As Mother’s Day approaches and I started thinking about Mums, I asked my staff if they had stories they would like to share about their Mothers such as fond memories or lessons learnt. As I was talking to my Mum about Nana and the stories we had about her I realised I had a pretty big story about my Mum to share so I thought I would right a blog about what it is like to work with your Mum.
Mum and I have worked together collectively for around 15 years, my current stint in the family business has been nine years!
When people ask me what it is like to work with my Mum I tend to start with “Well, it has its moments”. I mean that too, lots of moments, fabulous and not so great ones all rolled into one.
One of my favourite moments I shared with Mum was winning the Top Shop Award for ‘Best New Store’ the year after we first opened our store in Devonport and the next year we won 'Best Shop' in the food category.
Those awards happened because when I said to my Mum “I could open the chocolate shop for you” she put her faith in me and let me do it. That is what I love about working for my Mum. The huge amount of support when I choose to put myself out there and try something new, even when it isn’t business related and I need to reduce my hours at work to do it.
|Mum and I many years ago after a Top Shop win|
One of my least favourite moments is Mum and I having a complete barney at each other (something we very rarely did anyway, even as I was growing up). I can’t even remember what it was about but I can remember the argument and feeling like I was a teenager again. I would not concede and neither would Mum (clearly I get my stubbornness from her!). We’ve since done personality tests and found we have the same type (Myers Briggs) and once I got over the horror of finding out we did have the same personality, it explained a lot.
Through the years we have learnt to have more clear divisions at work so it is clear what area each of us looks after. I tend to look after retail, the website and marketing. Mum looks after the factory, sales and pretty much all the bits and pieces that come up when you run a chocolate business. We both work on seasonal ranges and projects like our re-branding. The re-branding has certainly been a project that has seen many a 'sparky' conversation between us. Mum makes decisions based on gut instinct and emotion, I like facts and logic this is probably where we come most unstuck.
A lesson that I have learnt from my Mum through working for her is how to be brave. I admire my Mum enormously for taking on a chocolate business with no chocolate experience. Mum had lots of business experience and had run her own business but chocolate was new to her. Lucky for us when we purchased Devonport Chocolates in 1999, it basically had one product range, the Truffle Logs. Making these involved a lot of arm work and hand dipping but at their core weren’t too hard to make. Of course my Mum, being who she is, could not just take over a business and keep running it as it was and she took herself off to chocolate school to learn how to make the chocolates and truffles we now have in our range. As I slowly start setting up a business of my own (in the music field) and I start to get nervous about it, I think back to how extraordinary it was for Mum to take on Devonport Chocolates and turn it into what it is today.
So what is it like to work for your Mum? It is like being wrapped in a hugely supportive and comforting blanket one day and then the next day being kicked out of it and being told to fend for yourself. I read this quote the other day on a card we have just brought in for Mother’s Day and it is so very me. “Every now and then I open my mouth and my Mum comes out”, I’m learning that is not necessarily a bad thing.