One of the best parts about quality women is that they tend to know other quality women. When my co-op starting friend Cheryl said she had a mom we’d want to feature, it was a safe bet we’d dig her. And, oh, we do. Mary Maher owns Cakegirls with her sister Brenda. When her well-known brick and mortar cake shop was destroyed in a fire, Mary and her sister changed the business model and are now an online D.I.Y. cake and party supply shop, with tips and tricks for the home baker.
Mary has two children, Hugh (7) and Margaret (2.5). She’s gone from spending her entire day, every day at her cake shop to now working from home. She says both have their challenges. Whereas before she was never available to be a “room mother,” now she has the schedule to participate in school activities…but that means a work and home life that are blurred. Either way, she’d tell you the challenge for every mom is to find the balance between work and kids.
Here’s what Mary had to say about being a SpitfireMom.
How does being a mom influence your work?
Being a mom heavily influences my work because previously I made high end cakes for high end clients. Now, my entire website is geared towards moms who want to make fun and simple cakes at home. I definitely have a clear perspective on how to do that.
From the logistical side, I know that I am chronically late, although I think that may be more my personality than any fault of my little ones. My kids have also helped my become less of a perfectionist. They like to help me in the kitchen, so I’ve tried to become more casual about messes and care less about making sure every cake we make is perfect. It’s more important to me that my kids have their hands in the batter than creating a cake that Martha would be proud of.
Do you talk about your kids with clients or potential clients?
I have my kids plastered all over my website and use them to stage photo shoots and stuff. They hate it, but I think it’s adorable.
But, I’m not sure that any of our followers or clients would even know that I have kids. We market the “sister” aspect of our business, but don’t delve into our personal lives too much.
We know a SpitfireMom like Mary has tips to share, so we asked for her best time saving trick:
Making homemade food isn’t always easy, although I strive to do it as much as possible. So, I’m big into making a big batch and putting lots in the freezer. Right now I have oatmeal pancakes, pea pesto, beef bourginon and french onion soup ready to pull out at any moment. Same with cakes. I always have frozen cupcakes and icing to pull and put together at any moment. I don’t have the time to get pots and pans out every night.
What’s one thing you haven’t figured out?
Because I work from home, I still haven’t figured out how to close my computer and put the business to bed. I squeeze in work whenever possible and check my e-mail obsessively. It can be a bit crazy. It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions to let some of it go.
And, if you’re a mom entrepreneur and just found out your expecting, Mary says:
I hate to be from the school of hard knocks but I think lots of women romanticize a job like mine. “Making cakes and cupcakes is so fun!”and the like. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 20 years and it can be very tough. The long hours, no health insurance, no paid vacations, etc. When I was pregnant, I worked up until my due date and only took a month leave because my sister couldn’t handle the business single handedly. Being a small business owner is a beast all it’s own and it’s just something to keep in mind before making the leap.
Cheers to trying to tame the beast, Mary. We love when SpitfireMoms tell it like it is (and help us make better cakes). From celebrating little hands in batter to making things simple and fun for moms, we’re sweet on what you shared.
Julie & Heidi
Know a fabulous, creative mompreneur? We want to hear about her (or YOU)!