It's Working Project

"Your time is not your own. It's a bit of a contradiction because, on the one hand, you can control your schedule, but on the other, your schedule is at the mercy of your clients. "

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, and personal stylist. In 2006, at just 26 years old, Megan founded Kristel Closets, Inc. as a resource for busy, practical women looking for down-to-earth style solutions. What started as a small practice out of a spare bedroom in her home, quickly grew into a multi-region firm.  The firm now has a team of professional stylists and personal shoppers in Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia Metro, and Washington D.C. Metro. For over a decade the Kristel Closets team has evolved into a group of women committed to serving a client list composed of women of all shapes, sizes, and lifestyles. She is the Editor and Creative Director for the popular blog, The Well Dressed Life, a lifestyle site she created based on the needs and questions of her Kristel Closets’ clients.
What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?
Enjoy your time pregnant. You can’t get that time back and has cliche as it sounds, it goes by so incredibly fast.  Also, savor the attention. People take extra good care of you while you’re expecting, but it all stops the second the baby arrives 🙂
What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work?
I started my business when I found out I was expecting.  My workplace at the time was not very working mom friendly.  It was the kind of place that measured your dedication and future success on how long you worked.  Before I was pregnant, I would be in my office at 6 am and stay until after 8 pm. My boss’s reaction was terrible when I told her I was expecting. After that,  I couldn’t figure out how I was going to be able to build my career and be the kind of mom I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to do both.
That was ten years ago.  The journey has certainly come with its challenges, but it was the best decision I ever made.  The company has allowed me to be totally available for my kids, and fulfill my professional ambitions.  It’s an insane balance.  Luckily the proof is in the enthusiasm my girls have for our business, their desire to be involved and the fact that they tell me they are proud of me.
How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it?
Women who are self-employed, contractors, or small business owners face real challenges when they have to take any leave, especially maternity leave.  In my case, when I had Maddie, I winged it.  We were early on in the company, so I wasn’t too busy and was able to take a couple of weeks off.  But, when you work for yourself, and you alone drive revenue, it’s almost impossible to take a real break.
When my youngest was born, I had a team and a plan that allowed me more flexibility, though I was still very much plugged into the business.
The worry for a business owner is the idea that if you take your toe out of the pool for too long, you’ll lose ground, clients, and money.
How easy was it to put a childcare arrangement together and did it work for your family?
My greatest fortune is my family. My parents stepped up and helped with the kids in every way possible.  If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have the life we have now.  Even now, my husband and I both travel extensively for work, and they are the ones who stay at our house, keep the kids on routine and ease our minds when we are far from home.
When did the “new normal” set in for you? 
I don’t remember a moment when a “new normal” set in for us when the girls were babies. However, now that they are older and busy, it does seem like we are constantly in the process of settling into a new way of operating, only to have it readjust a few months later.
What was your biggest challenge going back to work being self-employed?
Your time is not your own. It’s a bit of a contradiction because, on the one hand, you can control your schedule, but on the other, your schedule is at the mercy of your clients.  Getting really good at managing my schedule, saying no to requests that weren’t in the company or my families best interest and staying focused on strategic growth, were all challenges initially.
Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work?
My husband. He’s been all in with my ideas from the beginning.  He’s a real partner.  None of this works without supporting each other’s goals.
As a working parent, a good day is when my girls tell me they are proud of me and what I do.
As a working parent, a bad day is when I have one of those days when I don’t act like the parent I know I can be.