We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Maynard and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Emily, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I started my business almost 18 years ago, I didn’t have children, so my focus was entirely on growing Elva Fields. I love to create and to work, so putting all of my energy toward my job felt joyful and fun. I could also quickly and easily became consumed by it, veering toward a very unhealthy dedication to all things business, to the point in which life and work had no real separation. Once my daughters were born, I found it was difficult to extract myself from this way of running my business, and I took no maternity leave with either child. (Not something I’d recommend AT ALL.) When life began to unravel a couple of years after my youngest child was born, I reluctantly took a step back to evaluate my complete lack of balance between work and life, and I made some major changes. I now understand that there will never be an equal balance among all aspects of my life, but I do my best to enjoy my work when I am working, and I find pockets of time throughout the day to give my focus to my business. My life (of which Elva Fields is only one small part) is full and happily imperfect, and as long as I’m tending to my own spiritual, physical, and emotional needs, I have enough energy and time to enjoy family, friends, and work – not necessarily in equal measure, but it’s a fulfilling mix.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m proud to be here as a female artist and founder 18 years after beginning this business. It’s been a wild ride – some unbelievable highs (Moving into my own storefront with 5 employees! Jewelry on the cover of Southern Living Magazine!) and some difficult lows (Moving out of that storefront and very painfully letting 4 of those employees go. Launching collections to very little response or accolade. Months when the bank account ran very close to zero.) and I recognize that to be able to create for a living and have the support and encouragement of incredible customers who love and appreciate what I make is an honor and a privilege. I just keep showing up, and somehow, one day at a time, I’m still here and able to provide for my family. I’ve learned to stay on the ride and, while I can be intentional about the direction I’d like to go, I can also be flexible and fluid when the ride takes me somewhere unexpected. It’s all here for either my enjoyment or my growth, and sometimes (though rarely) both.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Louisville, Kentucky, and it’s a hidden gem of city filled with beauty and history. A few highlights of the intinerary: an outdoor concert at Iroquois Amphitheater; delicious brunch at Blue Dog Bakery; a hike or walk in Cherokee Park (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed New York’s Central Park); a visit to the Ohio River waterfront to see On the Banks of Freedom, a powerful installation to inspire reflection on the Black men, women, and children who were enslaved in Kentucky; a trip to the Speed Art Museum (and a film at Speed Cinema) complete with an artful patio lunch from Wiltshire Pantry; dinner at Red Hog with one of their delicious house-made cocktails; a glass of wine in the charming garden at Nouvelle (especially on a night with live jazz); and a spin around Fleur de Flea, where you can find everything flea-market fabulous, from vintage vinyl and a granny-chic sofa to a 1960s novel or rattan bar cart for your patio.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My great-grandmother, Elva Fields Bivens Cooke, set up a fund that allowed me to attend college without financial restraint, so not only is my business named for her, but I recognize that I’d not have my education without her. My grandmother, Viva June Cooke Hook, granted me a small loan to start the business back in 2003, and my mother, Deborah June Hook Wheat, has kept the business afloat with her generous contributions of child care, patience, love, and occasional but incredibly kind donations. Essentially, three generations of women in my family have allowed me (the fourth) to thrive and enjoy life as a creative entrepreneur, and I’m deeply grateful for each of them.

Website: www.elvafields.com

Instagram: @elvafields

Facebook: Elva Fields

Image Credits
Jessie Kriech-Higdon

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.