Thanks for stopping by! Here on BECOMING LOLA I share stories on becoming minimalist, as well as living a pure clean life as a style-obsessed digital nomad with a no BS approach to ethical fashion + travel. Grab a glass of wine and start here: Building A Minimalist Wardrobe.


hey lady friend, this is what a crumbling marriage really looks like for a girlboss

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.

I recently read an article from Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, Contributing Editor of and wife of Stonyfield Yogurt CEO, that included this small, yet profoundly powerful statement: 

...There is no tension a business can't make worse.

With statistics claiming over 90% of all startups fail, you better believe tension, overworked hours, and extreme stress levels of business development can play a HUGE ROLE in home life.

So then why do women even try to start a business? I believe that most aspiring girl bosses seriously think their idea, brand, concept, et al, will be a seamless overnight success; one that will be easy to generate the revenue needed for their family to roam about living life as they so choose. I also believe most female founders generally see the opportunity to do something good for the world and fill a gap - a need and that their passion, or solution, will be well received among all who hear of their brand. But alas, this is often not the case! To add fuel to the fire, the general public never really sees the true story and crazy hard work that goes into building a startup brand, so that whole glorified title of ‘creative entrepreneur’ or ‘start-up founder’ these days is a complete fallacy with a BS cherry on top.

This is MY story. 

No bs or rose-colored glasses. 

Consider it a behind-the-scenes story of a girl boss you wouldn’t openly find shared on social media. I am transparently sharing this side of the startup world because I want to warn those entertaining the thought of building a brand, to truly weigh out the pros and cons of this desire while also encouraging the others going through the thick of the business storm, to hold strong!

The Backstory 

I was a week away from my 20th birthday when I married my husband. Even though I hate saying it out loud, technically, for lack of a better term, I was a ‘teen-bride’. My husband and I were two young, immature, broken-home young adults looking for a way out of tough family situations with an eye on hopeful futures. Both having extremely different communication styles, personalities, upbringings and passions, we immediately began clashing into each other. 

So we did the next best thing.

We began planning a family. 

"That would fix everything," I thought to myself.

Yea right!

Our first son was born in 2009. I was 23, had a great corporate job, and had just launched our portrait photography business; certain it would fill the gap in our home. Then our second son was a ‘surprise’ and born 22 months later. I began struggling to balance the life of a corporate middle management role, two small babies, a wedding photography business and everything that comes with that, so we both quit our jobs and began our full time photo business when our youngest was 12 months old. Since I was the extroverted and a formally trained photographer, I led all of the portrait sessions and communications, while the mister managed the finances, editing, and techie introvert-friendly tasks. While I was busy being creative and capturing the close up shots, he was busy making sure exposures where pin-point accurate and technically sound.  

We fought...constantly! Under our breath to each other at weddings, at home in front of photoshop, at networking events, you name it. Simply put, we didn’t see eye to eye. At first I thought we would push through this and our business will thrive, but I began realizing, maybe we weren’t matched up properly to be in business together at all. 

I soon found purpose in photographing humanitarian work; domestically and globally. Then after our third year of photography business, I went ahead and launched Black Sheep Bride -a wedding publication devoted to weddings, vendors and products that value giving back.

Upon launching Black Sheep Bride, I was quickly catapulted into startup culture and accepted into a Business Accelerator in Jacksonville, FL. It was a 6 month program that demanded my physical presence 4 days a week. Having 2 small children at home, we made the decision to move forward with the acceptance into the program and I traveled from Tampa to Jax twice a week, spending 2-3 days a week at home with my boys. Being a mom made this decision a daily struggle. I missed my oldest’s first day of Kindergarten, boo-boo’s, orientations, nightmares, tearful ‘miss you, when are you coming home’ phone calls, among many other things. 

There I was, in a downtown JAX apartment, working 16 hours a day, between the program office and the quiet apartment time, just so I could be fully present with my children when I would return home. Though there were painful cons, this did sustain our family and quickly jump-started Black Sheep Bride in the right direction, so it was a hard choice that we made with a lot of grace. Yet, just four months into the program it collapsed (due to lack of funding) and I returned home to my fragile family life ready to reclaim what business I had left and start over. From scratch.

As Black Sheep Bride began to grow and receive national attention, my marriage continued to crumble until it finally came to a halt in March of 2015. 

We decided our marriage truly needed work that couldn’t be talked out and solved over dinner. The kids and I moved into an apartment with very little help except a few amazing friends and my husband, surprisingly enough, no government assistance, no child support, no parental assistance - all while trying to maintain social media hype about the brand’s growth and success

It wasn’t a public tell-all, so if you didn’t ask or know me well, I wasn’t overly sharing, not even at family functions. As people began to find out, they would talk and assume the worse as if our marriage doom was imminent, not to mention making up stories, but I would often just tell folks that ‘We stepped away from the marriage, momentarily, to restore our marriage, our family and our faith for the future.’ 

I say all of that to say: We survived and we are better than ever before. After a 7 month separation, lots of professional help, and restoration, our marriage is renewed and healthier than I would have ever expected. Don’t get me wrong, there is still so much work we both, equally, need to do to be a better partnership, but HOLY SMOKES, am I ever so crazy grateful for the hard, hard season we went through and equally grateful to be able to share what I learned through my circumstances.

The Lessons 

Black Sheep Bride wasn’t a side hustle for me. It was my day-in-day-out business trying to make meetings, content development, sales all fit into the pre-school hours of 8:30-12. Let's call it an understatement to say this was quite the task, on top of momentary single-mom-ness. Here are some things I took away from this season that helped my brand continue to grow, in the midst of rebuilding my marriage.

Quitting, truly wasn’t an option. As cliche as it sounds, it was the raw and ugly truth for me. When you have 2 children to feed and rent to pay, while running a startup business with inconsistent funding, you figure crap out and make it all work. Period.

Being Honest and Welcoming the Helpers. The first few months of our separation, there were very few people that knew our circumstances besides the intentional people that were needed to keep our heads above water in the midst of the crazy storm. A few friends, a few family and a few select small & private FB groups that I could lean on to help me land last minute photo assignments or vendor referrals to pay the bills. I also leaned on my local BSB vendors to represent me, in their cities, when I couldn’t be everywhere at once. This strategy is still in effect today and has proven to be beneficial for both sides.

Find Value in Professional Help. We were married for 10 years and never once paid for professional counseling, and we have some pretty worthy stories deserving of solid therapy. Even though we had no money to pay for it  what with living in two different places, we needed to prioritize finding the money to get the help we needed. It also helped us to be better people, parents, and in my case a better business owner/leader.

Recognize the Season for What It Is. I am currently suffering from Startup Growing Pains. We’ve outgrown a one-person operation, but not quite in a place to rightfully hire another person, or justify a sitter to allow me to get more work accomplished. It’s been tough, but my husband and I have recognized… this is the season we are in. Hell yes it sucks, it’s super hard and demanding, but we must get through this part of the journey in order to see the next stage of the story. So to me, it's worth the struggle.

Give and Take. As I mentioned before, my husband and I are very different people, but the one thing we share is Passion! His passion is extreme, as is mine, and we have learned that we need to encourage grace and space for these passions. My husband is obsessed, obsessed with in-shore fishing. If he goes just a few days without being around salt-water, we hear all about it. If you were to ask someone else to describe him, the first thing they would say is: ‘HE IS OBSESSED WITH FISHING’. While he longs to fish, I long to serve in far off lands, or uncharted streets of my city, helping others and inspiring/encouraging/speaking with my peers to do the same is a huge passion I can’t live without; which often leads to me having to travel throughout the year. It wasn’t until recently that we were able to see these needs in each other and made space and understanding for us to pursue what our hearts so longed for.

Letting Go in Order to Grow. We closed our photo business last month. We decided it wasn’t worth the marital stress to continue to work together in that capacity and released ourselves from that burden. It also allowed me to solely focus my business efforts on Black Sheep Bride. The mister returned to his trade and we are far better at this family-life than the past! It was a scary decision, because it is easy for me to fall back into photo work as a back-up plan, but that was hindering me from fully believing in my primary focus, BSB. Now that we are free from the photo business, I don’t feel bad when others ask for photos and I don’t really have the time.

You do you! Last fall I fell super sick with pneumonia. I am a fairly young (30 is young, right?), healthy-ish person, and have never dealt with serious sickness before, needless to say: I sincerely thought I was about to DIE. The doctor said that the stress I was placing on myself probably encouraged the immunity weakness and it was the most humbling thing I ever heard. I am a woman of faith, and it was at that time that I had to prayerfully depend on others and step back and say…

Why am I wasting so much unnecessary energy living in this stress bubble? 

I have caused myself to miss the very things that are most important to me. It’s times like these when there is great burden that we can actually find great bounty. I redirected my efforts in my family, my marriage and my business, and recognized, no one is perfect! The ever-sought-after dream for ‘balance’ simply doesn’t exist in my world! Some days are harder and mommy works more, and other days mommy works less and plays more… because sometimes your family doesn’t want to wait to be penciled into a schedule. In the end it helped my brand grow, because I am happier, healthier and less stressed out about ignoring the ones I love most.

I am certain that if you are reading this essay, you are either curious about your own destiny, or your marriage or business is possibly in jeopardy. So I truly want to encourage you and let you know that this just season you are in… And it certainly is not one you have to go through alone.

My belief is our biggest branding and business lessons are brought before us in the midst of our toughest personal living circumstances. Lean in to this season my friends, hustle harder than you have ever hustled before, and embrace the hardships for what they are. I like to tell people ‘One day, it will make for a really epic biography’ and I believe that, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t fight as hard as I am to keep moving forward!

You are loved and I am sincerely rooting for your own epic biographical story to end on a positive note!

12321315_10156376528815601_5903796415741324978_n-2.jpgDanielle Calhoun, wedding photography turned humanitarian, speaker and socially conscious wedding blogger, founded Black Sheep Bride in 2014. After traveling to several developing countries to capture non-profits, orphanages, and social impact projects, she often came home conflicted about the wedding industry she was supported by. Black Sheep Bride was born to highlight the amazing people in the wedding world that use their love to serve others. By providing this much needed outlet to the wedding community, the brand took off in rapid speed and she has been recognized as one of the most disruptive industry leaders in the wedding world.

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