#GathreGood with Abigail of Shop Arq
Q: How would you describe yourself to someone who didn’t know anything about you?
Abigail: I love to make things and I love to learn. And those are pretty much the only two things I am even capable of talking about, aside from my kids. It gets old, I’m sure.
Elle: I love people, progress, and cookies. The order changes from day to day. I have a tendency to speak in platitudes, but I can’t help it, I watched a lot of Oprah growing up.
Q: You have created an amazingly successful brand! So many people look up and admire you both. What would your greatest piece of advice be for us dreamers?
Elle: Haha! I laughed when I first read the question because it never feels like you’re amazingly successful when you’re in it. I think the best advice I’ve received in business is just to really know your brand well enough to have a clear vision for it.
Abigail: Hmmm, ARQ is still in its early stages for sure, so I’m decidedly unqualified to answer this, but I will say that I regret every single time I made a decision that went against my instinct, even on tiny issues.
Q: Success doesn’t come without a few failures. What were some pivotal moments when things looked bleak? How did you overcome failures that came your way?
Abigail: I had really high expectations for the launch of one of our collections and was so attached to it. So, when it didn’t go as planned, I couldn’t sleep for several nights straight. I sat in bed making lists and planning the direction our line would go. It was a huge eye-opener for me in terms of recognizing the difference between what people will freak out over on Insta, and what they actually want to buy for their kids.
Elle: It’s okay if you roll your eyes when you read this, but at this point I don’t see failures as “failures”. I think they’re just moments where you need to figure out how to pivot. It can definitely be disappointing and discouraging when something doesn’t meet the expectation you had for it, but it’s really just information trying to tell you something.
Q: What do you admire about each other?
Elle: Well, this interview could get real long, real fast. Abigail is everything behind ARQ. In fact, she kind of is ARQ. Her beliefs are all represented in the brand in such an aspirational yet down to earth way. She is an incredibly skilled designer and brand marketer as well. She has a laser focus and she doesn’t compromise on the important things. I also just love her. She’s one of my dearest friends. I want to know her take on absolutely everything and I am still devastated that we can’t go to Zumba together with the 60+ club in Oregon now that I’m back in California.
Abigail: Awww, Elle really is too good to me! She has such a gift for connecting with people in any type of context. She’s incredibly sensitive to every little thing that is happening in an interaction and is able to make you feel heard, valued, and like a million bucks. That’s true when you are total bosom friends and I would bet my life it’s also true for every stranger that interacts with her online, at the grocery store, or wherever.
Q: We love your focus on your sweet families. What do you do to balance your time with your family and your work?
Abigail: Well, our schedules are incredibly full, but only with things that really enrich our lives. We homeschool, so I spend slow mornings reading and making art with my kids. My husband works just blocks from our house and comes home to do reading lessons at lunchtime with one of our kids while I work with the others. Then I have a sitter come three afternoons a week for totally uninterrupted work time. The other days I fit work in here and there (without very much grace or patience a lot of the time) and run kids to gymnastics etc. and have play dates. My studio is directly beside our house so it is only a 10 yard walk to work for me. I pop back in in the evenings, usually, to finish up some emails or work on a new pattern. It’s a pretty fortunate/privileged arrangement that I am so, so grateful for.
Elle: My husband and I go back and forth with kids and work and school. We have a sitter that comes in about 10 hours a week as well, which really helps ease the intensity of our schedules. I’ve just decided to embrace the imbalance that sometimes comes with life and do my best to be present wherever I currently am and let go of the rest. I know I drop a lot of balls, but I’m sincerely doing my best so I try not to guilt myself about it.
We all have a gifts. You have a gift to gather ____. Fill in the blank.
Elle – Stories. I love bringing together the stories of mothers.
Abigail – Maybe inspiration? Most things or ideas that excite me are followed by, “I’m pretty sure I could make/figure that out myself.” Sometimes not so successful at first (or second or third…) but it makes life interesting!
Q: What’s your guilty pleasure? Anything you do to feel refreshed or spoiled?
Abigail- I try not to feel guilty about pleasures! Meeting friends for some tea or to go to Yoga are very high on this list but definitely get overlooked way too often.
Elle: It’s a cliche but Diet Coke and cookies. I try to swear them off, but they just make me so happy.
Q: We don’t get to see the behind the scenes. What does an average day in your life look like?
Elle – It’s always changing, which is what I love about it and only occasionally dislike about it. Today, I left the little girls with a sitter for the morning so I could homeschool my older two at the library and work at the same time. For lunch, my husband met us at the house, at which point my six-year-old lost his first tooth so we celebrated before all caravanning to sign some papers for work. Now I’m working in our office in Carlsbad until my girls have gymnastics this evening. We’ll make dinner together, do baths, bedtime, and then Jared and I will stay up too late watching Fresh Off the Boat and getting a little more work in. It’s a juggle, but one that I love.
Abigail – Whoops! I jumped the gun on this one in questions five. The only details I would fill in are that the day often starts with putting peed-on sheets in the washer and ends with cleaning the house with Jefferson after the kids are in bed, which pretty much feels like a hot date after an extra long one.
Q: What are some of your favorite resources (books, blogs, websites, etc) you could recommend for a fellow dream chaser?
Abigail: Oh man, It’s so easy for people to find resources that will serve their interests these days and I really feel like the art or product or service or whatever interest has to come first. So, I’d say read and seek out guidance, but be sure that time spent consuming all of that doesn’t totally outpace your own actual work. I dunno, Big Magic was very good. I just finished Flow by Csikszentmihalyi and loved it.
Elle: What Abigail said. She knows everything.
Q: Who are your heroes?
Abigail: Absolutely my Mother, sister, and all the women I am close to. There is so much heroism to be observed in people meeting real life struggles and finding their own way through it all. I am also kind of obsessed right now with Wangari Maathai who started a movement to combat the deforestation of Kenya. We recently brought home a children’s book about her called Mamma Miti that was stunning. A perk of being your kid’s teacher! Also, the writer Peggy Orenstein is full of so much wisdom.
Elle: This is always changing because I feel like we need different life mentors at different times, but currently Oprah. I know she’s all the rage these days, but I really love her. I watched her every afternoon growing up from the time I was in Kindergarten (probably not the most developmentally appropriate show, haha) and I have learned a lot from her career and the way she connects with people. She’s an incredible spiritual leader. I also just read the biography of Helen Keller to the kids and literally fell apart pretty much every other page. Maya Angelou is an all-time favorite of mine as well.
Q: What is next on the top of your travel list?
Abigail: So many places! We’d love to take a Spain/Morocco trip sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Elle: We’re hoping to head to South America next.
Q: We love hearing people talk about their dreams. What is your greatest dream? Big or small?
Elle: The last ten years most of my dreams have come true, which is pretty insane to recognize, but I can’t wait to see ARQ hit the next level of success. I also want to write a book, like everybody, right? Seriously, though, that’s what I’ve always dreamed of.
Abigail: I’m excited to read Elle’s book! And, I am so enjoying watching my kids grow and finding our stride as a family. My wildest dreams are really full of visions more of the same, in a really deliberate and joyful way.