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Today we are featuring Kristen Williams, co-owner and chef of Pretty Thai for a White Guy, a popular Austin, Texas Food Truck. Karen and her team will be at our MomCom Summer Camp reception serving up amazing Thai inspired food. We’re excited to partner with them!
What’s your business about? What’s your specialty?
We serve up tasty Thai inspired cuisine from our Magic Bus.
How did you get into the food truck business?
We are three Le Cordon Bleu culinary graduates that met during culinary school and decided to start up a food truck business as soon as we graduated from school.
What makes you tick? What keeps you motivated?
Running a food business is not easy as it’s very time consuming and there are a lot of maintenance issues on the bus, health department issues, and other issues that seem to arise on a weekly basis. Every time something goes wrong it’s easy to get your spirits down and discouraged, but I quickly remember how happy we are making peoples’ stomachs and mouths when we serve them our food. I love the satisfaction of knowing that people are extremely happy with the product we are serving them and we get a lot of good feedback. We are all very passionate about food and strive to make our customers satisfied with our food, our customer service, and the overall experience of coming out and visiting our truck.
Do you have children? If so, how do you manage work and children?
I don’t have any children myself, unless having two dogs counts as children. With the time and effort that’s put into the food truck, I couldn’t imagine being able to handle children along with a new start up business.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to do what you do, whether it be starting a company or getting into the food business?
The best advice I can give others is just don’t get discouraged. There are a lot of hard times that will hit and will make it seem nothing is working in your favor, but you have to overlook all those outside forces that are making you feel as if you can’t do it and stay focused on what you want and you will be successful!
Who inspires you?
My dad inspires me the most and I take after him a little bit. He has had much success in his life and it’s been through his hard work, determination, and motivation. I admire him for what he has done and being only 54 is retired and enjoying his life.
How can or do you inspire others?
Through my hard work and passion for what I do I will be a successful business woman. I’d like to inspire other women to not be afraid of reaching for their dreams, but go out and get them. It just takes a lot of hard work, passion, and patience.
In the next five years I want to see our business grow and open up into a brick and mortar to eventually become a franchise. I think we have a really fantastic concept and we want to reach as many people as possible.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I have always wanted the ability to read minds. I like to know what people are thinking and often try to guess what’s going through their minds.Hurry! Get tickets to our June 29th event today!
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MomCom is thrilled to introduce our newest team member Amber Withycombe. Amber will serve as MomCom’s Director of Sponsorships and Exhibits.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve lived in the Austin area my whole life. I am married to my college sweetheart, Todde. We have 2 kiddos – my daughter, Carson is 7, and my son, Coen is 3. When I’m not being mom to them or working, I like to read, exercise, play tennis and cook.
What personal accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction?
Completing a triathlon! For some reason this came to my mind first. I’m sure I have better accomplishments. I’m terrified of non-pool water and I had to tackle that fear in the race because we swam in a lake.
Have you ever failed at something, and if so what did you learn from it?
Yes, I fail all the time! I think when you have kids you are constantly having mini victories and mini failures in your interactions with them. I’m always learning from my kids – mainly patience. And there are many times when I fail to have patience. Some nights when I reflect on the day, I know I could have done better and I failed in certain situations. But I think every time you fail you learn something about yourself and use that to do better next time.
What has been one of the most challenging mommy moments?
I’ve had many challenging mommy moments. My most recent one was when my son was very sick and diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. We were at Dell Children’s Hospital for 2 days. To top things off, my 7 year old daughter was at home sick with a stomach virus at the same time. My husband and I had to do a lot of juggling and driving back and forth so we could be with both kids. I want to take this moment to raise awareness about Kawasaki Disease. Grey’s Anatomy is doing an episode on it tonight. KD is a rare disease that is very hard to diagnose. I hope people will watch this episode to learn about KD and the symptoms involved.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I would want to be able to make myself invisible. There are so many times I’d love to sneak in and see my kids without interrupting them or having them see me. I love to see them interact with others when I’m not around. Plus, if I were invisible I could use the bathroom in peace. 🙂
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By Kristin Shaw
Exuberant and charismatic, Laura Jacks is someone you want to get to know better. Her face, when she is talking about her family or her business, Gorgeous Millie, lights up as clearly as if you had lit a candle from within.
Before Jacks founded teacher-led playgroup Gorgeous Millie in Westlake at the beginning of 2011 with friend JC Conklin, she was a busy trial lawyer.
“I wanted to be a trial lawyer since I was 5,” she remembers. “I was at the library at Cedar Grove Elementary school, and Mrs. Donald, the librarian, presented a show on possible careers. That day, I came home and said to my parents, ‘I want to be a lawyer.’”
All through elementary, middle school, and high school, Jacks was on the student council, debate team, and was her high school’s first female student council president.
“It was a gimme,” Jacks said. “I was going to go to school and be a lawyer.”
Then Jacks and her husband, litigator Tommy Jacks, had their first son, Will. While Jacks continued working, she nursed and pumped, and an empathetic female bailiff with four children froze Jacks’ milk for her every day. One day, when Will was a baby, Jacks was in the middle of a trial when she got a call that Will had a high fever and ear infection. And then food poisoning hit the staff.
“Before the day was out, I was vomiting my guts out,” Jacks said. “We lost a paralegal, lawyer, and juror to food poisoning, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I gave up the lawyer job and reinvented myself.”
Jacks left trial law and transitioned to being an associate judge. Eventually, she decided she needed more autonomy and left the court to start a private practice and co-manage Gorgeous Millie with Conklin. Conklin is a force of nature in her own right, as a former Wall Street Journal reporter, best-selling fiction writer, and mother of three. Her last book, The Icing on the Cupcake, is in its fourth printing.
With input and consultation from her sister Allison, a developmental psychologist, Jacks and Conklin came up with the idea for Gorgeous Millie, based on a concept they had seen in the D.C. area. Together, they designed a place for mothers, caregivers, and children to meet during the day to share parenting experiences with each other, enjoy a cup of tea in a beautiful environment, and provide plenty of socialization and stimulation for little ones, age 0-3.
Over time, Gorgeous Millie became much more than they had imagined; there are over 60 active families enrolled. Today, Jacks has two businesses: she is a special master in the mental health court as an independent mediator, and manages operations for Gorgeous Millie. She is also the mother of two boys, age 4 and 6.
“We wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing and sophisticated, but whimsical. We wanted it to appeal to moms as well as stimulate children; more like a home than a gym,” Jacks said. “Sometimes, it’s hard for people to understand the real magic of Gorgeous Millie until they step inside and try it. It’s unlike anything else we’ve seen.
“I believe in the mission passionately. In my heart, I know this place is a luxury, but if you can afford it, you can do no better for you and your child. It’s as important to nurture the mother as it is the child, and having a child – especially once you’ve been a professional, or recently moved – it can be so isolative. It’s a seismic shift of your life. You shop differently, sleep differently, travel differently – every single thing changes. Why would you not want to find a peer group? When you go to college or a new job, you’re thrown into a peer group. You have a baby and sometimes you’re just floating out there.
For me, the sense of community – the ability to put structure in your day, the ability to create confidence, and socializing without forfeiting one-on-one time – is what makes our business great.”
Jacks has reflected on the word “balance” and what it means to her as a working and entrepreneurial mama.
“I thought my kids would need me less as they got older, but that’s not true. For me, finding balance hasn’t been without hiccups; I was a very defined person in my life as a trial lawyer, up at 6 out the door, working long hours. I had to figure out how to allocate my time; how to avoid judging myself.”
Sounds like she’s doing a great job so far.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU, LAURA JACKS?
As a business woman, I’m inspired by the mission. We actually have an employee, and we help the economy chug along, even just a little. We’re adding to the fabric of America. I believe in what we’re doing here. Even if we just broke even, I’d still do it.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?
Think of it in small bites. Do a gut check and make sure your family can afford the loss – both immediate and potential – but don’t get bogged down in that. Whatever you estimate your start-up costs to be, double them, and you’ll probably need more.
HOW DID YOU PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS?
Word of mouth has been huge for us, and Kids Directory ads. We really hustled, used social media, Plum District, low and no cost events and promotions, partnerships, and out of the box ideas. Think through your options – What is plan B? Or even Plan F? The key is to plan ahead as much as you can and be ready to roll with the punches.
Kristin Shaw is a marketing manager by day, writer by night, a full-time wife and mother of a preschooler. She grew up in the RV capital of the world — Elkhart, Indiana — and is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. She enjoyed several years in Atlanta before the mother ship called her Texan husband home to Austin. Her favorite things are family, airports, classic cars, sports, Italy and dessert; not necessarily in that order. You can reach her via Twitter @AustinKVS or her blog http://www.twocannoli.com, where she writes about relationships, motherhood and love. She also writes for The Huffington Post Parents section at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-shaw
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Little known fact: I used to work for Antone’s, home of the blues in the home of South by Southwest. I did their books and managed the place for a while. It was a fun but difficult job because I worked for the investors, not for Clifford and Susan. So while I got to meet a lot of incredible musicians and know them well, and drink with them often, the stress of being the person telling the owners they couldn’t have any money wore me down. So did the noise, the smoke and the late night hours.
During this time, I also did some contract work for South by Southwest. This was back before it became the behemoth event that it is today. At the time, they needed a database and I built databases in Filemaker Pro. Can you imagine running SxSW on Filemaker Pro today? With all the connections I had during the late 90’s, I attended SxSW, was welcome backstage for the Music Awards and got into any show I wanted, without a badge, without a wristband, without credentials. I just showed up. No lines, no waiting, free drinks and food. All was right in the world.
Then I went away for a long time. No one really remembers me now and those who might, are long gone too. That’s okay. It was a different time, a different lifestyle. I went from the club scene to the tech scene, to the higher education scene and at the time, they didn’t mix well. It’s ironic that SxSW Interactive and SxSW Education are now integral parts of the whole South-by experience. There are rock stars and groupies in every field and SxSW manages to harness them all into one sweet package every spring.
After years of stepping away from the action, my new business has forced my attention back to SxSW, mostly for SxSWi because it’s filled with information and connections for startups; but once you get your feet wet, you might as well jump in, right? But, things have changed. I’m a mom. I’m in my mid forties, not my mid twenties. I’m so far away from the music scene that I often hear songs for the first time months after they’ve been released. I go to bed about the time that others are just getting ready to go out.
So when analyzing my extremely limited experience with SxSW this year, I’ve realized that I can’t expect to just show up. I have to be in it and to be in it, I have to plan. It’s not like the “old days” where I just walked around, heard a band and walked into the club. It takes a lot more initiative than it used to. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m up for that even though this year I kind of enjoyed myself thanks to those who did plan and let me ride their coattails. Did I make it to any music shows? Not many. It would get too hot or too late or I was too tired from the night before or my daughter wanted to see me during her spring break or I’d rather do family stuff than fight the crowds.
And SxSWi? Now that’s where I’m headed next year, but next year I want a badge. I focused on networking and checked out some parties but the lines were long, the networking was with skinny-jean wearing twenty-somethings, and the best moments I had were with my friends or simply going to the family friendly events with my daughter. It was great being out there again but after reading about all the sessions and speakers for both SxSWi and SxSWedu, next year it might be time to dive in. Of course, that’s if we don’t rent out our house and leave Austin instead…
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about other mamas at South by Southwest 2013! Did they have fun? Was it different than before? What was the best part? Did they take their kids?
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