Real Mom Series: Running A Business With A Baby

Being a mom comes with a set of brand new challenges that I never thought I would have to face. It has certainly been eye opening for me. Luckily I have met some amazing fellow moms along my journey. This “real mom series” is about spotlighting some of the unique challenges many moms today face. My first chat was with Charlotte Dilks on running a business with a baby.

Real Mom Series: Running A Business With A Baby | Elaine Loves
Photo Credit: Claudia Agudelo Photography

{Real Mom Series: Running A Business With A Baby}

About The Business

Charlotte Dilks and her husband Kirk Massicotte own Oh My Lard – specializing in some of the finest BBQ in Toronto. Charlotte’s husband has been a chef for 10+ years. In 2015, they served their delicious eats on Dundas Street West out of up-cycled shipping containers. They spent 2 summers at that location and this year they have re-branded the business towards special events and catering for a few hundred people at a time. This summer they will be making appearances at breweries throughout the city and the plan for next year is to feed all the hungry people at festivals around the city.

Growing The Business While Growing The Family

While Kirk is the chef behind O My Lard, Charlotte is the business manager. She manages all their books, and is in charge of marketing, promotion and social media. Charlotte explains that while they spent two great summers serving out of the refurbished shipping container, they started to outgrow their space. Charlotte was also pregnant during their last summer on Dundas West and worked on site all the way until the end of October. Their daughter Elle was born in early November! Last year, they focused on catering and pop-ups and now have a few employees which allows her run the business off site if needed.

When you guys were expecting did you have a plan for what was next for the business? 

We didn’t plan on having a baby so that was really exciting! We really didn’t have a plan, but we knew that what we were currently doing wasn’t feasible in the long run. Things just sort of fell together with us breaking apart from the spot we were at; so we really got lucky with timing.

Did you guys always have in mind to focus on catering?

Yes we always thought about catering or a bricks and mortar restaurant. It’s always been a dream of our and I’m hoping that we can achieve that goal one day. Everything seems to be building up to it.

When you’re running your own business, especially when it was just the two of you – that’s your baby. Obviously priorities had to shift and change. How did you deal with that?

Real Mom Series: Running A Business With A Baby | Elaine Loves
Photo Credit: Claudia Agudelo Photography

Personally things were a little difficult between us last year; we really had to separate our roles as I was very removed from the business. You’ll notice that last year there wasn’t much on instagram for example, because I physically wasn’t able to be there since I was home with the baby.  So there was a big disconnect between us. It’s hard when you’re running the business and he’s married to it too. Even though he was spending  a lot time at home it still didn’t feel like enough.  It’s not a regular job where he’s gone a 9 to 5. It’s very sporadic. The hardest part is to plan your personal life. ‘When can we get away, when can we do this?’. It’s too hard to plan anything more than a day in advance. Sometimes you think you have a day off and then things change.

Does Elle come to work with you guys? 

She will be coming to work this year. Though technically she’s already been to work with us;  she was just in my belly when we were working! We’re planning to do a long weekend in Prince Edward County – a pop-up with a vineyard and brewery and stay as a family – we’re really excited about that.

We talk a lot about mom guilt and even dad guilt. What was your personal experience? 

I think Kirk probably experienced it a bit more than I did because he was away a lot of the time; but I think it applies to me all the time. Even now as I find myself getting a lot busier with the business it’s hard. I’m putting her in child minding for half days but it’s enough to make me feel bad. I think there is always some sort of guilt there. We’ve also spent a lot of late nights working instead of just being a couple. In order to run a business there are some things you need to put in face time for. So here you are as a new parent, you put your kid to bed and that’s the time to start working – we sit at the computer going over things like inventory and planning.

Since you guys work together and live together, how do you balance that?

Do we want to kill each other? Of course! We try to get time together and not talk about work but it’s tough for us since neither of our parents live here – so we haven’t had a lot of babysitter time. We’re trying to be more relaxed about having friends look after her. It’s nice as we have a group of friends that are offering to babysit; so we’re trying to take more advantage of that but we haven’t been so great at it yet. We did have a date night recently and I made it through without calling. She cried a long while when we were out and I didn’t receive a call – but she was fine! It’s so hard to admit to yourself that it’s okay because you think that as a mom you have to be there to solve all your baby’s problems; but you don’t.

What are some compromises with raising Elle and with the business that you’ve had to make? 

Photo Credit: Claudia Agudelo Photography

There have been so many compromises. We’ve had to say no to many events and financially it’s been difficult because you can’t always put the time in – you have to think of your child. I’ve had to cancel last minute on a lot of things because we just couldn’t find the time to juggle all the pieces. We also only have one car that we share and we’ve thought about getting another one but it’s so expensive. And if we were to get a little beater car I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable driving my daughter around in it! So we really have to plan our days well.

What’s your typical day like at the moment? 

I don’t really have a typical day! We’ll usually do 2 half days or 1 full day a week of child minding depending on how busy I am. Also, she isn’t in daycare; the person minding Elle has her own son and also looks after another child – so if one is sick we all have to cancel and it’s yet another thing to coordinate! And everyday is so different. I’m also managing my own social media freelance business. I have a few different clients as well so I use the child minding time strictly for office stuff; it would be nice to get some alone time in there  – maybe if I can manage my life better I’ll be able to!

Real Mom Series: Running A Business With A Baby | Elaine Loves
Photo Credit: Claudia Agudelo Photography

Usually I drop her off around 8 or 8:30 and then have an office space that I use. I’m very methodical about everything I have to do that day. I write a list with all the things I need to do and I give myself time limits. If I give myself 30 minutes to work on one project and the time is up I have to force myself to move on. It can be tough because I’m very hard on myself. If I don’t get something done I can say to myself “you need to get this done what’s wrong with you” but I also find that makes it worse. It’s tough because you only have yourself to blame but at the same time you shouldn’t be blaming anyone anyway. I found this especially hard after taking more than a year off with Elle. Getting back into doing stuff like this and actually focusing on something is harder than I thought it would be. Kirk is always there to back me up and he’s very supportive. I cry in the bathroom for a bit then I have to get over it!

Advice for anyone starting their own business?

Patience is key and again don’t be hard on yourself; you’re gonna screw up – we all do. You have to count those things as a lesson instead of a mistake. What did you learn from it and how can you do better. If I could only listen to myself more often that would be great! Also get help when it’s offered. This goes for motherhood and a business. A lot of us try to do everything ourselves and we can’t. There’s a really good saying “you can do anything but not everything” and it’s true. You can do anything you want but you can’t do it all at the same time. If you’re lucky enough to have an employee or get help then delegate. If not then maybe you need to take a step back and think about what you can really do right now and what can wait.

What in particular has been the biggest challenge for you since combining the business and motherhood?

Time management. I thought I didn’t have time before but I don’t have time now! It’s also the biggest stressor because it’s not just you that you have to worry about anymore. It’s not just your business – there’s someone else that takes up your whole life. I read somewhere that being a mom is the equivalent to having two full time jobs. So doing that plus running a business is extremely challenging. Thank goodness I have a partner and we manage to somewhat balance it; but we’ve hit a lot of road blocks along the way. We’ve had some arguments and we’ve had a tough time but it’s the reality of it. It’s not easy but it gets better. And now, especially since we’re re-branding and we’ve gotten into this groove we’re really excited about what’s happening; It feels like it’s falling into place. Before it felt like we were stumbling until we found our path but now it seems like we get it.

What was the most difficult of starting and growing your business? 

Managing costs and keeping our books in line to make sure we were making money. Trying to figure out what we were doing wrong too. It was a huge learning curve for both of us. Neither of us went to business school; I have a communications degree. And that’s another thing…when you’re a business owner you’re everything…all departments.

What’s been the most fun about having Elle and the business?

The spontaneity of everything; it keeps you on your toes. Even though it’s stressful it’s really exciting time; nothing is routine. It can be stressful when you’re trying to keep a baby on a schedule and I’ve had to throw some of her routine out the window.  I’ve had to sometimes let go of the schedule be okay with it. It’s also going to fun having more family time together this summer; I’m really looking forward to it!

 

Real Mom Series: Running A Business With A Baby | Elaine Loves
Photo Credit: Claudia Agudelo Photography

 

I want to thank Charlotte for sharing her personal story with me. Running a business with a baby is no easy task and I’m in awe of how Charlotte and Kirk are maintaining such a successful partnership. Check out Oh My Lard and follow them in instagram at @ohmylard_to to see what they’re up to!

Special thanks to my talented photographer friend Claudia Agudelo for capturing these beautiful photos and helping me to create these Real Mom Series.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *