Family Life

My 13 Year Old Business Partner

ResponsibilityIt was 8:45am; 90 minutes until our first craft show of 2016 and my 13 year old business partner was still in bed. I gave up, hopped in the car and left without her. 3 hours later ‘KC’ came walking into the craft show and started cashing. How will the world survive with the way this generation handles responsibility? How will I survive with my teenage daughter as my business partner?

I’m Keri and I am happily taking on a more active role at Bath & Bliss, while my parents continue to enjoy their retirement and elongate their time traveling. I’m thrilled that my parents, Mark & Diane, are getting to live their dreams of seeing the world. They are spending time with children and grandchildren; exploring explore great new cities, beaches and remote outposts; finding some great oils along the way like Asian Pear & Lilly. After all, they managed long-term careers, raised three successful children, launched two businesses and built lifelong friendships along the way.
My parents raised my siblings and me to be true to ourselves, honest, supportive and caring; yet, each of us is unique in our own way. Many of you have met Ryan, my baby brother, with a HUGE heart, free spirit, sense of adventure and ability to win over everyone he meets. Then there’s Kristin, the mother of four, with the patience of a saint, the mind of a professor and the one who plays it straight. I’m the first born, independent, competitive, determined multi-tasker, who can’t sit still. I’m a proud Mom of two, who holds a full time job and am also running Bath & Bliss. My competitive nature brings out my ‘can do’ attitude, which is why there is no way I’m going to fail without giving everything I attempt my best shot.

My parents have shared how challenging it was to raise me, as I have always had a strong will and an independent nature. As my Mom, Diane says I told you to go right and you’d go left. Yet my parents were always at my side, watching me fall, get up and try again. My parents picked their battles, counseled me on being a true friend, encouraged me to speak my mind and gave me the confidence to go after what made me happy. They always trusted that I would make the right decision and now they are hoping I’ll do the same for our family business—Bath & Bliss.

Enter my first business decision; my master plan of overcoming the challenges I was having bonding with my teenage daughter with the need to instill ‘KC’ with a sense of responsibility. My plan was simple. Make ‘KC’ a stakeholder in Bath & Bliss. Together we would have tons of bonding time running our family business and she would naturally learn great life skills. Now, let’s keep in mind ‘KC’ is 13; she would rather send me a text, than talk; she thinks posting on Instagram is how I will know where she went after school and there’s no need for me to tell her to turn right when her iPhone will give her directions. O.K., so it may be a challenge; so be it. My first business decision was made; my 13 year old daughter became my business partner and Bath & Bliss was officially a third generation company.

I remember planning out how our time together at Bath & Bliss would help ‘KC’ develop the life skills my parents taught me. The value she would find in face-to-face conversation, the satisfaction of helping a customer find a solution for her eczema and the excitement she would have when a customer raved about a gift she received—a Bath & Bliss birthday gift set ‘KC’ made. Of course, ‘KC’ would also find satisfaction in making natural products from mother earth—in stirring the oils, cutting the soap loaves and finishing them with twine. Only then would ‘KC’ understand that good old fashioned work was something she couldn’t learn from Siri.

As my plan progressed, I didn’t realize the mistake I made. I didn’t ask ‘KC’ whether she wanted to be part of the family business; I just told her. I failed to heed the advice of my parents—guide ‘KC’, yet give her freedom to make her own decisions. I can’t force her to interact and speak with you, our most valued customers. ‘KC’ has to want to help each of you with our natural skin care recommendations. And, if she doesn’t want to, then my ability to have quality time with my daughter while working together at Bath & Bliss will not transpire. My mistake was realized, yet I wasn’t ready to give up.

Months have passed since our first craft show of the season. The one ‘KC’ was three hours late to. But, she did arrive; managing to problem solve and find a ride to the event. A few weeks later, she was decorating soap and posted photos of her work on Snapchat and coined #soaping; so proud to show off what she made with her own hands. As I was getting our new Bath & Bliss website ready for launch (and we hope you like it!) ‘KC’ offered to use her new semi-pro camera to take last minute shots; they look pretty good if you ask me! And then there was the new Bath & Bliss Instagram account that she set-up and the Bath & Bliss Pinterest page she developed. As for her participation interacting with all of you? ‘KC’ realized that the Canandaigua Lakefront Art Show wasn’t far from a campground. So, she begged me to do a family camping trip (it’s a cabin; not a tent!) In exchange, she’ll work afternoons at the show (so she can sleep in each morning). Is she learning the art of compromise? Teaching me a few things about social marketing? Hhhmm.

‘KC’ was now part of Bath & Bliss—participating, making recommendations, contributing. ‘KC’ is like me, she’s strong and independent; she needs to find her voice and I need to encourage her to speak her mind. In doing so, ‘KC’ will tell me what part of Bath & Bliss she’d like to help with. She’ll volunteer to get involved and she will make some pretty great business recommendations (new fall soap, coming soon!) And, if ‘KC’ chooses to get involved, we will have the mother-daughter bonding time; even if it means I’ll be going camping with my 13 year old business partner. Mission accomplished.

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