We had the good fortune of connecting with Claire Holmes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claire, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a unique blend of creativity and entrepreneurship. When I was a little, I decorated rocks with painted designs and tried selling them door-to-door in my neighborhood. I’ve developed multiple convincing PowerPoint presentations that ended up persuading my parents to let me adopt a cat and later to purchase me a new Mac laptop. In high school, I started a kids soccer camp with a few friends. And since college, I’ve had a variety of jobs from Manager of a baby gift and interior design shop to Marketing Coordinator for an oil and gas-focused law firm to a corporate strategy consultant.
I now know that I am what’s called a “multi-passionate” person, which means I have a lot of interests, skills, and strengths that don’t always fit into the mold of a specific job or role. When you’re interested in and energized by SO much, it can be difficult narrowing down exactly what you want out of life.
So for me, starting my own business was the only path I saw that would allow me to combine my creative pursuits with my entrepreneurial spirit and embrace the “multi-passionate” me. In addition, I am a mom to two young boys and have learned that in order to meet the needs of my kids as well as my career, I need a flexible schedule and a certain amount of freedom to plan my own day.
Once I figured out that owning my own business would be my path to success and fulfillment, I had to decide exactly what I wanted to do. Again, this is hard for a “multi-passionate” person — how was I supposed to narrow down exactly what I wanted to do out of all of my interests? Talking to family and friends about this helped and I realized I was basically running my own business on the side for friends and family, creating special wedding slideshows and custom photo books for free. I took a hard look at what that might mean to translate into a business model and was happy with what I saw. To spend my days spending chunky blocks of time working on creative projects and helping people in the process… nothing sounded better to me. So, through Double H Design Co., I help busy people preserve and share their memories through photo books, video slideshows, and custom keepsakes. And I love it.
Of course, what we have planned for ourselves isn’t always what life has planned for us. Since starting Double H Design Co., I’ve been able to achieve my initial goal of designing photo books and slideshows, but I’ve also discovered that some of my other talents and interests are in-demand as well. And though I don’t advertise it (since my client roster is currently full!), I also serve as a marketing and strategy consultant to a few clients, which gives me some extra variety in my day. And on top of it all… I am launching a NEW company later this year, called Mama Collaborative, which will provide resources and tools in the form of online courses to help working mothers set them up for personal and professional success. That one is still taking shape, but has been a passion project I’ve been developing for years, so I’m excited to see it come to life.
Being able to start my own business has been such a blessing and my initial thought process for doing so – to meet my wish for creativity and entrepreneurship as well as the scheduling needs of my busy family – still holds true today.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
This is a tough question to answer! Let me speak to the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career thus far. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I was in college — Advertising — which is what I hold my degree in. I did all the right things: informational interviews, internships, and a comprehensive search for my first job. However, after just six weeks at an advertising agency right after college, I knew the industry wasn’t for me. Since then and over the past eleven years, I’ve had eight jobs, including my current role as a small business owner. That’s kind of a lot. There was actually a period of time where I was changing jobs so frequently, that my friends and family were (lovingly) making fun of me and saying I should be a coach for people who wanted to quit their jobs. That stung a bit, but their comments were rooted in truth. I was hopping around because I hadn’t found the right fit yet. Ultimately, and through a complete act of fate, I did land at a wonderful role at a boutique consulting firm which is where I stayed for four years until more recently starting my own business.
All of that goes to say that the biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far in my career is to TRUST your own intuition, even if you’re making choices that other people might not make (or might actually make fun of). I can remember very distinct points in each of my past jobs where I just KNEW it wasn’t a good fit for me or that I didn’t see a future there. I think when you look at your boss and don’t ever want their job, that means it’s time to move on to something new and different. Every time I started getting that feeling in my gut, I learned to trust it, learn from it, and then start making plans for the next career adventure to pursue.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is hard. I think I’m pretty “uncool” these days since I’m so focused on (and exhausted from) running my business and chasing around my 1 year old and 3 year old boys. But here are a few of my favorite places in Houston: – Le Colonial for Dinner
– Kata Robata for Dinner
– Ninfa’s on Navigation
– Julep for Drinks
– State of Grace for Drinks or Dinner
– St. Arnold’s Brewery for Lunch or a fun Boozy Afternoon
– The Bike Paths of Buffalo Bayou
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my Shoutout to my most recent boss before starting my own business, Precious Williams Owodunni, who is the Founder & CEO of Mountaintop Consulting. I worked with Precious full-time at Mountaintop Consulting for many years and still work as an outside consultant, stepping in to support the team on specific marketing and consulting projects. Precious is an amazing boss, from whom I’ve learned so much about being an entrepreneur, a working mom, and how to set myself up for success in my career. When I told her I was thinking about leaving Mountaintop to pursue my dream of starting my own business, she said the most perfect thing: “I can’t wait to be your first client.” Having such a conscientious, supportive mentor in my life has truly made all the difference in how I approach work and life. I can’t wait to pay that same support forward to other women in the future.
Rachel Elkins Manning Photography