Edward and Christina Sledge founded Sledge House Media, a Maryland-based entertainment company created to share diverse and captivating stories through books, films and TV, plus digital and audio projects that highlight relationships, individual experiences and interconnection. Their strength as a couple—married for 23 years and together since high school has formed a solid foundation for their business and allowed them to infuse their projects with the love and commitment they share. Together the Sledge’s have published eight books, four audiobooks and two short films (winning three awards for best documentary short film in their indie film festival run), with more exciting projects on the horizon.
U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM) sat down with the power couple to learn how the Sledge’s experiences as a military family prepared them for entrepreneurship and why they decided to start a small business after Edward completed his service with the Army.
USVM: Can you discuss how your military service and life as an Army family have influenced your entrepreneurial journey? How have the skills and experiences you gained in the Army shaped your approach to business?
Edward Sledge (ES): I enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1999 and completed basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. My duty station was Fort Stewart, Georgia where I was assigned to two Field Artillery units, 1-41 and 1-9. I was promoted to specialist before I was honorably and medically discharged. My wife and I got married in February 2000 after only a two-month engagement. We quickly started to grow our family, subsequently adapting to Army life. We later wrote and published our memoir in 2021 about our journey and that prompted us to start an entertainment company.
From my military service and our life as an Army family we learned dedication, initiative, sacrifice, effective communication, patience, resilience, collaboration and resolve—which are also qualities needed to become entrepreneurs. Our approach to business is highly influenced by our experience as an Army family. Specifically, defining and organizing our business processes and operations effectively and efficiently.
USVM: How have you demonstrated adaptability in your military and entrepreneurial endeavors?
ES: In the military, I quickly adapted to new environments and collaborated with various Soldiers with different ranks, skill sets and backgrounds. Similarly, in our small business we utilize the ability to adapt to new situations and work side by side with various people to complete our projects every day.
USVM: Can you share a team-oriented project or initiative you were involved in during your military service and how it relates to your approach to teamwork as an entrepreneur? How do you two, as a couple, utilize teamwork to ensure the success of your projects?
ES: I recall during basic training at Fort Sill I worked with several new Soldiers to assemble two large modular general purpose tents. We successfully worked together to erect the tents braving the elements of high winds and rain. That experience is transferrable to my approach to teamwork now. In business, everyone takes turns to patiently pitch in to hold up their pole while the others work collaboratively to complete the task at hand.
As a couple, it is especially important to have open and honest discussions about your roles in the business. This exercise will help determine how to divide and conquer the work. When your roles are clearly defined it helps minimize confusion and disagreements. For example, I focus on the creative side while my wife focuses on the business side. We also think it is important to accentuate your individual strengths to work effectively as a team.
USVM: How does your sense of mission and purpose guide your entrepreneurial pursuits?
ES: Just like in the military, in our business we also set goals and metrics to complete our projects. This practice keeps us resolute and focused on our company’s mission.
USVM: What advice would you give someone considering entrepreneurship after transitioning from the military?
CS and ES: We would recommend becoming familiar with all the resources available to transitioning Soldiers and their families. We also recommend taking advantage of the GI Bill benefits offered to Soldiers. Edward earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, which he uses in our business, by using the GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Always remember that the skills you acquired during your military service will serve you well in a multitude of ways as you transition into entrepreneurship.