Last fall, my partner Rachel and I made a big decision -- we were going to have a baby. That is, we were going to start a business together called The Sunday Fare.
We envisioned an e-commerce site that could help hosts and hostesses entertain with ease and flair by providing not only inspiration, menus and recipes, but also tabletop and pantry items. Rachel and I went to Columbia Business School together where we were both bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. We love to connect with friends and family over home-cooked meals and thought there was a need to make it easier without sacrificing the results.
Our first three months were a round-the-clock blur of web development, product sourcing, and market research. We were elated as our efforts took shape. It was finally time to start interviewing sewing contractors, and we hopped on a train to the City of Brotherly Love. I was shocked when halfway between Newark and Trenton I discovered I had left the necessary fabric samples at home. Forgetting an important detail is out of character for me. It was bad enough to let myself down, but then to inconvenience my partner (despite her supportive response) was especially disappointing.
The mystery of my distraction was solved several days later: I learned I’d be embarking upon another joint venture, but with a different partner, my darling husband Peter. We were going to have a baby at about the same time Rachel and I were planning the rollout for our “baby,” The Sunday Fare. Would this make them twins?
As the two gestations progressed, I marveled that the demand of one pregnancy kept me from worrying too much about the other. Things like vendor negotiations and website testing prevented me from searching out scary baby sites that might have had me obsessing about the myriad of ways I could unknowingly harm my unborn child.
The euphoria my husband and I felt also made it easier to share with Rachel the news of the simultaneous project that would wreak havoc with hormones, energy levels and the amount of time I could devote to The Sunday Fare. I was asking Rachel to help me have a baby by taking over a lot of the heavy lifting, not only figuratively but also literally -- she was doing a lot of the heavier order fulfillment and inventory management. Rachel would be covering for whatever was overtaxing for me. She’d also have to ride the hormone roller coaster ride with me: the thrill of our first order, the despair over our website crashing (which would have been acute without the hormonal turmoil of pregnancy). And she’d have to understand when I had to rest or seek refuge from the NYC July heat in an air-conditioned apartment.
Luckily, she has. My misgivings about her potentially negative reaction to my “other project” were groundless. She has been enthusiastic, empathetic, and an unbelievable team player. Rachel always jokingly reminds me that when it’s her turn to ride the baby wave, I’m going to be the one in her shoes. But that’s what partnerships are about.
Not to go all “girl power,” but I really believe there is something beautiful about this trend of two women starting a business together. Gilt Groupe, Bauble Bar, Food52, Rent the Runway... the talented women that built these strong businesses may have just figured out how to “have it all.” When one of us has a family obligation that would otherwise distract us from the demands of a business, the other is always there to fill the void without as much as a thought.
As of right now, both “projects” are on schedule to launch this Fall. I’m sure the next few months will be quite an adventure. Launching a business with all the added issues of being pregnant certainly is a challenge, but so far, we’ve made it through. I’m so excited to watch both Bébé Wallach and The Sunday Fare grow up.