RocketMamas is proud to launch our Q&A series, Flight Path, where we interview our favorite RocketMamas for a behind-the-scenes look at how they make it all happen. Often we entrepreneurs, work-at-home moms and telecommuters go it alone, figuring out childcare and time management on our own, with little help or guidance. Each RocketMama’s flight path is a little different and those of us out there doing this on our own can learn so much from studying the trajectory of the mamas making it work.
We begin our series with a true friend and collaborator of the RocketMamas, Tiana Kubik, co-owner of TK Photography in Chicago, IL, which she runs in partnership with her husband, Thomas. Thank you Tiana for this glimpse into the life of a business-owning, on-the-go BossMom.
Tell us about the services your business offers
TK Photography offers children and family photography, newborn photography, birthday party photography, and smash cake, fall, Santa, and holiday mini sessions. We also provide event photography, headshots and other commercial photography. We service Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.
How did you decide to start your business?
TK originally began with just my husband, Thomas, photographing children in 2009. I was in grad school and we decided that I would take on some light admin since business was growing. I also was an assistant preschool teacher part time. During my last year of grad school, I had to do a full-time student teaching position, which meant I could not have another job and we had to live off of just the photography income. So, it opened up a discussion about what our future was going to look like. We decided to just make this MASSIVE leap, become partners AND get pregnant! We decided to run TK as a husband and wife team and become parents at the same time.
What did your career look like before you started your own business? Was this a big change?
Before TK, I was a preschool teacher, then a nanny for several years, and then a graduate student at the Erikson Institute where I earned a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education. Oddly, switching to running a children and family photography company was a HUGE leap. I went from being "on the front lines" working with kids to being the behind-the-scenes gal. I rarely come in contact with the kids we photograph.
I still use a lot of my skills and knowledge, coaching the team about (early childhood) milestones and how they develop. We have also discussed behaviors and challenges and how to engage children to get them to trust you and let you into their inner circle (which is VERY important to get good photos).
However, I have no aspiration to be a photographer, which feels weird to say. I love kids, I love how they grow, I love seeing photos of them...but truly love my business owner hat and being behind the scenes.
Have you always wanted to do what you’re doing now?
Owning a business is hard core! I actually thought I would be a teacher. Then I toyed with the idea of doing Early Intervention work. This business owning life just came at the right time.
Did you start this business to spend more time with your children? If so, how has that worked out?
YES. I really wanted something more flexible. I wanted to be present for my kiddos. I want all the fun things that Mom Life can offer: Room parent, field trips, class visits, recitals, ALL of those things that drive us crazy!
So, running TK is how I make this happen. I work hard but I have a flexible work schedule. I also do this so that my husband can have more time with our children. If I were a teacher or worked for a different company, the kids would be in day care. Our team shoots 80% of our sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, so it would mean very little family time. Having a business together gives us so much more time as a family, even if at odd hours and days. My kids may never know what the Museum of Science and Industry looks like when it is packed!
How has it worked out? Great in the grand scheme of things. The details can be hard. The logistics, the planning, the decisions...working while tiny humans use you as a mountain. I am constantly having to decide which "baby" is most in need. Like today, I had full intentions of getting so much done, but my 10 month old is teething and would only take her nap ON me. So, three hours of work became an epic cuddle fest...and I am 100% okay with that.
Often RocketMamas blur the lines between work and home life. What is your work/life balance like?
The last three years have been all about getting out of the day-to-day of running the business. We hired a studio manager and slowly I am transitioning away from answering emails and phone calls and focusing on networking and creating partnerships with other businesses. THIS is my balance. I love getting out, meeting other mamas and business owners. I love finding creative ways to do what we do. I can also almost always take one or both kiddos with me to meetings and that has made my life so much less stressful.
What does your “office” situation look like?
We have two studios, neither of which are my office. 90% of the time my office is on my laptop and on the couch. My office is also the world all around with my smart phone!
Do you leverage childcare during your working hours? How do you get time to focus exclusively on work?
My four-year-old started three half-days of school in 2015. Now he does five half-days. Outside of that, we try to be very strict about one of us being available. So, if I have a meeting we will not book Thomas for that time so that he can do school pick up or hang with the kids. Likewise, if he has to work, I try not to agree to a meeting where the kids can't come with me.
Surprisingly both my kids are also great at entertaining themselves while I work. They play, often destroying the house, but I can get so much work done!
What are you most proud of?
Oh goodness. So much to be proud of. I am proud that we are making this our best life! We don't have EVERYTHING we want. However, we have our little family, a thriving business, beautiful, happy kids, amazing community of friends and partners, and a flexibility to be engaged in all of this in a way not everyone is able to.
I am also proud of the work I am able to do in the community. Serving on the board of Mom + Baby, Hip Circle Empowerment Center, and being involved with the RocketMamas, have brought so much joy to my life, outside of work and family. Having the opportunity to give back to women, who have given me and my family so much of their time and energy, is amazing.
How can our network commission your services?
We love working with RocketMamas! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there a special promo you would like to offer our readers?
NEW CLIENTS ONLY- Mention RocketMamas and get $25 off your full session.
Our RocketMamas spotlight business of the week:
TK Photography on Instagram
TK Photography on Facebook