Let It Be Easy – Reimagining Hustle with Kristin Hardwick

My big takeaway:

Let it be easy!

Kristin Hardwick is a CEO, photographer, digital marketer, and most recently educator. And on top of all that, she’s a mom to two awesome kids.

In this episode, we chat about how it’s possible to do less and earn more, setting high standards for yourself and letting everything go, and also how we really should just let life be easy. 

Links from the show:

Show Notes:

[00:00:00] Roxanne: Podcasting during school when my house is quiet enough to work, this is Reimagining Hustle. A podcast for entrepreneurial parents, creating a life where business and parenthood live peacefully in the same space. I’m your host Roxanne Merket. A mom of two micro-business coach and serial entrepreneur on a journey to prove that it is possible to do what you love without sacrificing all your precious time.

[00:00:30] Let’s do this.

[00:00:32] Welcome back to Reimagining Hustle. I am like already wanna be best friends with my guest today, so I have Kristin Hardwick with me. Kristen, how you doing?

[00:00:41] Kristin Hardwick: I’m good. How are you?

[00:00:42] Roxanne: I’m good. I know we, we have been chatting a little bit beforehand and, um, you, you’re in the middle of chaos with sick kids and I feel like you’re coming to us from like ultimate entrepreneur, mom mode.

[00:00:54] I am really excited for you to be here today,

[00:00:57] Kristin Hardwick: I, I want no one to ever think that I don’t share the real, real, and this is just actually my real life today. So we’re, we’re doing it and I’m happy to have the conversation.

[00:01:05] Roxanne: Ok, here we go. This is gonna be really fun. Kristin, will you just dive right in? Tell us about you. Tell us you have a lot of projects that you do, a lot of things that you’re working on. Will you just give us the goods.

[00:01:14] Kristin Hardwick: Yeah, absolutely. I’m Kristin Hardwick. I am a CEO, photographer, digital marketer and most recently educator. And on top of all that, I am most importantly a mom to two awesome kids who are, as we record this eight and 10,

[00:01:30] Roxanne: Okay. So fun. Fun ages too. And snowboarders, I have learned, which I am super excited about because I also have snowboarders in my family.

[00:01:38] Kristin Hardwick: I love this so much. Having tiny little rippers is is the best.

[00:01:41] Roxanne: That’s amazing. Okay, so you’ve got all these projects. So you’ve got, you’re a photographer. Were you a photographer first? Is that, did I,

[00:01:47] Kristin Hardwick: Yep. Correct. Yep. So I left corporate as a photographer. That was kind of like my, my big, I can do this on my own, I can make my own money, I could run my own business. And that was with a camera. So that’s where I, where I got my start.

[00:01:59] Roxanne: Okay. And then like, tell us the progression of things. So like you left corporate, started with the photography and then like, then what happened because like you’re in a really different place than you were a few years ago.

[00:02:09] Kristin Hardwick: Yeah. So.

[00:02:10] Roxanne: tell us about that.

[00:02:12] Kristin Hardwick: I quit corporate. I left corporate when my son, my youngest was two years old. So I definitely stayed for, you know, for my maternity leave and my, my benefits, which looking back now was a smart decision, but in the moment I would just wanted to quit and walk away and, um, light a match.

[00:02:25] So, which I didn’t, I was responsible about quitting, which I do talk to, um, my clients about a lot now. But from there, from being. I left to become a photographer. And as so many people do when they quit their first corporate job and go out on their own, you know the fear sets in and you start saying yes to absolutely any project where people are willing to pay you for, right?

[00:02:44] So the first year I spent completely burning myself out. Worked 80-90 hour weeks, didn’t make very much money, was photographing anything that people asked me to, and it wasn’t working. And I was very much like this, this is terrible. I wanna go back to corporate. So my husband convinced me to just try it my way, a different way.

[00:03:02] for a couple months, do just what I wanted to do and see, see how that worked out. So I did. So I pivoted to just doing headshots and branding photos, which now everybody does, but back then nobody was doing that was like a really easy way to stand out in small town New Hampshire. Um, so I did that and I loved it and it’s, it, it taught me to fall in love with digital marketing.

[00:03:20] I found out I was really good at that. From there, I kind of got lonely sitting in the studio, editing photos by myself, um, and found myself kind of wishing that there was a coworking space and, you know, could I, could I go and find a group of other entrepreneurs? I could, you know, we had the young professionals group from, you know, our chamber, but those were a lot of people that were still in the prime of their drinking after hours days, and not really anybody that had kids at home that kind of understood why I didn’t wanna go to the bar.

[00:03:50] on a Tuesday, um, just to network. So I kind of thought like, well, what if, what if I could build a co-working space? Cause we didn’t have any around. Um, which is a really oversimplified way to say that then I then, then I built a co-working space, which

[00:04:05] Roxanne: And then I just did it

[00:04:07] Kristin Hardwick: and then I just magically snapped my fingers.

[00:04:09] No. So then I spent, um, I found a, a business partner. I. We, we looked at 30 properties, finally found a property, had to go through a whole buildout, which took nine months. Um, and then we opened our doors at co-working house in Milford in July of 2019, the very end of July.

[00:04:27] Roxanne: Okay. Okay. Wow. Wow. Okay, so then I’m gonna have questions about the pandemic here in a minute.

[00:04:35] Kristin Hardwick: Yes. So that was definitely, definitely a thing. that was definitely a hiccup in my story. It worked out really well. You know, in hindsight it’s 2020, but, um, so from there, you know, I co-working house has been open for over three years now and has really done done well, and I’ve built this amazing community of human beings and it’s, you know, I always say people come because they need a desk or wifi, but they stay because our people are so, so building this community of entrepreneurs, 90% of whom have children, it’s just what we’ve kind of attracted and built. Um, it’s been really nice to be able to see what we all struggle with, problem solve together. We have everybody, you know, from self-employed people to professionals that work for other companies, and just being able to create a community where we’re all helping and lifting each other up has been the magic I didn’t know I was trying to build.

[00:05:23] Roxanne: Mm.

[00:05:24] Kristin Hardwick: and it’s really good. It’s really good.

[00:05:26] Roxanne: Oh.

[00:05:28] Kristin Hardwick: So now that Cohos got some legs under it, we call it coho. Um, my time is freed up. My kids are eight and 10, so they’re not babies anymore. Um, my life is still busy in terms of being there for their sports and their activities and getting them off the bus.

[00:05:41] Um, but I have a little bit more bandwidth. So over the past year I’ve been just trying some different things, coaching some other small businesses, doing some consulting and, and that’s kind of where I’m at now, is trying to share the lessons I’ve learned over the past 10 years.

[00:05:55] Roxanne: That’s incredible. Oh, that’s incredible. So through all of this, , what does success look like to you now and how has it changed over the last few years?

[00:06:04] Success

[00:06:04] Kristin Hardwick: Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, success for me is doing less and earning more.

[00:06:11] Roxanne: Mm

[00:06:11] Kristin Hardwick: which sounds really simple on paper, right? Like obviously that’s everyone’s dream. Um, but for me it’s not working less, it’s just doing less. It’s less of the, the hustle, it’s less of the scramble, it’s less of the chaos and more focusing on a few projects intentionally that have better revenue.

[00:06:27] So my family has that financial security and that financial independence that we’re working for.

[00:06:31] Roxanne: Mm. I love that. I love that so much. And you work with clients as well. I know you, you coach and you educate around this. How do you teach that? Like, what are the first steps that somebody can take to if, if they say, Hey, that really resonates with me. Yeah, I do wanna work less and I do wanna earn more.

[00:06:45] What is the first step out the door?

[00:06:47] Kristin Hardwick: If you already have an existing business, I always say look at what is working in the business. Like look at your margins. Really be analytical and think of it as a, as a ceo and not as, as the, the artist or the creative. See where your money is coming from and what those margins look like. Cuz then you can decide this product has great margins and I love, I love creating it.

[00:07:10] Let’s do that more. I love, you know, providing that service or this mar this product has terrible margins and I love it. It’s probably not gonna get me to my goal. This product awesome margins and I hate providing it. So you have to find that sweet spot of what do you love to, to provide and show up and do every day.

[00:07:27] And what also has the margins? Now, if nothing is, if nothing’s aligned, right? If you have something with, if you have nothing that has good margins, then that’s great. That’s a problem you can fix. If you have nothing that actually brings you joy to doing your business, also easy, that’s a problem you can fix.

[00:07:42] So there’s, you know, it’s just being really analytical and looking at it from a business perspective and taking yourself outta that a little little bit.

[00:07:48] Roxanne: I love that too. It’s, it’s interesting as you start talking about looking at it like a CEO instead of the artist. I love that you use the artist and the creative there because that’s so much it. Creating a business is, it is an art. There is so much creativity, there’s so much of that emotional investment that we put.

[00:08:04] So you really do have to pull that out and I, oh, I love that. That’s the word that you used. I love that. That’s the.

[00:08:10] Kristin Hardwick: Thank you. Thank you. One of the bigger switches that I. Like shifts in my, in my mindset that I made over the past few years was looking at, cause I do have a lot of projects and a lot of businesses is looking at them as projects. Um, and not, not attaching like, oh, like, you know, this is this business under this LLC or this es like, everything’s a project.

[00:08:30] And when I think of,

[00:08:31] Roxanne: Hmm.

[00:08:32] Kristin Hardwick: when I was in corporate, I juggled eight projects in my work hours. Like, and it was fine. I just, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed because I had one job, one job. And then I had all these projects that were part of that. So now as an entrepreneur or a ceo, o that’s, that’s my job, that’s my title.

[00:08:48] And then my projects fill my day, but they don’t get to overflow into my personal life anymore.

[00:08:53] Roxanne: That’s one of the best reframes I’ve heard in a long, long time. Ugh, love that. Love that. So, okay, so I wanna ask about being a mom during all of this, because you, you were in corporate as a mom, love that you took advantage of all those corporate benefits and then made the switch. Like, honestly, that’s for me, like, my hat’s off yet

[00:09:15] I look back and I’m like, oh yeah, that would’ve been, that would’ve been real nice to have taken

[00:09:19] Kristin Hardwick: Health, health insurance. Like as a self, you know, brand new entrepreneur. No, thank you. I, I knew what I had.

[00:09:26] Roxanne: yeah. you are a wise one, a very wise one. Uh, so how has being a parent through this entrepreneur journey changed you as a person?

[00:09:38] Kristin Hardwick: That’s a great question. Oh, I love that. Like changing me as a person. I think this answer sounds like it’s contradicting, but it’s not. I set much higher standards for myself and for the people I work with. The projects I take on, like I have less time, so I’m much pickier. and I have a lot lower standards on 90% of things in life.

[00:10:01] The things that that I care about, that list is very short now,

[00:10:06] Roxanne: Mm.

[00:10:06] Kristin Hardwick: let a lot of things go that don’t really matter, that I probably would’ve obsessed about, been anxious about lost, lost sleep, about before, and now as a parent, I can kind of put things in perspective and see if it’s getting us to this goal.

[00:10:18] Great. If it’s not, it doesn’t.

[00:10:20] Roxanne: Mm. It reminds me of this quote, a and I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.

[00:10:27] Kristin Hardwick: Yes.

[00:10:27] Roxanne: That’s to like, that’s what it, but to have such a high standard for yourself of like, this is like you’re gonna go all in on that short list of things that you’re gonna go all in for and everything else kind of let it go.

[00:10:39] Kristin Hardwick: and, and everything else? I just didn’t Instagram reel today about like, you can leave the dishes in the sink. It’s okay. You’re not a failure as a human. You can just leave the dishes in the sink. It’s fine because it doesn’t really matter.

[00:10:50] Roxanne: Yeah. Hmm. Have you always been this way or has this been

[00:10:55] Kristin Hardwick: No, no.

[00:10:56] Roxanne: intentional shift?

[00:10:58] Kristin Hardwick: very intentional. I’m a classic. I don’t know if you know any by Engram Classic type three. Enneagram. Yeah. Almost oldest child. I’m second out of four girls, like high, high achiever to a flaw. Like that’s not actually a, a good thing.

[00:11:11] Roxanne: recovering perfectionist. That’s who you’re talking to right now. So, yes. Uhhuh. . I get you. I see you. I hear this. Uhhuh.

[00:11:18] Kristin Hardwick: I, I feel that. Yes, exactly. So not having to be great at everything has been really liberating, but it did take me, you know, 30 plus, 30 something years to get here.

[00:11:27] Roxanne: Yeah. Ooh, ooh. Yes. Have you ever experienced guilt around all of it?

[00:11:32] Guilt?

[00:11:32] Kristin Hardwick: All of it, no matter what, no matter what. And I think that, um, I don’t think that’s unique to, to myself or my personality type. I think that is a condition of being a mother who cares about her career. And I think this work matter, whether you’re in corporate, whether you’re an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter.

[00:11:53] I think that we just, society holds such very high expectations of women and women working. And in a lot of ways that’s been wonderful and, you know, pushed us to create really amazing things. But, um, the side effect is, I don’t know, one mom working or not, that doesn’t have guilt, that we don’t have to continually have these conversations about.

[00:12:12] Roxanne: Mm-hmm. , how do you deal with it? How do you deal with the guilt?

[00:12:15] Kristin Hardwick: Hmm. Having a really great support system, having somebody that I can speak this to and have it come back and say like, that’s, that’s fine. It’s normal. And also you’re entitled to, to do these things. Um, I’m reminding myself that why I’m building this, you know, why I am, why I have these projects, not just because they bring me personal satisfaction, which they do and I love the work.

[00:12:37] Um, but also because, you know, , I think we all wanna give our kids more than what we have and we wanna be able to build security. And that financial, you know, my back to the snowboarding, my kids get to snowboard and I don’t take that for granted. You know, like we, we are taking a trip next week and it’s because we’ve made intentional decisions with our finances and because truthfully cuz I have businesses like that’s, you know, that’s part of it.

[00:13:02] Roxanne: Makes that happen. Oh, I love that. Do you talk to your kids about having a business? Like how aware are they

[00:13:08] of, because but I feel like what this is a, this is a, I’m, I’m kind of throwing a curve at, cuz I didn’t warn you that I was going to ask you this question, but I feel like with with entrepreneurship, especially moms as entrepreneurs, like we try to work, like, for me at least, right?

[00:13:23] Like I try to work when my kids are at school so that when they’re home, I’m with them and sometimes they have no idea what I do. And I try, like my, my older ch I have a 10 and a five-year-old, and so my 10 year old knows what I do. My five-year-old couldn’t care less. Right? He’ll get there, like he’ll start caring at some point, I’m sure, but um, but it took me a little bit before I was able to talk to them about it.

[00:13:45] So how do you talk to your kids about what you.

[00:13:48] Kristin Hardwick: I would love for somebody to tell me how to own a business and not have your kids involved in it all the time, , because I feel like I, I was really not great at those boundaries at first. Um, my son, my son was a toddler. When we were building coho. So he literally rode his bike around our construction site and was friends with like our contractors and our architect.

[00:14:07] And he would like sit at our conference room table, like, and got to color on the side of our, our little, uh, floor plans. Not little, the big ones,

[00:14:13] Roxanne: yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

[00:14:15] Kristin Hardwick: um, my daughter. is, so my daughter’s 10, her and her best friend next door just started a jewelry business and I helped them set up an Etsy site and showed them how to use Canva.

[00:14:26] They created their own logo, they make their earrings and they sell them. Um, so we just, it’s just as normal as, as it is my husband’s job. You know, they, which he works for a small family-owned company, so they get to go into his job a lot as well. But, um, I think that the fact that I own my own business, my best friend who they’re close with owns a business.

[00:14:47] Her husband owns a business. Uh, my husband works for a small business and we’re friends with the owners. Like I think that my children to see owning a business is like the normal de facto thing,

[00:14:56] Roxanne: Yeah.

[00:14:57] Kristin Hardwick: because that’s the world that we live in right now.

[00:15:00] Roxanne: I love that. It reminds me of, of my own childhood. My dad owned his own business and he ran it out of our home growing up, and it was the same thing. I mean, I, I remember going with him on different like jobs that he was doing from like eight, nine years old. Like I was helping him, not like child, not not violating any child labor laws, but like I got to go with him

[00:15:22] and like, Like he, so he owns a recording studio and we would go and we would do like onsite recordings and we would do sound and things like that.

[00:15:28] And I got to go and like push the buttons and like learn how to wrap cables and like help everything, like learn how to all these things from such a young age. And I think that changed me, right? Like that absolutely changed me. I love that your kids are like, yeah, this is just normal. This is just what we do

[00:15:42] Kristin Hardwick: This is, this is just normal. And I think the fact that, like the thing that I love about our family business, the businesses that we have is they see me and then they have to help me sometimes, you know, clean the buildings, like we have cleaners, but occasionally we have to go clean, um, build furniture, do you know, marketing things.

[00:15:58] But they also get to see me get dressed up and go to galas, which is still like the funniest thing ever in my kids think of a big deal. I’m like, it’s a fundraiser. It’s not really that. . But so they get to see like both ends of that. And I think to your point, like being there and being involved in it is really great core memories and it, it just kinda sets the tone for you can do, you can do anything.

[00:16:16] We do make a good, we do make a point when I make all the time point out ridiculous ways that people make money just to kinda like give the kids examples. Like, hey, somebody, somebody gets paid to ship potatoes with faces drawn on them.

[00:16:28] Roxanne: Yeah.

[00:16:29] Kristin Hardwick: You know, like silly, ridiculous things. Um, my son went through a phase where he thought for sure he was gonna be a police officer.

[00:16:37] And so now we talk about all the different ways that law enforcement, you know,

[00:16:40] Roxanne: Mm.

[00:16:41] Kristin Hardwick: Touches everything we do. Like, you don’t have to just be a police officer on the street, you can be a law enforcement officer six different ways. So we try to just point out that whatever your heart wants to do, there’s a way to earn money from that.

[00:16:53] Roxanne: Yes. What a, what a beautiful message for them to get to so young. Oh, I

[00:16:57] love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Oh, Kristin, what do you wish people knew about being a parent and an entrepreneur and like a human all at the same time?

[00:17:08] What do you wish people knew?

[00:17:08] Kristin Hardwick: Um, my core message over and over and over is just let it be easy. I think as humans we try to overcomplicate things like life is hard enough if we could just look for what’s the simple way to do things, what’s the easiest way to do things? That has, has really helped me. Narrow down what I need to do, simplify the to-do list, let go of the guilt.

[00:17:27] It’s just kind of the core theme that has made everything better as a mom, as a human being, as a business owner over and over. Just let it be easy.

[00:17:36] Roxanne: Do you know the comedian Ali Wong?

[00:17:39] Kristin Hardwick: I know Ali, mean, not personally. No, I said that

[00:17:41] Roxanne: like, yeah, she’s my best friend. How did you

[00:17:44] know Right.

[00:17:46] Kristin Hardwick: Ali Wong is.

[00:17:48] Roxanne: She talks about, um, I have sacrificed enough. Have you heard

[00:17:52] this?

[00:17:53] Kristin Hardwick: don’t know. No,

[00:17:54] Roxanne: I had a, I had a friend who was telling me about it just the other day. So I’m, I’m like, okay, I’m starting to like, hear the messages that the universe needs me to hear, right?

[00:18:01] So I’ve sacrificed enough, and it’s the same idea of just let it be easy, let it be

[00:18:05] Kristin Hardwick: can just,

[00:18:06] Roxanne: You’ve

[00:18:07] sacrificed enough, you don’t, it doesn’t have to be hard for it to be valid.

[00:18:12] Kristin Hardwick: 1000%. And you, as the human being experiencing it, does not have to make it harder just to earn it. Right? Like, like life is hard enough. , you don’t have to put up additional barriers for yourself.

[00:18:23] Roxanne: Oh, I, I love that. Let it be easy. That’s such a beautiful message. Kristin, I wanna ask you a question about the name of the podcast. So, when I started my business, I was not a parent. And, and I, I was super into hustle culture, let’s be honest. Like I, I absolutely bought into all of it.

[00:18:43] Kristin Hardwick: It was a time for all of us. It like I can tell you what year. I’m sure like it’s not, it’s not your fault. We were there,

[00:18:49] Roxanne: We were all there, right? And it was, it felt so good. The hustle, hustle, hustle. Go, go, go, right. Work hard, play hard. And then I had my first child, my daughter, and my whole world stopped. And I knew instantly that what I was doing was not sustainable. So I’ve been on this quest to reimagine the idea of hustle since then.

[00:19:07] So as another recovering perfectionist who, I love this so much, how do you reimagine hustle?

[00:19:14] Reimagining Hustle

[00:19:14] Kristin Hardwick: I am trying to reclaim the word hustle. It’s not a dirty word, which I definitely felt like it was for the last two, three years. Um, I like to hustle in pockets. I like being really focused and dedicated in certain pockets, but then I have to have those really good boundaries to, to not let the hustle flow over into the rest and the flow and the alignment because I need both of my life.

[00:19:36] That’s why I’m reimagining.

[00:19:38] Roxanne: That’s amazing. And I, yeah. Woo. Woohoo. Yes. Thank you. Love it. Love it, love it, love it. Uh, okay. Before we find out where we can find you online, will you please give us a 30 second pep talk for other moms who are also on this entrepreneur journey?

[00:19:54] Kristin Hardwick: Yes. Okay. My 30 second pep talk is not my own. I heard it from Kristen Bell. The actress shares things. Her therapist told her, okay, but stay, stay with me. So, The road has lines on it. Those are boundaries, and nobody gets mad at the boundaries. We just all appreciate that the boundaries are there to keep us safe and to help us navigate the twists and turns.

[00:20:18] You need boundaries in your life, and you can’t get mad at your boundaries, but you need boundaries to help you navigate the twists and turns. So if you choose what those are, then that winding path gets a lot easier versus just trying to go straight or turn without paying attention to the boundaries. I’m butchering it.

[00:20:37] That was the idea. But though, but have the boundaries. Life is so much better with boundaries.

[00:20:42] Roxanne: Oh, yes.

[00:20:43] Kristin Hardwick: As a mom, as a business owner, don’t feel like you have to answer your emails at three, eight 3:00 AM unless you wanna,

[00:20:50] Roxanne: It’s your

[00:20:51] boundary to pick, right?

[00:20:52] Kristin Hardwick: it whatever your boundary is. Yeah,

[00:20:54] Roxanne: I love the visual of the road too. I haven’t heard this one, so thank you. Thank you for that. That’s a good one.

[00:21:00] Kristin Hardwick: that’s a, and you don’t get mad at the road like everyone underst.

[00:21:03] Roxanne: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Ugh. Ah, I love it. I love it. Thank you Kristin. Okay, we need more of you. Where can we find you online? Tell us all I lot, lots of places

[00:21:14] give us, here’s, here’s how I want you to, here’s how I want you to tell us. I want you to tell us, okay, if you are this kind of person and you want this kind of service, like if you’re in New Hampshire and you need a photographer, are you still doing photography?

[00:21:23] Kristin Hardwick: I just, I still do have shots.

[00:21:24] Roxanne: Okay. So there you go. So like, tell us like that, and then find me here. That’s how I want you to set this one up so we can. Compartmentalize it in our minds.

[00:21:33] Kristin Hardwick: If you are , if you are local to New Hampshire and you need a space to work with is beautiful and filled with amazing human beings, please find me at cohonh.com, C O H O nh.com. Um, if you are. In need of support as a female entrepreneur who’s balancing your family and you want coaching digital resources, advice, tips, tools, all that you can find me at kristinhardwick.com.

[00:21:57] That’s where I put all of my good stuff. I’ve been writing a blog, um, just trying to share as much information as I can. And also if you were in the area and need digital photos, headshot, branding, photos, app kristin hardwick.com for that as well, try to simplify.

[00:22:10] Roxanne: Perfect, and we’ll make sure that we link everything in the show notes. Kristin, this has been a treat for me. It’s in the morning where I am, so what a great way to start my day. I appreciate it so much. I know time is weird. Time is

[00:22:21] Kristin Hardwick: Hi. What? What is time? It’s

[00:22:23] Roxanne: it’s all made up, . It’s all made up. This has been a treat though.

[00:22:28] Thank you so much for the gift of your time and, and I hope all those kids at your house get feeling better too.

[00:22:33] Kristin Hardwick: Thank you so much. This has been great. Thanks, Roxanne.


[00:22:36] Roxanne: Thanks for listening to Reimagining hustle with Roxanne Merket. If you like the show and want more, check out reimagining hustle.com and please leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back next week with another episode. See you soon.