We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen Luria and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jen, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
As a creative working in the design and marketing industry for many years, I’ve struggled with keeping a healthy work/life balance. I’ve been able to work from home most of my career which certainly has its perks but it also has its challenges. It can be a challenge to stay focused and disciplined but at the same time learn when to turn work mode off, close the office door and focus on yourself and loved ones. After 17+ years you’d think I’d have come up with a great solution but I find that I’m continuously changing and adapting to my schedule in order to find a good balance. Working around tight deadlines can mean long nights and working weekends but on the flip side I get to enjoy lighter work load days that allow for rest and play during the weekday.
Here is a list of what I’m currently working on in order to have a healthy work/life balance:
- I’ve learned that I work best when I get to ease into the day and enjoy a cup of coffee with a book in bed before I start my work day.
- I’m working on looking at and responding to my emails after I get ready and out of bed and not the first thing I do upon waking, potentially triggering anxiety first thing in the morning. It’s been a challenge to accept that I don’t need to be available for my clients 24/7 and important to have these boundaries.
- I’m learning the importance of taking breaks during the day by taking a walk with my dog, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, doing a little yoga stretch and enjoying a beautiful happy hour sunset with my love. These activities allow me to take a moment to clear my mind, take a deep breath, be present and be grateful.
- Since the majority of my day is spent on the computer, I’ve found that I need to have a variety of creative outlets in order to stay inspired on all of my projects. These include sewing, stitching, painting, dancing, cooking and gardening. Finding the time can be challenging but is so much more rewarding when I can focus my attention on other fun projects unrelated to work. Having these outlets allows me to come back to my projects re-energized and focused on giving my clients my best creative self.
- I’ve been learning that it’s ok to say NO and to delegate tasks in order to prevent unnecessary stresses. I want the control and want to do it all but this mentality isn’t feasible and can lead to burnout which I’ve suffered from multiple times. Having a great business partner now offers so much support and stability that I missed while I was freelancing alone. We’ve been able to take on larger projects and share in the responsibilities that come with managing a business.
Even though I still struggle with the balance, I wouldn’t change anything in my life. To me, the definition of success is when you can wake up every day and be grateful, excited and proud of the things you get to do.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Dog Cat Mouse Media is a creative branding and marketing agency founded in Bisbee, Arizona. We specialize in Brand Development, Graphic Design, Web Design, Visual Content Creation, and Marketing.
We have humble roots that began in the mile high mountain town of Bisbee, Arizona. We were two freelance designers who realized we had a lot more to offer as a team. After realizing how well we worked together and facing a big opportunity we decided we should start something bigger.
Where did we get our name?
The unique story of a Bisbee transient, Greg Pike, also known as “dog-cat-mouse guy” who earned media attention for his street act of his dog, cat, and mouse all balancing on top of each other resonated with us. We loved this tale of these three animals that worked together in harmony and for a common goal. The dog in our name stands for patience, reliability, and playfulness. The cat for curiosity, intelligence, and agileness. The mouse for modesty, resourcefulness, and adaptability. These are all traits that we will strive to bring to every single project.
We take pride in understanding, learning from and working with our local, rural communities. We have helped to give towns an identity through branding projects that are a blend between marketing and tourism. These projects are rewarding for us because it makes a community recognizable and gives them an identity, or a feeling people can resonate with, a personality that makes people want to learn more about and experience for themselves. We go into every project with an open ear and mind to really listen to and educate ourselves about the community including navigating through “small town politics” that exists in each place. Not an easy task but an important one!
You know, I have to pinch myself sometimes because I’m doing what I love and it still feels like a dream. With the business there is always ups and downs, celebrations and challenges but it still feels so good and rewarding to be my own boss. I recently found a book I designed back in art school, the kind where you list what you’ll be doing in 10, 20, 30 years and I have to admit I’m living the life that I had written down all those years ago. Maybe there is something to manifesting and visioning your dreams!
The business challenges we face include the administrative duties like understanding taxes and insurance. But we’ve learned to ask for help from professionals in those fields so that we can stay productive and keep the work flowing.
The lessons, tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way are – to keep an open mind, make bridges / don’t burn them, under promise and over deliver, meet your deadlines, delegate, ask good questions, admit to your mistakes, be on time, show up, be respectful, build partnerships, look for open doors, and network. And when I say “network” I’m referring to the real genuine kind, not the fake and sales pitchy kind – there is a big difference!
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African proverb
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the
best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Due to the nature of my business I could provide a very scheduled itinerary! But we’ll keep it simple and I’ll list out my “go-to” spots throughout the state starting south and heading north:
Spend a weekend in BISBEE
Eat at Thuy’s, Dot’s Diner, Cafe Cornucopia, Screaming Banshee, Patisserie Jacqui, Gus the Greek and Cafe Roka
Drink at The Quarry, Bisbee Grand, Room 4 Small Bar, Copper Queen Saloon, and Chuckleheads
Sleep at The Jonquil, The Shady Dell, Eldorado Suites, Letson Lofts and Canyon Rose Suites
Experience the Queen Mine Tour and the Restoration Museum. (if it is open!) Cross the border into Naco, Mexico for yummy tacos.
Shop at Acacia, Jo’s Consignment, Bisbee Soap and Sundry, Classic Rock Couture, Redbone Vintage, Your Thrift and Bisbee Books and Music.
Spend a few nights in TUCSON
Eat at 5 Points Cafe, Cup Cafe, HUB, Guero Canelo, Penca, Prep and Pastry and Maynards
Drink at Cartel Coffee, Che’s Lounge, Congress, Owls Club, The Shelter, The Royal Room and the Surly Wench
Sleep at Hotel McCoy, Downtown Clifton, La Hacienda del Sol or La Posada
Shop at Pop Cycle, Tucson Thrift, How Sweet it Was, Mast, Desert Vintage and Barrio Books
Experience the Desert Botanical Garden, Tucson Museum of Art and The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
Spend the day in SUPERIOR
Eat at Miners on Main, Felicia’s Ice Cream and Barmacy
Drink at Silverking Smokehouse and Saloon, Porter’s and Bruzzi Vineyard
Shop at Random Boutique and Picket Post Antiques
Experience the Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Hike – any portion of the LOST trails
Stay for a sunset!
When visiting PHOENIX / SCOTTSDALE
Eat at The Found:re for brunch, Postino, Welcome Diner, Matt’s Big Breakfast, Hanny’s, Geisha a Go Go,
Drink at O.H.S.O., Hula’s Modern Tiki, Sidecar, Stardust Pinbar, Lux Central, Bikini Lounge, Coach House, UnderTow
Sleep at the Clarendon, Hotel San Carlos, Hermosa Inn or Hotel Valley Ho
Shop at Frances, Stinkweeds, Changing Hands Book Store, Retro Ranch, Time
Bomb Vintage, Sweet Salvage, Soda Pop Vintage, Antique Trove, Nobel Beast and Lee Lee’s Market
Experience the Mystery Castle, Heard Museum, Japanese Garden, Taliesin West,
Phoenix Art Museum and First Fridays
If we still had time we’d head north through Jerome, Cottonwood and Clarkdale drinking wine and ending up at the Grand Canyon taking in the most impressive sunset you’ve ever seen!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Ahhh, there are so many people to dedicate this shoutout to!
1) My brother Scott – Scott is the one who helped launch me into my design career. I had been attending Eastern Washington University studying to become a Zoologist/Mammalogist but failing to pass my Chemistry classes. Scott was living with me at the time as he was attending Spokane Falls Community College and studying Graphic Design. One evening I was trying to memorize the Periodic Table of Elements with notecards but was failing miserably. I happened to notice Scott’s design homework was creating a poster for an event. That’s when the “AHA!” moment hit me. Playing with colors, layout and design looked much more appealing and fun! I was studying in the wrong field. It didn’t take me long to change my course and I began attending The Art Institute of Seattle soon after. Just so happens the artistic path was better for me after all. Thanks Scott for pointing me in the right direction!
2) I had so many inspiring instructors at both the Art Institute of Seattle and the Art Institute of Phoenix. But the two instructors that I attribute to many of my design successes include Dalton RC and Tamara Pavlock. I have always looked up to them and would like to thank them for their knowledge, support and for pushing me to become better in my craft.
3) Bridget my business partner! If it wasn’t for Bridget taking a leap of faith with me, Dog Cat Mouse Media wouldn’t be in existence. We met in Bisbee, both of us were freelance designers. I had loved her edgy and playful design and she was always real easy to work with. I was impressed by her speed, dedication and web design knowledge and knew I wanted her on my team. When an opportunity arose to rebrand the City of Bisbee’s tourism image, I asked if she was interested in joining me. The rest is history and we’re continuing to brand and market destinations. Thanks Bridget for being a great partner, I appreciate you!
4) Local First Arizona – we have Kimber Lanning and Liza Noland (now at OneAZ) to thank for inviting us to partner with them on many Rural AZ branding projects. This partnership has catapulted our career and we continue to design and market for many small towns in AZ. The organization is an inspiration and we are proud to be involved in the work they do and the support they provide for small businesses. Thank you!
Lastly, I would like to thank my family for always being supportive. Throughout all of my career and location changes, they’ve always been there! Their love and support has given me the confidence, tenacity and positive “can-do” attitude to take on anything. I love you and appreciate you all dearly!
Dog Cat Mouse Media