If you’ve wondered “How does she do it?” when you see another mom running an amazing business, A Day in the Life of a Mama CEO, is for you.
This week I have two moms who run a business together. Janet Ryvin and Jane Friedman are co-founders of The Grand Meringue. They sell artisanal meringues in the Bay Area of California.
Together these mamapreneurs have modernized a recipes from Janet’s family to create this sweet business. Janet is mom to James (8), Ben (6), and Scarlett (16 months). and Jane is mom to Miller (7).
Janet: I get woken up at 7 by my children, one of which is inevitably in my bed. Mornings are smooth and short—my husband is off before anyone makes it to the kitchen. The boys are responsible for dressing and making their beds. I focus on feeding, diaper changing, and getting coffee in hand.
Mornings are mellow and a chance for me to connect with the boys before we leave for school. I catch up with my texts from the night before (Jane likes to ping at odd hours) to see what’s on the Grand Meringue baking agenda for the day.
Jane: My son wakes me up at 7 too. First thing: coffee with my husband (my favorite time of day) and making breakfast while Miller watches PBS’s Odd Squad. I make his lunch and give a quick reminder to get dressed. Then we’re off to school by 8 on a good day.
Janet: Even though I check my texts early, it isn’t until post drop off that I make my plan for the day.
Jane: After school drop off I try to prioritize exercise (emphasis on try). I love to start off the day on the trails. It helps me gather my to do list. Then more texting! We text baking schedule reminders, photos of batter and inspiration, finished product, copy, website changes, budgets, and more. We text all day, and into the wee hours.
Janet: On the days I have help with the baby, I am baking, delivering, sourcing (we source locally as much as we can), and experimenting with new flavor ideas. The challenge is always to balance the creative (our strong suit) with the mundane business demands that will help us reach our goals (to have Grand Meringue carts throughout the country!). So I dabble, switching gears from design ideas for our first cart to entering invoices.
Jane: Like Janet, I am at home from 11 to 2ish working on marketing, sales, and baking. A few times a week I do check-ins with the local stores that we sell to.
Janet: Most afternoons I am with all three kids, sometimes making delivery runs, but mostly just focusing on homework, play dates, activities . . .
Jane: After school pick up and activities, I try to be present with my son through dinner and homework time.
Jane: What’s the challenging time of day? Dinner time!
Janet: Oh yeah—DINNER TIME!
Janet: Once the kids are down, usually by 8:30 (ah, bedtime serenity!) I tie up any loose ends from the day and then try to shower and get into bed by 9:30. I get lost in my design, fashion, and food blogs. It’s mindless, but inspiring!
Jane: After my son goes to sleep, I spend some time with my husband, and then I’m back at it. I’m asleep by 10.
Jane: I’m awake (and sometimes baking in the wee hours). We’re lucky to be part of an amazing program called Marin County Cottage Food Operation program, which allows us to bake at our home kitchens (both are licensed). This affords us the flexibility we need as moms (though we are sourcing commercial kitchen options as we grow) and allows us to do middle of the night bakes to De La Soul or José González depending on the mood.
On Working as a Team
Janet: We meet on Monday mornings to plan our week. We review customer orders and decide on flavors and who is baking what. We work on PR/marketing ideas, sales goals, and finances.
Jane: The beauty of having a partner, who is a mom, allows for breaks when we need it. The other can easily step in and take care of business when the other is away or dealing with family issues that inevitably arise. Having a great business partner that you can rely on, learn from, and laugh with makes a huge difference.
Janet: Yes! A good partner is key, both professionally and personally. I’m lucky to have two of the best. We communicate well so we are both aware of the important things.
Jane: We also both have incredibly supportive, meringue-loving husbands who encourage us!
When Things Break Down
Jane: Sick days
Janet: Yeah, as long as everyone is healthy, the rest can be worked out. Things often get thrown off schedule with a toddler in the house, two rambunctious boys, a husband that works a lot, and a growing business, so I have to go with the flow and adapt as I go along.
Two Take-Away Tips from Jane and Janet
Jane: Flexibility is the most important thing for me.
Janet: It’s impossible to do it all, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Create small goals and commend yourself when you reach them.
Thank you, Jane and Janet, for sharing a glimpse into your Mama CEO life!
Jane and Janet’s latest flavors at the Grand Meringue are Key Lime Pie, and S’mores. You can learn more about their meringues, see images (by talented fellow mom, Colleen Donaldson), and get pricing details at their website: www.thegrandmeringue.com.
If you’re local (or visiting), you can check them out at the Corte Madera Farmers market the last two Wednesdays of the month, or at Juice Girl and Yolo in Mill Valley. The Grand Meringue will be at a number of fundraisers and will be launching a Grand Meringue Food Cart this summer—how cool is that?
I love hearing how these two moms make their business work together. (Oh, and I love their meringues too, especially the salted dark chocolate!)
Do you co-own a business? Tell us one secret to making it work. And if you’re considering starting a business with a partner, what’s one thing you’d like to know? I’d love to hear in the comments!