Sean and Thora Dowdell, Club Tattoo
What came first: business or love?
Our love came first. As a matter of fact, it came the moment we met each other. Sean founded the business in 1995, and we met in 1997. After knowing each other for only 10 days, we moved in together and were married a year later. That’s the most risk either of us had ever taken in our young lives. Leading with your heart can eliminate good ol’ common sense -- in our case, it proved we were equal risk takers and wanted to extract the sweet nectar of life with wild abandon.
Looking back, we would never give that advice to our own children or anyone we know. Shortly after we were married, we decided to combine our individual skills, energy and motivation into one direction and started working together at the first store. Little did we know, we would eventually create a multi-million-dollar brand. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies; it still isn’t. It takes persistence to the keep your eye on the goal, loyalty to your marriage and a great sense of humor to get through the tough times.
What's your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?
Balance is an illusion for entrepreneurs. When you love your spouse and love what you do professionally together, there is no balance. It is a 360-degree obsession of your mind. Paying attention when the other person speaks or expresses themselves is far more important than giving "time.” You can spend all of your free time with someone, but if you're not present mentally, or making a significant effort to becoming a better mate and lover for your spouse, then all you are doing is wasting time. It’s unreasonable to assume you can leave work at the office once you’re home, but you can make a conscious effort to turn off work talk for a period of time to be present for your family.
There are times when we are so busy going in different directions, we don’t get to connect until we get home, and even then, the work can continue until bedtime. We determined that both of us need the freedom to say, “I don’t feel like talking about anything work-related right now,” without holding it against each other. Respect “the withdraw” as a deposit in the love bank. Don’t badger, a tired mind being pushed causes disagreements faster than a fresh, happy mind. When you are away from the office, focus on self-care. We both think it’s important to let our brains rest. We do things that we individually enjoy, connect with our kids together and separately, and go on weekly date nights planned by Sean. All of this is crucial to us functioning well together at work, and at home.