Running a business and a family.
It’s been said that owning your own business parallels raising a child. You love both. You want both to succeed. You spend precious time worrying about both, often in place of sleep. While they aren’t identical, kids and a business are two of the most important things in an entrepreneur's life. Justin and Hope Schneider experience the best of both worlds through being parents and running their company, Wolf & Shepherd.
One constant between their roles is that both keep them on their toes. With three kids at home, Stella (4 years old), Mackey (2 years old) and Isla (1 year old), returning home from work is a breath of fresh air intertwined with enthusiastic excitement. Justin and Hope never know what’s coming next but are always planning to make the best of it. Every morning brings something new for the pair to tackle but they have learned to do it seamlessly.
Justin and Hope made time to talk about the two things they enjoy most and how those two worlds inevitably intertwine.
1. How does being a parent influence the way you think and design?
Hope: Being a parent is incredibly humbling. You’re constantly putting someone else’s needs above your own. So I think for me that transfers to putting myself in the customer’s shoes. Whether it’s the shopping experience online, or returning a product, or just browsing our Instagram page - I’m constantly thinking about how we’re making the customer feel.
Justin: I used to put more emphasis on comfort and the look of the products we create. Having children has given us an added focus on function. I dress more casually for work and often find myself feeding our youngest, Isla, breakfast or filling the inflatable pool before dashing out the door. Both can easily leave you with residue and water on your shoes. So now many of our leather products are water repellent as well as easy to take on and off for those times you might get your shoes a bit dirty.
2. What’s your favorite shoe to wear when running from the office to your kids’ lessons and activities?
Hope: Justin gifted me a sample pair of Chelsea Blitz’s 4 years ago before they launched. Once I figured out how to style them I pretty much wore them all fall and winter! It’s such a gender neutral style and no one makes women’s shoes this comfy.
3. What advice do you have for fellow parent entrepreneurs?
Justin: When you’re out with your children, leave your phone behind. Children are acutely aware of your body language. You owe it to yourself and your future relationship with your children to be fully engaged in their well-being and happiness.
4. What are your favorite parts about working together?
Hope: Definitely spending time together. We can’t imagine a life now where we only see each other on weekends and in the evenings. It’s been fun to grow and mature in the business because I think it helps us understand how to communicate at home as well.
Justin: The time we get to spend together. I get to appreciate first-hand Hope’s ambition and her heart for our children. Most people only get to see the home version of their spouses. We’re blessed to live both together.
5. How did COVID-19 affect style trends and how did you adapt?
Justin: With everyone working for home, our audiences made the switch from dress shoes to more casual styles. Fortunately due to a little foresight by our team, we were receiving more casual comfort styles like our Swiftknit Derby and Crossover Longwing. Our Hybrid series is now very popular and we're excited to provide customers with such easy options.
6. How do you balance the two different worlds?
Hope: I get really excited about creating things from scratch and watching them come to fruition. Years ago when Justin first needed help with a photo shoot and building the website, I just kind of jumped in to help. Now it’s 5 years later and we’re both working together every day. It’s been a learning process (working with your spouse) but at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Justin: The reality of home and work is that they really are not different; they blend together into one life. For our own sanity purposes, we try to verbally preface when a conversation is work or play.
7. Despite COVID-19 still looming, what was a fun Summer activity you enjoyed as a family?
Justin: We went up to Santa Barbara and rented an adobe home with a pool for 5 days. The kids played outside in the pool every day and we had our second company board meeting ever online via Google Hangout from the deck.
8. What is your favorite part of the job?
Hope: I work on the marketing side of the company leading me to have lots of freedom and flexibility with my decisions. Lately, I've been very excited for launching the SwiftKnit Derby. Taking a new direction for the brand is daunting but incredibly exciting. The shoe is apart of our Hybrid series making it more casual and opens many doors for consumer reach.
9. What is a core value that is shared between your business and family?
Justin: Stewardship. As a Dad, I’m the only one who can be my parents Dad. No one else can fill that role so it’s my responsibility to steward my position as their father. At work, my job is to be a steward of resources and the work-life of my employees. Wherever you are, steward what you are given.