From slaying the freelance life to rocking it as a first-time manager, no job worth having is likely to come easy. And the road to total #girlboss success is rarely a road that lacks some unexpected roadblocks. Just ask Marie Tillman, founder of Mac & Mia and co-founder and president of the Pat Tillman Foundation. In addition to running a successful foundation and children’s subscription box service, Marie is also the author of The Letter, a memoir about her lost love, Corporal Pat Tillman, AND the mother overseeing a household of five children. Read on to hear how she keeps all the wheels successfully spinning.
Brit + Co: Give us a little bit of background. Where did your career start and how did you get to where you are today?
Marie Tillman: My career hasn’t really been a straight path, but I’ve learned so much along the way. I started out in marketing and graphic design, spent some time in media and in 2004, after the death of my husband, Pat Tillman, I started a nonprofit focused on veterans’ education.
The Pat Tillman Foundation started as a way to channel all of the support and goodwill we received from across the country after Pat’s death. In those first days, we knew nothing about building a nonprofit or foundation. But what we did know was that Pat was a voracious reader, an enthusiastic debater and a lifelong learner. His passion for learning fueled his concept of leadership. An investment in educating leaders seemed like a natural fit to honor his life and legacy. So that’s where we started. It’s grown into an organization that has invested over $14 million in academic scholarships and support for 460 Tillman Scholars at 100 universities nationwide. Our website tells the amazing stories of our scholars, each unique in their experience and passions.
So much of what I learned in building the foundation has led to my current role as founder and CEO of Mac & Mia, a curated children’s clothing company.
B+C: What inspired the creation of Mac & Mia?
MT: Years after I started the Pat Tillman Foundation, I had children and entered into another unknown territory — motherhood. I became immersed in this new world and quickly discovered it truly does “take a village” to raise kids. I was constantly looking for ways to simplify my life and outsource little things so that I could spend more quality time with my kids. At Mac & Mia, we take care of the shopping so parents can get a little more time back in their lives.
B+C: Kids dressed in Mac & Mia are more than likely (okay, definitely) more stylish than me. How does the company stay creative?
MT: There are so many great emerging brands in the children’s space, and we love discovering new pieces to share with our customers. The designers and makers we work with are a constant source of creative inspiration.
B+C: How do you balance running a company AND a nonprofit foundation?
MT: It’s a team effort! I’m fortunate to work with some of the most amazing people. I used to have a really hard time delegating, but I’ve learned over the years to focus my energy on the things that only I can do. There’s never enough time in the day, so I try to keep in mind what’s the best use of my time so that I can help propel each organization forward.
B+C: What advice do you have for working moms who are trying to figure out the routine that works for them?
MT: Be open to change! I find that my “routine” can change weekly and sometimes daily. As my children get older, their needs change and I have to be accommodating. It sounds cliché, but I also believe in listening to your instincts. You can receive a lot of outside advice, and sometimes none of it will work with your child. Listen to your gut, and create a routine that works for your family, not someone else’s.
B+C: Do you have any daily habits that keep you productive?
MT: Coffee keeps me going! I’m also big on lists, which can get pretty long, so I try to prioritize and be realistic about what I can accomplish in a day or week. It’s so much more motivating to feel a sense of accomplishment instead of failure for not getting through an impossibly long list!
B+C: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
MT: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Tweet us which #girlboss we should talk to next @BritandCo!
(Photos via Mac & Mia)