Being a business owner and mother is not an easy feat, but Jia Min, the founder of Olsen Bakehouse, has been working to strike a balance between her work and family life. In this interview, she shares her journey and strategies for maintaining a work-life balance.
Jia Min describes being the founder of Olsen Bakehouse and a mother like having “another baby in my life.” She admits that her energies are now more focused on her young child, while her husband, Darren, remains active at work five days a week. “Thankfully, there is a lot of flexibility in my schedule because we are running a 9-year-old business with a trusted team, but even so, my schedule has to be reviewed and changes have to be made to cater to my baby,” she explains.
As her child has grown, Jia Min has had to adjust her schedule to ensure a work-life balance. In the beginning, she would work while her baby napped on her, but as her child became more active, she allocated a full day a week to work outside of the house. Additionally, Jia Min and her husband make an intentional effort to spend time together as a family on Darren’s off day, and they go out for an early dinner once a week while their grandparents take care of the children.
Jia Min’s approach to building her community at Olsen Bakehouse was very intentional and mindful. “We asked ourselves in the first two years, what do we want our bakery to stand for? What do we enjoy doing that we are good at? What matters to us? How can we be additive to the world?” she explains. “We slowly worked towards building a community of like-minded people who would appreciate what and how we make.”
She hopes that this community will continue to inspire one another, both online and in-store. “It’s always so heartwarming to get to know customers and they become friends,” she says. “Both of our wedding witnesses are customers turned good friends, and our key team member (chief ops) is also a customer turned good friend turned team! The possibilities are endless when our energies attract the same type of people to us.”
Jia Min has experienced mom guilt at times, but she makes a mindful effort to remind herself what is important and that she is doing her best already. “Guilt for me is like a by-product of wanting to achieve it all,” she says. “What is most important to us (being present with our children or while at work) is done in the best way we know how now.”
To overcome stress and burnout, Jia Min sought help from a therapist. “Identifying [my core mindsets], bringing awareness to those feelings, allowing myself to feel them, has helped me to move more from reactive to pause and breathe before reacting,” she shares. She also reads parenting books, articles, and listens to podcasts, and surrounds herself with like-minded moms to exchange ideas or simply rant.
Jia Min’s top 3 tips for other working parents who feel overwhelmed are:
- Find out what is most important to you and focus on making that happen.
- Find out how you can get help and be okay with it.
- Take care of yourself by finding peace within through solitude, reading, travelling, exercising, or getting a massage.
Jia Min’s story is an inspiring example of how it is possible to balance parenthood and entrepreneurship. By building a trusted team, being flexible, and prioritizing family time, Jia Min has been able to achieve success in both areas of her life. Her focus on building a community of like-minded people who appreciate her bakery has also been instrumental in Olsen Bakehouse’s success. As a working parent, it is important to remember to take care of yourself, ask for help when you need it, and focus on what matters most to you!