Chat with Kerri of Jake Robert & Co.

I’ve always been that person open about how hard it was to have my daughter, Micah. Even with strangers, it would quickly get awkward by my introduction “Hi, I’m Amy, I’m a lawyer, and, no, I don’t have kids because I’m infertile.”

Maybe that’s why after I had Micah, friends and friends-of-friends experiencing infertility contacted me, happy to talk to someone else who sacrificed a lot with no guarantees.

That’s how I met Kerri, the amazingly talented owner of Jake Robert & Co.

Kerri and I had very similar paths. She had a great career in technology, wonderful coworkers, and the opportunity to travel the world.

She also had her own Miracle Baby, Jake Robert – the namesake of her line of custom belts, belt buckles, and hats.

Unlike me, Kerri had passion and talent for design and fashion.

Kerri Gutowski

Kerri! It’s been years. How old is Jake now?
Would you believe he’s 4 years old? And my step-kids are 18 and 20! Time flies.

Can you tell us about your decision to start Jake Robert & Co?
At 43, I had Jake Robert. I had to decide: do I continue my career – which meant constant travel – or stay home with my son.

Even though being a mother has always been my most desired life goal, it was a tough decision. Thankfully, with my husband’s support, I could retire from my technical career, be a stay-at-home mom, and continue my creative outlet by starting Jake Robert & Co.

Many working women feel this way—like they’re forced to choose between motherhood and their career. Luckily, I didn’t have to choose between a career and motherhood. I just picked a different career that would give me the flexibility I wanted.

What’s Jake Robert & Co.’s core philosophy?
I created the company to offer custom and hand-assembled items and gifts that are both unique and affordable. I’ve always loved giving thoughtful gifts brings you personal, timeless pieces using the highest quality materials that withstand any expiration date.

I have a conviction in my belief that design and fashion do not have to carry a brand label or be found in a high-end boutique. My ability to stay current, coupled with my frugal mentality, has always been my gift.

What motivates and drives you?
Looking like a million bucks without spending a million bucks. Designing beautiful pieces that defy retail prices. My family.

How do you think about risk? What role has taking risks played in your life/career?
I always measure risk versus reward. I call it “shit to equity ratio.” Specifically related to retiring from my professional career to start Jake Robert & Co. That was a real struggle for me. I thought my career defined me. MY income. MY self-worth. MY identity all came into question. My highest risk was making far less of an income. But, the reward of being with my son every day far outweighed all the tough adjustments I had to make. I am now a professional working mother that’s never been happier.

What makes you happy?
Having a happy family by supporting each other. A happy family equals a happy life.

What advice would you give to people who want to support small businesses?
Supporting small businesses has such a greater impact on lives than the product you purchase. Small business means more love, more care, more thought into the products you buy and enjoy. But, above all, you are appreciated by the real person putting their heart and soul into that business.

If you’re not working on your business, what will we find you doing?
Helping my husband with the design portion of construction projects – from designing the architecture to the interior design and decor. If I’m not handmaking items for Jake Robert & Co, I’m picking out bathroom tiles or toggling back and forth between conference calls.

You said you’ve learned a lot through your Jake Robert & Co. journey. Any parting words of advice to our Clean Creeders?
If you are frazzled from working your career while running impromptu home schools, there is nothing wrong with you. You are amazing! For those having issues starting a family, whether it’s infertility or rebounding from a miscarriage, or starting over in a healthier relationship, there is nothing wrong with you. You are amazing! If you walked away from your dream job to spend more time with your family, there is nothing wrong with you. You are amazing!

Take a deep breath. Figure out what you’re good at, what process you enjoy doing, how it makes your life richer, and then honor that purpose passionately.

That is amazing advice, Kerri. Thank you for being part of our Clean Creed Crew!

To learn more about Jake Robert & Co. and Kerri’s collection on CleanCreed.com, click here.

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