Show Notes

Holly Gardner

Simplicity-Series-with-Holly-GardnerHi, I’m Holly! I live in Panama City Beach, FL with my husband, Chris, and my two kids, Charlotte (7) and James (almost 2). My background is in engineering, but when my first husband passed away I took that time to change career paths, transitioning from a hobbyist to a full-time professional photographer. That was six years ago, and life has continued to change radically, forcing me to roll with the punches! I remarried a wonderful man, Chris, and in 2013 we had a son that was born with life-threatening food allergies. We both have full-time jobs, but we felt the calling to create and share products that we believe can greatly improve the lives of food allergy families. The company, Safe & Happy Family, launched in December 2014.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?
I believe in the power of long walks, sunshine, and giggles, so I try to combine those things as much as possible. My favorite thing to do is sit outside and lay in the hammock. I’ve also started meditating regularly and try my best to wake up before the sun so I can knock out some of my to-do list before anyone stirs.

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In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?
I use to-do lists for everything, and it makes me feel great when I can see I’ve accomplished a lot. Also, we like to have family “cleaning parties” where we crank up the music and all spend 10 minutes cleaning.

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?
Eating meals together. It doesn’t matter how tired, cranky, or stressed we are, we make it a priority to always sit down and have at least one meal together as a family. We give thanks to God for our food, talk about what we’re eating and what we’ve been up, and share stories about the day.


Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

1. Camera: Clearly, this is going to be important to me because I’m a photographer. But the real reason I am so passionate about photography is because after my first husband passed away I was left with very few images of him with my daughter. I swore to never let that happen again!

2. Patagonia Sweatshirts: I’m obsessed with Patagonia products not only because they’re very high quality, but because they company has a strong mission that is woven throughout everything they do. They may not be the cheapest, but they are the best. I have a collection Patagonia outerwear that I wear any time the temperature drops below 70. (Yes, I’m a Florida girl!) My favorite is my soft grey one – it’s light, breathable, and super cute!

3. Pony Tail Holders: My hair has gotten pretty long and I like to curl it when I want to be all cutesy. But honestly, I wear it up 99% of the time because I’d rather not be bothered.

4. Food Allergy Binder: This organizer was created out of necessity when our son was first diagnosed with food allergies. We were completely overwhelmed with paperwork and couldn’t keep all of the details straight. I created an organizer to help, and refined it over a year and a half. This past year I got a designer on-board ( to turn my prototype into a reality. This is something that we keep on the counter and use every day. Without it, we’d be lost!

5. Flip-Flops: Like every Florida girl, I love flip-flops. However, I do not like what spending hours at a time in them does to my body. The only flip-flops I’ve found that don’t cause pain are by Vionic. I can wear them all day and not end up with blisters or throbbing knees.

6. Fitbit: This is something that I never would have expected I’d grow so attached to. I purchased it to help me get back into shape, which has been incredibly challenging since having my second kid. Not only does it help me track how sedentary I am (sitting in front of a computer all day isn’t good for anyone!) but it also tracks my sleep patterns. Charting my sleep (and lack thereof) has really helped me view my health more holistically. Also key for me is the capability for caller ID on the watch. I’m constantly misplacing my phone or have it turned down, so I find it particularly helpful when I’m at weddings because I can make sure I don’t miss any important calls.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? 

I consider myself an advocate for food allergy education. There are so many myths and misconceptions out there, as well as confusion between intolerances and allergies and people unnecessarily restricting their diets or their children’s diets without an accurate diagnosis. If you think you or your child has a food allergy, please go to a board-certified allergist and visit the website of the non-profit FARE.

When dealing with those less informed, remember to act with patience and grace. If you know someone with diagnosed food allergies, ask them what you can do to keep them safe. Take it a step further by dedicating a hunk of time to watching this video:

Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?
I work with a lot of people remotely, and I rely heavily upon Basecamp. I tried it out several years ago and didn’t find it helpful, but now I can’t live without it. It’s seriously changed the way I do business!

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