When sisters-in-law Nora and Elizabeth Sheils started Rock Paper Coin in 2018, they quickly found that running a software company was nothing like running a typical wedding industry business. First and foremost, they needed funding, which was going well – until an investor backed out at the last minute. In today’s episode, Nora and Elizabeth talk about how they scrambled to make payroll, the stress of fundraising, and how they separate tasks to (try to) perfect the partnership.
Nora Shiels: I know Elizabeth is working so hard and she’s so busy that even if I am overwhelmed, I wouldn’t necessarily want to put any of my stuff that I should be doing on her because maybe that’s gonna put her over that, you know.
Elizabeth Shiels: I wish it was that formal. Usually it’s me like, I’m so fucking done like, I’m over this.
Courtney Hopper: I’m selling you my share.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, totally or like I called her crying.
She’s like, okay, okay.
Dana Kadwell (PODCAST INTRO): Welcome to ‘Hustle and Gather,’ a podcast about inspiring the everyday entrepreneur to take the leap. I’m Dana.
Courtney Hopper: And I’m Courtney.
Dana Kadwell: And we are two sisters and business partners.
Courtney Hopper: Yes, it can get very messy.
Dana Kadwell: And making big decisions with your big sister can be hard. So how do you determine what to do when you disagree?
Courtney Hopper: And how do you accept that sometimes? You’re not the one who’s right.
Dana Kadwell: So welcome to perfecting the partnership. In this series, we’re learning about what it takes to work together by talking with other partnerships to understand their dynamic.
Courtney Hopper: And today we’re joined by Nora Shiels, and Elizabeth Shiels, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, a revolutionary platform that brings together event professionals and engaged couples to simplify and streamline the often daunting contract and invoice process. With over 19 years running an award winning planning firm bridal bliss, founder Nora possesses an intimate grasp on the ins and outs of the wedding industry. In our time working with countless couples and leading a team of 30 plus women, she recognized the need for a more effective streamlined approach to the often daunting contract and invoice process. Thus, Rock Paper Coin was born in partnership with our sister in law, Elizabeth, and the two of them have been committed to bringing together event professionals and couples ever since.
Dana Kadwell: As partners Nora and Elizabeth are going to have disagreements we do all the time. And today we’re going to hear about one. But before we get to that just a little bit about their story, this our Rock Paper Coin together in 2018, they funded the company themselves and then realized, Oh, crap, we need an investor. So they found one and she became a partner. But it was her first investment in software as well. And software isn’t like the wedding planning world where she came from.
Elizabeth Shiels: She just assumed that it would happen very similar to like a service. And it’s a product. And I think that was like a big disconnect. And the relationship ended because she was committed to continue fundraising in and putting money into the company. And literally on the day that we kind of were expecting to get funds. And she said no. And we had payroll that was literally due, I think it was like maybe two weeks. And we could not cover payroll. And so we had to take out personal loans to cover payroll. And that was the moment that I was like, holy shit. That was a really big like turning point for souring this relationship for sure. But also gave us power to be like, we figure this out on our own, we do not need, you know, this person’s money, like let’s go prove ourselves like we can do this. And that while as hard as it was like it really was almost like the fuel that the rocket ship needed for us.
Nora Shiels: We had already put our own money into it. So this was like not the first time we had had to do it. We had like dried the well putting money into this business and then brought her on. And it was like, we were down to the wire because then we you know, we had to go out and secure another investor that we hadn’t started because we were promised these funds that we kind of had to start from scratch and you know, going through finding investor from the pitch through the diligence to all the paperwork like it takes quite a while. So we secured our second one, like days before payroll was too it was really, really stressful.
Elizabeth Shiels: The one like funny story. So Nora was on her computer, we had to run payroll by Friday at 4pm for it to hit on time. My loan wasn’t coming through until 4pm that day. So I was like freaking out I’m at home and I’m like see my loan it comes through finally at 3:30, I have that is my first baby is asleep taking a nap and I’m like I don’t care like see the loan hits I like rip him out of bed. He’s like if I throw him into the car seat and I’m like, flooring it to the like bag and I’m like running like a crazy person. Like you have to deposit this cheque before like right now like just like express.
Dana Kadwell: You’re like security.
Elizabeth Shiels: Totally. They’re like crazy until they deposit it and they’re like okay, so it won’t be in your bank like because it’s a larger check. It won’t be in your bank for 24 hours. I was like what? Like no, I need like right now. The bank is amazing. And they’re like well because you’ve been established for so long. We will front you this money and because we know that the bank is coming. So literally our bank like fronted as part of the payroll like, Thank God, we have a personal relationship with our bankers like that was like so instrumental.
Dana Kadwell: So some of you listening to this may thing gets a little nod to scramble like that to make payroll. But we’ve been there too, sometimes entrepreneurship isn’t the healthiest of lifestyles, but let’s get to where they are in their partnership today and the challenges they have around fundraising yet again.
Elizabeth Shiels: Well, right now, I would probably say like, the burnout piece is huge, like we are fundraising for our next round. And that just takes a toll on us in different ways. And it’s really one of the only things that like we come at from different points of views. Because as individuals, like we can connect with different people. And so, you know, with all of these different investors that you have conversations with, like, you can feel a personal connection to one or the other. And you can see value in one or the other. And so it’s like working through that and figuring out, like, what is not only best for like us as a company, but us as like individuals and business partners is really important and takes just a lot of energy. And you have to be like super thoughtful, and you know, be totally honest, like when we first started, there wasn’t anybody. And so then it was like a different kind of stress of like, we’re fundraising, we’re not really getting the traction that we thought we were gonna get. And then like, two weeks can change. And it’s like you have too many people knocking at your door. And so it’s like, everything in the like fundraising VC world, it can happen at an absolute snail’s pace or lightning speed, there is no in between. And it’s figuring out like how to navigate that and all of the personalities within that space that can be super challenging and really, like emotionally draining for us. Every round is different than the one before. So you’re constantly being challenged, like with every race.
Courtney Hopper: Yeah, we were talking about this actually with Julie Nova.
Elizabeth Shiels: Oh, I love her.
Courtney Hopper: She knows that drill. I mean, and this is like, totally not how we were funded. We were funded the good old fashioned, what’s your credit score? How much money can I give you? Yeah, way. And then like on the value of our business, like, oh, this is what your business is worth. This is how much it will give you. So we’ve never gone through that like venture capitalist or like having to convince anybody but ourselves and our spouses to believe in us to be able to move forward. But she was talking about how she was getting ready to do I don’t know what round she’s on. Yeah, but the next round of fundraising, and even her who I think is like an expert fundraiser, like that woman could network like nobody’s business. Said it’s super stressful. Like it is so stressful raising those funds.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, it takes a toll on like, that’s where, like, I could not do it alone. I don’t think more could do it alone. And like, you know, hats off to Julie like.
Courtney Hopper: I’m pretty sure she just does it.
Elizabeth Shiels: I know, I need a chapter out of her book. But I think that like for us, it’s just nice to have somebody to like get cheque. And just make sure that it’s like a decision with like the head and heart and not just like one or the other because, you know, taking money. It has a lot of strings attached to it. So it’s nice to have a sounding board. And like I said, like, I have to verbally work through things. So like, Nora’s phone has been ringing like off the hook then like, Okay, well, what about this, and I like have to talk through like every single piece of it.
Courtney Hopper: So, I mean, for those people who aren’t familiar, because I think there’s probably a very large portion of our audience, us included, that aren’t super familiar with like that venture capitalist. I imagine it’s kind of like Shark Tank. Like, you’re like, here’s the pitch. And this is how much money I want. And I’m gonna give you this person. And they’re like, actually, I’m gonna give you this number of dollars for this percent. And I want this to the beach house in the Hamptons. I don’t really know harbor it goes, you know, but I imagine it’s kind of like that?
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah. So everything that you see on Shark Tank is like the VC world, but with much more favorable, what’s called terms, Shark Tank, take a large portion of your company for a very small amount of money. And so like in this world, it’s a lot of just like entrepreneurs who have done it or, like wealthy individuals who have started these kind of like funds. And so these fund managers, they go out and they actually raise money on their own from like, incredibly wealthy people. And so they could be operating out of what’s called like a fund of, you know, 50 million, 100 million, and then they take it in, they go invest in like today’s entrepreneurs, and like, the idea is that, you know, you invest in 10 people, maybe five, don’t make it four, kind of make it and you have like one that does really well for you. So it’s like kind of putting money on like different bets. I mean, you obviously want everybody to do really well, but that’s not the statistics. So you’re just kind of have to hedge your bets a little bit. And so that’s kind of the world that we play in and so, you know, with the wedding space, and I think to your point, why it’s not really talked about in this space is that not a lot of companies practically none have fundraised like money in this market that are not direct to consumer like marketing to the couples getting married. And so like the David’s Bridal Zola, the not like, yes, they’ve all raised money, they’re these big names, they have done very well. But not on that side on more of like that B2B business to business side, there’s not a lot of companies that have actually successfully raised money and gone on to do things with it. So it’s not talked about, and it’s you know, I think, pretty misunderstood of like, what it can do for our industry. And I do think like, that’s a little bit of to the wedding industry is, is a little outdated, and behind in other industries. And I just think it’s like a lot of people don’t have that, like VC money. And, you know, I think with creatives, everybody starts their own creative business, and not necessarily like a software or something to like, enable the back end of businesses in this industry.
Dana Kadwell: Right.
Courtney Hopper: Yeah, I think is totally interesting and brave.
Dana Kadwell: I know.
Courtney Hopper: You’re braving a whole new world.
Dana Kadwell: Or the wedding industry.
Courtney Hopper: Or like all on everything.
Nora Shiels: Fundraising for us was kind of like starting the company, and that we had never done it before. Like, we’d never done software before. And we’re meeting with these developers. And they’re like, saying all these words that like, we had no idea what they’re talking about. So we’re like jotting down notes and taking down notes. And then we’d go home and read Google all of this terminology. And that’s how we really learned from the beginning. And it kind of felt like that with fundraising. They’re like, what’s your CAC? What’s your like, all these things, and we’re like, oh, Elizabeth could like pull it out. She’s amazing. But we got smarter this round, we approach this round a little differently. Because the last couple times we fundraise, Elizabeth and I did it all together all at the same time. And it was like next to impossible to run the company and fundraise like, there are so many meetings, some of them like on the drop of a dime, where you have to be available, like when we pitch to like Israel, or where it was Istanbul, and it was at midnight, our time. So we were pitching all of the time. And like nobody had an eye on the business. And so this round, Elizabeth is way better at fundraising than I am. So she took the lead. And then I have taken back and done more of like running the business while she is out fundraising. And for me, it’s worked a lot better. I’m a lot happier. I don’t know about you, Elizabeth.
Dana Kadwell: Elizabeth, well, I mean, the whole thing was about burnout. So it sounds like because it you’re in this high emotionally charged space often. And you are, I think I can imagine the pressure that you feel on your shoulders want to have to fundraise the money and one has to make good decisions, even though you can gut check it with Nora, like you’re the one having the conversation. And so you’re probably at this point where I’m like, burnt out over it. And Nora, you’re probably at the point where you’re like, I’m cool as a cucumber, I’m great. Is that kind of like some of the experience that you’re having?
Elizabeth Shiels: Yes. But I think that just like Nora’s doing so much of personnel side that like managing is its own, like the spin for now. And like, I’m sure she’ll be excited to like, level that balance. A little bit out when I like, come back and have more of my like, you know, head down in the business. But the like, money will always be the most stressful part of like a company. I think that’s true for any company like I don’t think just because we’re like, you know, VC like we have money coming in and we’re fundraising is any different than, you know, starting your own company and being scared about cash flow. It’s just like, incredibly stressful. And I think a lot of the burnout that we can experience at different times is usually around the financial health of the company, whether that’s the funds coming in, you know, sales and transactions, or whether that’s like the money going out for payroll and expenses, and that how everybody is an individual and operates their own household financially, like bleeds into the business. And so Nora and I coming, you know, and making financial decisions together, we’re very good at that. But we do operate our individual finances very differently. So that can also take like this emotional toll that is like really important to consider when you’re having these conversations as well. Is like how you spend and how you save.
Dana Kadwell: Yeah, so do you Elizabeth, do you feel like because you mentioned this and I think it comes with a great amount of respect for your partner where you can say like I am here, but I can also recognize how hard my partner is working. Do you feel like, I was like, guilty but like you shouldn’t feel burnt out with where you are because maybe Nora is doing so much and she’s doing all the admin stuff and you feel like I did this, I shouldn’t feel this way?
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, I think that there is like this difference where Nora has an immense amount of like, physical work and it’s probably feels like a lot of busy work. It’s like the HR stuff like paperwork and like, I look at it and I’m like, I would kill myself if I had to do that, you know, like, I literally cannot stand like, paper pushing. And Nora has that responsibility like all on her shoulders right now. And where like then for me, I’m, I thrive in meetings I live off of like people, you know, and so that like, extrovert personality in me, like, my schedule is back to back meetings, but it, it’s okay, I like it. I feel the pressure and I will be burnt out when we close this round for sure. But in a way, like we divided these responsibilities to our personalities, like I’m using air quotes for everybody listening, I like fundraising because I want people if I had my heads down and I was pushing paper like it would be way different for now for me.
Courtney Hopper: So don’t you feel like and this is I can speak to kind of our relationships I’ve spoken about this before on the podcast that I often feel like I deal with all the finances so like I’m a very odd person where I’m like very like money minded. Because I really view finances like as a resource and like how can I best capitalize on what we have to make more? I’m really good at projections and making sure those things are met and whatnot. So like that is definitely and I do that in my family to like I run all my finances.
Dana Kadwell: I don’t run any of my finances, there’s no point in my life at all. Not at home, not at work. I’m like a 1950s housewife over here.
Courtney Hopper: She is like that. Like I mean, it is true. Like we’ll do things like when we started speaking, I’m like, Dana, like, we’re gonna do a rental for newly and get our nails done. And like it needs to be polished up put together. And this will be a shareholder distribution, blah, blah, blah, like, so she’s like, oh, so the business paying for this time, like, yes, get your nails done, you can get your nails done rent that newly like, blah, blah, that’s just like that. But anyway, I digress. The point I’m trying to make is sometimes in our business, Dana, is so good at like those systems and procedures, like she’s so good at, like taking an idea and like fleshing it out in like a tangible way that is, like practical, like, whether that’s like making a Canva or like, coming up with a document that we need that kind of fills a gap. Whereas I feel like my skills are not so tangible. Do you know what I mean? Like they are a little more abstract, and they’re very much so in that meeting space, like, I could convince anybody to do business with us, like I can make too much business for us such that Dana’s like, I swear to God, if you bring one other thing to my plate, like, my head’s gonna explode, and like, but that’s literally like, what I considered, it sounds like maybe for you to Elizabeth, one of the bigger skills that I bring to the table is that ability to drum up business or to get people on board with whatever it is that you’re putting out, but then sometimes I have guilt because it doesn’t look as productive. It doesn’t look like I checked off 30 things on my to do list and I had all of this, like, churn and burn productivity. Like I’m like, here’s what I did this week. You know, you’re like, Wow, well, I brokered that deal. Made a shit ton of work for us on the back end, but I made that happen you know.
Elizabeth Shiels: There was like a moment where Nora and I and like a couple of our other like RPC people, we were having these weekly check ins, and we were like, keeping track of what we were doing in these Excel docs. And like, Nora, and I like it like honestly, it just felt like a waste of time to update this doc, because I was like, it’s gonna take me 20 minutes and I’d rather like be busting out whatever X, Y, Z ignores like the exact same. So we were like, you know, last minute always, like filling it in. It was just like, so vague and like, you know, but then the other employees, it was like this whole list of like, nicely checked off, like, know what they’ve done in like Nora and I is like, I started this conversation, like, I’ll close it later, you know, I started this project, like it’s in works. And it’s like, we ended up stopped tracking because it like, there was nothing like that we can really check mark and like ever have completed because one conversation always leads to like something new in that way. And I think that’s just business owners is like, you don’t get to ever wrap it up in a bow. Like, any project that you start. And so I think that’s just something we had, like learn as, like, we were dividing roles is like, okay, like, we just really have to divide the roles, we won’t be able to put checkmarks next to a lot of it. Where do we best like serve with our personalities and traits.
Courtney Hopper: But I felt like it took a minute for me to get to the point where my worth or value wasn’t related to that checklist. You know what I mean?
Nora Shiels: Yeah, I can relate to that. You know, part of that check in that we had with some of our employees. It also was like, there is never a point that I’m worried about Elizabeth not doing a job or do you know like, I trust her 101%. I don’t need to know what she’s doing every day, I don’t need to know, you know, like, it just kind of felt like a waste of time. Like she trusts me, I trust her. And if we don’t like, that’s a major problem in a partnership. And we do, like we still do check ins, we talk like multiple times every day, but it’s not like a formal like spent a half an hour filling out this form. So I can share it with Elizabeth, what I completed the last week.
Dana Kadwell: I feel like for me, like what I struggle with, and I can hear this, Elizabeth, like, when you’re in Nora is talking about this, like, you know, and we’ve been personally just be fully transparent, struggling with like, kind of creating that division of duties and recognizing where our strengths are. And I resent my strengths sometimes. Like, that’s the problem is, like, I understand I’m great at systems and processes and all that, but it’s so not fun sometimes. And I know that I’m good at it. And I know that it’ll serve our business well, but sometimes, like, I want to be the one that’s going to network instead of being the one sitting behind a computer screen. And so I struggle with the fact that like, Okay, I know, this is what’s best I know, this is I’m working in the most best space for me to be successful and I resent it. And to me, that’s what leads to burnout. It’s because I consistently look at, it’s like, the grass is greener on the other side. And I have to sometimes put that on and be like, Okay, I don’t want to be doing this, but I could be doing this, and you really want to be doing that. And it’s you know, and I struggle with that. And I think that with burnout, I think that happens a lot is that you present your skills, in a way.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, I think what was interesting, like for us in the division is that Nora had already started and ran a very successful company. And so we defaulted to assigning her a lot of those responsibilities, which good bad, or, you know, right or wrong, like, you know, the jury’s still out on the property workload, but happened, you know, like, and so we didn’t really like think otherwise. And like, to your point about being like the grasses, you know, can be greener, we always think it’s gonna be greener, I think that us talking all the time, it does allow for us to like, stay up to date to be like, I’m happy to take that on are like, I have currently more capacity than you have right now, or like, vice versa. And so that’s also part of like, I think, really important with burnout and with roles is like being flexible enough to offload the other person’s plate, if it’s feeling like they’re really burnt out right now. And they need a little bit less.
Dana Kadwell: Nora, what about you? Like when do you feel that burnout, like, what causes it for you?
Nora Shiels: Oh gosh, I like Elizabeth said, she loves back to back meetings all day, I love meetings. But if I don’t have breaks in between, to like, tackle my inbox, or like download the things that I went over in the meeting, and it’s all left, at the end of the day, like that super stresses me out, if I cannot see the bottom of my inbox, like it gives me anxiety. So I like to check in on that several times a day. And if it’s all left, for the end of the day, like I’m going to be working at night, I’m not going to have any meeting like and then I’ll probably have a meeting in the morning, I like to front load my day with meetings. And so just knowing in the back of my mind, I have all these PR requests I have to do I have you know, I have to follow up with this person. And, you know, I have to prepare a document for this meeting like that really stresses me out. So if I don’t have like those breaks, where I’m working in between and eating lunch at my computer, then then that leads me to burnout. And we’re like, we’re usually on opposite ends of the spectrum. Like when I’m over the edge. Elizabeth, you know, can maybe take something off my plate or vice versa. It’s it gets scary when we’re both super, super stressed. And that has been rare, but like it’s recent, like pretty recent that it happened. It was like during caterer source. And then we were both like, I don’t know, like usually one of us would bring the other you know, pull the other one up. And but it was just like we were both so just, we needed a break, you know, but we couldn’t take a break. There was no possible.
Courtney Hopper: So there still has not been a break since May.
Nora Shiels: We just drink a lot.
Courtney Hopper: Your liver is taking care of it for you.
Nora Shiels: Yeah.
Dana Kadwell: I think my liver breaks ups a couple of weeks ago. So I know that too. When I’m in a more of an emotionally charged person even though I am an Enneagram eight and I think more like I guess you do think more like emotionally kind of like with your gut than anything else. But I tend to think the world is falling apart and everything is ending when I am in this very emotionally charged place and so I am second to the ground I am I have a burn to the ground threw the baby out with the bathwater, like, like I am just done over it. And so when I’m in those phases of burnout, and my burnout happens, I don’t want to say it happens rarely, but it happens, like…
Courtney Hopper: Semi-annual
Dana Kadwell: Yeah, like, it’s probably yearly, I would say, that’s fair. Sometimes twice a year, depends what’s going on. And to be fair, my burnout isn’t always related to work. Sometimes personal like, right. It’s just life, like just going through, like, you know, the life things or whatever. But I don’t know, for us if it like, fortifies our relationship, or if it almost hurts it because I tend to project myself onto Courtney. And maybe because she’s a safer place because she’s my sister, and she’s someone that like, I know…
Courtney Hopper: She can’t go anywhere.
Dana Kadwell: Yeah, like, she’s gonna love me regardless. But like, I tend to, not always I take it out or like, emotionally take it out. But like, I resent everything that’s going on. And I like one that I’m like you because this is your fault. Get me out of here. And so I’m curious as another partnership, do you guys have more tension in those moments, like when someone is experiencing and I’m talking about like high burnout, not like just like, Oh, I’m stressed out this week, but like, you’re in a phase of weeks, months of burnout, and you’re like maybe questioning your life choices? And you know, does it create that tension in that partnership?
Courtney Hopper: Or, is it just more heightened because we’re sisters?
Elizabeth Shiels: So I don’t have a sister. So like, I can’t speak to that, because I do see that, like, heightened with friends that do have sisters. And so I think that I like to rely on Nora, like a sister. But we don’t have that, like, familial background of like, growing up together that you can like, twist at each other, you know, and like…
Dana Kadwell: Push the button.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah. Like, I think that, like, my opinion is like, emotionally I do rely on Nora, like a sister. But without that history, it’s different.
Courtney Hopper: Yeah, yeah.
Nora Shiels: Yeah, I don’t think I mean, Elizabeth, you might have a different thing to say about this. But I’ve never like because of my stress. And like, this is all Elizabeth’s fault. Or, you know, like, it’s never been towards Elizabeth. It’s usually something that we’re both like dealing with, on different levels. So, I mean, that helps to, it’s not like, you know, one of us has made this definitely mistake that has caused the company so much angst or anything like that. So I mean, that also helps to, but you know, it’s in many times, I think the times where I’m most stressed or like burnt out is when it’s work and family stuff. Like, like during that whole situation. And in early May, when we were so stressed, my son was playing baseball, and all of a sudden, there was like, a practice the next day, so and so time and my husband’s out of town on work. And I’m like, I have meetings like how am I going to do this all and it just kind of all comes down together.
Elizabeth Shiels: So yeah, I think that, like, it’s really when like, personal and work is colliding. You’re just like, like I’m out. I’m gonna go like into the woods and not reappear for three weeks.
Courtney Hopper: Oh yeah, that’s totally how I liked I think that when I’m super burned out, I become less and less and less productive. Like I like my mind is fuzzy and I can’t really focus on things and things will slip through the cracks. I don’t tend to be like an emotional burnout person. Like I’m not one to like, emotionally put my stuff on somebody, but I definitely become what I would consider more aloof, like this more checked out, like I can’t focus.
Dana Kadwell: So which I think is the opposite.
Courtney Hopper: It’s probably super frustrating to do.
Nora Shiels: I also lose all patients, like with my family, put on your damn shoes. Let’s go.
Elizabeth Shiels: I don’t know, I’d be curious. But and you to think about this, but I also have a whole lot of guilt. Because I rely on my husband so much to like, pick up when our work is really busy. But yet he has the stable, consistent job that we like, I mean, it’s a family run business. So like we do have this stability, but I’m like, you need to be doing your job because that’s a stable job like Rock Paper Coin can go like this, like, you know, Nora and I can be taking pay cuts one month and we can, you know, not be taking pay cuts and so, but I rely so heavily on him to pick up the kids early, like in this winter, like our kids did not go to school, like you know, often because of the COVID. And so, that like created this stress of like between us it was like well, who has the more important day which is like so shitty in any of the relationship has tried to pick and choose like level of importance. And that was like, this. January and February were like some of my darkest days for sure. And like even Nora, and I had to do that to be like, can you take this meeting? Like, can you take it like that guilt? Like, I mean, that’s, that stays with you just because like you relied so heavily on that person where you like, have not had that experience before.
Dana Kadwell: Yeah, so I can speak a little bit to that. So my husband became a work from home person when COVID hit and prior to he’d go into the office. So he worked like, 6:45 minutes from the house, which is normal for North Carolina. And he has like a work ethic, like, just insane. Like he and it’s self-made I mean, it’s not like his work does not dictate his hours, he can work from midnight to 8am. If he wants to, there’s a couple meetings he has to hit here and there. But really, it’s project based, get your shit done, and it’s fine. But he was just very adamant he had to be in at this time, he had to leave at this time, which was caused a lot of tension because my job was up and down. Like sometimes I have meeting at seven, sometimes I have a meeting at two, sometimes I have to be here. And then we have these children like that you have to do things with, right. And it was really hard. And for the longest time, he’s the only one that made money. And so his job was a priority. And I felt like it wasn’t on, he never said that. And he never made me feel that way. That was my own personal feeling like well, he’s the one putting food on the table. So whatever he wants has to go and it really was COVID that kind of created that Reckoning, and I do feel guilty about it. He is the mom, dad like he is home every day when the kids get off the bus he like at it in the mornings. I joke like he’s been out this week. And he’s like, you’re gonna have to get up in the morning where I’m gonna have to get drunk because the school but like he like he gets the whole house moving. Like he makes everybody breakfast, he packs my lunch, he makes the coffee and I’m the one rolling out of bed blow drying my hair getting ready. And certainly I drive him to school because the office is right next to the school. But like, he’s like the people mover in our house. And I think for there are times when he’s been like, I think makes me feel like I’m taking it for granted. Like I am not as appreciative or he feels less than because he’s like you’re I understand your job is important. But like I also have this going on. And so we really struggled with that. And I think it’s a common feeling. And the biggest thing that we did was we have state of the unions every Sunday. And like, we sit down, and we talk about the week, and it is very much like hey, this is my stress point. This is where I’m in, I’m out. I can’t answer a phone call, I cannot pick up the kids is immovable. And that’s not super common, there’s like very few times that that is actually the case. And then everything else is for me, it’s okay, you have to do X, Y, Z, like I need to pick up the kids four times this week. Therefore, I’m going to make sure that we have dinner is ready all four nights like I’m going to make it easy for you. So you don’t feel overwhelmed, because he gets over a lot more quickly than I do. But I think it’s a normal feeling to feel that way.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, and I think it was like just under a magnifying glass with COVID.
Dana Kadwell: Especially with COVID because the kids were there all the damn time and are left.
Courtney Hopper: So true.
Nora Shiels: Well, and then your husband was home. I mean, I can 1,000% relate to what you were saying. Especially when it was just bridal bliss. I had all the flexibility in the world, my husband makes substantially more than I do. He’s like, never made me feel bad about or anything like that. It was more me like, he should have more flexibility, I’ll take care of the kids because, like, he needs to make this money. And then the same like COVID started. And then he worked from home, I had no idea how much he was on the freakin phone every day, until he was working from home. And like I was with the kids and I at that point had bridal bliss and Rock Paper Coin. And like, it was impossible even without COVID, like it would have been impossible with both companies. And so we kind of did the same shuffle, you know, he helps out more and he would have before it was just I had more flexibility and then things change and so the relationship has to change. And you know, I think as women and moms like we take a lot of that on and if you don’t talk about it and communicate like it’s a problem and it’s resentment is what happens.
Dana Kadwell: And I think that’s the biggest thing is I had all these assumptions about him that he, that I thought he thought about me and then I thought he thought about my business and it just wasn’t the truth and he’s like why would you think that like I’ve never said those words to him and a lot of it is just I think it festers and it comes from being guilty that you’re not the one picking them up and you’re not the one home and you’re not the one making them lunch or breakfast or what Ever and you, you know, it’s like, I don’t know if we’re just brainwashed to think that it always has to be the mom or it always has to be us or I don’t know. But it really helps to just like air it all out. And I asked him one day, I was like, do you think your job is more important than mine? He goes, absolutely not. I don’t think he’s like, I think your job is 10 times harder than my job. He’s like you are like, emotionally spent at the end of every day that this is during COVID. He’s like, because you’re like dealing with all these people. And you’re having to make these really hard decisions. And he’s like, I respect so much of what you’re doing. Like, I have it easy over here. I can close my computer. I don’t have to think about it again until 8am. He’s like in your thinking about it in the middle of the night all night. Like, you know, this was really helpful to hear his what he thought about me and my job and everything.
Nora Shiels: That’s so true.
Courtney Hopper: Yeah, I do at all my house. So that’s like a whole another conversation. So I am the people mover.
Dana Kadwell: She is a supermom over there.
Courtney Hopper: The ticker upper and the dinner provider and all the things.
Dana Kadwell: Yes, yes.
Courtney Hopper: It is like I tell me. Oh, yeah, I have a successful week, if I know, like four out of seven nights what I’m going to make. But Dana is like, super systematized, like, very, very, like in her personal life and her business life, it’s system, system, systems. And I’m like, like, write a code.
Dana Kadwell: Which is great code until the systems fail and don’t work and they can’t, you can’t do it. And then like, I can’t function, that’s right.
Courtney Hopper: Until that fails. And then just it’s you get like, super-efficient, or they’re functioning, there’s no in between. And I’m like, totally always in the middle. I am not superefficient. I’m always functioning on some level, but it’s really great.
Nora Shiels: You know, so funny, that’s impressive Dana that you’ve got it for both work and home. I like I’ve got my systems at work, but when it’s home, like, oh, you know, anything could happen. I can’t like, you know, I’m planning and everything is so scheduled during my day that like, I don’t want to deal with it at home. I don’t want to like schedule that out. I think it’s just a mental thing.
Dana Kadwell: Yeah. I mean, it leads to some burnout as we talked about like.
Courtney Hopper: Getting back to burnout. So like at the end of this like so when do you consider this round over? Like, how do we see this ending? Are you going to have a break? I was thinking Elizabeth one of the things I was thinking was at the end before really like reimbursing yourself back into the day to day maybe there should be like a break periods. And then like a gradual reentry?
Elizabeth Shiels: One can hope but I have a feeling that something will catch on fire and then like it’s just like right back into. But Nora and I have never celebrated closing like around because I have been pregnant both times. So I think after this round, we’ll just do like some big fun, like celebratory like, dinner out or something to just like, take a moment and like let it sink in though. While I wish it was like a beach vacation with Nora for like 10 days. It’ll probably just be like two hours of like, no kids.
Courtney Hopper: Yeah, maybe a spa day.
Dana Kadwell: Yeah.
Courtney Hopper: There we go, like that set up a local spa.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, but so I think it’ll just be like nice for both of us just to like rebalance. Like, where our energy is being spent and kind of like reassess because it’s also like a good opportunity to be like What are you doing Do you not like something and like, should we do a little shuffle right now I think in as the company grows like you’re constantly shuffling and with this round like we would be continuing to hire so you know, it’s definitely like going to be some different like pain points that we’ll be experiencing two.
Dana Kadwell: Do you guys tell each other like are you guys to be honest like hey, this is the place I’m in like I’m like on the struggle bus right now like or I’m like hitting my burnout my burnout meters here like, or is it something maybe Nora is the one that’s like Elizabeth, you seem a little burnt out because I can I have these triggers that I can see that are happening, right?
Elizabeth Shiels: I wish it was that formal. Usually it’s me like I’m so fucking done like, over this.
Courtney Hopper: I’m selling you my share.
Elizabeth Shiels: Yeah, totally or like I called her crying. She’s like, okay, okay.
Dana Kadwell: I feel that.
Nora Shiels: We talk so much. If we’re not like on a zoom during the day, we’ll call each other and you know, during fundraising, it’s more than normal. But like it’s pretty clear where we’re at. There’s no like, let’s sit down and feeling stressed right now situation.
Courtney Hopper: I think one of the things though, that you touched on that I like it dawned on me a couple of years back and I think sometimes life just gets in the way obviously with kids in business and we have multiple employees there’s always some fire to put out but it like dawned on me how we were basically just like turning and burning big accomplishments like we would work, work, work and we would get to the where we want it to be it’d be a big freakin deal. And then we would just move on to the next thing right like we would never sit And that plateau for any amount of time because like, as an entrepreneur mindset, it’s like, Okay, on to the next thing like, what’s the next thing that needs to be fixed? And then there was no celebration? And then like, what’s the point, you know what I mean? So I felt like taking that time to really intentionally celebrate those wins, and even like taking some like space in that before moving on to the next big thing. I think really goes a long way to helping burnout and feeling like that reason for being you know what I mean?
Dana Kadwell: Well, and I think too, like, this is kind of the beauty of partnership. And a lot of ways is that I remember last year, I don’t, I don’t, there was like a point I was like, having a really like hard time, like, just mental health wise, and just really on the struggle, like, really questioning, like, where I was where I wanted to be, and I still haven’t found out the answers or anything. But you know, like, it was a pretty low point in my life. And I just remember, like, and Courtney could feel it, because she’s the feeler. So she’s like, you know, what’s wrong with or whatever is.
Courtney Hopper: Like, she messing up the chi in our joint office here buddy.
Dana Kadwell: I’m trying to, like, get through it. And I’m like, I don’t really have like, I don’t have like a like what I’m feeling I just know, this is how this is what’s going on. And I don’t know how to solve it. And I think that what was really helpful for me is that it was like, take the space, like, go home, like, and I’ll be like, Oh, but I have all these things. I had to get all this stuff done. And she’s like, well, what’s actually an emergency? Like, it’s because it’s what’s going to make you feel better. But what is, what is the emergency? And let me it, can I handle it most times? Yeah, I can handle it. And so I think that there’s a lot of times that we take our partnerships for granted. And don’t lean into that partner and say, like, hey, like I’ve been going 200 miles per hour, I’ve been hustling to shut out of it. And I know that you have to and I think this is where that guilt comes in is it’s like, why, like, if I’m taking a break, shouldn’t the other person be taking a break, because they’re working just as hard as I am. And the truth is, is they are and you can feel both those things you can feel burnt out and be so in awe of your partner busting their ass and working just as hard as you maybe they’re even maybe they’re working harder than you. But you can still feel like it’s too much for you at that point. And to be able to say like, as a partner to look at your partner who’s struggling and say, Hey, I see you. And I know that you need this break, like take a day, like take two days, take a week, whatever it is, like, the world’s not going to end, the business isn’t gonna blow up, like you know what I mean, and like really protecting that person because you love each other. Like you care about each other. You have to let him for me, I had to let Courtney do that for me. Because I didn’t I didn’t want her to do it for me. I was like, well, this isn’t your problem, or I am fine or, I’m like, you know, miss independent over here. Like, I don’t need you, you know.
Courtney Hopper: But you’re not fine.
Dana Kadwell: Right.
Courtney Hopper: Diminishing Returns.
Dana Kadwell: Right, yeah.
Elizabeth Shiels: It’s very true.
Nora Shiels: Yeah. And part of that is like, I know, Elizabeth is working so hard. And she’s so busy that like, even if I am overwhelmed, I wouldn’t necessarily want to put any of my stuff that I should be doing on her because maybe that’s gonna put her over that you know.
Courtney Hopper: But I think that partnership is like that’s a that’s the beautiful thing about it is one, I think it makes us because we respect what someone else is putting into our communal business so much that I think it makes you work harder. And it makes you kind of evaluate your efficiencies and how you do things. And there’s definitely times that I do things, because I don’t want to disappoint Dana right, I would be fine, disappointing myself, but I would not be fine disappointing Dana at that point. And I think that’s a great thing. But then also to see the value of the partnership is, there’s two of you leading this ship. And there’s going to be some time where someone’s going to need to, you know, take a break from row and the or right, and they’re going to be the one maybe that’s you know, just moving the paddle, and you’re gonna get in there and take over for them. And I think that instead of resenting that, and I think this kind of is part partnership, part sister, part whatever is like, it doesn’t have to always be even Stevens. In fact, maybe it shouldn’t be because there’s always somebody who’s fresh and ready to like, step up to the plate and be the best for your clients and be the best for your employees and be the best for that next new fresh idea, right, that’s going to move your business forward, that that’s the value of a partnership is that you got you got a relay partner, and you can like pass that baton at any point and check out for a minute, and it’s not gonna go down the tubes. And I think being able to, like get to that point. And we’ve been in business for 17 years together. So like, you know, we’ve had a lot of this journey and we started in our early 20s were had no idea what that even meant. And being able to get to that point where there’s just value in it and it is better for, our businesses better for it. And getting rid of like the resentment I think is super key. And I suit and it’s a benefit and a blessing really because I say though especially like in the middle of COVID are going through a hard time like I couldn’t imagine doing this by myself getting to the point earlier, I would have never done it. And how do people do it by themselves, because it feels so overwhelming.
Elizabeth Shiels: I do not know that is like, I think both Nora and I say that like in whoever we are talking to is just like, you have to have a business partner. Like, I like I think that the wedding and event industry is so unique because it is all these small individual business owners. And then like, I just wonder, like, what would it be if the norm was more of a business partner? Would there be more like small to medium sized companies? Like, would people like feel less burnout in this industry? I think that like, you know, the burnout in the industry is like so real. And there can be like some overturn that is higher than in other industries of like, after five to seven years, like people are like, I just am tired, you know, and it’s like, yeah, if you don’t have a business partner, I don’t know how you do it.
Courtney Hopper: Well, I thought that was a great conversation ladies.
Dana Kadwell: I know. I love that so much. I love that. Well, thank you guys so much.
Elizabeth Shiels: Thank you.
Courtney Hopper: Thanks for your time today.
Nora Shiels: It was so fun chatting with you.
Dana Kadwell (PODCAST OUTRO): Thanks for working towards perfection with us today. You can check out more about Nora and Elizabeth by visiting their brands on Instagram at RockPaperCoin and @bridalblissnw. You can also learn more by visiting rockpapercoin.com.
Courtney Hopper: And to learn more about our hustles and lessons, visit us on the gram at hustle and gather and you can learn more about our speaking training or venue consulting by heading to our website hustleandgather.com.
Dana Kadwell: This podcast is a production of Earfluence. I’m Dana.
Courtney Hopper: And I’m Courtney.
Dana Kadwell: And we’ll talk to you next time on Hustle and Gather.