“Whoever said business isn't personal, clearly never owned a business with their spouse!”

Joining RISE often helps members meet a practical need, like having a great place to work or meet with clients. But for some members, it’s something more: Ria Ruthsatz is one of them.

A founding member, Ria has co-owned and operated the St. Louis-based film production company Tree9 Films with her husband for almost 10 years. But it hasn’t always been easy; navigating the highs and lows of building a business, especially alongside a marriage, is as rewarding as it is challenging.  

“Whoever said business isn't personal, clearly never owned a business with their spouse!” she says. “Let’s say we’re going on a film shoot and one of us didn’t do the dishes. You can’t bring any of those negative feelings with you, and vise versa. If something happens on set, we really try not to take that home with us. We’ve learned more and more over the years—time teaches you a lot.”

Over those 10 years working together, Tree9 has created beautifully crafted short films for clients like Make-a-Wish, Big Muddy Dance Company, and Meds & Food For Kids. But working with and leading a team of creatives brings with it its own challenges. Different personalities, preferences, and working styles mixed together with long, stressful shoot schedules can result in head butting or conflicts, something every professional encounters in the workplace at times.

Ria has found that creating camaraderie and clear communication has helped make her company a fun and productive place to work.

She also credits the support of other female entrepreneurs at RISE with connecting her to new strategies that have helped effectively balance her business and personal life. While having a business is a journey that comes with much freedom and autonomy, she has learned that entrepreneurs often travel it alone, sorting through many unknowns and firsts.

“RISE, for me, is like a light in the dark. You’re not alone, and there are questions that have been answered here that I didn’t even know to ask,” she says. During a particularly busy time, the Tree9 team needed to grow quickly in response to a new project, working around the clock while their newest team member was in training. Ria’s lawn needed to be mowed, and she offhandedly mentioned to a fellow RISE member that she just couldn’t find the time to make it all work. “My former mentality was always, ‘You mow your own lawn!’ For some reason I felt like I was failing at my business and in life because I couldn’t find the time to do it myself.”

A RISE member suggested Ria give herself a break and pay someone else to do it. “This sounds silly, but I ended up taking their advice, felt super guilty about it for a minute, and then ultimately felt so much better. For me that’s what RISE is: it’s focused on the fact that we all have things we want to accomplish, but we’re so much more. That gets fully acknowledged here. My personal and professional relationships have all benefited from the growth I've experienced since joining.”

And that’s what we’re focusing on at RISE in February - learning to work and connect better with our teams, clients, and ourselves. How to have tough conversations when the outcome really matters. How to define and develop a company culture that reflects your values and is a place you and your team want to be a part of each day. How to connect more effectively and be a better listener.

Part of being a successful business owner is acknowledging, even celebrating, the fact that we are not in this alone. Through the tenets of community, collaboration, and service, RISE members develop the kind of interpersonal skills that build client relationships, professional networks and strong friendships.

Are you also looking to develop the skills Ria has cultivated at RISE? We’re always here to help our members grow personally and professionally. Sign up for a tour HERE to connect with us in St. Louis or Denver.