Q: Tell me about your entrepreneurial and creative journey from day one to where you are now.
Christina: In college, I majored in English literature. Soon after graduating, my husband, then boyfriend, Justin, and I took a job in the snowboard industry as independent sales reps for Nidecker Snowboards and O'Neill outerwear. After many years as a sales rep, traveling the Mountain West and sleeping on people's couches, I decided I wanted to enjoy more time at home. I took a retail job as a snowboard manager, alongside Mitch Prissel, at Yostmark (back when the shop was owned by Claire Yost).
When Yost sold the shop, Prissel and I opened Habitat in Victor in the fall of 2004. We sold the shop to Grand Targhee during the recession of 2008, and then moved it to Driggs. Prissel and I worked with the resort to facilitate the move and an expansion. Then in 2009, I had my second child and I resigned. It was a pretty crazy year.
I realized I couldn’t sustain working full time out of the house and needed the flexibility of a job that jived with motherhood. So, I waited tables at night at Teton Springs while building an online writing portfolio working for a content curation company out of New York. I also helped outdoor companies with branding, website content, and social media content. This helped me land local jobs, including freelance writing for Teton Family magazine.
This year, Teton Family turns ten, allowing me to look back over my career as a writer and revisit the feeling of being offered the role of editor in 2012. This was a career turning point for me—obtaining a creative job that would also allow me to stay at home and raise two young children. Today, I work primarily for Teton Media Works in Jackson as the editor of Teton Family and Grand Wedding magazines. I also manage the social media strategy and content for both magazines, work as a freelance writer for other mountain publications, including Teton Valley Magazine, and help small businesses create captivating digital content that speaks to their brand.
My next big project is developing an online coaching business for creative women. I want to help women achieve balance in their family lives, while also balancing their hormones and their workload, so that they can feel both successful and fulfilled. This lifelong tuning-in and re-tuning is something I feel is needed right now, as I see so many so many women (including myself) becoming strung out with the demands of work and family life.
Eventually, I’d love to offer online courses through my website that give women the tools to fine-tune their lives and heal their adrenal output. I’d like to guide them back to a state where their free time becomes more abundant, giving them more space to create.
Q: From day one to where you are now, what do you think has changed the most? Whether that’s what specific industry you're in, what work you’re doing or with your outlook.
Christina: In publishing, and with content creation in general, I would say that there’s a big focus on digital right now. Print magazines are faced with the challenge of maintaining a gorgeous portfolio of work that people can thumb through, while also having an experience that's faster and instantly gratifying.
In the magazine world, we're constantly trying to figure out the best mix of digital versus print and how we can support advertisers in both mediums. Some print magazines only come out a few times a year (depending on the schedule), which limits the publication’s income stream. Expanding digital offerings gives a publication a more sustainable cash flow.
Industry-wide, magazines are jockeying for position in the digital realm. Readers still want the experience of turning the pages—to sit on their couch with a magazine and ingest the whole experience. However, you have to figure out how to support print with timely digital articles and social media posts. Figuring out the right mix is what we're trying to navigate right now as editors and publishers.
Q: Walk me through what your day-to-day or week-to-week schedule looks like.
Christina: I’ve brought the teachings of Kate Northrup’s book, Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Ambitious Women into my space, Northrup’s “do less” concept helps us identify the time each month when we’re wired to create and produce, while also honoring when it’s time to sit back and engage in self-care. As business women, we're pushed to lean in—to embrace a masculine mindset when it comes to our careers. Instead, Northrop urges us to actually lean out, listen to our bodies, listen to what's going on in nature, and approach our work with the knowledge of our cyclical (or menstrual) phases. It’s a very yin approach to business.
When I first sit down at the computer on a Monday, I identify and jot down my top three priorities for the week [an exercise in Northrup’s book]. Then, I tackle the week with those three things in mind. Sure—I still have a big running master “to do” list in the background, but I don't let it overwhelm me.
I also check in with my psyche and what's going on with the moon cycle. Then, I base my workload upon how I’m feeling that week and how my interactions with others may be affected by nature’s cycles, as well.
After I set my priorities and check in with myself, I jump into my tasks. If I'm in planning mode for a new edition of the magazine, I put together an editorial calendar based on writer input and ideas. Right now, I just finished up a magazine cycle and spent my last two weeks editing writer's articles and then passing them off to my copywriter. In the next phase, I'll get the articles back and hand them over to our designer. She’ll start working on layout drafts, and then I’ll review the drafts and make layout suggestions and edits.
My job is dynamic. It's different every day. Some days, all I do is handle social media tasks. But, my favorite days are when I'm editing and writing—these tasks take the most creative output. I know it’s a good work day when I lose track of time.
At three o'clock each day during the school year, I turn my work brain to “off” and switch gears into “mommy mode.” With an eleven and fourteen-year-old, somebody always has to be somewhere after school. I play chauffeur, sometimes popping into the library during a deadline week to get the last articles edited before picking up the kids from soccer.
Q: What’s your favorite part of working for yourself?
Christina: Flexibility is—hands down—the number one benefit of working for myself. Most days, I get to skip a shower and work in my jammies. I’m able to drop my kids off at school and pick them up to drive them to their activities each day. It’s truly a blessing.
You can’t put a price tag on the flexibility of freelancing. And while being in business for yourself doesn’t come without stressors, the benefit of showing up for my family and living a lifestyle that fills me up far outweighs the stress.
Q: What is your least favorite thing about working for yourself?
Christina: Having an inconsistent income is the hardest part about contract work. You can have a big month, and then the next month can be much leaner. Income flow is something I have to strategically plan for and work around.
My husband is self-employed too. That means sometimes neither one of us may get a paycheck during a 30-day stretch. Then, when we get our windfall, we have to pay our bills, go to the eye doctor, get our cars fixed—all the things that make life tick.
Still, creating abundance in our life comes in many forms. My abundance is being able to live in this beautiful place, in the middle of the woods, and being able to walk out my back door into the national forest. It's really special.
Q: What is your favorite part of your processes?
Writing and creating is my favorite part of my work. Telling other people's stories is magical. It Helps me feel like I’m contributing to our community in a way that enhances the vibrancy by celebrating every being. Then, when someone sends me a message saying they enjoyed a story I wrote in the magazine, that’s the icing on the cake.
Q: Walk me through your journey with work-life balance.
Christina: My biggest “aha” moment came from experiencing adrenal fatigue. As I got older, I realized that I could no longer operate at breakneck speed. When I was in my twenties, my body gave me clues that I was doing too much. I ignored them. Then, in my thirties, I suffered from digestive upset exasperated by food allergies. Now, in my forties, my hormones are starting to go crazy in preparation for menopause.
I felt most out of balance during the time period when I sold Habitat, then had babies, and then transitioned my career all in the matter of a few years. I didn't know where my next paycheck was coming from and, on top of that, I wasn't sleeping, I was nursing, and I was completely strung out.
All the little checks at the door were warning signs to pull back from work, and move forward from a more centered place. The mental shift began when I finally sat with myself and outlined my life’s priorities. Then, I made the commitment to keep them really, really clear, no matter what. I’m constantly revisiting my priorities—usually at the start of each school year, and then again before summer hits—to see what can be tweaked to bring more balance into my life. It requires a lot of fine-tuning to refine what works in the time and space I find myself in.
Q: If you could give a message to people who are considering hiring you for freelance work or content creation, what's something you would like them to know about you or the way that you work?
What I bring to the table is authenticity. I love telling people's stories and am really passionate about it doing it right. You can see this in all the work I do: my editorial content, product branding, social media messaging, and startup marketing.
One of my strengths is taking all of the input from a client or interviewee, organizing it, and then producing something that people can connect with. This skill is really important in both editorial work and in marketing, because ultimately, you want to create content that pulls at people's heartstrings and gets them to align with the subject matter. Authentic content makes readers want to pick up your magazine or buy your unique product. People just love stories.
Q: If you could go back in time to when you sold Habitat and give yourself one piece of advice for the years coming. What would it be?
Don't push so much. Instead, wait for life to show up for you.
We all have a destiny, a place in this world, and something to teach. You’ll see the subtle clues if you take the time to align yourself with life’s flow and just listen. I didn't do a lot of listening when I was a young adult, and now I'm learning to listen a lot more and wait patiently for what's next, instead of trying to push forward to find out.