- November 2005
- INTERVIEW with HARPO STUDIOS for The Oprah Winfrey Show, 30-Something-Year-Old Women Around The USA
HARPO: WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
I live in Deadwood, Oregon, population less than 100. We are nestled in the Oregon coast mountain range where it rains for ten months a year. I look out my window at the mist rising up over the treetops and waterfalls gushing out of every rock above the Siuslaw River. Seeing Bald Eagles takes my breath away still, and I have lived here for 13 years now.
HARPO: WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING? HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU WORK A WEEK?
After graduating from RISD in 1990 and working as an art director in corporate USA for 2 years, I ran away to the woods of Oregon in 1992 and launched my own graphic design studio which I ran very successfully for seven years. After the birth of my two children I felt I wanted "more" than just a good paycheck, if I was going to juggle my home office and my children I wanted the work to be "more important." In 1999 I launched my own publishing company and have become the leading independent publisher of mom writers. The company, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, is named after my son and daughter.
I work 20-30 hours a week building up my authors and my publishing company and 20-30 hours a week providing consulting and design services to cover my family's living expenses and finance my publishing projects. I LOVE MY WORK! I love every minute of it. I love that I can be home when my kids need me, that I can flex my schedule around theirs, and still touch the lives of moms around the world with my God-given talent.
Now the kids are 7 and 8 they are in the home office, right beside me, cheering me on when The Oprah Winfrey Show requests a review copy of one of "their" books. (This happened last Monday.)
HARPO: WHATS YOUR HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION?
I have my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design. During high school I spent a summer at Parsons in NY and another summer at my alma mater - knowing, from a very young age, I'd be a professional artist.
HARPO: TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE.
I absolutely LOVE my life. My children are these amazingly beautiful, smart, healthy, funny individuals that blow my mind every day. Their dad, my cowboy, Joey Dee Montoya, is my life mate, and despite the hard times we have traveled through, there is nothing I'd rather do in the world than share a cup of coffee at 5:00 AM with him, laughing with pride over the kids, or using him as a sounding board for my passion - my work.
It took many years of hardship to learn what my true calling was, and once I did, I have moved mountains using my creativity. I empower other moms, like myself, to work from home successfully. I have produced more than a dozen well-known products, partnering with the pillars in the mompreneur community to help them share their messages. I elevate mom writers to a powerfully branded, media savvy, published author using her book as a stepping stone to launch a career and inspire her own family and community.
HARPO: ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR LIFE?
Every morning I am greeted by waves of emails from the women I have helped and every week I receive at least one screaming voicemail from an author who has... just received a rave review, landed a media opportunity, or simply heard from their college professor who read the book and her pride just beams. We have a "mommy got a sale dance" the kids and I do when something major happens - and they see, and feel, mom's passion for what she does and they are inspired. Of course, their first question "Will they say/print/include our name?"
HARPO: WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
We get up very early, between 4-5 AM. Joey works on the family farm and some mornings he'll be out the door to go log a parcel of his grandfather's land (he's a logger by trade, "lumberjack" as you flat-landers would say), or herd the cows, or build a road, or fix a tractor. Meanwhile I go into my home office and greet my east coast authors and clients' emails and voicemails.
I get Wyatt and MacKenzie off to school by 7:30, the bus picks them up. They attend a K-12 school about 20 miles away, with an average of 8 kids per grade.
Throughout the day I juggle my own authors with consulting clients, meeting deadlines with author marketing materials and book packaging, and answering media calls and emails. I have a TV in my office and keep tabs on all the morning news shows and my favorite talk shows - constantly listening for opportunities for my authors, or, better yet, some days I watch them on the shows. Any given day can have one of my authors in The New York Times, another on MSNBC and another giving a talk at her local library - all thrilling events I enjoy vicariously through them.
HARPO: WHATS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
I am a one-mom publishing powerhouse out here in my humble little Oregon farm house, reaching out to moms in their homes around the world. I have been building a network for 14 years of the most talented, savvy, inspiring women on this planet and I am proud to literally make their dreams come true every single day. In college in 1986 I never could have envisioned the internet and the power my design could yield by elevating the "brand equity" of these at-home moms.
HARPO: WHATS UNIQUE ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE?
Deadwood is a mystical place. If you have been to Maui, you can imagine the weather a constant warm rain broken at any moment by rays of bright sunshine and rainbows arching across the sky. The flowers, the waterfalls, the rivers, the trees with moss dripping and the ground covered with ferns it all nurtures my soul. I lived in San Diego for 2 years following college and didn't like it - the competition, the fakeness, the traffic, the smell of the city was not "me". I ran up here to Oregon and grew web feet as they say.
HARPO: WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN? HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET TOGETHER WITH YOUR GIRLFRIENDS?
My work is my fun, and the women I work with give me joy every day via email and by phone. I have a "yahoo group" for my authors and daily we post our news, our questions, we celebrate our successes and get compassion for our failures.
For sheer white-knuckle, adrenalin pumping fun I go four-wheeling with the kids and their dad. We jump in our '65 Jeep and make trails where before there were none! Crossing the creek with water up to the doors, getting up on two wheels, and getting covered with mud is a nice break from my home office.
HARPO: HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE A WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Working from home allows me to be available for my kids, and even while I work I have an open-door policy, in fact they love to come spend time with me, watching me work, asking me questions, aspiring to fulfill their own entrepreneurial dreams. Having my own business also gives me a flexible schedule - we can attend every sporting event, conference, and appointment.
HARPO: WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU WENT OUT OF TOWN? WHERE IS THE LAST PLACE YOUVE BEEN?
Our family trip this summer to Seattle was the last place we've been. Sitting around at the beginning of Summer the family was brainstorming something memorable to do. The Seattle Space Needle came up - and two days later we were spinning around in the restaurant at the top eating $50 steaks (we grow our own beef on the farm)! Before that it would be my 2003 author's book launch party in Chicago in March 2003. I was invited this month to the book launch of our November '05 children's book for Hospice, but it is in Southeast Florida, ravaged by the hurricanes.
HARPO: IF MARRIED, IS MARRIAGE WHAT YOU EXPECTED? HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO OUT WITH YOUR HUSBAND?
No, marriage was not what I expected, and I ended it within a year. I naively thought a piece of paper would change someone. It took years of love, of forgiveness, and patience, not a piece of paper, to build respect, admiration and the most basic desire of making someone else's life better, easier, happier. (I've been with my X for over 12 years, very happily divorced.)
We go out just the two of us once every couple of months, but we prefer bringing the kids - nothing is as fun as when we experience it with them. Every single morning we connect over coffee, before the sun and the kids get up. Days that he doesn't have to work on the farm he meanders in and out of my office, always amused at what I have going, always telling me "You are amazing."
HARPO: WHAT ARE YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES?
I know I have to earn at least $3500 a month to cover my family's expenses including mortgage, insurance, and basic needs as well as some of my necessary business overhead.
HARPO: DO YOU MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO SUPPORT YOUR LIFESTYLE?
We live a simple life, my kids wear a lot of wonderful hand-me-downs, and our 50-year-old house is in desperate need of repair, but we are healthy and happy, and compared to others living here - we are well off. I think we exude a confidence and a contentment that makes everyone believe we are better off than we really are. Everyone assumes my business success comes with a financial reward, when, in reality, it is truly emotional and spiritual, and it only costs me money at this point.
HARPO: WHAT DO YOU SPLURGE ON?
Unfortunately for my family, I splurge on the business. Last month alone I had $8000 in printing bills that I have been saving up for since summer.The kids appreciate when they get a new pair of Nikes - it's a splurge when we go for the $50 pair instead of a $19.99 pair of sneakers.
HARPO: WHAT ARE GOALS?
My goal is to build a legacy for my children that will benefit them financially, and fulfill them emotionally and spiritually. I have published 48 ISBNs to date, all with their names on it, each title empowering the author, elevating her career, and making her family, friends and community proud. I want Wyatt and MacKenzie to feel the power of giving your talent to help others. Even when we had no money to give, the kids saw me working in here for free to help others. As they learn about business and see the passion and dedication of their mom, I want them to feel they can accomplish everything they set their minds to. They've seen our company grow over the years, and our book shelf expand, and they know exactly what it took, and how they have helped on each project. I envision building a portfolio of valuable publishing rights that they will use to further their education, and use to find their own true talents and finance a way to use them.
HARPO: WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
My hope is for the happiness, health and safety of my family. There has been so much chaos in the world around us, I fear for the future of society. Living here in Deadwood I feel more secure than I would in the city if, God forbid, society or nature or terrorists attack.
I pray for peace and I work every day to empower moms so that they may set an example for their children and live day-to-day fulfilled with their purpose.
HARPO: ARE YOU WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE AT 35?
In many ways I am exactly where I thought I would be - however I had not anticipated my geographic location, or that the internet could elevate my business to the same playing field as major corporations and publishers. I am filled with pride over what my hard work has resulted in, and my gleaming examples of success - my two children - show me every day that I am doing something right!
HARPO: IS YOUR LIFE HOW YOU IMAGINED IT TO BE AT 35?
I knew I would be a professional artist, I knew I would use my creativity, but I never imagined I would be a successful publisher talking to The Today Show, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and more on a weekly basis, about the work I have done. It's utterly thrilling.
HARPO: IF YOU HAD TO CHANGE SOMETHING WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
My first thought was my poor old house - I have been saving for years to repair our leaky roof, and replace the disintegrating walls, and someday build the office of my dreams. It will happen.
HARPO: WHEN YOU WERE 18, HOW DID YOU IMAGINE YOUR LIFE AT 35 WOULD BE?
At 18 I was starting college, training at the "Harvard of Art Schools" to get a well-paid art director position in Boston, close to home, or possibly in NY. I imagined eventually having my own studio, and I even imagined my own magazine, someday. My love of journal writing had me imagining the book I would write, someday.
HARPO: DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
No, my trials and struggles all led me to this exact point in my life. Had I not taken a leap of faith, and failed, I would never have known the secrets to share with other mom entrepreneurs, and the power of my publishing talent. Even the mistakes I made - they all led me to a better understanding, and appreciation of each aspect of my business.
HARPO: WHATS YOUR DREAM FOR YOURSELF?
When women say my name I want it to be in the context of "How did you make your dream of -------- come true?" to which they will respond, "The thirty seconds when I met Nancy Cleary was the turning point for... my career, my product, my book, my life. She inspired and empowered me with her... books, her magazines, her consulting, her positive attitude, and her laughter."
HARPO: WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO TELL AMERICA ABOUT WOMEN LIKE YOU?
That anything is possible. If a mom in a tiny rural town in Oregon can use only her talent and literally no money to empower tens of thousands of moms across the world, one day at a time, project by project, they can too. That motherhood is not the end of our personal dreams, but the beginning of leaving a legacy of the fulfillment of our dreams for our kids.
I represent the generation of moms who still want to have a career AND a family AND we want to do it wherever our heart finds contentment.. even if that's a little rainy town like Deadwood, Oregon, with a population of 79.
We have harnessed the power of technology to open our home offices to the world, we have used the power of community to band together and compete in the marketplace, and we help one another balance our dreams with those of our children.
HARPO: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOURSELF
Nancy Cleary, a 37-year-old mom in Deadwood, Oregon, is an inspiring example of a woman who would not let go of her creative dreams through a move to the wild west, a love affair with a rebellious cowboy, becoming a mother, career and financial hurdles she prevailed, empowering other moms working from home like herself, along the way.
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