We had the good fortune of connecting with Beks Opperman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Beks, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Because all my previous work experience was shift work (coffee shops, bagel shop, then a career in healthcare), I had also just clocked in and out when scheduled. I’d never had to choose when I started or stopped work. This did not serve me well when I first started my own business because I just didn’t know when to stop working. I’d work as soon as I woke up and late into the evening. It many years and a serious bout of burnout to teach me the lesson I needed: that I can’t do good, effective work if I’m exhausted. So with the help of a great therapist, I started building in more structure to my working hours. Nowadays I used calendars and time blocking to have clearing defined beginnings and endings to work hours, and while I do work fewer hours than I did before, my work hours are noticeably more productive. And I’m generally calmer, happier, and more engaged with my work than I’ve ever been before.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I cofounded my brand Stephen Kenn Studio with my husband Stephen Kenn in 2011. We produce original designs for home and travel, all made in Los Angeles. We have a small team of employees and a larger team of fabricators and craftsmen that make it all happen. We’re proud to be making things well, using high quality materials, and providing jobs to other small businesses in Los Angeles. I’m also the founder of Los Angeles Whisky Club. I started it as a personal passion project in 2019, and it’s been absolutely wonderful to have this community of whisky lovers to share this crazy year with. We meet over zoom every month and discuss a lineup of whiskies. We’re learning and sharing together, which is the best way.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Eat: All Time Redbird Night + Market Song Osteria La Bucca
Drink: Well, we’d probably invite them over and make them a cocktail at our home bar. I love making good drinks at home. If I do go out, I’d go to Death &Co in the arts district. They’re the best cocktail bar in LA! I’d probably also have them join my whisky club for a tasting.
Fun/interesting: Huntington Botanical Gardens, Hauser & Wirth gallery in DTLA, Lost Spirits Distillery
Day trip: Ojai! Especially the Turtle Conservancy Studio
Visits: Klein Agency, Jason Koharik, Ben Medansky, Neenineen
Hikes: Fryman Canyon, Griffith Park, Echo Mountain Trail
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My friend Emily L’Ami, founder of Bodha, was a big inspiration to me in my journey towards a healthier approach to work life balance. Her brand’s mantra is “come back to yourself”, and those words still make me a bit emotional. She reminded me that no success is worth losing your true self over. And that inspired me to pursue health in a new way.
Laurel Dailey, Amy Bartlam, and Justin Chung