Sharon, 51, is the owner of the healthy snack food brand Slim Secrets. Her daughter Mel, 27, works with her as the sales and marketing manager for Slim Secrets. Here they share the secrets to working with family…
So what advice do they have for other mums and daughters working together and spending birthdays, weddings and a load of weekends together too, then resuming ‘boss and employee’ roles on Monday morning? Let’s find out…
In the beginning: The early memories…
Mum, Sharon: “I was 20 when I married my husband and was studying a law/arts degree. I had my first child, Jamie, straight after graduating and discovered I was pregnant with Mel just a few months later, at age 23. My mother couldn’t believe I was pregnant so soon after having Jamie – she thought I was crazy! It was the best thing ever having two children close together and they are very close friends. I loved being a mum.
While life was busy with two young children and Mel wasn’t a great sleeper, she was so beautiful with her big blue eyes and gorgeous blond curls… I loved being with her and still do! We tried taking Mel to ballet classes like so many little girls did in those days but after the funniest experiences she and I decided that ballet wasn’t for her. She went on to do taekwondo at a very young age and got her black belt at 16 years old.”
Mel as a baby – just a few months old.
“Mum and I have always shared a close bond. I loved having a young mum. I remember that ballet experience – it was funny because I am certainly not a girlie girl! Mum drove my brother and I around to all of our activities – taekwondo, tennis, swimming – and we always had a great time together. I remember mum taking me shopping as a little girl – something that most mothers and daughters bond over. However, for us, it was really the only time we’d argue! She wanted to dress me up in girlie dresses while I wanted to wear anything that wasn’t a dress or a skirt! Thankfully, that was as serious as our arguments ever got.”
Mel aged 5, Sharon aged 29.
Adolescence: Being a mum and juggling a new business…
Mum, Sharon: “I launched Slim Secrets in late 2005 when Mel was 19 and had already finished school. I still had Matt, our youngest child at school (he was 12 then), but life was much easier and I had more time to myself to focus on a business idea. Slim Secrets was initially a part-time hobby when I came up with the idea of healthy snack bars, but it quickly grew into a full-time, global business. At that time Mel and my other sons were at university and travelling. They played an invaluable part in Slim Secrets, from helping with names, to taste testing, marketing ideas and even putting thousands of French stickers on bars going overseas for export! I worked from home then so I was always there if my children needed me – I loved having a flexible business. The only downside of launching a business was that when my stress levels were high due to work pressures, I was not fun to be around!”
“Mum and I have always been close. During my adolescence our bond grew stronger. We stopped bickering over the shopping and really started to enjoy each other’s’ company. In fact, mum’s wardrobe is where I most like to shop now! She has great style.
As I grew up, I definitely learnt to respect and appreciate both of my parents more. They both had career changes later in life and went on to start up their own businesses. They really inspired me. They’ve shown me that if you really want something, you just need to put your mind to it and you can get it done. And that is a big reason why I started working with mum. I obviously love the brand and the products. I think what she has done is amazing. So I really wanted to see first-hand and learn how mum built and grew the business and the day-to-day running of it.
I am due to have my first baby this September – we are so excited! Both of my parents have shaped how I want to be as a parent.”
Mel aged 19, Sharon aged 43. All dressed up and ready for a fun night at a family function.
The teen years: The highs, lows and lessons learned…
Mum, Sharon: “There were more highs than lows parenting a teen. Mel went through the typical ‘it’s all about me’ selfish teenage years, boyfriend complications, partying, drinking and giving us sleepless nights! However those years passed so quickly and the transformation into such a caring and giving adult is amazing and something I love so much about her.
I believe that creating Slim Secrets was fantastic for Mel and the boys to watch. They developed a different sort of respect for me – not just as their mum, but as someone who achieved in other aspects of life. And also someone who values family time and work-life balance.”
Mel aged 24, Sharon aged 48. Partying together at a family friends wedding. Was a great night!
“I was a pretty good teenager. The toughest time was when my five year relationship ended – I started partying, drinking and coming home late. But that didn’t last that long. When I was 19, I travelling to Europe and America with a girlfriend and had the time of my life. My parents were both very supportive and I’m really grateful for that, as I have so many amazing life experiences from travelling. Plus, my relationship and appreciation of my family only grew stronger when I was away from them. My favourite memories looking back at my teenage years would have been family holidays, birthdays and dinners. We’ve always had a very close family and I love the time we all spend together – mum is generally the instigator of that.
Mel, 27, at her wedding with mum, Sharon, 51.
Now: Working together.
“Mel has always shown a keen interest in Slim Secrets – we are a healthy snack brand and our philosophy isn’t about extreme dieting, but finding healthier ways to have it all! It was when Mel was married and had to work lots of weekends that she decided she needed a change – and the timing was right for Mel to try her hand at Slim Secrets. I knew that the role wouldn’t be long-term but I felt it was a great way for her to learn about my business. Mel was also keen to learn and in the time she has been here, there have been some great achievements. Her work ethic is fantastic and I love every minute of working with her – especially our quick lunch breaks or walks around the block. We haven’t had any issues working together – she has actually made my job easier. She would never take advantage of her position and always works diligently. I’ve never had to assume the role of mother at the office… except during her pregnancy when she was experiencing severe morning sickness and I’d send her home early. As a mum, I wanted to ensure Mel and the baby was ok.
Daughter, Mel: Thankfully, I’m not one to pull a sickie! But in saying that, Mum was amazing during my first trimester. I could hardly get out of bed and was barely able to work three hours most days. So I was very lucky I was working with my mum, she was so lenient and understanding .
I gave it a lot of thought before deciding to join Slim Secrets – it can be dangerous mixing work with family. However, mum and I have such different personalities that I just knew it would work. And it really has. Mum is an amazing boss (and I know she hates when I call her my boss!). The trickiest thing we have found working together is needing to be careful not to call each other ‘darling’ or ‘mum’ in emails when other people are copied in – it has happened a couple of times!
My advice to others is to learn to read the signs of stress. It’s not a good time to ask mum questions or ‘have a chat’ with her when she is stressed! Instead, I suggest she take a walk around the block as that clears her head and makes her feel better.
Overall, working with mum has been amazing. She has built and grown an incredible business and I couldn’t be prouder. She has taught me so much and I can’t wait to take those lessons into a business of my own one day.
Finish this sentence…
I was so proud of Mel when… she was born and every single day since!
My favourite memory of Mel as a child was… her sensational giggle.
The personality strength I most admire about Mel is… resilience.
If I had one wish for Mel it would be… always be healthy and happy in her life.
Mel has taught me to….be more forgiving.
I was so proud of Mum when…. she made the decision to build this incredible business.
My favourite childhood memory of Mum is… there are too many! There was one particular special treat we used to splurge on together – hot cinnamon donuts dipped in vanilla thick shakes!
The personality strength I most admire about Mum is… her strength and determination – she is a tough cookie and I love that about her. And she is determined. If she puts her mind to something she will get it done.
If I had one wish for Mum it would be… to keep living life to the fullest and making the most of every single day!
Mum has taught me to…. to be strong and have a positive can do attitude.
This Mothers Day I want mum to know… how much I love her and admire her!