Business / Mother Daughter Teams / Women in Business

Mother Daughter Duo Goes Green Together

Interview with Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson of The Green Year™, LLC

Tell us about your company, it’s purpose, mission, target audience, goals, what makes it unique.

The Green Year™, LLC, is the parent company for our efforts to “change the world one celebration at a time.” Two years ago, we started a community initiative, Green Halloween®. Alarmed at the fact that the average child hauls home 10 pounds of candy on Halloween, the prevalence of the obesity epidemic, the fact that this generation of children is the first in history expected not to outlive its parents, and a deep concerned for the environment, Corey took the spark of an idea to create a communitywide effort to make Halloween healthier and more earth-friendly and within the course of a few months, created an initiative that took off like a rocket. Starting in the Seattle area where we live, last year Green Halloween went national, with coordinated efforts in six cities around the country. When Corey mentioned the idea for Green Halloween to Lynn, her mom immediately said, “This isn’t just about Halloween, it’s about every holiday and special event.” One month after Halloween, 2007, we had a book contract and Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, was published October 1, 2008.

Celebrate Green! and Green Halloween, along with speaking and consulting, form the foundation for our efforts to make people aware of how our actions as we celebrate, affect individuals, communities and the planet, and to encourage them to change their behaviors to ones that are more people- and earth-friendly while keeping all the fun.

Ultimately, we expect to create a not-for-profit business on the Paul Newman model, where profits from The Green Year support causes in which we believe. Along the way, we want to support other businesses, especially those belonging to women who are working just as we are, to make a difference.

Because women make the vast majority of the decisions when it comes to purchasing for celebrations and holidays, they are our target audience. One of our advantages in this is that being mother and daughter, we can speak to women of all ages, all stages of life and different “shades of green.”

Our company is unique for many reasons, but probably the most important is that no one else is addressing this issue. When we first talk to people about greening holidays, they tend to think, “What’s the big deal, so we overdo a little on Christmas?” If it were just Christmas, it might be fine. But take all the biggies—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentines etc., and add the myriad special events like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baby showers, graduations to name just a few, then multiply these by millions of people and the problem becomes evident. We’re unique because we see the problem and we offer simple, easy, low or no-cost solutions that keep all the joy in celebrating and alleviate the harm. No one else is doing this.

How did you come to work together in the first place?

Corey came up with the idea for Green Halloween and shared it with Lynn, who immediately asked how she could be a part of it. Both had other work they were doing at the time (Corey is a licensed marital and family therapist and board certified clinical art therapist and Lynn, a life coach), and neither thought this would take over their lives the way it has. In a good way, of course.

Please describe your respective roles in the company.

We are equal partners with no formal titles. Corey takes the lead with Green Halloween and Lynn in media relations and web side of the business. We strategize together and both do a lot of writing for blogs and magazines.

Corey’s strengths include research, building in-person relationships and sales. Lynn’s include creativity, media relations and online/social networking. Writing the book was a 50-50 deal.

How has working together affected your relationship outside the “office.” 

In our situation, this really isn’t an issue. If anything, our relationship has deepened because we share this common passion. We live fifteen minutes apart, so while we’re on the phone and emailing daily, it’s always about business unless there’s a babysitting emergency at which point, Corey calls in the troops (Lynn).

What are some of the challenges you have faced working together?

To be absolutely honest, we haven’t had any so far. Our personalities and talents are different and complement each other. While working on the book, we never had anything approaching an argument. Not that we don’t disagree, we do, but one or the other of us usually feels more strongly and we respect each other enough that the one who feels less attached to the idea always lets it go. A couple of sentences of explanation is usually enough to get us off the topic and moving ahead.

Triumphs?

Too many to list, so just a few: getting Green Halloween off the ground to enormous success in 2007; getting the book to print in seven weeks after our publisher went belly up; receiving incredible amounts of press for both Green Halloween and Celebrate Green! (radio— Martha Stewart satellite, Disney–TV, dozens of blogs, magazines, newspapers in the U.S. and Canada); being asked to blog for HGTV and KIWI magazine, among others; receiving 32,500 unique visitors on the Green Halloween website in the two month period surrounding Halloween 2008.

What do you like best about working together? Least?

The best part is that we get to see each other’s strengths in action. We always knew that the other was bright, talented and hard-working, but this business has given us the opportunity to observe and participate in each other’s lives on a daily basis. We each stand in awe of the other. In addition, working with someone in whom you have complete trust enables enormous freedom. If one of us feels a little uncertain, the other is there to bolster, suggest alternatives or even take over the role.

Sorry, but there just isn’t a downside to this.

What, if any big challenges or little annoyances have occured as a result of working together and how have you managed to overcome them?

We’re human. We both have habits that can irritate the other person. But there is no major personality obstacle that separates us. If at any time, either of us feels annoyed at the other over some small thing, it’s never been that big of a deal. We either talked about it, kept it to ourselves or ignored it because these things just aren’t worth wasting time over. If there were something major, we would bring it up and discuss it.

What tips would you share with our readers for working with a member of the family?

It’s no different than working with anyone else. The best work relationships are built on respect and trust. If you lack either for family member, you are going to find it very challenging to work together. You’ve got to be able to laugh together, and really enjoy what you’re doing and treat each other well. You’ve got to be willing to support each other through the rough times, give kudos, encourage your partner’s success, help her grow her strengths. It’s vital to be on the same basic wavelength, with the same vision for the business and realize that power struggles will destroy your relationship which of course, is more important than any business.

What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of working together?

Again, we’ve had so many exciting moments over the last two and a half years, it’s hard to choose one. One of the most thrilling would have to be the day our “baby,” Celebrate Green!, was delivered into our hands.

What’s next for this mother daughter team?

Our focus for this year is on continuing expansion and growth of Green Halloween, securing more speaking engagements and consulting opportunities with companies interested in greening their events, moving into TV, expanding our brand through social and conventional media, and initiation of work on a new book.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Working together as mom and daughter has been the most unexpectedly wonderful experience for both of us. One of the unexpended joys is the response of so many people when they realize we are a mother-daughter team. They are inspired by our relationship and this in turn is rewarding for us.

For more information visit www.CelebrateGreen.net

This article can be read in the Spring/Summer issue of WE Magazine for Women

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