…building a business: nate burkus

I must admit that if I am not pressed with a deadline to complete on Sunday, I love to come home from church make myself a cup of coffee & turn on Super Soul Sunday on Oprah. The French doors are open to the veranda, the kids are outside playing and DH is cooking up a yummy frittata. Love.


This weekend was one of those Sundays and Nate Burkus was the guest. Not sure if you ever watch his show or even heard of him, but he is a designer that Oprah basically discovered and gave him his own show. It was good. It had interesting ideas. And then it went downhill.


He talked about taking chances with his career and thought a show was a good move for him. He was ambitious and considered it a once in a lifetime opportunity. BUT, he realized even in the first week of production that it did not feel right to him.

I thought it was a good lesson and one worth considering when we are given new opportunities with our creative businesses.



Is it right?

What do you need to change to make it feel right?

Are you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

Do you feel relief to end it?

These questions make me think of a job that I worked really hard to get before having children. It was with an amazing firm in a very cool space working on interesting projects. It really did seem like a dream job, but something did not quite feel right and I knew it immediately. I tried and tried until my body took on an awful virus basically forcing me to deal with my situation and leave. I felt a huge sense of relief. I was down a path that was not right for Christen.

(Below: a picture of my younger self sitting on a chair I found at a yard sale & could not afford to slipcover yet chatting on the phone with Gram about my work problem. I still remember.)


When you are your own boss you get to experiment. You can go down a road and see how it feels, if you like the people you meet, if the work is fulfilling. There is freedom when doing your own work. Your biggest constraint will be financial. You probably cannot afford to put yourself too far out there, but just enough to test the waters. This could mean entering a fair or market to experiment selling your wares, starting your own website or opening a shop on Etsy. I could mean opening a real shop or consigning or starting to ship your product.


I think it’s useful to try these things. Does it feel right to you? Is it working? Is it getting easier once you know what you are doing or is it becoming a monster and making your cranky and eating up all your time & energy?

There is always a balance too. New endeavors do not have to be black & white. They can be a bit grey, in fact. For example, if you are attempting to start shipping and the process is getting to be too much of a headache. Can you ship only smaller items? or hire someone to do your shipping? You don’t have to quit the process all together.


I’ve talked quite a bit about having to tweak the effort I put into my endeavors so that it conforms with my family & lifestyle. I feel like I’m constantly doing this and each time it feels a bit better and more comfortable as I listen to my own needs. I encourage you to follow your ambition, but ask yourself periodically, “Is this working for me?”

I’m hoping my younger self would agree with my choices.