Lifestyle Magazine

Love and Collaboration

By Linsibrownson @CleverSpark

I don’t think it will surprise anyone that I’m a collaborating kinda gal.  After all, the word Collaborative is in my company name.  Though I am definitely take-charge (and kinda bossy) I know that I really thrive and need the ideas and support of other people.

And when I started Spark Collaborative my goal was not to go it alone.  I knew that in order to bring what was in my mind to life I would need help.  I wasn’t totally sure what that looked like yet but I think I got pretty damn lucky.

Spark Collaborative turned 1 yesterday.

love and collaboration

In one short year I feel like we’ve created an awesome monster.  At present we are busier than ever and I am right on track to having my dream job – the thing that would make it better was if I actually was working on a beach…

I have worked my ass on over the last year (I say ‘on’ because I’m pretty sure there’s more there now than a year ago) and I won’t lie by saying it’s been easy or uncomplicated.  It hasn’t.  I’ve given up a lot of time, most of my personal life and, sadly, even a few friends over my work schedule and priorities.  I have lost sleep over frustrating and scary situations and I have vowed never to do certain things again (some of them a few times).

But I wasn’t alone, and that made it so much better.

My collaboratives have gotten me through a lot, and helped Spark achieve something greater than I could have done on my own.

So pardon me as I share a sentimental moment of gratitude to acknowledge the people who mean so (so so so) much to me.

Nothing would be the same without Nicole Longstreath.  Nicole is my Clever partner in crime and my longtime bestie.  But Spark was Nicole’s idea.  I was in a career transition (from Redefine Home, as you may know) not quite ready to give up something that wasn’t really my passion anymore and, frankly, a bit painful.  She pushed me to go this direction and helped me develop the concepts for what Spark would become.  She supported my early freakouts and triumphs and I am eternally grateful.

My husband David deserves mad props – even though he won’t read this :)  But he is the person who has been with me long enough to see how much things have changed and he has put up with my crazy hours and belligerent talking (usually around midnight) about ‘this great idea’ or ‘this terrible nightmare’ I’m dealing with.

Today is our 5th Wedding Anniversary.

Apparently I like to start things this time of year.

Keepin’ it in the family, I would be absolutely crazy if it weren’t for my sister Kari who is also my Assistant.  She works virtually from Minnesota which is awesome for several reasons. A) It got me to truly develop my virtual business structure (because I really do plan to work from a beach somewhere).  I even trained her using screencast videos and Google + hangouts.  Oh technology…you’re the best. B) She is smarter than I am so I know that she can figure stuff out and will always handle herself gracefully.  C) The cost of living in MN is lower so, yeah, I can afford her – for now anyway. D) The tasks she manages are really the key element that has allowed me to grow the business.  It would impossible to do so otherwise.

For months I’ve been working on a project with Alycia Wicker – the talented genius behind Mupplebee (and our Clever contributor).  This week we launched our program called Web Sparklers, a branding + web design extravaganza for small businesses and bloggers.  The moment we met, via Twitter I might add, Alycia and I knew we had to partner up.  This experience has been so fantastic and I couldn’t ask for a better collab.  We match up equally in clever ideas, work ethic and best of all – big dreams.  Our partnership breathes new life into my business – and oh the places we’ll go.

PS, we’re running a launch promo on Web Sparklers until Friday, May 3rd – so go check it out if you are in need of an awesome sauce website and branding exploration.

And speaking of Clever, I want to give a big huzzah! to the other fab ladies who contribute here.  The blog is one big collaborative project and Misha, Ann and Kristina have helped make Clever pretty groovy.  I love the varied topics and perspectives.  The ladies of Clever are charming, sassy, talented – and we got ‘em!  How lucky is that?Everyone brings something really special to the table and I am so grateful to have a cool blog that I don’t have to work that hard at (spoiler alert, I don’t).  PS, You know Misha as our yoga guru but she is also a killer photographer.  She did a fab photoshoot with Nicole and I a few months back.  Don’t we look sexy?


Another fab collaboration in the works is with my friend Leah of Emiko Consulting.  She and I have been working on something that I’m pretty sure is going to changes people’s lives (well, at least their business lives).  I’m still mom about the details but we’re hoping to launch this Summer – and once again I literally can’t fathom how I would ever do something like this by myself.

And the rest of the “We” of Spark Collaborative consists of my interns and contractors for all sorts of things.  Just as employees come and go, it’s taken me a while to find the right team of people I know I can trust and call on.  But every one of them has made a difference to me and the company.

One of the craziest things to me is how much business and how many opportunities I get from my competitors.  Yeah, people who do exactly (well, almost) the same thing that Spark does.  Our company is a go-to for several and I have lots of industry friends these days.  I love chatting about ideas and frustrations with people who really get it.  And some very cool projects and clients frequently come out of these relationships.

Okay last one – because, duh, Spark wouldn’t still be here without them – our clients!  I am sooo lucky to have found my peeps.  My clients are some of the most energetic, grateful and excited people I know.  We have so much fun together.  Seriously.  They value what we do and I strive to give them the best of what we offer.  It’s the perfect collaboration.

I lied.  One more – YOU.  The readers of this blog.  I don’t know most of you but I know silly things like where you’re reading from and how you found us.  I wish I knew more and I would love to have a more vocal audience.  But I know that what we write here is seen and shared by people all over the world and that makes me feel really great.  So thank you.

I try to have a point to every post and here is this week’s: surround yourself with people who jive with you.

Not being alone in the world is, to me, a key element of happiness.  The work I do is hard and tiring but also invigorating and oh-so worth it because of the people in my life.  Open yourself up and make an effort to seek out people you really connect with.  And then be grateful for what happens next.

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