Today, I’m talking with the one and only Tereasa Surratt. If you live on this planet, you’ve likely seen her advertising and design work. But you may not know about the project closest to her heart— Camp Wandawega, a sustainability and preservation-minded camp in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Together, we talk about her journey from buying the camp to making it the incredible, communal, and passion-filled place that it is today.
While half of Tereasa’s life is Camp Wandawega, in the other half she is a thriving creative hybrid working with brands such as Dove, Mrs. Meyers, and the National Children’s Museum. In addition to her award-winning work in advertising, she is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, mom of an opinionated 16 year-old, and wife to an equally passionate husband.
Tune in to hear us discuss:
Music. Welcome to all up in my lady business I am your host Mary nisi on this podcast all explore the fine line between having it together I'm losing your shit. Here I share my journey as an entrepreneur a mom a wife a DJ and randomly a beekeeper. I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram. My stories of resilience a little structure and a lot of resource Wellness could show you how to take those same things and live your life with your hole. Music. All right folks today we have one of the. Coolest people I know I've got I'm here with Teresa Surratt she is an advertising. Genius a owner of a camp. And amongst so many things and I would love for her to it's so much I can't even say it so I'm gonna actually have her to do it because that's she knows herself better than I do but I like the way you just said advertising genius now we are there that I think shirt yeah are you serious I mean so Teresa Owens Camp wandawega which is a is it just a be called a camp hobby camp Oh hobby camps a good Dame we should call it that. Hobby horse yeah I mean we run Camp wandawega how for 18 years and then you know my husband David and I still have day jobs and I've been at the same Agency for almost 25 years and he and I worked together I don't know if I told you that he and I worked together at the same Agency for 15 of those years. And now he's on the client-side running an agency in house for a client but yeah I think we know you're not on the client side. Not he is what do you want. I mean I work at an ad agency so I work in a lot of different clients I run different cases of business but he has now gone to client-side been and he's in House at a big client so he runs an agency in house where I was like if like if like Gap had an ad agency he's like running the agency with it house yep got it yes did you guys work together is that how you met or no no. You've read either longer than that you've been together longer than 15 years yeah we did meet at work that we met at another agency it's funny the guy that I work for now. Introduced us and David worked for him for good Lord at a few different places almost 25 30 years as well so we have worked together David and I in advertising and then obviously we're together raising a kid and to try and to keep this place standing called camp wandawega. So yeah like every three jobs I mean yeah I mean it's I know that feeling all too well of having more than one business that is dominating your life so how. Like where do we start because your there's how did you get into advertising and how did you get with Dave because I'm feeling the David part of it is how we get to wandawega. Yeah he's David with a camp right there right like David was like a it wandawega like back in the day I mean he did I guess the the short version of all of it is that I moved to Chicago when I was probably 25 to a suburb and I was working for a small agency B2B and doing design work and then I went back to school then I moved to Chicago got a job at the small agency called Lee partnership and I was sitting. In my interview with my boss my future boss and incomes as guy who had no it was David in the middle of my interview and he just starts talking and so I'm like who is this schmuck like why is he walking in and I'm going oh God my little blazer on and I think I'm you know trying to be my best self sitting up straight and he leaves and I ended up dating David about 3 months later. And my boss tells him we had the same bosses David said who was that girl you were interview and he's like that's your future wife true story. We added update realize that's almost exactly the Obama's story what. Like Michelle Obama was working at this Law Firm I remember that Barack Obama comes in as it's on his first day and he's all cocky. And somehow like she hated him initially and then they got put on a project together and like. I know the Valerie Jarrett has something to do it too but I do know that like they work together and there was something where it was like this you're going to marry this girl he maybe he looked at her and was like I'm gonna marry that woman and then you know yes I said that the documentary he didn't you know David and I didn't feel that way about each other it was a joke that Joe was making he was like yeah that's your future wife and who knows maybe maybe he said that about every girl that walked in the door but it turned out to be true in our case no yeah so then we end up working together there that agency and then left and went to a bigger agency where we both stayed for you know he stayed for 15 years again I've been at 425 and we work together sometimes on new business sometimes on pitches but we sort of grew up together in the relationship working together through advertising and then in the middle of that we ended up buying Camp yes let's talk about X the camp is I mean that's what brought us together and it's like a Wes Anderson fantasy. Yeah so we were dating for many years we got engaged got married after about 5 years and David says I want to take you to this little place I used to go to when I was a kid is called wandawega and it's in Wisconsin and so I've been hearing all these Charming stories about it for so many years from him. About growing up there and these Latvian Community parties that they had and this wonderful sort of idyllic you know Rule summer camp community and he takes me there. And we roll in and I'm like it's a joke if we pulled into the right place because it is nothing very like what he described it was like a joke but not the closest thing that I could tell you is it look like Blair Witch it was abandoned buildings like roofs were missing they were Windows of her gone there were a dozen. Broken cars on blocks in this big field of sand they had it was like so much of it was like a hoarding down it was so scary and you know I never I used to tell people that's in the beginning because I'm like if they knew the truth I'd never want to come they would never want to come to Camp if they could see what was I did watch it before and afters like yeah because this is at a time think I mean this is like 18 years ago I think that at the time I was so insecure about where we were starting I didn't want people to know what I felt like at the time was his dirty Secret. You want to fit you want you want to make it seem like I saw the potential right away like we came into this and I just knew it was going to be this gem. Oh God no and that's the funny thing I was just scared we both were we bought this place we were kids it was condemned. We're like What do we do 25 acres of buildings are falling in on themselves but we just wanted to save it so we was what was going to happen to it that made you want it like was it going to be destroyed yeah well it went on the market so there was some different parties interested in we were convinced that one of them wanted to just bulldoze everything to use it for like a gravel pit and you know they have it raw materials. You know sand and rock and just raw materials for landscaping and another we thought would just. Subdivide it up and turn it into like mobile home parking or God knows what so. You know he had this nostalgic attachment to it he had all these sentimental memories about it he wanted to save it and of course I couldn't see any of it when you looked at it but you know I had I was used to rehabbing houses and he done it a few times he at the time owned a few properties around booked on Two Flats and I just flipped a house in Southern Illinois where I'd moved from there was a 1920s house so I done it before this my parents had done so I wasn't scared of the project but I was scared of this midi buildings in this condition like condemned and so what we did is we just locked all the doors and all the buildings and then one at a time just started tackling it and we didn't have a pot to piss in is that my dad would say yes my mother would say that to really I say you know I was making no money. And we were both just kids and we're like we don't we can't hire a contractor so David and I were trying to learn how to drywall and we sanded floors and we terrible drywallers we did everything that we could on our own bit by bit and every weekend we tackle a different room or a different project because we didn't have the money to you know hire a crew to come to do it right so I mean I can give you the long long version but really that's how we came across one do I get he'd been going there as a kid he introduced me to it and then we went there a few times because we would trailer or motorcycles out there and take bike rides all over Wisconsin and that he said he'd always told the priest of the priest wanted to sell it because a Catholic heart diocese owned it the latverian father's till the priest of your want to sell you have to give me a call so one day years later the priest calls and said I think I'm ready to sell it the guy was in his 90s at this point he wanted to move back to Latvia and properly retire. And was it doing anything like what was it like when he was holding onto it was her whether camps there or Retreats or. You know it is the sacrifices or something you know what's sad about it all these years David had been going there and he had this beautiful memories of all of these Latvian families who were laughing and refugees who had come and left everything behind and they came as families of four and five would rent individual rooms and they would have this community that they rebuilt. Having had to start over and so in the 70s he had these memories what happens of course is in the 80s the kids are in high school in the 90s they're in college and then the. Parents or elderly at this point they don't have the means or the back strength to keep it up at anymore their kids don't come anymore so it started to fall into disrepair and then it just continues like a landslide it just kept going and then you've got an aging priest who didn't have the community to keep it up and didn't have the funding from the church to really put on the roofs and do all the work that I needed so that he just started locking doors and renting individual rooms here and there and then it got kind of some seedy characters it was started to remove in the outside of the Catholic Community outside of the Laughing Community just locals there is some crazy stories of things that we found when we first took it over and we had to go through a series a year-long series of I don't like the word eviction but I will say coaxing people very gently over long periods of time to please leave and give us our keys and you know Waters right yeah they're going to be yielding their squatter's rights on your your property. There was one guy who had a room in the middle of all the hotel that he changed all the locks on in the door and he wouldn't over a year give us the keys he wouldn't let us in he didn't live there he was just storing things in there but he wouldn't tell us what and we couldn't get in so finally we broke into it and he was hoarding guns in there and so we told him. You're going to have to leave and take all of your Firearms with you and he was very angry about it so he stomped around and he finally left and then giving him money. No he just wouldn't leave and then there was another guy who was the Interpol was chasing him and he's the guy who had all these titles to cars as all over there with now the main field it was just stacked with all these cars on blocks and he was having all of this mail sent to the camp. He'd never been to the we you know had only ever seen this guy once or twice with all these different Russian names they had probably 15 different people he claimed lived at camp wandawega and all these different names and so Interpol Came Calling we couldn't get him to leave we tried very nicely to talk to this guy he wouldn't leave he wouldn't move his property so. David's mother calls the priest the priest calls this this Russian mobster who he was calls his mother and I tell you the only people that are Russian Mobsters going to listen to his mother and his priest oh my God that's amazing it was the only we tried forever like it was almost a year-and-a-half and so finally he left and of course David I were just like gracious and. Grateful there's a few more of those but it with a lot of cleaning to do let's say over the years and it wasn't just the property it was like a lot of bad stuff that started to happen there when it falls into disrepair it attracts like a weird sort so yeah I mean gosh we could I could just go on and I'll tell you over some beer some of the other ones that I can't really talk about it openly but yeah so long story short we started to fix it up we had no business plan we didn't have any strategy there wasn't ever going to be a business it was never going to be a place to let people stay at and take their money God forbid wait so then why did you buy it. To save it we just wanted to you know people by summer houses and we're like ass 25 acres is got a couple of cool buildings will be friends and family will just have parties so David and I just had parties and it was fun you could you know sleep 40 people and in the beginning we had something called talk everybody would get together and it's a laughing for work party we'd all open for the spring would put the peers in and things like that so bit by bit we started to fix it up and then. People found out about it from our art camps that we would have and we'd have band camp and we'd have all these weird you know fun creative camps I was just always free to everybody and then word gets out and then the newspaper write the story about it that it magazine that another magazine and then you got Brands calling and they want to do brand shoots there and they'll listen someone wants to get married and so that's why David and I call ourselves reluctant innkeepers because we had no business plan we have a strategy we Have No Agenda we were just trying to fix it up there's this old. Quote of it but trip it is something about when you rehab a house then it has a way of changing you and so when you go through the process of really throwing yourself in to resurrecting something building something you know taking something from inspiration to Vision to execution and you invest Your Blood Sweat and Tears into it. It has a way of changing you fundamentally in the way that you see things the way that you can be inspired by things and then it's empowering because you can see the potential in something and the potential of taking your own dreams and hopes and manifesting them into something in real life so. I think that we started to discover early on that we were taking this place and open it to her friends and family in the creative community in that Good Will and Good Karma found a way of becoming a virtuous cycle and so by the time we started to allow people to come and have a wedding here there you know take a rental we were just so humbled by even being asked that we really wanted to make it nicer and so we tried to think about what could we do to make it you know. Enjoyable for people but never again with intention of going into full-on Hospitality because even now we have this impostor syndrome. Even now getting on all these crazy list like greatest hotels in the world and fodor's and best hotels in the Midwest and all this stuff we still. Don't see the place or ourselves in that way and that's why we created. Many years ago in our first rental season something called the manifesto of low expectations you remember that my face it was yeah it's one of my favorite things about it because it's like. Setting up right away like guess what there's no air conditioning there's no you know bug Nets like it's where you are as yeah there's no locks on the doors like bathroom times could be weird like you get you know. Your plumbing is from the Hoover administration or whatever you have on the Telly that's saved us because it allowed us to. Start with a degree of vulnerability and humility that says we really want you to have a good time we really want you to see this place and enjoy the way that we do and the only way that you can is if you set your expectations really low and it worked it scares people away the and then attracted attracts the right kind of people the low maintenance people the people that are going to. Suck it up and have fun and embrace it for what it is and what that really speaks to is just it's like I mean this is like such a huge buzz word in the world is just like being your authentic self like your authentically like look I'm not changing I'm not going to add a. You know towel warmer you know your I'm not going to you know like I like your like this is who we are and when you live in your truth. You know people love that they flock to it they enjoy it they feel it feels real and. You know and I think that also just speaks to either a Nostalgia for what they actually had or wish or what they wish they had. And I think it can fill anybody's bucket depending upon how open they are into that concept. Yeah you know what else honestly it's really freeing we had that reason David I waited so many years I mean Lord has probably at least eight years before we let anybody come and we took any money from anybody to stay there it was freeing because we felt like we're giving them full disclosure and like we literally call ourselves an eighth of a star and it all comes from the able to star hotel liking huh yeah but that's the thing with why 1/8 I can't think of something smaller than that I 16th sometimes I guess I don't know how to know how many stars real hotels good but we were like. Even for weddings even now we only accept a small handful a year because we want it to be special for them. Because we're not a wedding machine that just cranks him in and out and we want to maintain and preserve the property and we're not in it to try to you know what they call in the industry but Sinbad's we're not trying to maximize capacity or dollars and by doing that we're terrible business people there's a lot of ways that you could make a lot more money that's for sure but we will miss Lee good I'm allowing that's a luxury though like the fact that you're not relying upon this income you know to live it's free because you have another job you've gathered forms of income you can actually do with it like make decisions authentically make decisions about what you want it to look like feel like and not have to worry about but sand beds or you know housekeeping or whatever because you don't have to you can actually keep it I mean that's that's that's a luxury that's beautiful and wonderful. It feels good it really does you know the other part of that is it allows us to support causes and groups and or convictions are principles or belief systems everything that is important to us that allows us to embrace that and then also to identify what are the types of people and groups that we want to have so if if someone came to us and said or certain political party we will host a fundraiser there we can say nope. Yeah we are going to do that and it allows us to to and you've seen it because you've been a camp but you fly that pride flag all year long and we embrace every day of the year diversity in a way that we wish that other parts of Wisconsin wood and don't and so we do give preferential treatment to same-sex couples we do if we were going to do a handful of weddings choose the ones who are going to be the most open-minded. Liberal folks like us. Because I think that was constant needs more of it we just have to support each other more but what happens is your polarizing your audience when you do that and when you Telegraph that on your social beads as we do many times we'll put up a post we learned this early on if we put up like there was one year that we hosted as an lgbtq group and we put up this gorgeous shot of this beautiful black man in high heels doing this. Gorgeous one dive off of the pier and he was wearing like I don't know like a sequined Speedo or something just a gorgeous shot and I got so much hate mail over that. I lost like four hundred followers and I'm like I'm so glad to know he's been following us because now is the time to stop following this was years ago and then so what I've tried to do ever since his make a point of. Put in as much content as I can out that continues to sort of filter organically those who choose to follow us because I don't want to build a business and take money from people who aren't going to be inclusive and open minded I don't really want them following us or reading us or booking a room it's like that you know years ago when that hate has no home here you know signs came out and I feel like that's everywhere now but like that's it. That's our filter and we want to make sure that we're putting out our story and our truth as often as possible and as genuine as possible so that we could like I said naturally filter as we go I don't want to get down the road like many brands do 10 years later and then if you do put out a statement about what you believe in you're like when Trump was happy and it was like celebratory about that I don't want to build a brand that you find out you lose half of your business the day that you say would you believe in I want to start from the very first day and so it only been and leaned in on that and then you are ganic Ali karmically are going to draw to you like-minded individuals for the right reasons. Absolutely you know and I feel like you know especially in Wisconsin you know it's it is very white up there and. It's an eye in a thing is is you know I feel like those bubbles like I feel like those are the bubbles like they always say like oh these cities and their bubbles and there they have all these of crazy ideas took 10 your tiny small-minded bubble is actually the smaller thing like. You know and I feel like by being in that rural area you're able to bring in more influence it's like even if like eighty percent of the people there are mad about it 20% are and those 20% have kids and those kids see how much more fun and wonderful and being you know diverse and Equitable and inclusive is and it can it's I'm sure that there are people who are better off because the camp exists up there to be an influencer and show. The value in having open Equitable and inclusive business practices I mean we hope so yeah I think so I think that a lot of the folks that we've been hiring over the years haven't had the opportunity to work at a place that has as much diversity as we've been able to bring in through our creative Community a very diverse community and so we want to lean in on that and I think that some of the folks that we've had the longest. Also realize locally that there's not enough opportunity for employment in the area where you can get that much diversity you can get the types of. Business that you could work at the would close Camp down and donated to like the inner city kids camp that we do or the artist in residency camp or we do. Almost 25% of all of our Old Camp bookings we donate to causes. And I wish that we could do more of that and maybe there's a day that we can increase that I think what we're trying to dial in for next year. And moving forward to the long term is how do we use the place. As an opportunity to do more of those cause based groups and camps and knock on wood hopefully we're never in a position to we have to rely on it to like make money because that's when like you just said a minute ago that's when you start making decisions not based on your heart but based on your pocketbook and right now and it's. Partially because you know I remain gainfully employed for a very long time I could afford to make mistakes and in projects that you know we might make or building we might over invest in and we can afford to donate more we can afford to lead with the things that matter in the things that help people the things that make us feel good I hope that that's always a case I mean that's our dream that's our hope it's certainly not about making money where the wrong people ask about how to make a profit by owning a summer camp. So it does it does it pay for itself yeah of course it does but the thing is it could real it can make a lot more money if we didn't give so much of it away is the truth and we don't try to book it we don't try to like maximize it we actually should a chunk of our rentals down early in the season and we never really wanted to be booked all the time because I'm what you're really doing is you're tearing the place up we're on the national register of historic places wow and so even though it's a very blue-collar joint when you book at maximum capacity you were tearing up your property and we want to preserve our hundred-year-old congoleum block printed floors we want to preserve all the original furniture and to do that. You have to make the choice I will book last make less money to have this place standing for what I daughter graduates College of she wants to run it so we're preservationist. First and foremost to a fault so every building that we add to Camp is a building we've moved and saved it was getting demoed from someplace else and we're on our seventh building now it's a lot cheaper to build something new is like move a building or a cabin but you don't have I think that I don't know residual Good Karma of saving something that would have been pushed over we lead in a hard-on that we believed in it and so and we don't we don't do it just because when the national register we do it out of respect for old architecture we do it out of respect for buildings that still have purpose that are getting demoed all of the time the don't need to be I think that I have an aversion to all of all the folks that are just building new rather than looking to recycle rather than trying to save old architecture. Where are you bringing these buildings from everywhere a lot of Girl Scout camp so we've just got to from a Girl Scout camp is getting demoed about 6 miles away and then we got one from a nearby lake that was part of a hotel that burned down and had a bunch of small cabins we got one from my hometown about 350 miles south it was part of a cabin like a motor tourist cabin Court they also are they like I don't houses on the back of like trucks like when you're driving on the interstate and you see like a house on it is that like are you moving physically at whole house to these to the location yeah but they're small I mean the biggest one we've moved is recently this cabin and it's about oh maybe 18 by 19 so they're not like what you see on reality TV shows where it's some big Victorian monster they're pretty small. That's pretty cool though actually is anything new property is Hill House new well we it was a 1930s. Lake cottage that I call her she she still there her bones are still there but we doubled her height we lifted her out of the ground built a whole new Foundation. So we could get more height out of the basement make it living space we turn the garage into a kitchen and then pop the top we say so that you get an extra level for sleeping rooms and then she's totally reclad so it looks like a brand new house now but it's not it's an old Cottage and it would have been cheaper if we pushed it over and just build something new but we have this you know maniacal sort of commitment to preserving old things as much as they can be next time you're up I'll take you through a tour and I'll show you the pieces where the old lady still showing through that's underneath a what looks like a new house. And so that's the that was its place though it was there a didn't move that from some place know if you go to wandawega rehabs it's a hashtag on Instagram I've got about 100 post and each post is a Carousel and the carousel shows the before and after of almost every building in the hill house is the scariest the before state of the Hill House is definitely the scariest and I know like I seem to recall like when you guys were doing that that you were doing a lot in like you know like sponsorship and trade is that something you want to talk about. I mean yeah we can I think that I'm a huge advocate for it for us it was really accidental and that we didn't we don't pitch your pursue we're not content creators or influencers but we got a phone call from three different. Groups almost at the same time one was Kohler and they said hey you know I work at that you know I think it was the social department and said we just like Place To Shoot product and if we can install it in a house then we can come back and you know shoot the content for it so they end up outfitting all of the bathrooms and kitchens with all this beautiful Kohler product and then they just used it as a set. And it was incredible incredible gift because David and I were just going to go to Like Home Depot in the clearance section abide by whatever week and then at the same time we got a phone call from Rejuvenation who said the same thing they were looking for places to be able to integrate their product and also the installation of the product. And so we're like it's interesting because we just got a call from caller last week but sure so they ended up doing all of our lighting a bunch of the furniture we got a phone call from this beautiful couple in Milwaukee it's called La Lune collection there are 50 year old brand house in this old church it was a factory that exists to make build a lot of the original historic churches in Milwaukee so they have scored just compound and they make Old Hickory style furniture kind of like Ralph Lauren is one of the big clients they make all this log furniture so they made headboards and they made dining room tables all of this was. In exchange for Goodwill and a place for them to shoot their product in context and then after that of course where was it snowballed own fire clay tile and then Shinola and Lamar has OKO they just started donating product. I can't really say that I meant I could provide any great advice of how to do that again because we didn't pursue it to begin with so it's not like I have a model for that. Well I mean I think what it is I mean like it's I mean it goes down to just the basic ethos you've been bringing to this from the beginning of like. Keeping things the way they are and not trying to turn a profit and not late-stage capitalism mean these this location and turning it into like the Vegas of southeast Wisconsin they want to provide. Product because they they see the love and the heart and the authenticity to use that word again and they they know that they won't get dogged for supporting this because. Kind of like a purely good thing I hope so I hope that that is how they feel it certainly worked for us so far which is why we continue to lead with what feels good to do always ends up being the right thing to do and we don't know if there's ever an Roi on that we just feel like doing the right thing now may at some point somewhere down the road pay off in some way. Payoff if you need help or if you need a favor and I don't mean pay by way of money I think that because that is worked for us so far we don't know what it looks like in five years or in 10 years we love it I have to say it's really rewarding it's really rewarding to be able to have a place that you can invite friends into and that people appreciate we just started this artist in Residency program that it makes me so happy we bought this house about a a little over a year ago it's a couple doors down from the hill house and it was just another you know 1940s Cottage and we rehabbed it we don't rent it it's not listed it's on our website but only for just a the restoration story. We donate it to artist-in-residence so musicians and writers and mainly artists and different mediums and they can stay there for free and everyone that comes you know helps build on the karma of the place sometimes they might donate a piece to hang on the wall. But we knew from the beginning that we wanted to save that Cottage and fix it up so we have a free place we know that we need to rent Camp it's got to be a standalone business so that I could pay for ya it needs to any stuff yeah it's probably pretty expensive like the monthly nut on that places I mean even if though it's got low expectations I'm sure that there is a. Something to it so how does one become an artist in Residence because that that seems like a really amazing program that I think a lot of people who are artists that would want. Working with a dear friend of ours and it's turned ugly. She's from Johanna projects and she's helping us and has been for a while she's a new neighbor she's helping to sort of Define what it could look like to be able to invite people up. And we're starting to work on art has residency program that were bringing it up structure around to the there's an application process and so we could Define duration of time we're looking at probably three days to five days people can come certain times of the year. And then how they can nominate someone else to come how they can partake in things that are happening while they're there it's it's a little bit of a Juggle because we have to work on other events that we're doing but I think what it allows us to do is give a space that's not for rent so we'd have to take it off of our rental calendar and we can provide more of opportunity to invite people in to use it for free which is how we started wandawega and we honestly miss doing when everything was free to everyone all the time the whole damn place that's what it felt the best soon as you start taking money from people that I feel like it forces you to apply a different filter and I miss the days of just really being there for art camp and kids camp and band camp and all these you know family camps and stuff so we still do those things and I want to find a way to do more of them and this artist in residency Sycamore Cottage is just the first of many things that we're going to do to try to do more of that so they can only stay for three to five days they can't like they do not like do like a two-month residency or something like that well not yet because David's parents still use the cottage to when they're getting up there in years and they can't get upstairs and so we want to again we want to make room for our family to so it's like you don't want it to be booked all the time only by artist we're trying to let as many people as we can use it in different ways including our family. So speaking of your family so you mentioned you had a daughter how does how does having a child while you're trying to build a camp and hold down a full-time job how does that factor into your life oh gosh well I mean. You can answer that too right yeah I mean I think I have my own way of color-coded filing system to sort that out oh God she just turned 12 and you would think that she's 16 she's like 57 she definitely carries herself like she's a sixteen-year-old so I'm like that Bear Mama Bear running around every time you know because she looks so much older than she is and any time we go out I'm like looking at the young teen boys and like don't look at her Don't Look at Her She's Mine She's Mine death metal knock off yeah so I mean it's like there's something that I there's somebody that I quote her name is Shelly Lazarus and she ran Ogilvy. Globally for many many years and in an interview she gave once she said when someone asked her that very question how do you juggle all the things because she's running one of the biggest ad agencies globally in the world and raising all of her children she said you had infinite capacity for the things that you love and that's true you just figure it out you just the things that are important to the things that you love the things that matter you just make time for and it never feels like you're really making trade-offs when you make time for. Your kids are my case you know David I just have Charlie but I will say that I don't do it nearly well enough. I'm certainly not the mom that most of my friends are to their kids or I see it you know at school those who are making the pies and volunteering and showing up I mean this morning I had to drop off Charlie 5 minutes before school opened so she had to go into like the Teachers Lounge and I felt terrible oh because you had something to do and you. I had a meeting that I had to get to and David's on a flight to New York so I'm like 5 minutes but she was like can you just wait in the car with me and I like broke my heart of course I want to wait in the car with you but I also have to get to work so I could work the job that pays for the thing that someday you'll inherit and so earlier when you said luxury. That has to you know sort of sides what is luxury it's a luxury owning a place that you financially can give away to causes but it's not a luxury to necessarily work a 50-hour week to enable that so it's a gift but it's also a choice and it's a sacrifice everything is a sacrifice so I'm grateful to have the opportunity to work in my career what I call my day job it really is my career for all these years that has afforded me the chance to be able to make choices based on heart rather than pocketbook again but it is also a trade-off as a mom so I don't get to get like she's got a band concert on. Thursday of next week and I'm in d.c. for meetings I'm gonna miss it so David has to go to that without me so I mean you probably experience oh absolutely I had to pick up a wedding a couple weeks ago from a DJ I don't remember why it was I'm basically this past past two years I've been the back of DJ which has been. It's own like I don't I can't hard to plan my life out because I don't know if I have to work but we're in the offseason that's not going to happen now but I had to do a wedding and Sebastian little dance performance and I was like this sucks. You know like and John's like trying to text me videos I'm trying to watch and while the ceremony is going on and I'm like this sucks like this is not the way I should be. Twenty years into this industry but here we are but you know something you actually said earlier on which I kind of is something I feel is because you know. You mentioned the Suzy Lazarus and you she's raising her kids and I just have my one I'm also a one mom of one child and. I feel like I often times have to qualify it as I watched someone could I just have one kid as if that's not the same thing as having multiple kids do you have any kind of like. Can you speak to that at all you know I do have a complex when I goto school and I see the moms that are just like they're walking their kids to the class and they you know that they've homemade everything that's in that lunch box and they're the ones that pick up the kids at 3:
30 not of five when I do and yeah sometimes they have three that's a full-time job I watch his mom's and they're able to bring their kids to You Know piano practice to ballet practice to soccer practice and they like they work that is a job I hope that I can look back in 10 years when she's in college not even that oh my God seven years is coming fast when she's in college that look back on these days and say God should I quit my job sooner. Should have been there more I struggle with that all of the time and I don't know I tried the best that I can and do the best that I can and make the choices that I am now in David and I David's great David really does do a lot of the heavy lifting we really divide I try to plan everything that I'm doing now to like what's it going to look like in five years am I going to look back and regret you know and and so it's never perfect and you do the best you can and you try to be present and it's never going to be enough and you hope that you hope that your kids come back after college and still want to come home for Christmas and that's part of what like now that we're in the holiday season that's part of what we all do I mean I know I certainly don't know if you do you create these traditions and credit environment and create a place that she's going to hold in her heart that so the no matter how far is she goes she wants to come home to I believe in that I had that growing up I don't about you yeah I mean I've got five brothers and sisters so like I mean I had a lot of. You know I mean there were certainly in my like shitty early 20s years went folk food we and like you know. You know I you know I look back on that I'm like I would if I would have known I had such limited time with my mom I maybe would have spent more time hanging around her which I don't want that to be a well I don't want reason I do especially be thinking about my impending der Mal my impending death you know focusing on his decisions but I understand the desire to make I'm a big. I want to make everything awesome you know but like you I don't have the ability to like whip up a loaf of bread in like you know make the you know like it's I'm also not made of the most maternal stuff but I'm still a I feel like I'm still a great mom it's not like I mean I vastly between feel like a terrible mom and a good mom as I think most women do you know your you've mentioned a couple times that you are you want to you know make the camp something that Charlie inherits is that something that she wants like does she look at the camp and think like. This is all mine someday or is she like Jesus Christ I want to move to Hollywood and be a movie star oh she totally was originally what yeah I say that because I want to you know and none of us know when she's gonna whatever she says today is going to change over a year until she's 30 I'm sure I don't know but we want to at least have it as an option for her. And if she doesn't choose it that's okay you know has she been a part of their Innovations like does she help like put up drywall and paint no God I wish that was my dream and never happened never manifest yeah but she has an opinion and the older that she gets the more that you know I'm always encouraging her to express her opinions when were buy a new Cottage or were you know renovating one and I have to say that I'm very proud of her that she knows her architecture she knows her differences between different Furniture Styles and not like we do flash cards and Grill her on it but like I didn't know like anything when I was that age I mean I honestly knew nothing and I think that we underestimate sometimes just experiences we give her kids how much it impacts them and their choices and because we host Studio gang Architects every year and she gets to be around that and then we host the Waterboys which is a traveling queer community of larger of drag queens and it's like she gets so much exposure to so many different types of creative people expressing themselves in so many different ways and different Industries it's a gift that I didn't have grow up myself but a farm. Yeah that I mean I guess that's something I'm coming I see David had been this camp and it was you know that was part of his upbringing like where did you get the value system of like maintaining and the art side of things and giving back and you know I like you I was one of five. We grew up in a town called Beardstown which at the time was 4,000 people we grew up eight miles outside of town between cornfields and hog Lots. So I had no exposure to anything other than a dad that May twenty thousand dollars a year raised in a family of five and the need. To make do and so the think about. It was most farmers will tell you is that you learn everything out of necessity because you have to be resourceful you have to learn how to make great things out of nothing and so I think for resourcefulness and work ethic it definitely came from my dad and I have you ever heard the word ugly nisi. Get a glitter is like gleaning like like tattoo like this. Take the essence of things or you know we had horses that other neighbors that could afford to feed their horses anymore because it was kind of a economically depressed area where I grew up they would give us horses so we had five acres and we would take these horses in but we didn't have the money to feed them so we go gleaning so we would go to the farm Fields after they've been harvested all the kids in the back of the pickup we would jump out and we would pick up the leftover ears of corn and then we would store that and that's how you would feed the horses of course we'd send him out to graze and water when we couldn't avoid hey so that concept of glean into something that we carry through everything that's the way we finished our house we would go to yard sales and auctions and swap meets and I would watch my mom put together these fantastic Interiors with no money and I would watch my dad find ways to feed a family of five and twenty Grand a year and keep horses for us. By gleaning and so I think I took it for granted all those years until I grew up and went to college and I was working three jobs in college to just to get through it I found myself bartending till.You know 2:
00 in the morning get it up at six so I gave you the first one to hit the yard sales with my bag of belly bag of quarters from tips and that's how I finished I furnished all of my apartments and we still to this day. I mean I'll hit up the bar and sale in a yard sale in a thrift store for a lot of Camp projects just because it's ingrained I fundamentally can't justify. Wearing you know Gucci or drive in a new Mercedes even if you could afford it because I know that you can do so much more with less and it's so much more of a creative Challenge and reward when you can create something with nothing and I did learn that from my mind dad. When this actually like a really I mean I feel like whenever you talk to like real artists or like you know people who have. Who are really creative it's always the limitations is where they found. The most fertile Earth for their creative Endeavors you know like when someone's been given everything it's hard to you know necessarily. Work against it if you never had to work against anything it doesn't really build up the fortitude to have that kind of attitude towards. Especially this world right now because it's so commercial like it's so it's so consumer-based you know we have what we've gone from you don't make anything anymore we just buy things that's like our entire you know you work in advertising your whole job is like trying to get people to buy things and that's what the world is right now I mean and that's. In a world and it's interesting where you're you have a job where you're trying to get people to buy things you're like I mean if I'm going to go to a thrift store and I'm going to buy you the all this stuff to outfit my area or maybe even some I mean I know whenever I go to a thrift Star Wars when it binds something that you wind up wearing like it's winds up being part of my wardrobe. That's an interesting dichotomy you know you really try to break it down and it is so much more Innovative I think when you walk into I mean you could apply this to anything whether it's an outfit that you're wearing you have one piece from a thrift store you could be pairing it with something that's really you know could be a designer piece it's about the mix something with an interior you know we got this beautiful stuff donated from Rejuvenation these leather couches but it's also paired with some crazy you know thrift store things and it's about whatever. Whatever you take it approaches really eclectic it becomes a more unique and then it becomes more Timeless because you're not chasing a trend and I think that it makes it timely and Timeless and it gives you the opportunity to be able to express yourself in a way that you don't see everywhere like I learned the hard way early on at Camp I started we didn't have any money so I was throwing him remember Kmart had Martha Stewart at one time when she did these yes a guy do I actually I actually still have some Martha Stewart towels that I got a Kmart so she used to sell these bed in a bag and it would be like you get you know two sheets full sheet set in like a duvet cover and of course it always felt like cardboard but we don't have any money and so I was buying better bags and just throwing them in these rooms because we had like twenty five bedrooms and I look back at those but just to make them usable for friends and family but I look back at those photos now I'm like damn it for less money I should have just been hitting more thrift stores to pull together. Something that's more unique that I would still have now so I look back at those photos and I cringe but I was still mixing in some thrift store stuff but now I fully embrace it from the beginning I'm like how do I find something that is otherwise going to be tossed or something that's got you know something really unique and so that's why David and I have two storage lockers big ones that we just now have for Furniture and Design pieces that we can't pass up that we know we're going to integrate into spaces coming and right now we've got. Three we've got the two cabins in the the gear house that we're getting ready to outfit so we have lots of opportunity to use this stuff but also we probably don't need to I have two storage lockers I want to Noble yard sale I mean can you imagine I would I mean let me know when you're doing that so you don't run it out every weekend you're just sort of fill. Out of the year were closed except for Hill House will do some rentals on and then in High season which is like five and half months a year we'll take. A certain amount of weddings usually six will do a certain amount of okay take over sort of Retreats and usually that's like eight or nine and then we will fill in in between with some Airbnb rentals but. Success to us does not look like having all those bases packed because showing is going to feel like they have enough privacy and then more than anything I just if we have something called the checklist after everybody moves out when you're walking through a hundred year old property when groups of people move out after they get a bachelor party or you've got a wedding it's a damaged list some of these things you can repair some of these things are gone forever and it's just not worth the damage. To continue to just booked it for cash because we're in it for the long term so yeah we're not we don't you won't come to camp and find it full I think that. You're unless you're there for like an event and it's a whole take over because we least the whole camp out and then they fill it but it's a comfortable balance of having you know maybe two-thirds of it could be full or half of it could be full that feels good to us then we can hang out with people they can meet each other and it's not just look at madhouse of. So we do have those Airbnb weekends or weeks or however you do it like is it like like let's say I want to come there what am I going to do like what's the what is your what is the the pitch for the Airbnb like are they is it like you're going to come here and you're just going to like read a book. Or are you going to is there are you are you setting up lawn darts it's funny it's funny like we don't pitch it at all it's like that's funny because if you pitch it then you're automatically setting expectations for people that we're going to have all these things and you're going to do what we want to do is like I don't know where a little place in Wisconsin and. Come if you want and there's some things you could find to do we do list on our Airbnb listing though the immediate things that you've got basketball and tennis and shuffleboard and archery and boats and canoes and hiking trails and bikes and. All that stuff so you've got the basic of summer camp and most of that stuff is listed as part of the tour but we try not to actually we don't you'll never see us Post. You know we did this once or twice a last-minute Avail if there's like a cancellation we just let people mandor over to the website see what's open book it in between other events that we have and it really does feel good. To not have to worry about. Trying to advertise it because we don't advertise we don't Place ads we don't put specials out we don't have I mean there's called where they have the different rates for different times of year so it's during the week we don't have that offseason is racing yep we don't do any of it because it's based on sales so we're just the same price all the time and you know the one complaint that I think we get. From we've heard is that we're really expensive and they're absolutely right it's a stupid about a money but we would rather rent it far less for more because it preserves the place well and also it's like it's you know like weird we didn't we never said we were the cheapest place we never said this was a budget vacation. Like you know you can pay a lot of money and go to the Four Seasons and be in the lap of luxury is I mean honestly I feel like. When the Wi-Fi out there sucks the I feel like the one of the biggest selling points is that. You're cut off like you can come out here and be completely cut off because I feel. And that's like a that's like a hard thing to find we do have a couple high-speed spots but we yeah we do tell people I wasn't even my sucked at your house I wasn't trying to see it was funny that used to sucks there. Well that is what we put in our advertising we actually say that we say that the Wi-Fi is spotty at best and plan to be unplugged but the truth is that we do have a couple high speed because David and I worked there over covid so we had to and then you know people use their phones but no you're right about that I think it helps people get into the mindset of I'm here to unplug that's the other thing about we have this rule the nothing crosses the threshold of its newer than like 1965 now we pushed it out so I like 1970 but we want people to feel really immersed in a different era. If you're using a tennis racket the 60 years old on a beat up old concrete tennis court then it kind of makes you feel like you're stepping back in time so we tried it you'd walk into a kitchen and you open a kitchen drawer you're going to find a Bakelite spatula nothing's from Target. Nothing fancy and do unless you're at the real house at the Hill House you know we tried to make it a little bit nicer for those who are a little higher maintenance but the most of Camp is just really old school it's everything's an artifact. The commitment to keeping it legit is. Is an admirable admirable and commendable sometimes it's hard to get words out. Me too we didn't even get into the advertising of it all in the way that women have been. Having a hard time are we at time and I don't know how long we're supposed to be talking we're pretty much at time we're getting close but we can go a little bit longer if you got something to say that because I really we were kind of talking before about this 3% club and I was like I want to hear more. Yeah well there was the three percent conference is something that started years ago and advertising it was to represented at the time and underrepresented humidity and that at the time this I can't even going to misquote at least 10 years ago. Only three percent of creative directors and advertising were women even though the women represent the majority of the buyers for products and so. There was a group that started this conference and it's brought together women and Industry across all the different disciplines in advertising and then brought in speakers and then it moved everywhere and is really powerful and empowering and I attended a couple of them and it worked I can't say that that was the only reason that it worked the conference but it had a lot of influence and it was about shifting. That balance so that women were given more opportunities and to be seen and then also Those Who Rose up in the ranks could support the other women and the give them opportunity so we could have a quality and I will say where I work at Ogilvy Chicago for the past 25 years I don't think we've ever had that problem maybe they did back in the 70s but since I've been here. I've not seen that I think that under the leadership that we have he's always made it a priority and I'm glad I'm grateful for that I think that it's not the same in every country obviously it's not the same in every agency but I think that we made great strides and I can only speak to my own experience right now but I'm seeing a shift. So with that 3% thing that happened is it what you know what the percentage is now I don't know what it is now but I know that where we are it's over 50 and I would have to guess that it's over 25% in most places now and then so much has happened me to everything has happened in the last since they started doing that and I think that. Equality and bringing in more diversity in every possible way has been a priority not just for. Or agency or Holding Group but I've seen it across a lot of different Industries and it's a good thing I'm not saying it's perfect and I'm by no stretch an expert on this I can just say that in the time that I've been where I am at. I think that people have been treated pretty fairly women have gotten a lot of opportunities for growth and I would say the balance if anything has shifted more towards women. And in the last I don't know eight or nine years at least that I've seen well and it's an interesting concept that like three percent of the of the leadership was being run by women but women tend to make most of the purchasing decisions. And. It's kind of like when they say like women don't go see movies and then like the Sex and the City movie will have a largest opening that's de movies ever had it's like always kind of undermining women and like not really valuing like. What they've actually been bringing to the table and it would be interesting to see like once they started having more women in leadership if like you know the creative got better or like sales got better because women were actually being spoken to by other women and not. You know talk down to or set in a way that women can't really hear but they have to buy soap so like that Irish Spring campaign just happened to work because. Like it but now that they were kind of like he's I've even seen like in like the doll the dove campaigns that have come out where they really try to Target like real women and like. You see that more even with like spokespeople and whatnot where they're getting less like white skinny women there's more like. You know diversity within that as well I cut my teeth on on dove. Really 15 years ago Dove was only in the New York office we had it for 50 years as an account of we were doing just the bar so Ben I was working in the Chicago office and they wanted to expand into different categories you know hair care that eventually men and skin and Dio and all of that and so Askew at a time Category 2 time I was working with you know different teams here and then we. In the Chicago office launched campaign for real Beauty along with our counterparts in London and it just blew up because they were doing something that hadn't been done before in advertising we were showing a body type that was never shown it didn't fit the archetype that most people have their heads it pushed against every stereotype. At the time and and I of course we do have to go through the campaign because everybody knows it by now but what happened was it just we have it you you worked on that campaign you like made that campaign I was definitely part of the team 420 how I just happened to bring up each one yeah the funny part about it is you can talk to a thousand people at all say that they worked on it and that's true. But I think when we first started doing it in the very very beginning when we launched it it was the Chicago office working with the London office and there was a small group of. And that afforded me the chance to go to 20 different countries and shoot that campaign and meet women of all shapes and sizes and colors all over the world. And I will say there's one thing that I can take from all of my years working here and on that brand that's a highlight because we were creating work that changed Minds it changed. Perceptions it changed a category of advertising it made competitors and people and other categories wake up and realize that you needed to talk to women where they are and support them for who they are and not try to show them a version of something that they could not live up to and that started a chain of other brands behaving in a similar way we saw like a girl come out of that we saw a million other brand start to step up into that and that's a good thing it's not copycat advertising when everyone's doing it for the right reason and now even you're seeing you know. Kind of late but even Brands like Victoria's Secret are bringing Real Models now down the runway I think that we're never going to go back to the 1950s advertising word everything it shows this unrealistic idealized version of women I don't I don't think that we ever can I think we've come too far and thank God. It's overdue but finally it's here so I mean of course there's exceptions to this at the different Industries still but I think as a whole that's the one of the most rewarding things of being here in the time that I've spent is seeing how important it is to all of our Brands to show diversity so I can't talk more about it's funny I want to because it's half my life and advertising but I can't talk too much about individual Brands but there's a lot of wonderful case studies and wonderful examples of showing how effective it is when you speak to women. In an authentic way about who they are rather than a brand talking at you trying to sell having a conversation with you talking to them like humans rather than marketers I mean fundamentally that's where it all starts. Maybe that's what we apply to Camp 2 is like we just talked to people like what would it be like to go on a vacation with your girlfriends or your friends or your family like we're not trying to sell something. We're trying to share something we're trying to find like-minded Community they can share something authentically so I think that there have been some crossovers between but Dave and I have done in our three more corporate jobs and what we have learned from it and what we bring into the experience we try to provide a camp and I guess in a nutshell that's what it is. You're it's about sharing rather than over promising is about humility and vulnerability Above All Else. Yeah I mean I mean yeah I mean I feel like that's. Yeah that's kind of a amazing I don't have anything to say to that like that's like that's yeah that's be perfection. Or the opposite of that's what we say there's no such thing as perfect but you know you just share what you have and you hope to find people that appreciate it to you can share it with speaking of sharing with you need to come back up I know need to have a beer round the fire will do it even though it's snowing that would be fun it's been a long time that's the best time at the same time we're going to pop this is amazing. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this every time I do spend time with you is always amazing how can people find you.Just wandawega.com their website their Instagram I'm the one who's up at 3:
30 in the morning replying to DMS and Instagram so if anybody wants to get hold of me the round Olea right it's me at an ungodly hour said it's a DM F you want to get hold of us otherwise just go through the website and vote wandawega that'll go to David we're very slow to get back to people because we're still very Mom and Pop. It's funny you should say like is early on Tuesday look we're not influencers we're not trying I'm like I whenever I'm like having to do like a brand conversation about anything I'm doing like in there like she was Instagrams like really it's like you're like wandawega is always in my like my mood Boards of like inspiration. Because it's a really really do use run that yourself you mean like a 23 year old it does it for you God I wish if there's any 23 year olds out there listening to this that wants a job. To work with me and my crazy hours and please DM me because we are about hearing you're about to get a million deals I hope so I hope so we're hiring that's the thing you have to say I love talking with you I feel like we have a lot of friends in common but I just love your audience and I feel like the folks you talk to you we have a lot in common with so if karmically somebody here is ass out there and just likes what we do and wants to be part of it by all means there's not a recruitment broadcast but I am going to throw it out there please DM me yeah I mean if people can make some money off of this I got out of the can I mean I've got my dozens of listeners who you know are you know devoted to the goodness I want to believe so thank you so much to the goodness I know I you are you're like pure love and light such a. It's such a gift to the world so thank you so much for being on here and everybody have a good week thank you you have a good one. Thanks for listening to all up in my lady business it is written by me Mary nisi. It is produced by Christina sorum Williams and Amelia Ruby with softer. It is recorded at the toast and jam offices in Logan Square in Chicago. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in my lady business.com. If you enjoyed this episode and you did Smash that subscribe button and if you're the kind of person that reviews things on the internet please rate and review us wherever you listen to us it really does help people find us follow us on all of your socials and don't forget whatever you do this week do it with your whole ass thanks for listening. Music.