By Gabrielle. Photos by Jessica Kettle Photography.
I always love reading people who sound exactly the same on paper as they do in real life, which is why Alison’s tour today makes me grin so hard! I think I edited six hahas and a few triple exclamation points, but I left all her capitalized words for emphasis. Alison’s life has lots of emphasis! You’ll see!
I couldn’t wait to share her with you, especially now as the holidays are racing toward us. Her festive philosophy, as you’ll soon learn, is super timely. I know it will inspire you to do more with what you have this very minute, and open your arms wide to welcome every celebration in your path. (Even the ones you’d like to ignore!)
Welcome, Alison! And Happy Tuesday, Friends!
Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here.
A: Hello! I’m Alison of The Alison Show and I live in this little 1920s house in Provo with my music-producer husband Eric, my tyrannical and adorable 4-year-old Ginger, and my precious overly coddled 1.5-year-old angel boy Rad.
My husband and I both work for ourselves, so our house is in a constant state of disarray. We both prefer to be hustling and working on our projects rather than doing dishes or, like, laundry. Who does laundry? People with clean clothes, I guess.
I have a studio in the home that honestly gives most people an anxiety attack to just look at. I regularly post pictures of it and my desk littered with 32 oz soda cups on Instagram. Once every four months I clean it, but most of the time it looks like a bomb of promotional swag, sprinkles, and party supplies exploded.
Ginger has an army of stuffed animals – she calls them “stuffies” – and they are an integral part of our lives. She lugs them around the house and they are EVERYWHERE. She also creates backstories for them. There’s a monkey named Ellen who is allergic to bananas, I kid you not, and a unicorn named “Uni” that inspired her Unicorn Parade birthday party. The stuffies seem to multiply like gremlins, and Eric and I are fairly sure Ginger is using them to plan a hostile takeover. We’re all just stoked when Rad finally surfaces among the fluff-filled friends.
Q: How did this house become your home?
A: My husband bought our house when he was in college! So I had NOTHING to do with choosing it. Eric lived in it and rented the rooms to friends. It’s zoned for dual family living, so he thought of it as an investment and rental property. The house has two kitchens and two entrances. When we got married he moved into my apartment and we rented out the whole house the first two years of our marriage.
But the zoning regulations specify that the house must be owner occupied to rent, so we finally had to comply with the law and I was DEVASTATED. By the time I moved into the house it had been inhabited by dozens of dirty boys. So naturally I walked in the front door and started sobbing. Yes, I can be a spoiled brat sometimes. The carpet in the family room was horrible. It looked like someone had unearthed a dead body. The college boys had painted every room a different color. One room had purple walls with forest green carpet. There is NO closet space, old junky appliances, and linoleum every which way you turn.
So when we moved in, we did the best we could. We recovered the original hardwood in the family room but didn’t have enough money to do much else. And because I couldn’t do what I wanted with the house, I just kind of ignored it. Yes, yes, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. Plus we never intended to live in the house this long, so we didn’t really invest in it.
We rented the basement at first, but with the birth of Rad and our burgeoning businesses, we decided to take over the whole house.
So now I have two kitchens and five tiny bedrooms. There’s still pretty bad linoleum in more places than I’d like, and no closet space. But we have a yard, a very low mortgage, lots of living space, and a fantastic neighborhood.
Every time we make some money, we basically put it back into our businesses or pay off any debt we have. So now, after five years of living in the house, we are trying to make it more of a priority and place we are proud of.
Q: Tell us why you love the place you live.
A: I think one reason we didn’t expect to stay in the house is we didn’t expect to love living in Provo, Utah so MUCH! But we are both obsessed! Provo is a fantastic place for families. It also has an awesome music scene that is great for Eric’s business, and it is an amazing place for social media and building my online empire. Students are an excellent labor source, and the creative community is really top notch. Our mortgage is so low that we’ve been able to start our own businesses without taking out business loans.
It really is THE place to be for entrepreneurs.
I also just renovated and am now renting a studio and events space called Club Alison. There’s no way I’d be able to do that in a larger more expensive city.
We feel so fortunate to each be making a career out of our passions. So, really, living in Provo has enabled us to live the life of our dreams – even if we don’t live in the house of our dreams YET!
Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? What are the must-haves in your home that make you crazy happy every time you catch sight of them?
A: Even though there are lots of things I don’t love about the actual bones of our house, I’m pretty good at making it festive! Which is why you’re getting a tour of our Christmas decor.
I do my best to make every holiday special. For so many years I had very little money to spend on stuff like that, so I relied heavily on my crafty skills! I’m really good at using garlands to cover up nail holes and paint chips. And now as we make a little more money, and I can spend more money on the house, I look for clean, modern pieces that I can embellish with my festive decor later.
Q: Why does your space work for you? Have you designed spaces that meet your needs, or are you surrounded by your favorite things…or are you in a constant state of chaos?
A: I think we are starting to realize we are in a constant state of chaos because we haven’t taken the time to focus on making our house really work for us. Also, it just hasn’t been a priority as we start our businesses.
But we have enough space and enough creativity to make it work! So I’m excited to start saving some money to problem solve and make our home more joyful to be in.
Q: You and your husband both freelance, right? That’s often a difficult thing to manage – especially in terms of knowing when to start and stop your work and family time. How have you sorted it all out? What works and what doesn’t?
A: My husband Eric has a studio outside of the home, and I plan on getting another office (Club Alison is best for events and photo shoots) outside of the home as soon as possible. After doing the working at home thing for so long, we both see that being able to take our work out of the house helps us live our life more. It’s easier to be focused on the kids and the family when you’re not trying to sneak off to your office in the next room to finish one more thing.
I know lots of people LOVE having a home office, and that’s cool, too! We both just like being able to separate things a bit more, and that took us some time to realize.
Q: You dance. A lot. You make people happy. A lot. And you are really turning those skills into a fabulous career. Tell us about your next steps and bigger dreams!
A: Haha! Well, thank you! My main goal with my business is to enable other people to feel awesome about whatever it is THEY are doing. So I try to do that in a number of ways. Dancing like a fool is one of them, but another way I do that is by going after my dreams.
One thing I’ve wanted to do forever was create and sell an online course about my sugar cookies, which I’ve been making for seven years. So I released that in October. It’s called Alison’s Cookie Party, and it has been going super well! So I’m so relieved and happy.
Another dream of mine was to create a space where I could host events, workshops, and anything else fun! But also a place that I could rent to like-minded creative people so that they could make their projects a reality. Our rental rates are really low so that small business owners, just like us, are able to afford it.
Club Alison was an old door-making warehouse, and the owner of the building has worked with me to turn it into a really fun venue. I found it on the side of the road – there was no “for rent” sign. But I could tell the space was perfect just by looking in the windows. So my husband (can you tell how insanely supportive he is?) and I asked around until we found the owner, drove to his home, and had him show us the space! Then we signed a lease and got started on construction.
Seriously, I’m not even sure what I’m doing. I can’t believe I actually did that. I operate on very little sleep and lots of caffeine so I’m just SO stoked when things work out.
Q: What do you hope your kids remember from this very moment in their childhood in this very house? And what do you hope they conveniently forget!
A: I hope they remember how blessed we are and that we really do have everything. It’s not a house from a magazine – though these pictures aren’t too shabby! – and it’s quite often a mess, but we always have food, fun decorations, and mom and dad are both super happy to be living their dreams. There’s a lot of love in our house. Stress? Yes. Swearing? Cough, occasionally. But more than that they are allowed to be who they are and are loved for that.
Q: What has been your very, very, very favorite part about living with your own kids?
A: My favorite part about living with my own kids is watching them turn into people. They go from being a tiny lump of cuteness – an accessory, really – that you can dress how you want and tote around where you want, to being full fledged humans with opinions. Ginger likes pictures of the family in her room, and special places for her “stuffies.” She also notices when we make her bed, and loves it.
But mostly I’m just constantly amazed at how happy the kids are when you just spend time with them at home, even if you don’t have subway tile in your kitchen. GASP. There is something special about being together within your own walls.
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…
A: I wish someone had told me to fully commit to what you have at the present moment. They probably did tell me and I didn’t listen! But I wish I hadn’t spent so many years ignoring my house just because it wasn’t exactly my dream house. Or not working on the house because we planned on moving. I didn’t know we’d end up starting two businesses and that moving wouldn’t be an option for a while. I could have been enjoying this house more!
Then again, I didn’t have any money to change things…so, oh well!
But I think committing to what you have at the present, and doing what you can with what you’re given will always bring happiness and I’m glad I see that now.
Love what ya got, even if it’s not a lot. Is that a country song lyric? It should be.
Is everyone smiling? I sure hope so! Thank you, Alison, for adding your cheer to the day. I told you your interview would probably change a few moods, and I was right: you changed mine.
I had to giggle at this line: “I’m just constantly amazed at how happy the kids are when you just spend time with them at home, even if you don’t have subway tile in your kitchen. GASP.” We often overlook the obvious when all we see is what we don’t have, right?