Working With Family

From the very first days of our business, my family has been not only supportive but instrumental in growing Farmhouse Frocks. My husband Allen, for example, is the backbone of my business, holding things together at home while I’m traveling and running both studios. Quinton, like Allen, is happy staying behind the scenes and accomplishing important at-home tasks like doing dishes, maintaining my vehicle, and helping to keep things running smoothly on the back-end. My daughters, Felicia and Sydni, aren’t just employees—they’re partners. We are with each other every day, and that kind of relationship comes with both blessings and challenges.

People often ask us about working together as a family. There are no easy answers, that’s for sure, and every day is a learning experience. The key, I believe, is recognizing their personalities, respecting the way they were created, and plugging them in where they fit best in the company. The book Strengthsfinder by Tom Rath has been a vital tool in this area. It has helped me determine the best roles for not only each member of my family but for all of my team. For us, that means focusing on Felicia’s skills with the front end of the business where she can interact with the customers—a job she loves. It also means often handing Sydni the reigns on the design end, which is her passion. It’s all about focusing on their strengths and placing them where those strengths can shine.

For me, the most challenging part is determining how to separate my role as a mom from my role as a boss. My family works hard, and they endure a lot, so we try to be intentional about leaving work at work when the day is done. This is definitely an area where I am striving to improve, but my goal is that after 5pm, there is no more work talk. Instead, we focus on enjoying each other as a family. We spend our mornings chatting over coffee and talking about things that are important to us outside of work, like schoolwork, family life, and relationships. In the evening, I always look forward to making a meal for my family so we can sit together at the table and relax and reconnect, or maybe we'll entertain guests who come to visit which is always a treat.

During work hours, Felicia and Sydni put their all into what they do, so another intentional part of our work relationship is that I make it a top priority to pay them well for their work. I want them to feel like it’s worth it to deal with the demands a family business can bring. They’re valued partners in the company, and we each want to know that we don’t owe each other anything. I’ll be honest and tell you that it didn’t start this way, but when I did take this approach, it changed everything.

Having guidance from both a professional counselor and a business coach has made a huge difference for all of us. It has softened me and helped me realize that, in the past, I would become so focuses that when I told them to do something, they would do it and I was merely checking off of a list without giving them appropriate feedback and encouragement. I learned that I needed to slow down and hear what they have to say. I value their feedback and the fact that they are able to convey to me what our customers want. To communicate even better, we have monthly meetings with staff to determine what works and what doesn’t.

I recently asked Sydni why she thinks our company has been a success, and she said she believes it’s because we all have a close relationship with the Lord, and that the Lord has favor for us. She also told me she thinks we work best when we all have the same vision, when we're all working toward the same goal, and we try to see eye-to-eye. She feels it’s important to make an effort to see the other person's perspective and meet them at their level.

Sydni’s a lot like me in that she loves when we drive down the road, remembering and laughing about all of our crazy experiences. Of course, there are stressful situations, but her approach is to focus on helping others regain their focus.

When I asked Felicia about the blessings and challenges of working in a family business, she said she loves that we get to be around each other more often, that we have the chance to develop a closer bond, and she enjoys seeing the different aspects of each person’s God-given gifts come to life. She agrees it’s a good idea to have a plan for when stressful situations come up. For Fee, she makes it a point to enjoy a good meal or go for a run, and she's a big advocate of using essential oils like peppermint and lavender to destress. We also respect that Fee needs to recharge at the end of a busy day of giving so much of herself to others, so during shows, we respect that need and give her space to reflect and regain energy for a new day. She also pointed out the importance of affirming one another. Fee said she thrives when her team members take the time to offer affirmation and that it’s helpful for her just to know she’s doing the right thing. Affirmation is important in a family and in a business.

We find that it’s absolutely necessary to avoid allowing resentment to built, that if there’s an issue or an offense, we talk it through right away, process it fully, and then let it go. We are all able to be open and honest with each other and take constructive criticism, which is a big help in our working relationship. We’re intentional about not holding grudges and not bringing past issue back up again. Communication is key. As Fee says, when it's on-pointe, everything runs much more smoothly.

But the biggest thing we all agree on is that we can lean on the Lord. Because we have the Lord, we can go out on a limb and take leaps of faith. Every single time, we can see why we took that leap of faith, even if it doesn't pan out the way we thought it would.

And, in the end, we not only have our relationships with each other to show for it. We also have a business that empowers women from the maker to the consumer. For that, we are extremely thankful. We truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Share this post

Leave a comment