Mother-Daughter Retail Report

April 30, 2010  

Elysse Carpenter
ecarpente@smu.edu

It’s 10 a.m. on a Monday morning and shared owners of the Snider Plaza clothing boutique Betty Cupcake are taking care of business. Focused on typing reports on the store computer, the phone rings and twenty-one-year-old Jacque Silverman answers it. “Betty Cupcake.” Pause. “This is she, who is this?” she says. Pause. “We’re not interested right now and this isn’t a very good time. Sorry, thanks,” and hangs up the phone disgruntled. Meanwhile, her mother and business partner Evelyn is sitting on the floor behind the counter engrossed in organizing piles of envelopes of mail, bills and paperwork. A picture of the mother-daughter team stands a white frame with red and blue flowers on a glass shelf behind the counter. The picture shows the two smiling in front of a rack of clothes in their store on their opening day two years ago.

Jacque and Evelyn are one of just many mother-daughter duos who have opened a business in the Dallas area. Through the challenges that they face on a daily basis together, working together both helps and hinders their relationship. Like all mothers and daughters, the Silverman women fight sometimes. Two other sets of mother-daughter business teams in Dallas, Mary Ruppe-Hawkins and Katie Ruppe as well as Jenny Grumbles and Fran Holley encounter similar ups and downs in their relationships with each other and in their businesses.

With mostly just her mom and her working at the boutique, Jacque and Evelyn Silverman spend countless hours together every week. Evelyn says, “Its been good [working together] but it’s hard to separate mother-daughter from business partners.” Jacque chips in, “I think that’s been the hardest part for us. But I think that’s the hardest part for anyone. It’s hard really establishing your roles in the business because you already have your role in the family.”

The relationship of another Snider Plaza mother-daughter duo, Fran Holley and Jenny Grumbles of Uptown Country Home works like a well-oiled machine. “We have the same taste and kind of have the same mind about everything so we work together really well,” says Holley. Because her daughter Jenny is several years older than her twenty-one-year-old SMU senior and store owner neighbor, Jacque Silverman, Grumbles and Holley’s four years of experience working together has helped them, but they have always been very close. “We share a brain. No one else can relate to me like she can…we’re like buddies” says Grumbles. The closeness of their relationship has turned out to be a beneficial business decision. “If she wasn’t my family I think it would be harder [to work with her],” says Grumbles. Jacque Silverman of Betty Cupcake agrees that the mother-daughter business pairing is great, “I would never go into business with someone who isn’t my family; I think it’s really easy to ruin a relationship [by doing business with someone],” says Jacque. But, the fact that she works with her mother can’t break up their relationship like it would if Silverman was in business with a friend.

For another SMU senior, Katie Ruppe, going into business with her mother will be like hanging out with a friend every day. “My mom is my best friend, she’s more like a sister,” says Ruppe. She and her mother, Mary Ruppe-Hawkins, plan on opening a trendy clothing boutique in about a year to be called Mary Katherine’s, her mom’s name and her mother’s name combined. On fighting with her mom, Ruppe says, “She puts me in my place and I put her in her place…we have more of a sister relationship but I still respect her like a mom. I know there’s going to be times where we’re both going to be frustrated at each other but we’ll get over it.”

Just like friends fight sometimes, mothers and daughters usually fight the most. A mother-daughter relationship is different than any other in the family, but it is especially different for these three different pairs because they also do business together. But when ideas clash between these three mothers and daughters, it’s just normal of their relationship. “We fight all the time but mostly it’s just normal little fights,” says Jacque. Part of the fighting is the result of a power struggle between the two as well. “I think [Jacque]’s more dominant. It’s just my personality is more easygoing,” says Evelyn.

However, it’s a different story in the store around the corner. Fran Holley says, “My favorite thing about working with Jenny is that we’re like an old married couple. We have our days…you can’t be in a good mood every single day but we get along great.” They have the exact same taste and gravitate toward the same pieces to put in their store. However, Fran says her and her daughter still “She’ll just say ‘Oh, Mom, no.’ and I don’t get my feelings hurt anymore.”

At the end of the fighting, even these stubborn daughters realize that they love their moms and wouldn’t be anywhere without them. While they might be all grown up now, the girls at Uptown Country Home and Betty Cupcake still need help from mom. Deep down, these daughter storeowners still need that sense of approval from their mothers before making any big decisions and placing orders for the store.“She’ll place an order from a vendor and I’ll oversee it,” says Holley. Jacque Silverman says she needs her mom to help her make decisions, “When my mom wasn’t there to say, ‘No, that doesn’t work,’ that’s when I made my biggest mistakes.” For Ruppe and her mother, opening a store is something that they have both always wanted to do. “We’re going to make our dream become our reality. We’re both excited.”

True to form, daughters usually will usually posses very similar characteristics and qualities as their mothers. These similarities can cause feuds between the pair or bring them closer. In all of these three mother-daughter business partnerships, the mothers have proven never to have been the “stay-at-home-mom” types. “I’m not really good with free time…I’m not a country club or luncher type of person; I like to do things,” says Evelyn Silverman of Betty Cupcake. Though Evelyn is the laid-back of the mother-daughter business pair, Katie Ruppe says her and her mom’s relationship is the opposite, “Ever since college, [my mom] has worked. While I’m a go-getter as well, I’m just a little more laid back…but I think our mix together will be great.”

“Mom, have you seen my book?” asks Jacque. As the soon-to-graduate SMU senior dressed in a Nike zip-up work out top and jeans tries to get her things together for her 12:30 p.m. class, she’s also fully engrossed in her business. Juggling her time between being a full time student and full time business owner, Silverman is either at school or at her store every day. “I’m here pretty much all the time except for when I’m in class.” However, she loves what she’s doing and plans on remaining in the fashion industry. “Fashion has always been important to me which is why we thought that this would be fun. And it was something that was important to my mom as well so we had a shared interest,” says Jacque.

Her mother Evelyn has always been interested in the industry as well and has had her fair share of experiences within the industry. She loves the business and has always wanted to open up her own boutique. When the second youngest of her four daughters expressed an interest in fashion as well, Mrs. Silverman was eager to finally launch her own boutique and was even more excited that she could share it with her daughter. “I think Jacque wanted it to be something that she could establish and then kind of have ready for when she’s done with school,” says Evelyn.

Even though they spend so much time together, each mother and daughter team is just that in the end. Even the moms have realized how they need their daughters in the business just as much as the daughters need them for advice, “Each of us have equally made mistakes but we have the other one to correct us or not correct us…there’s no blame because she couldn’t do something without me saying it was ok and I couldn’t do something without her saying it was ok,” says Evelyn.

Sharing a business with their daughters and seeing them succeed has also brought these mothers happiness in their mother-daughter relationships, “When you’re working together practically every single day you just develop more of a give and take relationship and I really respect what she’s accomplished,” says Fran Holley of her daughter Jenny Grumbles.

For Katie Ruppe and Mary Ruppe-Hawkins, they have high hopes for their partnership but know what they are getting themselves into. They also know how strong of a relationship they have and that they can withstand the pressures of entrepreneurship. Ruppe says,“With us being family members, it’ll probably get a little more intense but at the end of the day you know that that’s your best friend and that’s your mom and she’ll have your back no matter what.”

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