Most people know LA duo, Margaux Elliott Wanger and Max Wanger for the amazing weddings they photograph and artwork they create. Margaux helps run these successful businesses all while raising two kiddos and traveling the world. As I write this, they are prepping for a trip to Japan with two kids under 6! The life they lead seems glamorous and yet Margaux is one of the most down to earth and calm people you will meet. So, how does she do it all? How does she seem to do it all with gratitude and grace? With these question and family travel hot on my mind I spent the day with Margaux in her LA bungalow to learn more about the woman behind this beautifully crafted life.
What does healthy living mean to you? How did your view of healthy living change, if at all, after becoming a mother?
To me, healthy living means doing your best. Work, kids, life, exercise, cooking, self care... the list goes on and sometimes it just feels like TOO much. I’ve yet to find a way to do it all (well), so for me it’s about trying to prioritize and not being afraid to ask for help. As moms we often feel like we don’t deserve help and time for ourselves unless that alone time also includes a trip to the grocery store or checking things off our long to-do lists. I think whatever time we can take for ourselves that also decreases stress and anxiety (meditation, a walk around the neighborhood, lunch with a friend) can be nothing but healthy for us and the rest of our family.
2. You are mom to two of the sweetest kiddos, Dash (5) and Quincy AKA Rocket (1) and you run a few different creative businesses with your husband Max. Can you tell us more about each business and what role you play?
We still have a wedding photography business (more on that below) that allows us to travel the world and take photos together - and I continue to handle all of those bookings, contracts, correspondence, etc. - but our main focus right now is our print shop. It’s something we started for fun about 5 years ago and has turned into a really exciting part of our business. Up until recently, I hadn’t invested much time and energy into helping it grow, but I’ve taken on the role of managing it and running the day to day operations. It’s been so much fun to brainstorm with our small (but wonderful) team and come up with so many exciting plans for the shop. From budgets to marketing to collaborations to creative - I juggle a little bit of everything!
3. How did you and Max end up running a business together? Any tips for running a business while raising two kids with your significant other?
A few years into our relationship, I was working in advertising and Max was unhappy at his corporate day job. We’d been having fun doing a food/restaurant related blog on the side and Max wanted to take the leap into doing photography full time. He had a vision for how weddings could be photographed differently and I had a vision for where we could take it. With his sister as the bride and a friend as the groom, I helped design a “wedding” and he took photos the way he saw them in his head. I sent them out to a handful of our favorite blogs and within a month we were booked for the entire year. We were definitely thrown into the fire!
It’s been almost 10 years since we started working together and we’re always learning. A few years ago we were able to move out of our tiny home office into a small studio about 5 minutes from home. It was a huge leap of faith for us financially, but it’s made all the difference for our work, family, relationship balance. One thing we’re always working on is being present with the kids when we’re with the kids and productive at work when we’re at work. When you own your own business and work with your significant other, it’s hard to shut it off, but it’s so important!
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
Good question! There really is no such thing as a “typical” day around here, but I’m determined to get better at planning out my week and sticking to more of a schedule. The alternative leaves me feeling overwhelmed and scattered. One day with the baby here, half a day in the office there. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I’m just not good at working while the baby naps. It leaves me feeling anxious and unable to stay present during the rest of the day when she’s awake. So in a perfect world, I’m focused on Dash and/or Quincy while I’m with them and focused on work while I’m at the office. We’re very fortunate to have our moms and a wonderful sitter to help with the kids, so I try to plan at least 2-3 full days a week to be at the office.
5. How has having kids changed your career, if at all? If you had to offer one tip to a new mom business owner (like myself) on how to manage it all, what would it be?
I think it’s impossible for kids not to change your career in some way or another. I’m an independent person by nature, and even though Max and I have always run our business together, before having Dash I needed a lot of space to do things on my own as well. Since having kids, it’s still important for me to carve out a little time here and there for myself. Sometimes that’s as simple as planning my day so I can be alone for a bit in the office or sneaking off to read before bed (I’m lucky if I get 5 pages in before passing out!). Other times it’s bigger, like planning a weekend away with girlfriends. I honestly don’t know any moms (working or stay at home) who feel like they’re successfully managing it all. We just have to do our best and support each other however we can.
6. Was having baby number two easier or harder than you expected? Any words of wisdom for moms preparing for number two.
To say that our adjustment from one child to two was difficult is a major understatement. Not only was I sleep deprived and recovering from childbirth, but I also had an extremely sensitive 4-year-old, my first baby, wondering why I couldn’t be there for him 24/7. He’d cry and tell me to send Quincy back to the hospital, and honestly, there were times that I felt the same way. So many tears from all of us, made more even intense by my post partum depression. I suffered from PPD after having Dash too, only this time I was way more open about the way I was feeling with the people around me. It didn’t take long to realize that what I was experiencing was more than the baby blues and to ask for help (thank god for therapy and Zoloft). As people often say, the days are long and the weeks are short, and eventually we found our rhythm as a family of four. 15 months later I can confidently say that I’m glad we didn’t send Quincy back to the hospital after all. Ha!
To moms preparing for number two I’d say, be kind to yourself. Be open with the people who love you. And don’t ever be afraid to ask for (and accept) help. A dear friend once told me that with children, the only constant is change. I’ve found that especially helpful to remember during the first year with a new baby. Just when you’ve reached your breaking point everything seems to change. One of the many gifts of motherhood :)
7. Your job as a wedding photographer requires you and Max to travel a ton. Do you usually bring the babes with you? If so, any tips for traveling with kids?
Yes! We started traveling with Dash when he was 6 weeks old and we took a weekend trip to photograph a wedding in Napa. It felt impossible at the time, but we just kept going and he’s now (at 5 years old) been on over 60 flights. With Quincy, we intentionally waited a few months to start traveling again. It was nice to slow down a bit and take time to adjust to life with two kids.
I wish there was some magical advice that would make traveling with young children easier, but my secret is really just to stop thinking and go. You only get one life, what’s a 10-hour flight with a baby who just started walking?? Ok, now I’m talking to myself here - we’re off to Japan this week! But seriously, it’s not always easy while you’re in it, but it’s always worth it in the end. Just GO.