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Ryemarkable Kathleen Brigham

Name: Kathleen Brigham

Name of Business: Brigham Learning

Length of time in business: Launched 9/21

Number of kids and ages: Eliza, 23, Nate 19, Zack, 14

Step Children, Shane 26, Bridget 24, Liam 22, Cade 19

Pets: Stella, our Havanese

What is your business? Educational Consulting and Tutoring

Before starting this, what was your career?

I have been working in some form of education my entire career, but I took off many years when my children were young. For the past 9 years, I was Director of The Learning Consultants until this September when I felt the need to go out on my own.

Why did you start your business?

Tutoring is a funny business. It can seem like such a luxury, and it is, but it is often what saves a student from giving up in school, feeling like a failure or limiting themselves because of the lack of success they are experiencing. I wanted to go beyond the subject based tutoring and the test prep tutoring (although we offer all of that). I wanted to give students lifelong studying skills so that they feel success on their own, success that stays with them long after the tutoring ends. I couldn’t get that messaging out in the way I wanted working for someone else.

What do you love most about what you do now?

I love that I can create the programs and approaches that I feel best reach a student and the parent. I love choosing and working with an amazing group of tutors, all of whom feel the same way I do about the students they work with. But mostly, I love the feeling of working with a student and seeing them transform. Feeling success in school transcends outside the classroom. I watch them as they start to try new things, speak up more and stand up a little straighter.

What did you have to do to start?

I had to dive in and get into the weeds of all the sides of business that make me uncomfortable; billing and accounting, website design and social media, insurance and legal language. None of the things that have anything to do with tutoring but everything to do with running a successful business!

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

There is a comfort in working under someone, it allows you to not be fully responsible and to have the ability to duck under the umbrella of the CEO or those responsible for the running of the business. That is me now, and that is a bit intimidating, but I am surprised at how much I enjoy it.

How did you overcome that challenge?

Well, I am not sure I have completely overcome that challenge, but I am trying. Every day I have to learn something new about the business side of things while taking care of my tutors and students.

What is the thing that has surprised you?

I am better at all of this than I thought! My husband went to business school and is a great resource. He says I managed to get my degree by podcasts and perseverance.

What is your best tip for fellow entrepreneurs?

Stay focused but still allow yourself to dream. It takes a mix of attention to detail while still being able to see the big picture and allowing ideas to form. And also, delegate, don’t try to do it all on your own. The support of having a good team is invaluable. If you hire excellent and exceptional people, your job is so much easier!

How has the virus impacted your business?

It was watching the virus and how it impacted students as well as my own children that pushed me to go out on my own. I no longer felt that we could support students academically if we did not include an understanding of what was going on at home, in their lives outside of the classroom and include the parents in the process.

What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have?

My daughter is an interior designer, I would have loved that job. And I probably would have loved being in the integrative medicine field, an acupuncturist, homeopath or some area like that.

Other fun details about you?

My favorite books are many but A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men are two that stand out, but I read all the books my students read so I am deep into middle school dystopia! I also love autobiographies, I just finished Carly Simon’s Boy in the Trees.

I just finished watching Ken Burns, Country Music documentary. My husband and I are huge country music fans and love live music.

We commute back and forth from Cazenovia, NY to Rye. It is a long (but beautiful) drive, and full disclosure, he does a lot more of the back and forth than I do!

Do you have advice regarding reinventing yourself? What do you think is important for other moms to know?

I have had to reinvent myself several times in my adult life. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my late 30’s before my youngest was born and then went through a very difficult divorce in my mid 40’s. I have also moved as an adult about every four years, from London to New York City, Idaho to Rye. Rye is the place I have now lived the longest, 7 years. You have to be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to settle into your new surroundings, your new reality. I have an amazing group of friends, but most of them live far away from me. Staying connected to what is important to you, be it family and friends, hobbies and activities as well as your own set of values is so important. And being grateful, I am so thankful for my health, my family and my friends!

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