Nomadic Newlyweds is a timeless blog that showcases some of the most daring–and intriguing–adventures through the eyes of a gorgeous and fun couple. Luckily for us, Wilhelm and Brooke Genn currently reside–albeit, not permanently–in Kansas City, close enough for us to take a gander at their incredible photos and want nothing but to re-examine parts of the city we hadn’t noticed before. Their zest for life and knack for framing the perfect picture made us want to know more about them.
I met Brooke for lunch at First Watch, a local favorite in the Kansas City area. Right off the bat, I knew I were in for a treat. She had a warmth about her that I haven’t experienced very often, and was immediately regaling me with stories and smiles from her trips abroad. We took well to each other, being old, midwestern souls and travel fiends, and her eyes sparkled with each new anecdote as we bounced from topic to topic.
What was she most excited about? Her newest adventure: a capsule wardrobe. A foreign concept to most, we delved deeper into how she is condensing her life at this stage, and what else is on the horizon for her hubby and herself. Read on for more!
MOSHERY: If money were no object, how would you introduce yourself to our MOSHERY audience?
Brooke Genn: If money were not object, and I had an unlimited supply of stationery, each and every MOSHERY reader would receive a hand written “‘ELLO POPPET!” note from me! As this is theoretical, money-free, dreamland… inside each note, each of those fabulous peeps would also see a RT ticket to Bali, where a proper introduction could happen, over mimosas, and waffles.
M: This just reminds us of Pirates of The Caribbean and we LOVE it! You are originally from Cincinnati. How do you think that has aided in shaping who you are and how you live your life?
Brooke: Ohioans are the bees knees, I tell ya! I was raised around the most loving, open-minded and down-to-earth people a gal could possibly dream up. Where I grew up you knew your neighbors, and even the folks who were “strangers” got a hello or a wave. I was taught to look someone in the eye and give ’em a nice firm handshake when I met them… but above and beyond the literal “manners”, there was the “Midwest manner”… I learned from those around me to connect genuinely, in an authentic and trusting way. So much so, that while a new acquaintance might get a confident handshake to start, the conversations would usually wrap up with a heartwarming hug! I hope I take that positivity and trust (and those good old fashioned Ohio hugs) everywhere I go. I believe I’m spreading light and joy as I travel by simply experiencing and engaging in this honest way. The world could use a little more Midwest mojo, in my small-town opinion 😉
M: We couldn’t agree more. You were fascinated with the Meredith Corporation early on in life. What drew you to work there, and what was that like?
Brooke: I cried in my office every day for the two weeks following the decision Wilhelm and I made to move to Des Moines, Iowa. I had just settled in to a comfy job and my husband and I were living with my parents (Okay this sounds awful to most people, right?! I’m weird and I seriously loved it.) and I didn’t want to go anywhere. I’m a writer, always have been, it’s a part of my DNA. I’m also a visual artist. Even more than being both of those, I am a consumer lover of the written word and of art. It’s no wonder then, that I grew up clipping articles and photos from every magazine I could get my mitts on! Among these were Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) and Traditional Homes. Upon learning that my new loft would be within walking distance of the Meredith Corporation headquarters, I made it my goal to participate in that company in some way – any way. An opportunity arose for a photographers assistant job (carrying around gear, setting up lights, eating the left over food from the BHG kitchen shoots) and I chased it down. Three emails and an, “I’d love the chance to pop in and just say hello – I’m right next door, you name the time and I’m there” message and I finally had the interview. I was hired on the spot, and receiving my badge and Meredith Credentials was one of the most exciting moments I’ve experienced – as odd as that sounds. I was just an assistant…but I could feel it was the start of something bigger… and hey, life’s short – you HAVE to celebrate the wins, no matter how small. (<< Life hack right there. Wilhelm and I live by this, I swear.)
M: Never heard a truth so real! You’re a freelance writer, blogger and photographer who specializes in travel. Holy cow! What has been your favorite adventure so far?
Brooke: My favorite (mis)adventure so far was our trip to Rome in 2013. I, thoughtlessly, booked this incredibly affordable but amazingly located apartment just beside the Colosseum – in August. Let’s just say, it was hot. We’re pretty tough when it comes to weather, but the heat was truly unbearable. So, Wilhelm and I hatched a plan to hide from the sun, sleep all day and wander the ancient streets of Rome by moonlight! It was incredible, and unique and it solidified how well we work together even in a very tricky, jet-lagged, sleep-deprived, low-budget situation. Not only did we make that adventure work, we had the time of our lives. (Admittedly, the heaven-sent pizza and cheap house vinos didn’t hurt). You can read more about our unexpected detour in Rome here!
M: Sounds magical! Where do you think everyone should travel to at some point in their life?
Brooke: Not sure I have a location I believe everyone should visit (every city and culture seems to speak to everyone so differently, for example: Paris and I had no chemistry!)…but, I do think there is a trip everyone should take! Everyone should travel (in some form or fashion) with their siblings. Individually, or as a group, whatever works. Having sisters and brothers is such an absolute(ly annoying) blessing and traveling with your sibs is a priceless investment. I’ve found it allows for a unique type of bonding experience and I believe it’s especially relevant and important once you’re no longer living in the same place (aka mom and dad’s house, usually)!
M: This piece on capsule wardrobes was written because of a real life experience you’re going through right now. There are a ton of ways to downsize for a smaller space. What specifically made you choose to drastically minimize your wardrobe? Where did you hear about it?
Brooke: We pack and unpack, a lot. Packing is often the most stressful part of our adventures as travelers. Having less, and more importantly – having a wardrobe that all mixes and matches, makes packing a breeze. I know what I’m tossing in the bag can be worn four ways, I know the pieces look great together and I end up fretting very little about what I’m wearing when I travel – which opens me up to the more fully embrace the experiences of the trip!
M: What do you think is the most rewarding part of having a minimalist approach to life?
Brooke: Greatest reward: Freedom. Freed up time. Freed up mind. The simpler I make my day-to-day routines (wardrobe is a major factor for most), the more space I have in my mind and soul for creative thinking and adventurous living.
M: What obstacles could you see presenting themselves on one’s journey to a capsule wardrobe?
Brooke: I think for some, especially those who lack a clear style niche/those with varied taste, it will (at least initially) feel overly limiting. I recently mentioned to friends that I even like the idea of a ‘uniform’ for work days. One noted, “As a creative person, I just can’t imagine not being able to express that through my daily wardrobe”. So, clearly the acceptable level of capsule wardrobe or uniform differs from person to person. I truly believe I’m MORE creative when I limit extra hassles and decisions… though, I’m not buckling down to a single uniform like Zuckerberg. Yet.
M: We don’t blame you! Would you suggest that people keep seasonal capsule wardrobes? Or are you all about finding pieces that translate well over time?
Brooke: I’m going for seasonal right now. I think the key is choosing quality items that do translate well between seasons and supplementing with fresh patterns and current colors in through your accessories.
M: Capsule wardrobes might seem extremely feasible for people who live in temperate areas. Do you have any specific advice for people who reside in the midwest, by chance? (I mean…snow on Easter morning, then 55+ degrees and sunny? We have to worry about changing 2-4 times a day here!)
Brooke: Ugh, yes, the Midwest does not make having a simplified closet an easy task – that’s for sure!! If you have the room, one thing I might suggest is keeping your current seasonal wardrobe in your main closet, while keeping a few layering options from the past or upcoming season in a spare closet. If you find you don’t use them, pack them away (garage, under the bed, wherever – but out of sight is the goal) with your others. For me, having a coat, pair of denim and a pair of booties that transition well between seasons aids in keeping each season slim.
M: In your opinion, what’s the perfect sized closet? (Yeah. We’re going there.)
Brooke: A suitcase. While I’m NO WHERE NEAR this level of minimalism, I do believe we could be happiest with remarkably little. (Especially if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with predictable weather!)
M: Have you completed your capsule wardrobe transformation, or is it a work in progress?
Brooke: Major work in progress. You would not want to see our apartment right now – it looks like a tornado ripped through a Forever 21 – color and texture and pattern and MESS, everywhere. I’m right in the thick of things as we speak – I can report on how it went soon. I plan on having it sorted out quite well before our move at the end of May.
M: How do you feel when you get dressed in the morning as a result of this capsule wardrobe plan?
Brooke: Awesome. Relaxed. Confident. Productive.
M: Good! We all have places we go to for comfort and relaxation. What is that place for you?
Brooke: So, I’m a mix on this.. and I bet a few people (especially those with wanderlust) will feel me on this one. I’m really comfortable when I’m somewhere new – I truly feel embraced by the world and at peace when I’m submersed into an unfamiliar culture. However, with traveling so much in the last few years, and often on back-to-back-to-back trips, I feel overwhelmed and unsettled sometimes when I’m away. Then, the only thing I want is to drink a cup of tea on my old beat up sofa, in the arms of my Clark-Kent-look-alike husband, with my cats sleeping nearby… OR to sip on a margarita whilst playing a rowdy game of cards with my entire, insane, family. Usually though, if I’m away and need comfort, I have to make do. I usually draw a bubble bath, grab a tiny wine from the mini fridge, and FaceTime Wilhelm (who will inevitably let me chat with my cats – which always, ALWAYS makes me happy).
M: You clearly love cats. Do you have a case of cats vs dogs, or a reason why you chose to have two little cat friends? (We write about cats vs. dogs here. Because we’re nuts.)
Brooke: When I was three years old I scurried to the living room on Christmas morning, there was snow outside and a giant, unwrapped, cardboard box beside the tree. A tiny noise came from the big brown parcel: a persistent little MEOW. I named him Yapper. He continued to talk incessantly (and pee in my dads shoes) for the next 15+ years. He was my best bud. Proof, you ask? My AOL handle was @ILUVYAPS. Thus, my love for feline friends began. (I love dogs too – honestly they just aren’t conducive to our lifestyle of travel + complete laziness. When home, I’m not particularly active – basically, I only run to catch a flight – and a pup wouldn’t get enough exercise around here.)
M: Haha! That’s awesome. NSYNC or The Backstreet Boys?
Brooke: I’m a Cincinnati girl, so 98 Degrees, baby. Truthfully, I wasn’t much for boy bands…I was, however, quite taken with Ricky Martin and attended more than one of his concerts. #livinlavidaloca
M: We will take 98 Degrees, but I don’t know if anyone can handle Ricky on repeat. What do you do to keep yourself healthy and excited about your work and life?
Brooke: I strive for balance. That elusive and difficult to achieve thing that life is all about… Fortunately I’m largely in control of the direction our website and work goes. So, we focus on authentic experiences and travels that speak to what we truly love. If we’re honestly seizing life in the way we want, it shows evidently in the content we create. Though it’s still a ton of work, this ensures our balance is better – as our work actually flows from our real life adventures! It’s fun, but traveling for blogging and photography projects can run you ragged – it can be debilitatingly exhausting. When that happens, we have to be honest with ourselves and take a step back. Sometimes that means turning down a great trip or a unique photography gig. We love to say YES to opportunities in life, but sometimes in order to best tap our energy and keep ourselves well, also have to know when to say NO.
M: Tell us a little bit about your next adventure!
Brooke: My next adventure is a bit off the wall – or at least for my site! This Spring is all about restorative “Girls Getaways”, so I’m packing up and jetting off to meet some of my girls. I think investing in friendships keeps us well – It’s good for us as individuals, which also translates to being good for us in business and in our other relationships. Good vibes, all around. So, if you tune in to my instagram @NomadicNewlyweds, you’ll spot me and a few pals in Sedona, Arizona next – and then San Francisco and Big Sur!
M: All the jealousies… Any nuggets of advice for us?
Brooke: If I could leave you rockin’ MOSHERY readers with two small pieces of advice for living fully, they would be this: Live simpler than you think you can. Youand, plan a trip – near or far, big or small, with a friend or a love. The act of planning it is restorative in and of itself, it’s exciting and helps you get through the inevitable slumps and dreary days often brought on by our jobs.
For more on Brooke Genn and her amazing adventures with her hubby, head on over to NomadicNewlyweds.com. Follow The Nomadic Newlyweds’ journey on Facebook and Instagram as well! (Featured photo via nomadicnewlyweds.com)
Meredith has spent her life pin balling across America. She is often referred to as an entrepreneur, photographer, writer, and multi-media maven. She would label herself “butcher,” “baker,” and “candlestick maker.” (Hint: One of these is not true.) She is currently trying to find the perfect design for the DIY ukelele her twin gave her for Christmas. You can find her random musings on Twitter and Instagram @MerelyGrace.