He Turns Water Bottles into Fashionable Bags: How This CEO Balances It All

By: Karen Pinkston

Hamilton Perkins knows firsthand that being a CEO and an entrepreneur is grueling. At 30 years old, he launched a sustainable business that makes fashionable bags and totes out of recycled water bottles and billboard covers.

After receiving $10,000 on a Kickstarter campaign in less than a week, Perkins officially launched the Hamilton Perkins Collection in 2017. Since then, he’s sold thousands of bags in the U.S. and around the world. Major retaliators like Nordstrom, West Elm, and Zappos signed up to sell Perkins’ eco-friendly bags. And the media has taken note. Forbes, The Washington Post, and Money magazine have all covered his story of making functional fashion from water bottles.

But Perkins knows having a sustainable business also requires having a sustainable life. Powerhouse Planning caught up with Perkins to see how he manages his own stress and wellness as a CEO.

Q. What’s a typical day like for you?

I start at the gym to do something physical. Then, I have time for planning out my day. I try to do my hardest work in the morning, the work that requires the most mental horsepower. I do all the heavy lifting before noon, and focus on more routine tasks in the afternoon. By the end of the day, I move into some type of networking or speaking event.

Q. CEOs have a lot to manage, all aspects of a business. Do you have any hacks that keep you feeling more in control?

Daily journaling is a hack for me. It’s easy to jump in the hamster wheel and keep on going. But it’s important to take the time to reflect and see what we have accomplished as a team. Make plans to hit your goals. Practice gratitude by celebrating even the smallest wins.


2019-04-15T20:11:28-04:00April 15th, 2019|

Did You Know?

The idea of finding a healthy work/life balance isn’t new, but it has come into prominence because of the dominant presence of millennials in the workforce. Yes, the much-maligned millennial generation has employers scrambling to reassess just what it means to have a healthy work life and a healthy home life.

Chronic stress is among the most common health issues for employees, with burnout a close, but related, second. Employees today report that a flexible work environment is critical to productivity and inspiration. Powerhouse is passionate about helping everyone find a perfect work/life balance. Check out our resources for ideas on team building, which can help you open a dialogue at work about work vs. life issues. Or consider hiring Powerhouse to handle some of your tasks so that you and those you work with can achieve that ideal work/life balance.

2019-04-15T20:11:43-04:00April 15th, 2019|

Five Hacks to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

By: Karen Pinkston

Have you ever felt the pressure for your brand to be on all the popular social media channels? You are not alone. The good news is you don’t have to go down that path. Be strategic, and don’t try to be everywhere. Focus on the networks that are most relevant to your brand, and make your content awesome. Here are five tips to help you get started.

#1 Define your audience.

Take a moment to clearly define whom you’re trying to reach. Think of your ideal candidate or customer. Put yourself in their shoes. What age are they? What interests them? What do they value? Where are they living?

Answering these questions will tell you what social media platforms to target. If you’re trying to reach teens ages 13 to 17, YouTube is the most popular social media channel, with 85% of them using it. Or you might consider Instagram and Snapchat, as about 70% of teens are actively engaging on those platforms, according to the 2018 study “Teens, Social Media, and Technology” completed by the Pew Research Center.

#2 Know what works.

Part of knowing your audience is knowing what resonates with them. A great way to do this is to look at your competitors or at other successful similar campaigns. Analyze which ones had the most engagement and why.

When I was the communications director for a sheriff’s office, we found that humorous recruitment videos had more views and shares than serious ones. That data drove our decision to create a video with a sense of humor. But most of all, figure out the key factor that will set your brand apart. How can you be better than the rest and stand out?


2019-04-16T00:08:03-04:00April 15th, 2019|

Finding Work/Life Balance in Today’s Changing Workforce

By: Rheanna Bernard

The phrase “work/life balance” is one that has been a topic of discussion for a long time. How do we have it all? How do we succeed at our work and keep our home life together and successful as well? With more and more people having the option to work from home, or to telework on a regular basis, the work/life balance has started to blend together. How can we successfully navigate our careers and our home lives? Here are three tips to put you on the right track. (Many thanks to the military spouses and working moms who contributed to this conversation.)

  1. Organize Your Work at Home

Meghan Wieten-Scott, senior outreach advisor at Blue Star Families, shares that organizing your work life at home is key. “It helped so much when I turned our guest room into an office. It gave me a door I could close.” And gave her a place to “leave” work at the end of the day. Setting boundaries is a sentiment shared by those who work from home and is key to organization. Social Media and Content Manager Jennifer Morrison shares that “I have an app that turns off notifications for work emails after 4 p.m. on the weekdays and completely off for the weekends.” Overall, if you’re working at home, organizing how you do that and sticking to that plan are key for success.

  1. Organize Your Home Life

Jennifer Porter, a lawyer in Northern Virginia, shared that Google Calendar has been an essential part of the success of her work/home balance. It’s how she and her family manage multiple calendars and share them with each other. Meal planning and meal prep are additional ways to stay organized and ahead of the game at home. Paying for a meal planning service or just spending the extra time compiling easy recipes to put in the Crock-Pot or throw in the freezer ultimately saves time.

  1. Set Expectations

Having a healthy understanding of what your expectations can really be is important. You have to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. This may require some trial and error and could be different from one month to the next. But it’s important to set realistic plans and remember that you can’t do everything you want to do all the time and still have balance. For example, Heather Oster, Northern Virginia educator turned stay-at-home mom, and her family set time aside to make an actionable plan for the coming weeks. Decide what is a priority, whether that be sitting down for dinner or going on a monthly date night, and get it on the calendar. “Yours will look different, but start with the tangible, important and realistic actions that you and your family value,” says Oster.

Regardless of whether you work in an office outside of the home, at your kitchen table, or some combination of the two, you can take actionable steps to continue to work toward navigating the home/work balance. Start a conversation with those around you and surround yourself with those who can support you and whom you can support as well. Because your community is a key part of success in life!

2019-04-17T01:37:28-04:00April 15th, 2019|

Client Profile: The Next Door Project

Powerhouse Service Provided: External Communications

We’ve partnered with Jacey Eckhart and helped launch her big idea into a reality. During a 12-month period, Jacey is walking her fans through the “Next Door Project.”

In her first post, Jacey shared, “So in the next few months I’m going to be working on the Next Door Project. You can come with me if you like, and we can go knock, knock, knockin’ of some of these Next Doors together to find out what we are supposed to be doing to get to meaningful work and a fulfilling life now. Because no one is coming to rescue us—not our husbands or our kids or our parents or our friends and not, by God, our employers. The Next Door isn’t going to find us. We are going to find it. Flannel pajammies and all.”

Whether you’re career transitioning or moving into a new season of life, Jacey is totally the person you need cheering you on to kick open the door and process what life has in store for you! We love serving on her team. Here’s what she had to say about our partnership:

“When you take a step in a new career direction, it can be unnerving. So I was really glad to find that Jess and her team were willing to listen to my ideas and help me decide which projects sounded strongest. Then they brought the images in my head to the screen. I couldn’t be more pleased with their work and their unfailing support.” – Jacey Eckhart

Do you have a big idea, but you aren’t sure where to start or how to make it happen? Email us at We’d love to be on your team!

2019-04-15T20:12:17-04:00April 15th, 2019|


Finding a healthy work/life balance may seem daunting, especially if you’re under a lot of stress at work or at home. We all need a little help from time to time (or every day). Here are three resources to help you start the process.

For the employee – Michael Page lays out five steps to achieving a healthy work/life balance. In easy-to-understand, concise language, Page gives you the tools to begin working on the balance you want.

For the employer – Interested in helping your employees achieve a positive work/life balance? Pingboard outlines some ways in which you can help your employees have a healthier attitude about work and about life.

For the reader – Like to cozy up with a good book? Matthew Kelly’s Off Balance will take you on an in-depth exploration of what it means to live a healthy, balanced life and career.

2019-04-15T20:12:39-04:00April 15th, 2019|


Iridescent: Empowering the World’s Underrepresented Young People, Especially Girls, Through Engineering and Technology to Become Innovators and Leaders

By: Randi Cairns

Empowering girls is the strongest determinant of progress for every development outcome for a society—from economic growth to equity, creativity, and innovation. Yet despite the demand for technology creators and inventors, we still have minimal representation from women and minorities in STEM fields, particularly in computer science (CS). In fact, the United States only graduates approximately 56,000 students each year in CS, and only 11,000 of these undergraduates are women and even fewer are Hispanic and Black.

Iridescent is a global STEM education nonprofit with a mission to empower the world’s underrepresented young people, especially girls, through engineering and technology to become innovators and leaders. For the past 13 years, Iridescent has been creating, implementing, and iterating an engineering and technology, project-based learning, mentor-supported education model. Over 130,000 students, parents, educators, and mentors have been served through their programming to date—across 100+ countries.


2019-04-15T20:12:28-04:00April 15th, 2019|

New Powerhouse Team Member

Julie Kirchner is excited to join Powerhouse Planning as a freelance writer.

In the six wonderful years Julie has been a Coast Guard spouse, she has successfully navigated three major moves and lived overseas in England for three years.

In her professional life, Julie is passionate about making an organization a great place to work. She is an organizational development specialist with over seven years of experience as a corporate trainer, website and social media coordinator, and project manager for a nonprofit healthcare organization.

Julie is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she earned a B.S. in Psychology, M.S. in Management, and graduate certificate in New Venture Creation from the UF Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI).

She currently lives on Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, with her husband, Nate, three-year-old son, Ewan, and the world’s most lovable Labrador, Charlie. In her free time, Julie enjoys volunteering, running, and being outdoors with her family.

2019-04-09T18:24:31-04:00April 9th, 2019|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Nicole Keeny

One of our favorite things to do at PH is brag about our talented freelancers and employees. This month’s star is PH’s Nicole Keeny. Nicole is one of our Quality Assurance Specialists, which she says sounds more impressive than what she actually does. But we say it is no less heroic than ensuring our clients’ messages are “consistent, professional, and polished.” Nicole also describes her job as that of story shaper and detective. She thinks “detective” is stretching it a little, but since she fact checks and combs through documents for misplaced modifiers and such, we think “detective” fits perfectly.

Nicole has been with PH for almost three years, not so coincidentally since about the same time as her son Preston came into her family. She was looking to get out of the classroom where she was a full-time middle school teacher and into a profession where she could create the work/life balance she desired. PH came as a blessing. Not only does Nicole have the flexibility she needs to work and stay at home to homeschool Preston, but she can work in her yoga pants. Yep, we’re totally with Nicole on this one!

Since we’re focusing on work/life balance this month at PH, we asked Nicole how she maintains the right balance for her. “With organization, boundaries, and grace (for myself),” she replied. Being more organized makes her less stressed and more effective at both work and home. She sets rules and follows them. For instance, she takes one day a week and doesn’t do any work, including laundry (or making her bed). Instead, she spends the day intentionally resting and restoring her spirit. She finds that by doing this she is a better employee and a better wife and mother. As Nicole says, “Balance requires intentionality.” So creating a good work/life balance means taking some time to reflect on what’s important to you, what your professional and personal goals are, and then working toward them in a way that works best for you. Maybe that’s by creating lists or establishing boundaries, maybe it’s coming up with a mission statement and then shaping your life around it. Nicole even advocates for taking a day and putting your smartphone away. Not just face-down-on-the-table away, but in a different room on silent. It helps you to be present in the moment. She doesn’t recommend letting your toddler hide it, though. Personal experience, perhaps?

As we’ve mentioned, Nicole is mama to Preston. She is also the wife of Jeff, a pastor who founded his own church in the fall of 2016. With Jeff also working from home, the family has the flexibility to spend lots of time together going on adventures, learning together, or just dancing around their kitchen as they prepare their favorite Mexican dishes. This is key to that work/life balance as Nicole also serves as the children’s and women’s ministry coordinator at their church. It doesn’t leave her with a lot of free time, but when she has it she loves nothing more than curling up with her (ever-present) coffee and a good book or a Jane Austen film. To set the mood, add some ’40s music, the luxury of a nap or walk in the woods, or a journal and some colored pencils. Sounds relaxing and uplifting!

Nicole has loved the growth PH has experienced in the last couple of years and sees herself as part of the PH team for years to come. We’re pretty sure we’re not letting her go anywhere! She’s an open book to anyone who asks her a question, but few know that she is the first woman on either side of her family to attend and graduate from college. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to inspire someone, including dyeing her hair purple one year when all of her students passed their state test. She’s also an avid advocate for adoption. She and Jeff adopted Preston when he was 10 days old. She says she had to learn that “motherhood isn’t a given or a right, but a privilege.” She feels privileged to guide Preston through life and hopes that others come to realize that “being a mother is more than blood and genetics.”

Families come in all different shapes and sizes. And we’re so glad Nicole decided to become part of the PH family!

2019-03-18T15:21:48-04:00April 4th, 2019|

New Powerhouse Team Member

Meredith Flory is a freelance writer, educator, military wife, and homeschool mom excited to be a part of the Powerhouse team. After teaching at the high school and college levels, Meredith started freelance writing in 2015 as a way to continue her career while staying at home with her children. She got her start writing a monthly column in Augusta Family Magazine called “Raising Readers.” Now in its fourth year, “Raising Readers” discusses fostering literacy on a wide range of subjects and won an award from the Parenting Media Association in 2017. As an educator, Meredith understands that a skill she brings to any client is taking large pieces of industry-specific information and packaging it in a way that appeals to and teaches a broader audience, and she loves interviewing specialists and experts to help them share their research and experiences.

Meredith has a master’s degree in children’s literature from Kansas State University and has written for various publications on parenting, military life, spirituality, and travel as she continues to expand her writing career. She currently lives in Texas and enjoys spending time with her family road tripping and being one of the few people who still prints pictures from those trips to put in her scrapbooks.

2019-03-27T16:10:33-04:00April 1st, 2019|
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