The mastermind behind Young Chefs Academy talks about her franchising journey.
My very first job was in the service industry – in high school I was a waitress at a restaurant. So, I guess I started out with food from the very beginning.
I was in the kitchen with my five-year-old son at the time and I was working on another little business (I had started making meals for busy working moms). He wanted to help like all five-year-old boys want to do in the kitchen and stir. It was just that proverbial light bulb moment that I’d found the business of my dreams combining all my passions: food and making a difference, especially in children’s lives.
Moms were coming from Dallas to my store in Waco saying ‘How does Waco, Texas, have a Young Chefs Academy before we do in Dallas?’ So, I thought, this is franchisable. To be quite frank, I was, and I still am starry-eyed and optimistic. Back then I knew enough about franchising to know that I didn’t know the operational end of it.
I partnered very quickly with some folks who I thought filled all of those gaps. But they were selling way too fast. And my company got out of my control before I was even able to start it, so that was a huge challenge. I don’t think it’s really uncommon in franchising, but all of a sudden I was the leader of a company with franchisees I didn’t identify with.
My early struggles really put things into perspective so my problems now are not problems. They’re just challenges.
I’m probably not the best example of downtime. So whether I’m looking at stats, averaging or revenue at night from my phone to ideas from my curriculum director about new classes, or trends in the food industry, I pretty much live and breathe it. But I do understand the importance of downtime and I’ve figured out a schedule that really works for me.
I don’t go to the office probably until 10 o’clock. I like listening to 80s music just to get myself pumped up in the morning on the way to work. My daughter works in country music so, believe it or not, I’m listening to pop country because I wanted to listen to some of the artists that she managed.
My husband and I like to follow the Mediterranean diet. If I eat in the morning, it’s usually something that I want like a doughnut, so I usually just drink my coffee until lunchtime.
I do try to shut down around 6.00 pm. For dinner, we put in a lot more thought. That’s kind of our way to wind down and catch up.
Believe it or not, my husband and I work in the same office, but we don’t really talk unless it’s about work. So we love planning our meals and cooking together. We started out that way in our marriage.
My favorite activity to relax and wind down is really before dinner. I try to walk at least two and a half miles at least every other day. At night, depending if the weather is nice, we love sitting on the patio, building a bonfire. We have a hot tub so that’s a nice way to relax. And like the rest of the world, we have our Netflix series that we’re into.
Get to know…
A dream vacation house by the water, ice cream and skydiving… We learn more about the woman behind Young Chefs Academy and her favorite things to do.
The film I could watch over and over is… Love Actually. My husband says that we liked that movie before it was even cool to like it.
What is your favorite meal?
My husband makes a wonderful steak, so probably a T-bone steak with potatoes. If we go out to eat, I love Italian. I love the ambiance.
What do you usually do if you cannot sleep?
I have my Kindle, so I’ll read something that is not related to work or business.
My guilty pleasure is… ice cream and reality TV. I like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I think it’s just such an escape from my reality that it’s a great way to get my mind to switch off.
What is your greatest fear?
I don’t live in fear. Faith over fear. That doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety sometimes.
Where would you most like to live?
I will live by the water someday. I am drawn to the water and my husband and I met while working on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean. I find my way to the Caribbean at least twice a year.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
I used to skydive. I’ve done that probably about five or 10 times. My brother’s an avid skydiver. You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to jump out of a plane now, but I did that in college…
My favorite song is… I Want To Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston because that was the first song I danced to with my husband.
What is your proudest achievement?
Next to my kids, it’s my company and where we brought it today. What do you like about yourself? I like that I’m honest and real and that I make people feel welcome and comfortable around me.
If you win the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
A big vacation house on the beach for my friends and family.