Work-Life Imbalance: How Beauty Entrepreneurs Are Juggling Childcare And Running Their Businesses

On top of the tough job running a brand, shelter-in-place orders increasing around the world to stem the spread of COVID-19 are forcing beauty entrepreneurs to handle childcare and education responsibilities. We wondered how they’re doing with their greater duties. So, in this edition of Beauty Independent’s series posing questions to brand founders, we asked 20 of them: How are you managing operating your business and taking care of your kids?

Heather D. Rogers Founder and CEO, Doctor Rogers Restore

Wow. It is still a work in progress. I have never had so much free time in my life. I love it, but not the fear and tragedy that has taken over the world. To keep us happy, I got a 10-week-old Welsh Corgi puppy. If you are in a position to own a pet, I highly recommend it! My face hurts from smiling. 

I have set up a schedule for the family. I get up at 6 a.m., walk Queen Lucille (Lulu), the puppy, and try to get some exercise. My kids get up by 7:30 a.m. and we start school at 8 a.m. To ensure I can keep running my company, I have hired a favorite nanny, who is now a school teacher—schools are closed—to tutor the kids in the morning so I can work. Home school usually lasts four hours with multiple puppy breaks. Then, it is lunch. In the afternoon, I try to get us all outside, but I also let the kids watch a show and connect with friends on Facebook Messenger for kids.

Kristy Hunston Co-Founder, Avoila

Avoila is in its infancy—we launched seven weeks ago—so the challenge comes with nurturing this new brand while also creating structure and a sense of normalcy for my 7 year old while we're at home together. I added some educational screen time into his weekly schedule so I can take calls and answer emails. And, when needed, I work after he goes to bed. 

I have had to lower my expectations around the amount of work I can actually get done, which helps me from feeling frustrated at the end of the day. Many times throughout the product development process, I am so grateful to have Grace, my business partner, in this with me. Having someone to turn to in times like this is so helpful.

Kate Westad Founder, Palette by pak

I am an only parent of four kids ages 17, 15, 13 and 9. Where to start with this situation? It’s not only a matter of childcare, but it’s social distancing, distance learning, physical fitness, nutrition and mental health management right now. It is a lot, I am not going lie. My younger two are on spring break, and it has been a bit of a free-for-all. A recent telephone conference was spent shushing my rampant video-game playing 9 year old. So, I don’t have much advice for parents right now, but solace. We are in this together. DM me, email me, and let’s support each other right now.

Sara Bedau VP of Brand and Culture, Alima Pure

Am I allowed to admit that it’s been kind of a hot mess? I have a 1 year old and just turned around to find her drawing on my hardwood floor with crayons. Oops. To keep things balanced and in perspective, I have been practicing a lot of gratitude, relying on humor, and leaning heavily on Slack to stay in touch with my team. All in all, I feel very lucky that we are still able to keep operating.

NIKITA MONTGOMERY Owner and Founder, Hazel O. Salon

Being organized is essential. It's easy for time to get away from you being home all day. I've composed loose daily schedules, which basically includes tasks and activities like content planning for me, silent reading for the children, and household tasks like organizing the kids' lounge and folding clothes.

I keep it light by making a list of things I want everyone to have done before noon and, after that, we let the kids have free play (electronics, movies, art, etc.) rather than assigning a specific time to each activity. This helps me avoid the stress that can arise from having to keep everyone on a tight schedule, which isn't easy with children.

I continue to utilize the marketing tools that are included in our booking—we use Booker—software to communicate with clients via newsletter. I've found that as long as we all have something to do simultaneously everyone is more content and productive.

TINA CHOW RUDOLF Founder, Strange Bird

Luckily for us, my husband and I are both entrepreneurs and own our companies. So, we're used to working from home and balancing our schedule. With that said, our two kids (a 2 year old and a 4 year old) are no longer in school due to closures, which means there's a lot more kid time to manage and distribute between us. 

Unions Square Play has been a lifesaver. Every day, they give you three simple things: One activity for kids like a music class (mom work time); one parent workshop (great time to potty train!); and one print-out activity to do with the kids as a family. Things like this take the thinking out of what is already a very noisy situation.  

Otherwise, I'm learning how to be efficient and design tasks that create the biggest impact, and I do that mostly during nap time/quiet time. Lastly, staying clear is of the utmost importance, so my meditation practice has been critical. This way, what I'm doing comes from the clearest, most effective place. 

Victoria Watts Founder, Victorialand Beauty

I hope everyone is staying safe and well. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and we’re taking things a little slower over here. With my four kids being out of school, it is certainly challenging and, like so many other parents right now, I’m navigating working full-time while also being there for my children, who are now home full-time.

During this time, I’ve learned that creating a schedule is key. I carve out a few hours each day to focus solely on my business, whether it’s phone calls, video meetings, etc. Setting aside this time allows me to prioritize my daily deliverables and gives me structure during this time of uncertainty.

Victorialand Beauty has always been a place for connection, which is challenging during this time of social distancing. I find Zoom has been a great tool to stay connected with my team and friends. While they are home, I’ve been giving my older children tasks, including watching their younger siblings. We are all in this together and need to work together as a team to ensure life continues to move forward. 

In the midst of life’s challenges, I’ve always believed there’s a silver lining to be found. I find myself reflecting and wondering what blessings will come from the challenges we are facing right now. How will this make me a better entrepreneur and a better mother? Will this make me appreciate certain things more? With so much uncertainty in the world, what remains universally important to me are my loved ones, our health and being present in the every day. Nothing like a global pandemic to put life back into perspective!

MÉLISSA OBEID Founder, La Fervance

As I write, I have my daughter on the balcony playing with clay in the sunshine and my nearly 13 year old back in his virtual “classroom” whilst listening to doof doof music on his headphones and, for some reason, they both feel the need to constantly call out to me for one reason or another, even though I’ve let them know that I’m working and need to concentrate.

Well, yes, the already very real juggle of managing business, brand and family has just gone up a few (hundred!) notches as we enter week two of total confinement in Paris! Fortunately, our pre-teens attend an international bilingual school which, immediately upon school closures in France, implemented a distance education model. 

In preparation for this, we transformed part of our lounge room, setting up a workstation with boards displaying their schedules, inspirational quotes and calendars from which they’re ready to commence classes at 8:30 a.m., interacting with each subject, teacher and classmates as though at school. They’re submitting work, and it’s marked accordingly.  Students are even receiving notifications for non-compliance. So, no mercy despite the circumstances.

I’ve also created a daily schedule and ensure when they wake, they do their beds, get changed and brush teeth just to maintain a semblance of normality. We’re also having regular outdoor breaks, playing hide and seek, frisbee, ball games, etc. We also have an extensive list of interactive educational platforms and, during their break times or at the end of the day, we are spending time together to explore these, along with the virtual museum visits, stage shows, music, language programs and, of course, reading.

I am also encouraging the children to keep a journal about their experiences, even though they think that staying at home is quite a monotonous topic to write about, as this time will be an extraordinary one for them to reflect upon in years to come.

This morning, we hopped on the animal welfare site, and we discovered hundreds of domestic pets have been abandoned since mid-March due to owners mistakenly believing they are carriers of the virus. At this very moment, my nearly 11 year old is browsing for our new family member. Very much looking forward to having a furry feline for the children to care for during the coming days/weeks at home. So overall, managing to get a lot of work done during this period.

Jen Auerbach Co-Founder, Clary Collection

Motherhood and balance is being tested yet again. Like many business women, I am also a mother, a single mother. So, in a sense, I have two children: the small human one who is 4.5 years old and wakes by 5 a.m., and our business. I've seen a lot of parallels in nurturing them both over four years. This time is emotionally and economically challenging along with the uncertainty, the worry and fear we are all being faced with. In what seems a flash, we are juggling working from home and supporting our families, coupled with anxieties about health, finances and the well-being of loved ones.

I think, as a parent, we need an extra layer of thick skin right now. If I were to take my son’s scowling tantrums and frustration to heart when he doesn’t understand why he can’t see his friends or play in the park, I would think I was the worst mother in the world. I know that he might not like me today, but, tomorrow, things will be better again and so on with the cabin fever rollercoaster we are all riding. 

In business, the best way to grow is to be challenged and try new things. The real tip here is to boil down what you need to say to your community of loyal customers, be it on your website, in an email or in a blog post. Forsake all the extraneous filler and fluff. What's important here? What does your community care about? How do you help her? Currently, we are trying to make our business about more than profits. It's important to support healthy communities, both at a local and national level. We are trying to reach out to fellow self-care and mindful businesses to see how we can forge and support each other: promoting others on all platforms [and] purchasing local. 

We have a female team who are invaluable humans to us as business owners. This global crisis has put a lot of strain on small businesses. How do we pay our production staff? If we don’t, they can’t pay bills and rent. It's bigger than just us. We have a moral responsibility to protect our team and that just brings us all closer. Our team are all working from home. I am personally packaging up our online orders, meanwhile allowing my son to watch a disgusting amount of Netflix. I’m rewarding him with more chocolate than he’s ever seen at Easter, and we are failing at the regimented daily schedule that I went cross-eyed trying to perfect as seen on many social posts. 

This is a time for us to stop, to be kind to ourselves and others. I highly recommend:

  1. FaceTiming daily with friends and family. This has been a huge source of comfort to my mental health. 
  2. I have made a pact to myself that I take 10 minutes to mediate using the free Calm app being offered. 
  3. Get dressed! It might seem like a simple tip, but it’s a crucial one for me to not exist in my sweatpants. 
  4. Designate a workspace or home office. Instead of trying to hide from my son and frantically work without him, I have set him up his own workstation next to mine with an old keyboard. He now thinks we work together, and he told me this morning he was a good boss.
  5. Keep clearly defined working hours.
  6. Simple scheduling. I’ll be honest, there have been days where I didn’t set a schedule, but I have since learned from those experiences. This is my first time ever doing something like this because I don’t know how long we’re going to be in this situation, so we need to just try to move the best way we can. 

We are all doing our best as long as the WiFi keeps working and the snacks don’t run out.

Lindsay Knaak-Stuart Founder, Meant

Our family is taking a divide-and-conquer approach to managing work, childcare and homeschooling for our children, ages 5 and 7. My husband has a very demanding job with hundreds of people that rely on him and, because I run my own company and have more flexibility, I have taken the lead on childcare and school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We then switch off, and I have the afternoon and evening to work on my business. It's not ideal. There are late nights, and it's exhausting, but we're taking it one day at a time.

Danielle Cuccio CEO and Founder, Cuccio Somatology

It’s definitely an interesting time for us parents who work! Naps are our friend! My husband, who also works for himself, and I are taking shifts taking care of our 9-month-old son, Easton. One of us takes the morning shift, and one does the afternoon shift. Business has to go on, and I will say you become a whole lot more efficient when you only have limited hours to work a day. We will all get through it, and we’re in this together. We will come out stronger on the other end.

Jillian Wright Co-Founder, Indie Beauty Media Group

My kids are in private school, so the schools started planning ahead of time for remote learning. All the kids need is WiFi and a computer. The New York Department of Education is giving computers to kids in the public school system for those who do not have one. So, public school kids are also going to start remote learning as well. 

As for IBMG, our team is already remote, so we have been WFH this whole time with a few team members in the Brooklyn office. The only difficultly will be if brands send us product, but that is on hold for now. We also have a lot of product at home and can help promote the brands remotely. I went into the office on Friday and grabbed a bunch of Indie Beauty Expo Berlin brands to talk about them on social. I’m actually really excited to get in front of the camera. It will give me an excuse to wear a little bit of makeup.

I don’t know how families with young kids are handling all the pressure and stress of having their kids 24/7. The imagination really has to kick in because little kids do not understand. I believe going outside and planting in the yard away from others is the answer. Luckily, it is getting warmer outside.

I've raised my kids to be independent and accountable for their actions and choices. My daughter is a junior, and my son is in 6th grade. They are self-starters and know the importance of diversifying their time. Academics is No. 1 priority for us, but also for them. We also value freedom of the mind and using your imagination, being creative and finding yourself. We are taking this time to learn about what is going on globally, but also how to deal with this disruption in a way that is productive. I encourage them to look forward to something every day, whether it’s cleaning their room, something to do with school or something fun. It motivates them to keep going.

Patti Pao Founder, Restorsea

I am responsible for my 86-year-old mom. She lives in Houston while my brother lives in Portland, Ore., and I live in New York City. She is very depressed because her children are not with her, and she is alone. My dad passed away in 2013. She is not eating and has lost five pounds this week. She is a size 2 Chanel, so she doesn’t have any excess weight. She loves my cooking, so I am sending her care packages via FedEx overnight twice a week. I am actually running now to FedEx to send her favorite cherry bars.

Danuta Dudek Founder, Cotarde

It’s not easy at all, though we feel lucky to be self-isolating at home and healthy. However, this is the most serious situation we’ve ever had to deal with since launching our brand and not only because of the level of stress.

The travel and aviation industries are particularly damaged, and what it means to our travel skincare brand is that basically everything stopped. It’s not a slowdown. Everything has gone down to zero: projects on hold, everything on standby. So, it’s a very new place for us and, as such, it creates a high level of anxiety.

But we have two small kids at home, and our lives focus around their wellbeing. We don’t use any fancy platforms and also screen time is very limited in our household. We don’t even have a TV. We use Zoom platform for daily catch-ups with the preschool teacher and other kids to keep up with the educational progress, and also have virtual music and sport lessons at the time when the normal classes happen.

I am a firm believer in keeping up some sense of order. I think a well- and naturally-structured routine helps to get through tough times as you always have this base to rely on. So, we created a new interim day-to–day informal plan for our family. There is time for, well, almost everything: working time for my older daughter in the morning, then it’s the playtime in the afternoon, a good time to work for one for us. It's crucial to share the task of taking care of the kids. One of us does it while the other one keeps an eye on business.

I find it equally important to take the advantage of the situation and spend a productive time together as a family preparing and eating meals together, doing things around the house together, etc. Altogether, it helps lift spirits up and maintains some feeling of normalcy, even though nothing is normal.

JULISSA PRADO Founder and CEO, Rizos Curls

I don’t have any kids, not yet at least, hopefully in the future, but I am managing my brand from home. I'm just doing as much as is possible in a safe and responsible manner, following all safety precautions. We don’t know what lies ahead, but it’s important right now to put safety first. What’s most important is the safety of my family, my employees and all of our customers.

Stephanie Scott-Bradshaw Founder and CEO, First and Last PR

For work, my team uses Asana which allows us to communicate easily and track projects effectively without flooding our inboxes. We started a Slack channel as well, but seem to be working smoothly with our current systems so are not actively using it.

When it comes to balancing work and family, luckily, the teachers have given daily assignments that are planned out for the next couple of weeks. My husband and I review the weekly assignments in advance and then set up the schedule on the hour just like it would be in school with a set time for each subject and including breaks. We switch up the gym routine with workouts online or free time with at-home sports.

There are so many creative things to learn thanks to all of the cool content on Instagram and YouTube that we’re really utilizing it and learning a lot together. I think it’s important to be flexible especially when it comes to your health and family - even if this means that someone starts a little earlier or later to make room for their family priorities.

Jamyla Bennu Founder, Oyin Handmade

We are already quite a lean team, and have also arranged flex hours with our team members. Rather than all of us working within the hours of 8-5ish, we're doing a morning shift and evening shift; a weekday and weekend shift. This enables those of us with care responsibilities to work at times that fit their needs best, and makes it easier to maintain safety and social distance in the facility. We also check in frequently via video conferencing, text, and email.

Dr. Christine Martey-Ochola Co-Founder, NUELE

The kids are home and we are enjoying their presence.  We pretty much rotate who is "watching" and/or homeschooling the kids since they are all taking online classes now since school is closed. For those of us who have children who are teenagers or young adults, we are more intentional about seeking them and engaging in conversation with them.

We recommend “being patient” with one another. With remote work and anxiety around this virus, people may sometimes need more time to complete their work, engage effectively, and be in a positive mindset.  Before “flipping out” because someone spoke in a given manner or didn’t complete their work, just remember that we have so much uncertainty in our homes and environments so a measure of patience will go a long way.

We recommend finding a moment to laugh, relax, and switch off from the COVID-19 24/7 news cycle. Remember to enjoy being in PJ's for longer than usual because this shall soon pass, and you will wish you could take a conference call in PJ's and uncombed hair.

Lynda Berkowitz CEO, ILIA Beauty

For some of us, the struggle is real! Our founder and a few team members have young children that are home all day. We have to be flexible with call times (aka nap times!) and simply pull together to make it happen. We started a dedicated channel on Slack for WFH tips and pointers. This keeps things light and airy and also promises lots of dog and cat pictures!

Christine George Owner and SH-RD Stylist, Luxe Parlour

Well, the kiddos are home with me. I have chosen to stay home with them and decided to come up with other ways to make an income. One way I have chosen to make an income is to sell eGift Cards online to our clients. Many clients have purchased them, which is great because it provides a small income to float the business.

Another avenue I have ventured on is to finally start my e-commerce site. Many beauty brands during this time have let salons upload their products on the salons website so products are delivered from distributer to client. I'm currently working on that right now. Many of our clients favorite professional products will be available online in the next few days for purchase.

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