Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Forget the Balancing Act, it's more like Juggling! Mompreneurs Meryl & Sonia on how they Survive and Thrive



In only two short years Hynt Beauty has become a leader in the clean beauty world. Each of its makeup and skincare products is a standout and has earned a place in almost every ingredient-conscious makeup kit. That’s a remarkable achievement by any standard, but on top of that, Meryl also happens to be a mom of three boys! 

As a former lawyer and now beauty entrepreneur myself, with two kids under the age of 8, I was eager to ask Meryl about her experience as a mompreneur. With her company and family both thriving, I was sure she would have valuable guidance for the rest of us working mothers.

By now we’ve all (hopefully) disabused ourselves of the notion that a perfect ‘work-life balance’ is possible. The best any of us can do is aim for a state of ‘almost’ balance, given the constant and unpredictable challenges of running a business while raising a family. In this interview, Meryl candidly shares her experience of building her business while raising her family. She’s honest and real, and her insights are a must-read for working moms everywhere.

Above: Contributing writer & fellow mompreneur Sonia Keuroghlian with her two little ones.

Here is my conversation with Meryl. I guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did!

Sonia (SK): Have you been working since your children were born, or did you take time off and then return to the workforce?

Meryl Marshall (MM): I have been a working mother since my first born was only 7 months old. In those days, I was a gemologist working in the NYC Diamond District. My two stepsons were only 9 and 12 when we became a blended family in 2003 and I continued to work. My oldest, Corbin, is 27 years old, Jared is 25 and Jason is 22. I am very proud of these young men as they are all living on their own, independently. They have all graduated college, Jared is in medical school and Corbin and Jason are working in NYC. 

SK: It’s impossible to do it all - to be 100% committed to your career and 100% present in your children’s lives. Did you ever feel you were missing out on certain things? Like taking them to their activities, practices, etc.? 


Above: Meryl with her three boys and husband who is the CEO of Hynt Beauty, Craig Marshall

MM: It is very important to be organized and preparation is key to managing a household and raising children. It is vital to have a supportive partner that is willing to equally share in all the duties and responsibilities. It is also important to teach your kids to pitch in and know skills like how to cook, shop, clean and have structure in day-to-day living. They will thank you later on for this education!

As far as missing out, I never believed in over-scheduling activities. I believe that it stresses kids out and they really enjoy focusing on what they truly like. Kids don’t play outdoors with friends enough. There are too many scheduled activities in my opinion. Many families miss out on sit down family meals which I find very sad. The family meal is a very important part of life and one that kids really remember later on in years. Fast food eaten in the car while changing into a sports uniform is something that many of us encounter but it should not be a routine.

SK: Were your children and husband supportive from the beginning? Or did it take some time for them to adjust to the Hynt journey? When my mother went back to work, my brother and I really resented it, and, looking back, I feel terrible about the guilt I made her feel. But children tend to think about their own needs first!

Above: Photograph by Ashton Bingh

MM: Children are focused on their own needs. It is important for parents to carve out time to connect and bond. The family unit to me is sacred. That is why I believe in the family meal so much. That is where everyone can connect, share and catch up on what is going on. Communication is key to all relationships. When children are made to feel part of a team, they don’t feel like they are missing out by being latchkey. They are contributing to making life ‘work.’ I was widowed at 42 years old. I missed my husband terribly and, additionally, I missed being that cohesive family unit. I liked having a partner to raise our sons and contributing to the day-to-day minutia. 


SK: What are some of the strategies that helped your triple balancing act of keeping your business growing, your family happy and yourself sane?

MM: One integrated ‘to do’ list is vital, compiling business and the household. Business tasks on the left and personal on the right. I like using a highlighter too. I like crossing off entries as it gives me a sense that things are getting accomplished. When the list has many things crossed off, I begin a fresh list with the ‘leftover’ tasks and the new ones. 

I preach to live by the calendar that the entire family can add to and consult with. I like to stock up on all kinds of supplies. I was always known to have extra typically-used school and project supplies in the house to minimize running out at the last minute. Same thing with groceries. Two freezers were always full and 'till this day, I keep a grocery list to consult before shopping. Cook double and sometimes even use a crock pot. Keep meals very simple. When I buy cleaning products, etc., I buy extra when on sale and store them away, minimizing my shopping trips. These days, I purchase most of this stuff online.

Above: Meryl Marshall wearing her own clean & conscious Hynt products.

In a nutshell, all this home organization helps when running the business. It allows for complete focus on the business during the day. There is something to be said about doing nice things for yourself to keep yourself sane. It can be as simple as a 20 minute walk to clear your head, meditation, yoga, a gym workout or a mani/pedi. Whatever lifts you up is what you should plan into your week. 


SK: All entrepreneurs wear several hats, and mompreneurs add a few more on top of that. Can you recall the hardest thing about the balancing act of being a mompreneur? And also the most rewarding/joyous experience of it?

MM: It’s difficult when working for someone else as you have less options. You just can’t be in two places at once. I once sat down with my employer and had a heart-to-heart talk. He had three kids of his own so he could relate. I told him that once at work, I will always be focused and will apply my hard work ethic. However, there were going to be times when I’d have to take off in case of my child’s illness, class trip, class Mom duties, my kids’ activities…things like that. I explained that the quality of my work superseded my quantity of work and he really got it. We really had a terrific working relationship thereafter, and I worked very hard, but I had the opportunity to have flexibility in my schedule. You see, it’s all about communication. Say what you need and how you will go about making it happen. 

When my husband Craig and I started our first business, prior to Hynt, the kids were still home and we really felt that we had to juggle to get everything done but we were our own bosses and it provided more flexibility of when we could work. Now that we are empty nesters we are still up at 6am to start our workday. It allows us to get in some gym time during the day. 

Above: Sonia with some of her curated clean & green beauty favorites.

SK: As a mom of two little ones, I’m always looking for efficiency. Hynt helps streamline my skincare and beauty routine: I can close my eyes and pick any Hynt product, knowing it's safe for me to use and will look and feel beautiful. How much of your mission with Hynt was to cut through the clutter by offering products that simplify the decision-making process for women?

MM: I look at myself and Hynt Beauty as being somewhat of a beauty gatekeeper. I do all the research and the consumer gets to enjoy quality cosmetics with confidence knowing that all the ingredients are safe. They just need to focus on the beautiful textures, rich colors and professional quality. Hynt Beauty is a brand to trust and love.


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Sonia Keuroghlian is a corporate attorney turned green beauty and wellness influencer. She is the founder of KEU (soniakeu.com), a one-stop green beauty and wellness resource to help detoxify and optimize your beauty and wellness regimes with safer products, all without compromising performance. Sonia's perspective is that of a mom looking to fit her beauty and wellness routines within the demands of a busy family and work life. Combining her love of green beauty, passion for wellness, and fine-tuned analytical and research skills, Sonia educates and shares her green knowledge through her blog, workshops, speaking appearances, brand partnerships and live shows on the YouCam Makeup App. Sonia splits her time between Toronto and Los Angeles, and lives with her husband, son and daughter.

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