Exactly how do families live, love, breathe and work together 24/7? Don’t they get on each other’s every last nerve? Is it truly possible to build appropriate emotional boundaries in dividing the workspace and home life? Do family dynamics transcend and impact the possibility for success? I posed these questions to a group of successful family entrepreneurs. Their answers were smart, insightful and informative.
What started as a desire to do good for the world and give back turned into a popular Raleigh, North Carolina staple: Oscar Williams Gourmet Cotton Candy.
Tasha Williams wanted to do something to raise awareness for HIV sufferers. That’s when her son Kyree suggested making unique varieties of cotton candy to sell at functions. Tasha’s husband had never even tasted the sweet treat, but jumped on board to support his family and their new venture. Five years after their first event, Oscar Williams now serves 50 varieties of Cotton Candy and are booked months in advance. Professionally, their goal is to build the brand and expand nationwide with their Oscar Williams partnership plan. Personally, Tasha says the most challenging aspect of their family business is shutting down. “It can get kinda heated in the meeting room. At the end of the day it’s important to leave the quarreling behind,” she advises.
After running the highly successful eco-business 7th Generation for 26 years, Jeff Hollender was looking for his next socially conscious business challenge. In 2014, he found his inspiration at his family dinner table with his daughter, Meika. Hollender wanted to find net positive products to distribute and Meika realized the white space in women taking control of their sexual and reproductive health. Together, they launched Sustain Natural. The organic condom was born. Professionally, their biggest challenge is helping young women understand they have the power to control their sexual destiny and that there is no shame in purchasing or carrying condoms. On a personal front, Meika advises those who want to work with family members to clearly distinguish the personal and professional relationship. That’s why she calls her father “Jeff” at work. “But always remember at the end of the day family comes first,” she said. “You gotta love therapy,” Hollender added.
It all started when Bill Broadbent’s 13-year-old son Sam asked, “Why don’t people eat insects?” That was three years ago. Today, Entomarket, run by Broadbent and his sister Susan, is the largest online marketplace for edible insects. Professionally, the biggest challenge they face is educating the public about the great health benefits of entomophagy. He told me it’s a complete protein, so a great alternative to meat and packed with vitamins. Personally, Broadbent suggests you focus on employing each others strengths and boosting one another. “Have faith in your siblings’ abilities,” he said.
Imagine working side by side with one child. Now notch it up to three….and an ex-husband. Welcome to the world of The Gendel Girls. They are the on-air stars for one of QVC’s most successful and longest-selling intimates brands, Breezies. This powerhouse family team includes mom and CEO Kathy Gendel and her daughter’s, Kalina, COO, Laurissa, president, and Catherine, VP of Creative Marketing. Based out of Philadelphia, the ladies work in synchronicity from their family farm. In fact, they told me their offices are converted horse stalls. Professionally, their challenge is to keep the brand growing. Personally, they cautioned that when you work with multiple family members, issues become exacerbated by the established relationships. They constantly need to keep in check when the personal and professional lines become blurred. For the Gendel’s, remaining dynamic and tenacious is their secret sauce for success.
Uniformly, what each family shared is paramount to a successful family run business is loving what you do and remembering that you love one another. “We do what we love with the people we love,” shared Kalina Gendel.