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Real Spouse Employment: What Do You Do?

Rachel Brenke

Nearly half of all military spouses are employed, but what exactly do they do? This new series allows military spouses to answer for themselves.

Rachel Brenke came into our sights as the incredibly talented eye behind Rachel Brenke Photography, but it turns out she’s much more than that. She’s also an attorney for creative professionals and a published author.

Her book, The Laundry List, A Mom’s Guide to Running a Successful Business and Home, is a how-to for moms trying to do it all. As a military wife and mom, she knows the stressors first hand. Here, she takes us through her own story and passes on some pro-tips for the rest of us.

How did you get your job?

I created it myself! I started consulting with businesses during graduate school and carried it through law school onto now. As a stay-at-home mom, I converted photography from a hobby into a business as a necessity to supplement income. Now that I am on the other side, I see what a great opportunity that was!

Tell us a little bit about your degrees -- you have a lot of letters after your name. Why did you decide to go back to school, and are you using your degrees?

To be honest, school has always been fun for me (college and beyond that is!). School was the one consistent thing that took my mind off the hardship of the deployments and being a mom on my own during those years. I pretty much never took a break from undergraduate through graduate school and law school. My brain is full, my experience has grown and I'm ready to help others!  

How has being married to a servicemember impacted your own career? How did you get around that?

I had really no choice but to create what I am doing. I had the desire, but being forced into doing it on my own -- and during school -- was a real blessing. So even though the military life seemed to "force" me into it, it was a good force.  

What one piece of advice would you give to military spouses who want to balance a photography job, motherhood and military life?

You can balance it all. Business is a LONG marathon -- there's no set timeline for success. Success is a journey, not a destination. You can go as fast or slow as you want, need and as life demands. It is OK to go at a slower pace to grow your business -- don't get frustrated.

How does your servicemember support your career?

He's taking care of the kids right now as I fill this out. He understands that I have demands to meet that sometimes creep into weekends when he is home. However, by both of us agreeing to have a balance, we're able to both support each other’s career. 

What is the biggest career mistake you made?

Trying to take on too much at one time. There's no timeline for success. There were times I gave up family time in order to pursue the business because I thought I had to "rush" to build the business. 

What is the one strength you use on the job every day?


What is your version of happily ever after?

Building the business to a self-sustaining situation with multiple employees, so that I can spend even more time with family and travel.

-- Do you have a story for REAL Spouse Employment? We are curious about what spouses really do to make money. Whether you are employed full time or part time; whether you work as a contractor or work for yourself; whether you get paid six figures or volunteer full time, we want to know about it. Contact us at with your story or let us know about another military spouse you admire that we need to get to know.

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