Shea McGee, you likely know her, love her, and maybe was even bummed when her product lines at Target sold out in minutes. Yes, she is the cofounder and chief interior designer of Studio McGee, an interior design firm, and McGee & Co. an online shop of curated home furnishings and homewares. While she is known for her bright rooms, cozy interiors, and laid back design style mixed with high-end finishings, I learned a lot more from Shea and Syd McGee in their latest book Make Life Beautiful.
I was initially excited about the book because I recently bought a new home and I wanted to learn all about how to design a home and create a warm and inviting aesthetic. Shea has such an eye for creating balance in the room and making it feel so comfortable. I enjoyed her design insights and tips throughout the book, but what surprised me the most was how inspired I was by her as a career woman and a working mom.
When I look at the McGee blog or product lines, I am in awe of how beautiful the designs are, but up until this point, I never thought about how much work and dedication goes into it too. Behind each blog post, book, product line, or season on Netflix is a woman (and a full team) who wants to help people make their homes and lives beautiful through interior design. I loved how honest and transparent both Shea and her husband Syd were about their roadmap to success.
They say there is no such thing as an overnight success, and this book is another great example of this. While I don’t aspire to be a professional interior designer, I do hope to carve out a career where I can not only make a difference for others but also for my family. That being said, reaching a goal rarely happens without its hardships, and this was true even for Shea and Syd McGee as working parents.
Here are four lessons I learned while reading Make Life Beautiful:
1. Life experience does count
There have been way too many times I’ve decided not to pursue something because I didn’t go to school for it. For a while, I thought no one would take me seriously unless I had a degree in the field of study. Shea is proof that sometimes doing something throughout your real-life can be all the experience you need to credible.
Knowing Shea was hesitant to accept certain offers or take a leap of faith with the design business because she didn’t have any formal training in it was so relatable. I can think of multiple times I’ve come across a job posting or someone who said I should start this new thing and feeling completely inadequate simply because of a lack of formal training.
Don’t discard an opportunity you’re qualified for simply because you don’t have formal training in the area, life experience counts.
Now, I wholeheartedly believe our life experiences are enough to pursue something. It doesn’t matter if you want to open up a restaurant, write a book, apply for a new job, or something else. If you’ve done it in real life, no matter if it was for a friend, a cousin, your mom, or a neighbor, it counts. Don’t discard an opportunity you’re qualified for simply because you don’t have formal training in the area; life experience counts.
2. Find your sidekick
The bond between Shea and Syd is undeniable throughout the entire book. You can hear how much trust and confidence they have in one another and again. It’s inspiring. So much of Studio McGee’s success was built off of Shea and Syd’s relationship. If they didn’t share the same entrepreneurial spirit and overall vision for their work and personal life, things may have turned out differently.
I believe we weren’t meant to walk through our lives alone. Oftentimes, goals are better imagined and conquered with someone by your side cheering your on. If it’s not a spouse, maybe it’s a coworker, a friend, sibling, parent, or mentor. Because inevitably, times will get hard or self-doubt begins to set in, and it’s that key person, like a cheerleader of sorts, who will help you put your feet back on the ground and keep going.
Goals are better imagined and conquered with someone by your side cheering your on.
In addition to my husband always cheering me on, I’ve been lucky enough to have a great boss and a mentor to lean on when I’m faced with a challenge or stuck in a comparison rut. I can trust these three people to give me the motivation and inspiration I need to dust myself off and get back to my craft. Like Danielle LaPorte says, find your people, love them hard.
3. Family first, always
Since becoming a mother, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t feel guilty for having a career while sending my son to daycare. While I know this doesn’t resonate with everyone, for me, I know these years go by fast, and it’s a decision I wrestle with often.
I loved when Shea shared about how she struggled with working late on design projects, having to miss her girls tumbling class for a business trip, or just feeling overwhelmed with being a new working mom. Hearing this from someone who seems to master it all effortlessly, reminded me that most moms go through these things no matter their circumstances.
What really hit home was when Shea admitted she didn’t want to sacrifice her marriage or family for any job or business. This didn’t mean she was giving up everything she’d worked so hard for, but rather making sure she put her family at the forefront of everything she did. This meant she had to delegate more, set up more boundaries at work, and have some tough conversations too. And reading this inspired me to think about what shifts I can make to even out the work/life balance dynamic in my life too.
4. Just keep trying
I have stopped and started a million projects in my lifetime. Sometimes the timing just wasn’t right, other times I didn’t have enough confidence in my skills to keep showing up. What I love about Shea’s story is how, no matter how tough things got or how often she was told no, she just kept trying.
It truly is possible to make your home and life beautiful by staying true to who you are and taking small, imperfect steps towards what you want.
Sometimes, I take the phrase “go big or go home” too seriously and believe if I can’t do it all then I’m not going to do any of it. But especially as a working mom with so many other responsibilities, it’s more realistic for me to do one small thing towards a goal than to wait until I can do a bunch of big things for it.
Trying can look different for everyone. For me, maybe it’s still allowing myself to daydream about having a side hustle, starting a blog, or bouncing a few new article pitches off of friends. Trying can also be creating a business plan, actively trying for a family, applying for a new position, asking for a raise, or finally turning in your resignation. Whatever it is, don’t give up—no matter how big or how small, just keep trying.
The little bits of inspiration and motivation I got from this book was completely unexpected. It truly is possible to make your home and life beautiful by staying true to who you are and taking small imperfect steps towards what you want.