—add in three little kids, an ever-expanding company, and a marriage and business partner in one and the accomplishment is worthy of more than a moment’s pause. The rough times have been well documented—a distinctly non-designer friendly, 600-square-foot apartment with noisy, at best, neighbors in their early 20s, acutely stressful financial struggles in their late 20s, and a bond-dividing workload in their early 30s. Now in the late 30s category, 36-year-old Shea McGee reflects, “is there ever an easy year? I think every year has its highs and lows. [Syd and I have] experienced so many wonderful things together, but I think it’s always a roller coaster. That said, once we started hitting our stride in business and making more time for our relationship outside of it, our relationship has been so much stronger.” Here, we sat down with the design empress of Studio McGee to find out what it’s like to head a successful lifestyle company, wrangle three little ones, and navigate 14 years of marriage with her business partner, Studio McGee CEO, Syd McGee.
To me, year five was the hardest. We had our first baby after a very scary emergency c-section, Syd left his job, and we didn’t know what our plan was. We were right on the cusp of deciding to sell our home to launch Studio McGee but weren’t quite ready to take the leap during this year and struggled to find our footing in life and with each other.
Syd and I love to take trips for our anniversaries rather than exchanging gifts. I don’t know where we’re escaping to yet, but it’s going to be somewhere fabulous. I hope we’re still maintaining the same tradition when we’re in our 70s.
The hardest part of launching a company with your spouse is that running a business can be all-encompassing and it’s easy to slip into the habit of letting it take priority. We’ve had to work hard on making time for date nights and trips together. The easiest part is that we’re in it together. I never feel alone with Syd by my side, and I love that we have full trust in each other.
Make time for each other and give your partner space for trust. Also, clearly outline your roles and responsibilities.
Make time for date nights no matter how busy you are. And while you’re there, don’t talk about business.
Syd has such a big heart and is always ready to jump in and help no matter the situation. Above all else, he is FUN. I love that he is a kid at heart and there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t make me laugh. He is my best friend. Even after a long day at work, I still look forward to evenings at home together. When the kids go down to bed, we’ll take a few minutes to chat, watch a show, or eat ice cream.
Kids require a lot of time and attention. Having to be prepared and not just doing things on the fly was a big change. Having kids is also the best! We love hanging out as a family.
Syd and I do so many things together that when we’re apart I just simply feel incomplete.
Because Syd works behind the scenes and I’m the face of the company, there are a lot of misconceptions about his role and impact. He is not a designer; he is the CEO of Studio McGee Inc. and has been visionary about the direction and growth of the company and its entities from the beginning.
I always loved the name Wren, and it turned out she was (and still is) tiny like a little bird, so her name is very fitting. Ivy was my great-grandmother’s name and I’ve always cherished the connection. Margot means “pearl” in French and after five years of waiting for her to join our family, she really is a pearl.
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