Black Love by Design (Part 2 of 2)

September 9, 2016

Last week, I talked to three creative entrepreneur couples about how they navigate the challenges of being in love and being in business. This week, we continue the two-part series by discussing how they achieve balance between work and life, as well as the legacies that they hope to leave.

How do you balance work and home life?

Kevin and Mary Pleasants

Kevin and Mary Pleasants

Kevin and Mary: Honestly, we’re still figuring that part out! What we have thus far works. I work with our business full-time, but Mary handles digital ads for a large media company here in Charlotte, NC also. Because I do everything except cook, and she insists on cooking to save money and eat healthier, it can be hard figuring out good timing to get everything done. I can get a lot done at home, so that before she steps through the door, she doesn’t have to worry about the stuff she used to when I was working for other people. We try to pick up as much as we can so that the other person doesn’t feel so overwhelmed. Are we perfect at it? Heck no, but we are working it out as we go along.

Russell and Kathy: It is hard sometimes—especially with laptops, tablets and phones. Work can become a 24/7 gig. We have earmarked two days that we do not work: Saturday and Sunday.

Jacques: Other couples may have a different experience than us, but we’ve seen nothing but positives since we started working together. During the day, we work with our team. During the evenings, we enjoy the city. One downside we noticed early on was that it was difficult to take vacations together since we both play such critical roles in the company. Our solution? Work-cations — every month we take a honeymoon and visit a new place.


With any team, there comes a time where members may bump heads. How do you manage that, knowing you have to go home to the same person you work with?

Russell and Kathy: The defined roles really help with this. Russell has the final say on creative and art. Kathy has the final say on marketing and copy. We often use research to help us in decision making.

Dahcia: As Jacques mentioned before, this happens all the time. We bump heads, we debate and challenge one another, and we disagree on fundamental issues [at work], but we also respect one another as people. We respect each other’s opinions,  so we also know how to set boundaries. Although work never stops for us, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Those debates never make it past our conference room walls.

Kevin: Mastering the balancing act between marriage and business can be tough at times, but you have to know how to communicate. Every now and again, being the often over-sensitive creative that I am, I take offense quickly. Thankfully, my knowledge of who Mary is overshadows those insecure moments.

Russell and Kathy Bynums

Russell and Kathy Bynums and daughter Crystal

What strengths does your partner bring to the table?

Mary: His creativity and ability to figure out things. I am not that technical. Kevin, on the other hand, thinks so mechanically that he makes design work look like a child could do it.

Kevin: Mary’s organization, drive, and business insight. Although we’re both good speakers, she is great at networking. I’ve learned from her and that has helped our business tremendously. In fact, she takes care of things that I often don’t even know about until after she’s done them. This frees me up to handle the design load. When she is working on a design, I’ve learned to pick up that slack.

Dahcia: Jacques is the dreamer and the creative one in the relationship. I’m more of the analytical person who brings Jacques back to Earth and look at things objectively. I think we balance one another in that way.

Russell: Because of Kathy’s marketing skills, we think our work brings the sales element into the picture.


How do you feed your individual creativity or passions?

Kevin: I love to think. I love to tinker and figure out things in my head. I enjoy sitting outside, taking photos, and staring at my car. I love cars – especially my own. I love art. I enjoy music of all types. I have to be free. My mind has to wander. At 2 a.m., I am at my most creative and ideas fly around my head like I’m going crazy. I have to entertain those moments.

Dahcia: We’ve built a few things into our company to keep us as creative as possible: open workspaces, gym memberships, mandatory lunch breaks, and flexible hours.

Russell and Kathy: Getting out of the office, working offsite, reading, and practicing creative thought and activities in all areas of life.


What legacy do you hope to leave as design professionals and as a family?

Kevin and Mary: We hope to leave a legacy of hard work, amazing creativity, phenomenal love, and to leave an impact left on the hearts of those we’ve reached. Nothing is greater than seeing people live in purpose. We want our future children to carry that same love for people coupled with the gifts that they have been given to change the culture and world. Prayerfully, they too will have spouses that will stand alongside them in their journey.


Jacques and Dahcia Bastien

Russell and Kathy: We hope to leave the legacy that our business is a tool, but it is not everything. With ownership, there is much flexibility and responsibility. Faith has to be central because there will be times of great discouragement but also times of great success. Entrepreneurship gives people options that the black community has lost due to a low percentage of black business ownership. The advertising and design fields do not have a good record in hiring and promoting blacks. It is one of the few creative industries where blacks do not strive. That will change with ownership and business opportunities. Blacks and those who care must support black-owned design firms, ad agencies, and communications organizations.

Dahcia and Jacques: We live to motivate other young entrepreneurs, especially those of color, to follow their dreams and build the life that they deserve. We’ve been blessed in life and we’ve spent the last few years sharing those blessings and sharing how we’ve been able to build Boogie together. Our hope is that we can inspire young black men and women to pursue their passions and show them that there are alternate paths to success.

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