Spending the day with the Richardson's, the makers behind Puj, taught us one very important lesson: be present. From secret passageways to the chicken coop, their Washington home serves as the base of creativity, beauty, and authenticity for which is so clearly reflected in all 6 of the Richardson's.
Besides business owners, you two are both parents of four very adorable children living in beautiful Washington. Your home seems very inviting, bright, and happy. Could you talk to us a bit about what home life is like and why/how Washington is fitting for your family?
When it comes to the morning routine in our home, our focus is on fostering independence. I (Katie) wake up at 5:30 and head out of the house to get some exercise and alone time. I am home just as they are waking up. I help the boys get ready and make sure they leave the house prepared for the day. Liberty (the baby) usually wakes up in the middle of all this and joins us at the breakfast table. Some mornings it feels like I'm herding cats, but for the most part, the boys do a great job being responsible for themselves. Once Ben and the boys are off, it's just me and Liberty for the day. We play house together, do the dishes, laundry and run errands. Luckily she is a great sleeper and on a very consistent schedule. This allows me to get my Puj work done during her nap time or in the evenings after stories and bedtime.
We have a very simple yet playful home. Because we have 4 kids and we live in a place that rains through the winter, it was important to make the interior a great place to play. The basement is very open so the kids can race their cars and play tag. And we also created a network of secret passageways connecting the boys' bedrooms and several closets. With 4 levels and 6 entrances, it is a big hit not just with our kids but with the whole neighborhood.
One thing I love about Washington is the people. I think it's the rain and gray days that keep everyone here grounded. And summers in the North West are absolute paradise. There are business tax advantages as well. I also love the great creative community in the Portland area.
You and your husband are so involved with the kids! The activities you do throughout the day seem to keep the kids' adventures going. For one thing, how did the chicken coop start (we adore it!)?
We couldn't resist the adorable little chicks one spring and decided to get the kids some "pets." I guess that's the practical side of me; if we are going to have a pet to take care of, it might as well help out around the house, right? The kids love chasing the chickens in the yard and holding them in their lap. When we collect the 6 eggs every day, it's like a bonus. Plus it's another opportunity to give the kids responsibility by feeding and taking care of the chickens. We are always looking for ways to help the kids learn and grow and this just happens to be a fun one.
What are some additional family activities you do throughout the day?
The morning usually consists of a green smoothy (banana, almond milk, nut butter, and spinach) and some fresh eggs. Then once the kids are ready for school, they LOVE to sit down and draw with Dad. It's a great way for them to let their imagination go and learn how to create an idea spiritually and then figure out how to communicate that idea. We have piles of composition books full of drawings from when these guys were as young as 18 months. They learn to talk through their ideas and get over the fear of sharing what's on their mind. It's amazing to me how they have refined their drawing skills at such a young age. And of course they get some outdoor play in by jumping on the trampoline or walking along the fence before they run off to the bus.
When do you 'go to work' and when do you 'come home'?
While Puj does have a 20,000 sq ft headquarters, I do the bulk of my work from home. Ben and I are both committed to making the family our priority. So I work really hard to be present when I am home and focused on the kids. I go into the office a couple times a week while the kids are at school and Liberty plays at grandma's. I make sure to be home before the bus drops them off at 3:45. It can be tricky trying to get it all done in such a short amount of time, but I have never regretted being there for the kids.
Would entrepreneurship be something you'd encourage for all your children?
I can already see my kids taking an entrepreneurial path in life. We involve them quite often when making decisions or discussing different business options. It is quite common to have a brainstorming session over the dinner table. It amazes me how clearly their young minds can think. They are disconnected from the emotional consequences of many decision and speak with such wisdom and clarity. I have learned to trust their judgement.
What are some of the biggest life lessons you hope to carry on to your children?
We as human beings are given the opportunity to act and create our own destiny. The trick is letting go of the fear and learning to step into the unknown. I want my kids to get excited about choosing their own path. I want them to have clarity about what is most important in life. I want my kids to know that I love them more than any success I achieve in business; I believe in them!
As far as your daily life goes, do you find that there needs to be any sort of improvement? Perhaps some things that you wish to do more of, or do less of?
We have a saying in our home and that is: "wash your bowl." I have a tendency to jump from one activity to the next and at the end of the day, the house can be a mess and feel chaotic. I'm working on slowing down, enjoying the clean-up process, and making it a family affair. My kids really are the happiest when they are working (they would disagree, but it's true). We are training these boys to be men (and women) and the habits they are forming now will stick with them for the rest of their life. I want to instill good habits in my kids.
What is the best concoction for a good day?
Hard exercise, simple healthy meals, and working beside my kids to make our home clean and organized. And if I want to make it extra good, I'll enjoy a cold glass of sparkling water and a few squares of extra dark chocolate once the house is quiet.