EP 157: Planning For Parental Leave With StoryMine Co-Founders Catherine Orr & Elena Rue

The Nitty Gritty

  • Why Elena and Catherine approached their second pregnancies different from their first — and how that impacts their work at StoryMine
  • How the cofounders approached their dual pregnancies as an opportunity to implement systems and create a more efficient business model that worked for their ideal way of partnering with clients
  • How they use content marketing to educate and inform potential clients about their work — and why that’s so helpful for

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When Elena Rue was pregnant with her first child, she didn’t meet with leads in person once she started showing. “I didn’t want them to assume that’s going to change StoryMine,” she says. Which, of course, it didn’t. Instead, it altered her perspective on running a creative business as a parent — for the better.

Now, as Elena and StoryMine’s cofounder Catherine Orr navigate their second pregnancies — this time, together — they’re approaching it as a “positive disruption” to their business and using it as a catalyst for improvements from hiring to operations. Hear all about it in this week’s episode of What Works.

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Creating a pregnancy announcement strategy that aligned with their brand (and personal) values

“Us feeling like we’re not being authentic goes completely against the work that we do: sharing true stories and the power of how having people talk about what’s actually real and actually true can move people much more than having scripted talking heads talking about why your organization does this great work.” — Catherine Orr

Both Catherine and Elena frame their dual pregnancies as a positive disruption to their business. They wanted to share the news with their clients in an authentic way while also ensuring they knew the work would still get done. Knowing there was a limited window before Catherine and Elena went on parental leave also provided an opportunity to plant seeds about their upcoming availability.

In terms of their announcement strategy, Catherine and Elena wanted to approach it in a transparent way so that it aligned with how they roll in their business. This time, they started by telling their past and present clients first, then announcing it through their email newsletter. They even made an announcement video, obviously filmed and edited by them, in their StoryMine way.

Using their pregnancies as an opportunity to implement necessary systems and hire team members

“This time around we aren’t just closing our eyes and crossing our fingers. We’re taking way more control over it and we have the confidence to say that yes we can do this and knowing there’s another side. .” — Elena Rue

During the first pregnancy, Elena says they were just “crossing fingers and hoping it works.” In the second pregnancy, especially because Elena and Catherine were pregnant at the same time, they decided to use it as an opportunity to increase operational efficiency.

For example, they wanted to work with clients earlier in the process — six to eight months in advance — so that they aren’t in a rush to get the work done. “We really started systematizing the work that we do,” says Catherine. “We have a process and we’ve developed a unique method of the type of story that we do.”

In addition to operational improvements, the pair used the experience to hire consistent support rather than project-based contracts. While they still bring on people per project, depending on when and where it’s happening, they really needed someone to thread together everything and strengthen the business backbone. “We’re seizing on this opportunity and this real sense of urgency to put into place bringing somebody on and working with us in that way,” Catherine adds.

Living up to your brand values and sharing that story authentically

“The real meat of what we do happens before we ever pick up a camera… and no one knew that because they were just seeing the end product. They were thinking of us as just film people or just editors — and not all the story strategy that goes before that.” — Catherine Orr

One of Catherine and Elena’s values — both personally and business-wise — is transparency. And they knew that for clients and leads to truly connect with their work, they needed to understand what made their videos unique.

Instead of showing the end product on their website, they decided to share more on their strategy. By pulling back the veil and talking about the strategy of that video, it helps new clients distinguish between a StoryMine video from others.

Listen to this episode to hear more from Catherine Orr and Elena Rue on their approach to operating a creative business and how they used their dual pregnancies as an opportunity to improve their business operations.

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