Before Board & Brush, Julie Selby was a stay-at-home mom while Curt spent weeks on the road as an HR executive. Once he focused on Board & Brush full time, Curt took on the responsibility of getting their youngest daughter ready for school while supporting Julie’s work at the country’s 39th-fastest growing franchise.
WM asked the couple about the risks and rewards of switching roles at home and being together pretty much 24/7.
CURT: The best part of this gig is that it is our business. We work very hard, but we get to have flexibility with our time.
JULIE: The best part? I get to wake up and have coffee with my husband, best friend, and partner in business. His calmness helps provide a balance to every part of our lives now. The worst part is that running and growing a new business can be an all-consuming affair.
CURT: When you’re working with your spouse, it’s almost impossible to “turn it off.” We went from me traveling the world to working together in a 10' x 12' space, with me yelling, “Hey, who has the stapler?” Our work day would end, we would sit down for dinner, and 10 minutes later we would start talking and/or arguing about the issues we faced that day.
JULIE: It’s hard to put the business on the back burner and just enjoy life or each other.
CURT: We implemented a rule earlier this year. We are not allowed to talk about work after 6 p.m. unless it’s an emergency.
JULIE: The first week we did that we’d say, “Well, what are we going to talk about?!” We’re getting better at it now, though.
CURT: And unless it’s an emergency, we’re better off waiting another day to talk about it anyway.
JULIE: You’re just too tired after a long day. Just enjoy your glass of wine together and don’t stress about work.
WM: Has this change in roles, in work, changed the way you see each other?
CURT (TO JULIE): You are a completely different person. You look the same, the core is the same, but you’re different.
We’ve been married almost 30 years, and that doesn’t happen without love, patience, respect, and appreciation. And we have similar tastes, similar perspectives on parenting, on most things. But we’re almost completely different when it comes to business perspectives, how we deal with people and approach challenges.
At first the change was a struggle for the kids too, who had been used to having a mom doting on them—the team mom. Of course, they’re in college now. But with Emma, our youngest, who was still at home, that was a blessing for me. All those years I had traveled I missed a lot with the other two girls. With Emma, I was the one who made sure she was up in the morning, and fixed her breakfast.
I thought that was great, and Emma didn’t mind. But I think she missed being the focus of her mother so completely.
JULIE: It was hard for me not to do, because it’s what I’ve done all these years. But not many people get the opportunity in life to switch roles, switch goals, to get to be the primary caretaker and emotional support for a child.
And [smiles]—he’s done okay!
CURT: Julie is very good at what she does; if she wasn’t, this would be harder to swallow.
It has taken me a while to realize just how good she is.
I used to get really frustrated with her regarding this branding stuff. She’d say, “We’re doing it this way—how many more times do I have to tell you? We’re not compromising.”
Today, what people love about Board & Brush is that brand. We’re very well known today—the brand is really important, and she saw that from the beginning. It took me awhile.