When it comes to Mother’s Day, it’s common for many who want to show appreciation for mothers to focus on what it is that makes women great moms; however, there’s obviously more to the story of any woman. Sometimes that story is one of business acumen, and there are many women out there who have passed successful businesses down to their daughters for generations. In honor of Mother’s Day, it is important to consider these triumphs, which can be seen in companies like Mary-Penn Bed and Breakfast (Gettysburg, Pa.), La Borinquena Mex-icatessen & Specialty Shop (Oakland, Ca.), Udderly Good Stuff (Las Vegas) and Croghan’s Jewel Box (Charleston, S.C.). For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet.
Mother’s Day, in the commercial sense, is a holiday to honor all things maternal and remind moms just how great they are by purchasing sappy greeting cards, flowers and expensive jewelry. It also reminds us of our ancestry and how history and tradition are commonly passed down through women.
This is also true in business. As it turns out women have been passing down businesses from mother to daughter, well, forever. But it takes a special family to hang on to that business for more than two generations. Not many can, but those that do proudly acknowledge their deep ties to family and to their history as major contributors to that success.
In celebration of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we highlight four successful companies that have several generations of the females in their family working together.
1. Mary-Penn Bed and Breakfast
57, 37, 17. This is one of the first things Bea Waybright mentions about her business partners at Mary-Penn Bed & Breakfast . Waybright is referring to the ages of the three generations of women — herself, her daughter Amy and her granddaughter Aubrey, respectively, who work together to run this historic inn.
Each has their own responsibilities. Waybright herself takes care of most of the client-facing jobs. Amy is in charge of catering and special events as well as the accounting. Aubrey, who will soon go to college, helps out her grandmother with day-to-day activities, such as welcoming the guests and tours.
The bed and breakfast is quite historic. Built in 1743 and sitting literally on the Mason-Dixon line, two-thirds of the house rests in Pennsylvania and the other third in Maryland. Waybright’s husband and father-in-law bought the property, including the house, which was in major disrepair, in 1979. They were originally going to tear the house down, but her mother-in-law saw the historic potential. She wanted to restore and keep the house as her own. Her in-laws both lived in the house until they passed away.
As Waybright tells it, she asked her mother-in-law shortly before she died what she wanted done with the house. Her mother-in-law replied that she would like to see the house used as a bed and breakfast and wanted Waybright, working at the time in the medical field, to run it. "I know you can do it," Waybwright recalls her mother-in-law saying.
The decision to open a bed and breakfast was actually solidified by Waybright’s granddaughter Aubrey, who strongly encouraged her grandmother to do it. Even at just 12, she wanted to be a part of the business. The bed and breakfast opened its doors in July 2008.
At first the business was only open on the weekends, so handling guest flow wasn’t overwhelming for the pair. "I would cook; she would serve the food. She would give tours to the guests, help strip the rooms and we both cleaned them," Waybright says.
"Now we have people all through the week," Waybright says. Aubrey still contributes after school and on the weekends and of course full-time during the summer months.
"I’ve always loved people and I loved this place so much after being here taking care of my mother-in-law I thought everyone needs to see it," she says. "The business part — I was never a businesswomen. My daughter is the one that sets the prices for me now. I am more of a people person."
Of course, Waybright won’t be there forever to run the place. When the time comes for her to retire, the plan is for Amy to take over the business, she says. But she hopes that is just the beginning of a very special tradition.
"It will become hers and my granddaughter’s and hopefully it will become my granddaughter’s and her daughter’s," she says. "It stayed in one family for 197 years. I’d like to see it continue on in our family as the bed and breakfast."
2. La Borinquena Mex-icatessen & Specialty Shop
La Borinquena Mex-icatessen & Specialty Shop is rooted in tradition but that hasn’t stopped "Tina Tamale" (Tina Ramos) from expanding the original business her grandparents started 68 years ago.
Ramos, 43, her sister Isabel, 62, and her niece Renee, 34, run the quick-service restaurant and side businesses that sell freshly made tamales and other traditional Mexican food.
Ramos’ grandparents founded the business — it started as a grocery store in the same Latino neighborhood where they are now — in 1944. Her parents took over the business in 1956. Ramos, along with her parents and sister incorporated the business in 1997, which is also when she and her sister took over running the day-to-day operations. Today, Ramos’ mother still comes in for a few hours on Saturdays to pitch in.
And run with the idea she has.
It can be argued that she is also the face of the longevity and success the business enjoys because of her ability to gravitate a traditional store into more modern times. While her sister Isabel manages the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, Ramos, goes by the persona of Tina Tamale as a nod to her late father who was known as Tony Tamale (he passed away in 2006).
Tina Tamale is also the official branding of La Borinquena Mex-icatessen & Specialty Shop, catering events and the mobile pop-up stand she launched to sell the popular tamales at local street festivals and other events. Ramos is even looking to sell some of their products wholesale to local grocery vendors.
Ramos says this role is natural for her. Growing up she was constantly hanging around her mother and asking questions. "As one of the younger members of the family I am the keeper of the stories," she says.
Even though Ramos never met her grandmother, she passed away eight years before Ramos was born, she likes to think she would be proud of how far the business has come. "It’s not a job; it’s a way of life," Ramos says.
3. Udderly Good Stuff
Udderly Good Stuff , an online eBay(EBAY) store that sells second-hand merchandise and antiques, not only supported founder’s Danni Ackerman’s family after her husband was laid off, it started a whole new generation of family members that sell on eBay.
Ackerman launched her business in 1998 originally as a hobby, but soon realized that there was a market for her merchandise — most of which she collected for herself from estate sales and thrift stores. A few years later after the dot-com bust, she found herself as sole provider of the family with her eBay business when her husband was laid off.
The site has done so well that her two eldest daughters, Jennifer, 27, and Jordan, 20, as well as her mother Bobbie, have started their own eBay sites selling niche goods — with Danni as the go-to expert when they have questions or issues.
The familial bond in this entrepreneurial family is strong.
Danni’s site is named after her late grandmother who used to collect cow figurines, she says
Ackerman says since both of her daughters grew up scouring garage and estate sales for her, running their own eBay e-commerce sites is a natural extension. Even her youngest daughter, who is five, already helps with packaging merchandise, she says. (She also has a 7-year-old son.)
While each of the websites technically stand on their own, not only do they share merchandise, but since they all live in different states they keep in constant communication via Skype to discuss their businesses.
"It’s just really great to have something that connects us in such a way that all of our generations have common ground," she says.
Most recently, Ackerman launched the Danni App, where she consults and teaches others about selling on eBay.
4. Croghan’s Jewel Box
Mariana Hay’s grandfather started Croghan’s Jewel Box in 1910. He passed it on to Mariana’s mother who then passed it on to her and her sister Loretta (she goes by Rhett).
Between the tourism business in Charleston as well as the college across the street from their store, business is booming.
Mariana, 48, deals with the day-to-day management of the store and customer relations; Rhett, 53, is in charge of marketing, public relations and social media for the store. That suits each of their personalities just fine, Mariana says.
"She brings talent that I don’t have and it’s just fun to work with your sister," Mariana says.
While her sister always wanted to be in the family jewelry business, Mariana says she wanted to be a teacher. But after her sister married and moved three-hours away, her mother needed help. (Rhett moved back to town three years ago shortly before their mother passed away.)
Mariana’s elder daughter Kathleen, 24, is currently working in New York as a gemologist. She plans to one day come home to join the family business, Mariana says.
"She’ll be fourth generation which we be really neat," Mariana says.
"I would like to see it continue to thrive and be a part of the community. We’re very rooted in this community in Charleston," she says. "We have just been a mainstay and I think we can keep it up and continue to change because Charleston is evolving … we’re really getting a lot of wonderful visitors — high-end visitors and business."
This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.