March 2011

Meet Valerie Gordon, August’s Mum
Confectioner Valerie Gordon has some sage advice on how to make sure a family business doesn't sour your home life.

photographed by darcy hemley

LMNOP: How were you inspired to start your business?
VG: I started baking at the age of eight and making cookies was my favourite after school activity. My partner Stan and I co-founded Valerie Confections almost seven years ago, but it wasn’t our first venture together. For years we made gifts together under the label “Tall and Small Productions” (for reasons that are very clear when you see us standing next to each other), our collaborations together were actually a wonderful testing ground.

LMNOP: What advice would you give to other parents trying to start a business?
VG: Structure a support system before starting your dream business! Solicit the assistance of friends and family who might be available for last minute babysitting, cushion your savings account and, if possible, schedule a professional house cleaner!

LMNOP: How do you juggle your business with parenthood?
VG: There is no magic formula. I have yet to meet a working mother who doesn’t suffer from some level of guilt or anxiety over leaving her child for work. I try to have dedicated time with August... so no emails, phone calls, or recipe testing! If we only have 2–3 hours together each day I make him the absolute focus during that time.

LMNOP: What’s your biggest challenge as a parent?
VG: Finding time for myself. It’s incredibly difficult to prioritize alone time when there are constant demands from family and work. It’s a cliché but I certainly “perform” better at both jobs when I give myself permission to take a break.

LMNOP: Describe your ideal family day.
VG: Our favorite family day would include a lazy morning with pancakes, eggs and the newspaper. Once we gather a bit of energy, we would head to the farmer’s market for delicious, seasonal provisions. We might stop at an ice cream shop or a bookstore, then home for hours of leisurely cooking and noshing.

LMNOP: The best piece of advice you’ll ever give to your son?
VG: Be honest with yourself.

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