For my fourth and final Mother’s Day interview, I got to sit down and talk with a mom who is responsible for keeping a lot of other moms happy. I interviewed Brooke, co-owner of my favorite establishment in Tosa. She and her sister, Sarah, own The Ruby Tap in Wauwatosa and Mequon. Brooke and I sat down and talked about what it takes to be a mom and business owner all in one. Hearing her story about how she juggles it all, is a reminder that the good stuff in life doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. Scroll on down to read our interview & see pics of her super cute boys!
Q. When did you start Ruby Tap?
A. It was August 2012. Liam was a year old when we opened the first one. Noah was a year when we opened the second location. Liam had a pack and play in the back and during the build out, he would sleep in that.
Q. How did you come up with the idea to open Ruby Tap?
A. We had seen the wine machines and we wanted to build it off that in a coffee house feel, but with wine. Sarah and I were living in Chicago and we were looking up these machines for ages. Her lease was up, while I was already living here because my husband took a job in Wisconsin. We signed the lease in May and she moved up here around Memorial Day weekend.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge with running a business & juggling motherhood?
A. Employees have been the hardest thing. Finding employees that want to work, that like to work. You find someone who thinks they want a part-time job but doesn’t want to work weekends. I used to go to bed at 9pm every night, and now I own a bar, so that was really hard. In the beginning, Sarah and I were working open to close every night and Jordan (my husband) wasn’t used to being with just Liam at night. So he started taking him on walks every day with our two dogs. But it was tough, we were so busy when we first opened. We’d get home and be eating dinner at 2 in the morning and then I’d be up with a baby the next day. I’ve been super fortunate that both babies have been excellent sleepers.
Q. What has been your proudest parenting moment?
A. I have a lot of parent fails, let’s just go there. (laughing!) I would say what I’m most proud of, in general, is that I love that they’re growing up in this because they are used to so many different personalities and they’re used to talking to people and being good in public. When we go out, we always want people to tell us, ‘those kids are the best.’ Another proud parenting moment-when this one (she points to Liam) learned how to open a wine bottle with a corkscrew. He’s got that down. And then we were at someone’s house the other day, opening something sparkling and he says, ‘you should saber it!’ So my proud moments might not be the same as others (laughing!)
Q. What’s one thing you wish you had known about being a mom business owner before you became one?
A. I wish I had known how hard it would be with employees. What makes it really hard is that I have plans to do something with my family and then somebody flakes out, or somebody quits, or something happens. And because you own it, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s issues are, you have to be there. We have some great employees, but everyone here is part time so when you work during the day and then you have to close, it can be a long day. I rarely get to go to anything at school because everything is in the afternoon.
Q. What was your mom right about?
A. So there are 6 kids in my family. I’m the oldest girl and Sarah is 5 years younger than me. My mom is supermom. I feel like if you can raise 6 kids, you can do anything. When it comes to the kids, I’m like ‘whatever you say’ because that’s one thing she knows super well. When it comes to parenting things I would call her before anything. My mom is also very much, ‘marriage comes first.’ Marriage first, kids second. That’s always stuck with me. Because otherwise they see something that’s modeled that it shouldn’t be.
Q. What advice would you give other mom entrepreneurs or moms starting their own business?
A. You need a support system and you need a support system that is doing the same thing. I’m fortunate now that I have some people now in the restaurant industry that are also parents which has been really helpful. I love working with my sister, to have someone to do this with. What we’ve done in my family, is that the time that we do have, we try to make the most of it. We always did something fun on Mondays. Monday funday! So a support system and the time that you do have as a family, make it worth something.