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Remarkable Women - Mom Edition
WRITEN BY: KELLY BROWN | @KE1BROWN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CHLOEE COMET PHOTOGRAPHY | @CHLOEECOMET
Meet Hannah Berry - the cool girl artist with the workhorse personality. She’s easy to talk to, an open book willing and eager to tell her story and incredibly passionate about the arts community in West Michigan. From the city of Lowell originally, Hannah is a mother to 1 daughter and due with her second this year. She currently lives in the city of Caledonia with her partner where she is settling into life outside of the city.
Hannah is the owner and creator of Lions and Rabbits. What started as a name for her own art/mural work business quickly turned into the name for her creative and events space in the Creston neighborhood.
“Lions and Rabbits started in 2013 as what I called my art. I was working at The Winchester, selling my art on the side, and I knew someone there who was opening this space. Long story short it ended up being handed over to me 3 months before it opened. Lions and Rabbits opened in October 2016 and since then we’ve had to do 2 rezones in order to host all of our events. We formally opened our event services in September 2017.”
Opening Lions and Rabbits/an event space was not always Hannah’s dream. When she was younger she wanted to go into Pediatric Oncology and through her years at Kendall College she developed an interest in teaching art and art therapy. Lions and Rabbits evolved into an event space as a way to create a solid revenue stream.
“We book a lot of weddings. We are booked every Saturday with a wedding through the rest of the year. On Sundays we still do our class programing. Ultimately the goal is to never have to sustain the gallery off of events but instead off of art programming, fundraising and gallery space. I’d like for there to be more art therapy events and programs for the community. My mission with Lions and Rabbits is to sustain local artists. In the next 5 years I would like it to be a non-profit with actual curriculum that involves the community in an inclusive and intergenerational way.”
While Hannah didn’t always envision herself a business owner, she did always see herself being a mother. At just 20 years old, and still in college, Hannah became pregnant with her daughter Hayden. Anyone can imagine how difficult it would be to balance working full-time with your education and the stress of becoming a new mother.
“When I was 20, school was not accessible for a child. I worked full-time when I was in college so Hayden was on a very strict schedule. Sometimes she would end up at school with me. As hard as it was to have a kid in college...I loved it.” While her first daughter may have been a surprise, Hannah always knew she wanted to be a mother. “I still struggle being a 27 year old mother. I want like...5 kids! Not having Hayden would’ve meant I traveled more or that I might’ve been in school getting my Masters but, this is what I’ve always wanted.”
Part of the reason many women pursue a career as a full-time freelancer or a business owner is the flexibility of spending time with their children. Hannah’s partner works “overly full time” as an Engineer at a family owned business so her flexible schedule with Lions and Rabbits allows her more time with her daughter.
“As a working mom and business owner I get to tailor my day. That drove me towards opening my own space. Nobody can tell me no about bringing my kid with me. And my space is always accessible for other people's kids.”
The sunrise keeps Hannah motivated every morning because she loves waking up knowing she gets to do what she loves. “I’ve always loved to work. I always knew that I would not put my work first and that I could be the “breadwinner.” I think that comes from feeling inspired by my mother who was a stay at home mom and graduated college in 2016.” And that inspiration from local women doesn’t stop at her mom.
“I love the Joon + Co. Boss Babes series because I love the women featured. I love the humility of these women. I think that’s a quality among a lot of them. I already see them doing cool things and I hope that people that don’t know them become aware of how great they are. The Joon + Co. clientele are very much the people that need to see that and will help build up those Boss Babes. Because it truly takes an army.”
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Kelly Brown - WriterWebsite | Instagram (@ke1brown)
Kelly is a seasoned, published writer and founder of Writers Under 30 in Grand Rapids, MI. She's also a fitness instructor at Beer City Barre, competitive cheer coach, and avid egg eater. Most of all, she's a beautiful, kind soul, trying to live a conscious lifestyle.