Woman Owned Wednesday: Brooke Forry
Brooke and I first connected at a Wellstruck Roundtable event hosted by Sarah Zero. It was the same event where I met Estelle Tracy, and I was pregnant with my youngest daughter at the time. I attended the event not knowing what to expect, but hoping to connect with other female business owners to get some advice about how to manage a maternity leave while also running a business. What I didn't realize at the time, was that I would get so much more than advice out of the experience.
Since that event, Brooke and I have remained great cheerleaders for each other's businesses, we've supported new business endeavors (like Brooke's amazing Balance Bound Planner, which she discusses below, and which I now cannot live without!), and we've referred business to each other. I'm so impressed by Brooke's endless creativity and her ability to seemingly do it all. I think you will be too, once you read her story.
Brooke Forry: Curious & Co. and Balance Bound Planner
1. What is the name of your company and what do you do?
I co-own Curious & Co. Creative - we create visual brands to help businesses flourish and stand out from the competition with polished and engaging logos, brand color palettes, mobile-responsive websites, packaging design, signage, print marketing, and anything else that visually represents a business.
In 2019, we also launched the Balance Bound Planner that helps you visually create order from the overwhelm of your to-do list and brain. That evolved into a full-fledged product line of planners and stationery products, and has given us the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded brands and personalities whose values align with ours.
Because I didn’t have enough to do (lol), I also launched a podcast in 2022, Good Enough-ish, with my good friend and fellow entrepreneur Amanda Jefferson.
2. How long have you been in business?
My partners and I launched Curious & Co. in 2010! The business has seen us through the growth of our families, changes in the type of work and clients we seek, and lots of creative experimentation. Balance Bound began as a passion project in 2019 and continues to grow as a viable revenue stream.
3. How did you decide to launch your own business?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, selling my creations to friends and classmates since I was in elementary school. Other kids had lemonade stands; I had a table on my suburban corner selling rings I made from acorns and varnished with nail polish designs.
After working as a designer for other companies and organizations in my 20s, I felt the pull to start a creative business that would allow me to have more ownership over my own work, more opportunity for creative experimentation, and eventually more flexibility to raise a family. When those goals aligned with creative colleagues who were also looking for a change, we decided to dive in together, and Curious & Co. was born.
4. What challenges did you face in the process of launching your business?
We were so naive when we started out, but honestly I think that was an asset at the time. You have to have some combination of determination and oblivious optimism to start a business from scratch! Securing steady work was of course the biggest challenge at the beginning, and we took on anything that came our way at first. It took years to nail down who our ideal client was and how to seek them out — and that can still change as we learn what type of work lights us up the most.
Launching Balance Bound was a whole other adventure, and created the challenge of reaching an entirely different audience of customers. The biggest challenge was and still is innovating and investing in the production of new products before we definitively know that anyone will buy it. It’s a much bigger risk, but it’s also incredibly gratifying when people buy and love what we’ve created.
5. Did you feel as though there were resources available to you, specifically as a woman business owner?
In 2010, there were nowhere near as many resources for women business owners as there are now — or maybe there were, and we just didn’t know they existed? Now is still such a challenging time to be a business owner — of any business — but it’s also a very empowering time to be a woman business owner. There is so much encouragement and guidance from other women forging their own paths in a society that is not generally supportive of working mothers. On days when I feel like giving up, there are a million signs from the universe (and other successful entrepreneurial mothers) that it’s worth it to keep pushing through.
6. Do you have a mentor?
I do not have an official mentor, but I am part of a few incredible communities that support me as a woman in business — namely Wellstruck and Proof to Product Labs.
7. Books you recommend?
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is one that I come back to when I need a little reminder that I’m capable of living the joyfully creative life of my own creation.
We Should All Be Millionaires by Rachel Rodgers is my motivational bible for creating a thriving business.
Both are incredible in audiobook form and are my go-tos when I need a biz boost.
8. What do you love most about running your own business?
In addition to having creative ownership over my work, being there for my family at the drop of a hat is invaluable. My kids are getting older, now 7 and 10, so they need me a little less, but the amount of time I can spend with them — walk them to school, surprise them as a mystery reader in their classes, show up for mid-day performances, drop off a forgotten instrument, take them on a surprise ice cream run after a rough day at school, etc. — without having to answer to a boss has been priceless and empowering.
9. What is your least favorite aspect of running your own business?
Needing to have a hand in All The Things, especially money. I really don’t love to use the “I was an art major” excuse when it comes to finances, but… I was an art major! I was not cut out to be a bookkeeper, and I cannot easily wrap my brain around the financial side of running a business. Fortunately we have a wonderful bookkeeper to help us, but I still wish I were more of a natural when it comes to understanding the business finances and planning for growth.
10. What is your best piece of advice for other women who are thinking about launching a business?
Find your village — the women who have been there, are in the thick of it alongside you, or who can simply be your cheerleaders (and/or emergency helpers) when you need them. Running a business can be incredibly lonely and isolating at times, so it’s important to intentionally build a supportive community. As an introvert, “intentional,” in particular, is the keyword if you’re someone who resists a ton of daily interaction. Put yourself out there and create that village — someday, you’ll be very grateful that you did.