A Special Bond:  Mothers and Daughter in Business Together

The relationship between a mother and daughter can only truly be understood by mothers and daughters. It is a unique kind of relationship that can run the emotional gamut from pure delight to complete frustration which makes sense given few people know you better than your mother. But what happens when the relationship is extended into the workplace? In honor of Mother’s Day, five successful local business mother-daughter duos share that, despite the occasional hiccups, by complementing each other’s strengths and adhering to important ground rules, it can work. And through it all, one thing remains constant…unconditional love.

The Baristas

The Business Duo: Lynn Tart (mother) and Chelsea Tart (daughter)

Their Business:  Camel City Coffee, 110 Oakwood Drive

What they do:  Serve the finest handcrafted coffees and teas in town. The shop is one where community and coffee collide, cultivating an inclusive experience for all lovers of caffeine and conversation.

What’s it like working with each other?

Lynn:  Even though I think we balance each other, it can be challenging at times. Fortunately for us at the end of the day we go to our separate homes.  Since I have always been the teacher figure in Chelsea’s life it’s been an awesome experience for me learning the coffee business with Chelsea and being taught the art of coffee making from her.  Every mother should be so fortunate to have the opportunity to have a dual relationship with their child.  It has taught me to respect her and her judgment on a whole different level.

Chelsea:  At first, it was difficult because of the mother/daughter relationship and the inevitable power struggles that would occur daily. Today, it’s mostly frictionless. We both know our strengths and we are both very aware of our weaknesses which allows the business relationship to ebb and flow naturally and effortlessly. The most valuable aspect of working with my mom is trust. The ability to 100% trust your business partner with anything is entirely underrated.

What’s your best advice for someone thinking about going into business with their mom or daughter?
Lynn:  My dad always said, “Be careful doing business with family and friends. It can destroy relationships.” He wasn’t wrong. I’ve seen lots of family businesses go under due to a lack of respect and boundaries. If you can’t leave business at the office at the end of day and you don’t have 110% respect for one another, don’t do it.  Working with a child is not for the faint of heart. Feelings get hurt and toes get stepped on. Remember to always say thanks for your hard work and I love you.

Chelsea:  Think twice and then think again. Going into business with family creates an even more complex dynamic than one can imagine before it is a reality. I’ve seen folks lose their families and their entire lives when a family business goes under. You must be willing to risk literally everything, not just your time and your financial well-being, to go into business with a family member. We’re some of the lucky ones because for us, we complement each other well and it sure does feel a bit serendipitous.

 The Seamstresses

The Business Trio:  Sue Wright (grandmother), Teresa Conrad (mother), and Amber Dietz (daughter)

Their Business:  Sewingly Yours, Inc., 1329 Lewisville Clemmons Road

What they do:  Carry a wide range of Husqvarna Viking and Baby Lock sewing, embroidery, and quilting machines (both sit down and long-arm), and sergers, along with a variety of fabrics, notions, and patterns.  They pride themselves on providing a plethora of classes and training opportunities – they are passionate about sewing and want others to enjoy it, too!

Have you been through any hardships that have strengthened your bond?

Teresa:  Like so many small businesses, we had to work through the challenges of COVID. Winston-Salem Project Mask afforded us a wonderful opportunity and we quickly embraced it. We made the decision early on that we wanted to support our local area. Between Project Mask and revamping how we sold goods (mail out, curbside pickup, etc.), we were able to stay open during a very difficult time.

Amber:  The past few years with COVID have definitely strengthened our bond. With all the changes and limitations in the last few years, it has forced us to be more flexible and lean on and support one another in the business. Determination, creativity, and mutual love and respect got us through a tough time.

What’s your best advice for someone thinking about going into business with their mom or daughter?

Teresa:  Hands down…communication is key! Treat each other as equals and listen to each other’s opinions. Recognize and respect that everyone has something valuable to bring to the table.

Amber:  It can be very rewarding. Coming out of corporate, work/life balance could be a challenge. There is a lot of effort and heart that goes into owning a small business, but it can be very rewarding. There is nobody who can celebrate your successes, fully understand and support you when you’re needed at home, and always have your best interest at heart more than the women in your life who love you.

The Restaurateurs

The Business Duo:  Virginia Hardesty (mother) and Ashley Hardesty Armstrong (daughter)

Their Business:  Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe, 108 N Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

What they do:  Offer over 20 types of local whole fish in the wild caught seafood market, displayed on the original ice counter where guests can pick out their fish for fish butchers to clean to order. They are one of the only black and female led fresh seafood markets in the state that has direct roots to the Eastern NC fisherman communities. Additionally, guests can enjoy local seafood fried to crispy perfection (served with their famous homemade coleslaw, hushpuppies, and other chef specialties) in their Eastern NC southern fried restaurant.

What’s the best thing about running a business with each other?

Virginia:  I think we have an optimistic approach. No matter what products, seafood, or staffing issues we may have one week, we always agree on the positive measures we can take to push the business forward.

Ashley: It’s cool to see my mom receive accolades from people in the community. Our guests love to take pictures with her and give her hugs. I love just stepping back and watching. She and my late father worked very hard to build this business and to see her carry it forward is unmatched in my eyes.

What’s your best advice for someone thinking about going into business with their mom or daughter?

Virginia:  It’s important to have a relationship that’s not just parent and child but recognize you are adult business partners. Being willing to respect each other’s opinions is of the utmost importance.

Ashley:  I think having a strong relationship with your parent is key. I know if I come to her with an idea, it won’t be shot down because she respects my creativity and she knows how my mind works (and vice versa). We know that whatever the goal, we are both equipped to refine it.

The Breeders & Trainers

The Business Duo:  Gwen Kuykendall (mother) and Kara Kuykendall (daughter)

Their Business:  Kuykendall’s Border Collies & Goose Masters, 2464 NC-22, Franklinville

What they do:   Own and work together in two businesses: Goose Masters and Kuykendall’s Border Collies. Kuykendall’s Border Collies centers on breeding, raising and training dogs. These dogs can be used as pets, livestock herding, and Canada goose control dogs. The elite goose dogs are used in their company, Goose Masters, which is a specialized service company using the highly trained Border collies to keep nuisance Canada geese off properties. Their motto is “When you’re successful, we’re all successful.”

What are a few of your ground rules?

Gwen:  I’m a morning person and want to chat and conduct business early, but Kara is more of a night person and gets started later in the day. I respect Kara’s time in the morning, and she respects my time in the evenings. We do text each other, but we don’t expect a response during those hours. We believe that family meals are for time with family, and we should try not to discuss business. First and foremost, we know that we will always have each other’s back. While we hold each other accountable for business decisions, at the end of the day… Kara comes first as a daughter.

Kara:  Respecting each other’s personal time and not talking business 24/7.  Not only are we business partners, but we are passionate about keeping the mother and daughter relationship healthy.

What’s your best advice for someone thinking about going into business with their mom or daughter? 

Gwen:  Do it! Guide and encourage, give each other the freedom to grow in the business and personally, and allow for mistakes because no one is perfect. This is an approach that helps you learn and grow, not only in business, but most importantly, as a person.

Kara:  Remember to enjoy each other and appreciate the little things. We are all human and make mistakes but from those we can learn and grow personally, and with the business.

The Fashionistas

The Business Duo:  Lori White (mother) and Morgan Cooper (daughter)

Their Business:  Hive, 304 S. Stratford Road

What they do:  Feature well known designer brands of clothing most often found in luxury retailers and online sites such as Saks, Neiman Marcus, Intermix, Shopbop, and Matches Fashion. As a high-end contemporary lifestyle boutique, with a price range for everyone, they also offer luxury gift items, cocktail table books, gold, gemstone, and diamond jewelry, luxury handbags and smaller works of original art offering commissions on larger pieces.

What are the challenges of being a mother-daughter duo?

Lori:  We love and fight hard – it is our family dynamic.  We get our grievances out quickly, come to a compromise and then get back to business. There are no negatives in this relationship.  I get to see her everyday most weeks and I try not to call her at all on the weekends when she is with her husband.

Morgan:  I do not have much of a challenge working with my mom. Do we fight/argue? Yes, but it is mainly during stressful times when we both are worried about the business and how to grow Hive. We quickly get everything off our chest and are back to our normal selves within a few minutes.

What’s your best advice for someone thinking about going into business with their mom or daughter?

Lori:  Do it!  Find a common interest and find a way to make a living at it!  It never feels like work – we like similar music, so a favorite playlist is always on in the shop and obviously, we have similar taste in clothes and accessories, as well as home decor. To be able to spend time with my daughter is the best gift.

Morgan:  It has been the biggest blessing to go into business with my mom. I encourage anyone to do it! We lean on each other for growth, but at the end of the day, it is so fun to be together daily. We have certainly shared a lot of laughs and made special memories together thus far at Hive.


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