachel Brenke:
Well, and the common theme that I’ve heard through this whole episode with you all is intentionality. Really being intentional, whether it’s what Angie was saying about being a manager and having a team and also just in relationship, it’s really being intentional. And I as an entrepreneur can feel like you just go through the motions. Like we’re talking about scheduling this, doing that, be together, but it really is being as intentional as you can to make the true connection because the longer you’re together, it’s easier to fall into cycles and think that you’re being intentional when you’re not.

Marissa:
That’s a good way to put it. Yeah.

Angie:
I was telling her, it’s like time together is like living … We lived by the ocean in San Diego and we moved. In San Diego when I first moved there, I was like, I wanted to go to the ocean every day. And then it was like, it’s right there. It’s two blocks down. I’ll go tomorrow, I’ll go tomorrow. And it’s the same thing when you’re … You lose that, you’re right next to the ocean. You’re right next to your best friend and you’re like, oh, but I’ll spend time with her tomorrow. So, it’s like you got to, if you know it’ll make you happy, you’ve got to make the time for it.

Rachel Brenke:
I would give anything to be able to look at the ocean right now.

Marissa:
Me too Rachel.

Angie:
Don’t start this again.

Rachel Brenke:
I know, I’m so sorry. Well, before we have a dispute or a breakup on the other side, we will go away from that subject matter. Marissa. Angie, thank you so much for coming on this episode. Listeners, make sure you dig into the Business Bites Podcast, Facebook group. I am going to be dropping the links to this episode, rachelbrenke.com/epi120. I will be including information about Marissa’s catapult strategy, so you boudoir photographers can go and dig in and learn from her. She’s amazing, and I’ll also be linking other fun stuff that’s going to be coming out in the coming weeks. So dig in, share your relationship tips in the group and I’ll see you guys there.

Featured Guest & Resources

Recently named a ‘Highway Find’ on Sirius XM, Angie K is shaking up Nashville with a fresh blend of modern and Latin country. The El Salvador born and Georgia raised country artist just released her new single ‘Real Talk’, which has immediately been added to mega-playlists ‘Wild Country’ and ‘New Boots’ on Spotify as well as ‘Breaking Country’ on Apple Music. Touring an average of 10-12 cities a month for the past 8 years, Angie has played over 1000+ live shows. In 2017, her Disney duet with Jordan Fisher, ‘Happily Ever After’, became the soundtrack to the nightly fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. The single has already amassed over 20 million cumulative streams. Angie has opened for artists like Jake Owen, Tanya Tucker, Sammy Kershaw, Trace Adkins, Melissa Etheridge, and more.

You can find Angie here:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Marissa Boucher is the owner of “The Boudoir Divas,” a studio in San Diego, California. Her mission to empower women through a photoshoot was accelerated by her passion for branding and marketing that mission. Her studio has photographed over 4000 women, some flying to them from all over the world.

She runs her studio, but she is also fired up about her “Adventuress Tribe.” Which takes a group of photographers and models to exotic destinations for a week long photoshoot experience.

Marissa has also faced her own challenges and has had to re-invent herself and her brand multiple times. It’s this understanding that lends itself well to helping and educating other photographers. Her recently launched “Catapult Strategy, 12 Missions To Become a Boudoir Empire” helps photographers build a foundation so strong that no challenge will stop them.

You can find Marissa here:
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

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