Struggles Lead to Strength
- Kristiana Tarnuzzer
MEET BREEGAN JANE…
…Interior designer, lifestyle blogger, mom of two, and author of the new children's book we can't stop reading to our kids, Carbie. Have a read on the important and inspiring message in her book, her support and work with women in Africa, and why, on top of all of the roles she plays in her daily life, she still makes giving back a priority in her life.
TCB: How did you get into your work as an interior designer and lifestyle blogger?
BJ: Interior design sort of chose me! I’ve been involved in some aspect of it all my life. I started a clothing line and opened up my own boutique as a teenager. That evolved into designing the store space and ultimately branching out to styling the interiors of luxury yachts, residential spaces and commercial developments. As for the blog, I’ve always had a passion for helping others, especially women and children. My life experiences, including -- but not limited to -- getting married, becoming a mother and ultimately going through a divorce, helped shape and mold the blog into the resource it is today for mothers and interior design enthusiasts.
TCB: You’re a mom of two absolutely adorable boys, Kingsley and Kensington, and a recently divorced mom. How has the divorce played a role in who you are and your relationship with the boys?
BJ: Divorce has definitely played a primary role in the professional and personal directions my life is taking right now. It was difficult trying to find a balance between being a mom and businesswoman. That got more difficult after the divorce. I really dealt with “mom guilt” often when I had to work late nights. But the cliché is true: it takes a village, and I have amazing support networks at the office and at home. It’s also fun to take the boys decor shopping with me. Their creativity has helped me make some really good decisions! They get to see what Mommy does, and I don’t lose quality time with them. Win-Win.
TCB: YOUR LATEST BOOK…
…Carbie, is all about how one forms into their own “diamond” out of struggles and being stuck. This is such an important and inspiring concept, and I love that you’re introducing it to children at this early age and in such a sweet and gentle tone. What inspired you to write a book dedicated to spreading this message?
BJ: Honestly, I wrote the book years ago when I went through a difficult time in my life. I tucked it away and forgot about it. But as I watched my young children encounter things they found difficult even at their young ages, I realized that, big or small, when you’re facing obstacles, there are internal and emotional struggles that go on inside of us. Instead of giving hugs and kisses and saying, “it’s going to be okay,” I wanted to find a way to show young children that problems are a part of life, and that nothing in this world gets better, stronger or greater without challenges. At the same time, I also wanted to show there is a lesson in the struggle, that on the other side of the struggle is success. It’s a lesson I wanted to find in a children’s book, but no one had written it. So, I wrote it!
TCB: So in all of your spare time of being a mom, a blogger, and a new author, you make supporting causes and giving back a priority -- how do you balance it all, and why is giving back included as one of your priorities in life?
BJ: The balancing act is more manageable with a great village and great business team. I delegate things to my very capable team, and they make sure the machine is well-oiled and running while I handle other priorities. Also, when I need them, I call on the trusted family and friends around me who believe in me and have my back. I believe you can accomplish anything in life or business, but you cannot do it alone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help when needed.
My family showed me the importance of philanthropy at a very young age. When I was five, my mother allowed me to save money from my modeling career to buy toys for less fortunate kids near Tijuana. I didn’t know I was being charitable or philanthropic at that age; I just wanted other kids to be happy and have fun. That motivation remained a part of my life mantra: just do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and even more for those in need.
TCB: CAN YOU SHARE MORE…
…on your support of World Vision and their work with women in Africa, as well as the school you helped establish in Kenya?
BJ: My family has supported World Vision for decades, and I continued supporting them as I started my businesses. We continue to give a significant portion of our income to them. I was moved to work more closely with World Vision when I learned of their initiative to end FGM (female genital mutilation) in Kenya. I was mortified to learn that girls as young as 8 years old were being forced to get circumcised to prepare them for marriage at such a young age. To make matters worse, many girls were contracting illnesses or even dying because of unsanitary tools and conditions. I wanted to help save as many as I could.
I learned about the safe houses that also serve as educational centers for girls who bravely attempted to escape these conditions. I decided to direct my attention, energy and efforts to that particular mission. To know that my Kenyan sisters were taken care of and given an opportunity to grow up and become nurses, doctors and educators in their communities filled my heart in unspeakable ways.
TCB: What other causes are close to your heart that we should know about?
BJ: I’m very concerned about the homeless epidemic in Los Angeles. Along with my family’s personal efforts to support the homeless in our area, I’m grateful to have worked with the Union Rescue Mission to help LA families in need. While many organizations focus on one demographic of the homeless population, I love that URM works to overcome homelessness for mothers, fathers and children alike.
I also love working with Single Moms Planet, an organization that seeks to assist under-resourced children who are raised by single mothers. SMP provides family and community engagement opportunities, as well as entrepreneurial training and co-parenting resources for mothers.