Today we’d like to introduce you to Cheri Kevane.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I followed the traditional path for a business career, aligned myself to a strong company, earned an MBA, did a rotational through departments. Then, I settled into the type of work and culture that challenges me and makes me happy – well, mostly.
I have always been a creative, and although I’ve found ways to apply that in my day job, I’ve always needed to design to really feel fulfilled. When my husband and I started building our farmhouse, I wanted a way to document it for ourselves as well as share with friends and family who wanted to stay updated.
I launched the @strangefarmhouse Instagram account and Strange Farmhouse blog, discussing topics from designing the spaces, to incorporating old materials, to DIYs. I blogged about topics from ways to secure finances, to how to find the best contractor for you. I believe when you do the things you are passionate about, and share your authentic wacky self, it shows, and people are attracted to that. By the time, our house was completed this past May, @strangefarmhouse had 10,000 authentic followers and then quickly reached about 40,000 over the next few months.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has not always been smooth in my corporate life or my social media life, I have learned a ton along the way and continue to learn every day. Here are a few obstacles I’ve encountered that could help young women along the way.
Do not compare yourself. Our culture pushes us, especially women, to compare ourselves and it is such an unhealthy pattern to get sucked into. I would have never started my Instagram account if my goal was to create a following, I would have compared myself to the hundreds of perfectly manicured design accounts that are already established. I wouldn’t have thought there was room for me, or that I would fit in among the expertly curated squares. My feed does not look like those feeds, I share my real life through images and captions, I believe that is why I have connected with so many people. You will be the most successful, and happiest version of yourself by being yourself.
Know your worth and never let anyone make you feel inferior. Be confident in what you do well and where you have gaps. I had a boss tell something about corporate life, she said sometimes your stock is up and sometimes it is down. This has always stuck with me because I would take it to heart when I wasn’t aligned or included in some work at times. I learned not to internalize that, most of the time these things are not done for personal reasons, it’s the natural flow of work. Online, the same can be said for the Instagram algorithm, I cycle through weeks of low engagement for seemingly no reason. I choose to ignore it and just keep doing me, and it always comes back around.
By far, my biggest struggle to date has been adjusting back to work after maternity leave. Close friends tell me they knew I would be a great mom and everything, but being so career focused they thought I would have adjusted back to work more seamlessly. I honestly thought that too. I have been back to work for nearly a year, and I still struggle with the fact I only get a couple hours with my little man each day. I’m not sure I’m in a position to give advice because I don’t feel like I’m doing a great job in this area. I’ve talked to so many friends, co-workers and Instagram pals about this and it seems like everyone, no matter their stay at home or work situation struggles, all in different ways, I cope through this by being kind to myself, upfront about how I feel as well as seek advice and conversation from all the other mamas.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
The irony that by day, I methodically help build a business, and I built one on accident on my own time is not lost on me. By day, I work for a Fortune 100 Financial services company, I help the enterprise identify groups of people we can better serve, I ideate products and digital experiences to better help them. By night, I’m sharing my interior designs and DIY’s as well as embarrassing moments, and randomness on Instagram.
Instagram has become a place where I’ve met so many wonderful people and have been afforded opportunities I could have never imagined. Since growing a following, I’ve shifted from haphazardly sharing photos to a more project and blog based approach. I had way too many ideas flying around my brain and never enough time to finish them, so now, I focus on one room and one project at a time, I sketch out my ideas, determine what brands I want to work, develop the DIY’s, and pull it all together with photos and a blog post with all the details. It pains me somewhat to have to move slower than I’d like, but this approach gives me the work/life/hobby balance and focus I need. Lately, I have been really energized by helping others grow their accounts, I am eager to explore how I can help others more, I hope to spend more time and energy here going forward.
For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
I believe there is an opportunity in every challenge, and it is no secret that women face many challenges today. I am amazed by the women I am surrounded by and I learn from them every day, the most important lesson I have gathered is to be bolder than you need to be and reach out more than you think you need to. I think women are positioned particular well to reach out and support each other to push for change, whether it’s a co-worker you sense might be struggling or the larger societal issues we’re grappling with.
- Website: https://www.strangefarmhouse.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/strangefarmhouse/
Kristen Bousquet at the Beauty Studio in Ludlow, MA