Kailyn Swonger | The Boarding House

Give me your full name.

Mary Kailyn Swonger

Share the kind of work you do.

Wife and mother of two, co-owner and operator of The Boarding House game lounge in Guthrie.  

How did you come to do this type of work?

It's all been a calling. The way God has molded my heart and passions, used experiences to build wisdom and compassion, and provided the means to bring us to this point. All roads focus home and, hopefully, point to Jesus. 

Can you share the risk in pursuing doing the work you love?

There is always pressure as a startup business to be very mindful of budget, making wise choices, and gauging risk vs reward on new ideas. However, I think the edge isn't as sharp for us—as in having fear or worry—because we do feel so called and commissioned to do this. 

Tell us a few things you have to be consistent in to do your best work.

Family-life balance, self care, and connecting to the Body. If we don't stay aware of one another, be intentional with our time, and plug-in to Jesus on a daily basis it is easy to get overwhelmed and burned out. I'm also an introvert and a "feeler" by nature. Without quiet time to recharge and to set down the weight I absorb from others, I quickly wilt. 

What do you do to keep learning how to do your work better?

Watch others. Ask questions. Experiment. Launch and adjust. It's all a journey and remaining flexible and creative keeps it fresh not only for us, but for our customers. 

Who are the right people for you to surround yourself with in order to be successful?

Authentic people. People who are genuine and root for our success. And the occasional, for me personally, doubter. That sounds weird, but I relish the challenge of proving the haters wrong. 

How do you go about planning for a project or your day?

Lists. I'm always making lists, scribbling down random thoughts. I garner inspiration quite a bit from beautiful things, spaces, and ideas others create. Pinterest is my best friend.  

How do you measure your progress?

Feedback. Not that money doesn't matter, but in our business I value the comments from our patrons very highly. We've been blessed to have almost no negative feedback, and that drives me daily to continue to provide a space that leaves a positive impression on the community.  

What's been one of your favorite moments doing the work you do?

Those moments when I overhear someone who has come in for the first time, tell someone else how much they love it. It's more than a moment, but it's the overall feeling of joy that comes with witnessing your hard work and persistence paying off. 

When working on a project, what tools do you use for communicating with your team and/or clients?

By far the most important tool of communication is my smart phone. I do everything on it from taking calls, sending email, taking photos, designing promotions, updating social media, to keeping schedules. It's basically a home office that fits in my pocket and allows me more time with my kids. 

Do you have a project or product that you want to highlight today?

We are working on organizing a once-a-month live music night. Dawson Hollow in April was a huge hit, so we're looking at ways to encourage more up and coming bands/artists while offering a new type of entertainment to our customers. 

Tell us what you have discovered in life that you can share with up and comers who want to do the work they love?

Patience and persistence. I worked a crappy office job for almost 6 years that I hated, but for some reason felt compelled by God to stick through. Now I know, many of the negative or tough experiences there have helped me immensely in starting and running my business. I've also learned the importance of self care, asking for help, and ultimately walking away from a situation that would leave you drained and empty. 

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

You are lesser than no one. You are not an accident. You have purpose. Not being perfect at something does not make you worthless. Keep fighting. 

What book are you reading right now?

Canada by Richard Ford

Who are some people you admire in your line of work or other entrepreneurs?

The Woods family (Hoboken). I look to their story as inspiration when life feels overwhelming with tasks, and admire their resolve to cherish family-life balance over other things. 

Where can people find you online?

I do my best to keep my personal social media accounts separate from the wide world. I appreciate the authenticity of only following/being followed by those who I have a face-to-face relationship with. That said, please come see me at The Boarding House! I love meeting new people. 

Share the last good movie you watched?

I can't honestly remember the last time I watched any movie, ha! 

Which of your friends or family members probably tells the best stories about you?

My best friend Erin and her family, or the Strader family in Guthrie. They've known me through some pretty hilarious phases. 

What's been your favorite travel destination?

Without having been there (yet), I know it's coastal Maine. We actually had our first vacation since our honeymoon planned to go, but decided to open The Boarding House instead. One day! 

Have any good music you're listening to at the moment you would like to share with us?

Dawson Hollow. Their folk/indie/rock vibe is totally my wheelhouse. I wake up with their songs in my head frequently. And they have a cool story!

Last question - what do you want the world to remember you for?

I want to leave a legacy of joyful service. I want to be remembered as someone who listened, learned, helped, taught, encouraged, served.