We had the good fortune of connecting with Jaime Carden-O’Brien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jaime, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
Starting Free to Be has had a big impact on my own girls who are 11 and 9. In the beginning, they were at every event, learning with the big girls, all about positive body image, healthy relationships, loving themselves and being a good friend. They ask questions about what they hear and they tie the things they learn to their own lives and friendships. Our 11 year old will be in middle school next year and she is going to start working for Free to Be, helping plan meaningful events as well as helping to lead them. And my soon to be 5th grader is excited to be an employee once she hits middle school as well! My hope is that by having them immersed in the work of self love and acceptance, and helping others do the same, they will always know their worth, even when things feel really hard.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Free to Be is all about creating a community of girls supporting themselves and other girls! We believe the more solid and secure a girl is in herself, the more accepting and supportive she is of other girls! We offer personal growth experiences, fitness classes, workshops, parent education and are always on the lookout for anything that will help girls grow into their worth. This work is so important and I see many offerings for women and we wanted to help girls and young women start this work now versus waiting until they are older. I have been in private practice as a child and family therapist since 2009 and have been in the field of helping people and advocacy since I was 19 years old. My experiences leading up to opening Free to Be have helped tremendously in what I am offering now. Having two businesses is not easy and it takes a lot of time but having supportive people in my life and the passion to be able to offer this service to young women is what keeps me going through the harder times. I also plan very intentional time with those I love to make sure they are getting what they need from me and I am getting my time with them.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I LOVE Fort Collins and everything it has to offer. I would tell someone to come in the summer so we could hang at the swim beach at the reservoir, and hike Horsetooth and around Lory State Park. We love going camping and having river days too so that would for sure be on the agenda! In town, I love that (non-Covid times) Fort Collins always has something going on like music festivals, Taste of Fort Collins, Fort Collins Fitness Festival, downtown concerts, Tour de Fat… there is always something to attend! We like hanging at the breweries on a nice sunny day where our girls like to pet ALL.THE.DOGS and Rare or Jax Seafood are our favorite spots to grab dinner as a family. Social would definitely be on the list to stop by as well. Truly, I love Fort Collins and everything in it!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband deserves the biggest shout out of all. He has been my biggest cheerleader since the very beginning, believing in me during times when I was filled with fear and self doubt. He encouraged me to quit my job and start a private therapy practice when I was pregnant with our first daughter, telling me not to worry about the money, we’d figure it out and he knew I would make it work. When I talked about how wonderful the personal growth work I was doing was and how great things like this would have been when I was younger, he told me to create it! And Free to Be was born. When I was looking to rent space for monthly events last fall, like I had done before Covid hit, he told me to get my own space. Yes, in the middle of a pandemic, get my own space! Always with the encouraging, “We’ll figure it out and I know you can do it,” attitude that is Joe. He is an amazing partner and father to our two girls and I can without a doubt say I would not be who I am or where I am today without him in my corner. Plus, he is the person I have the most fun with ever! I also need to shout out my parents, siblings, daughters and friends who are seriously the best. The saying is to surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine and I am so lucky that everyone in my life does!
Joe O’Brien Aubrey Weber