Very often, when we visit a retail store or business, we give little thought to the people behind the store sign. Yes, we interact with employees and we may even have a favorite server at a restaurant or favorite clerk at a clothing boutique. But as far as the ownership and leadership of the business itself, do we give it much thought? Or, do we assume the Great and Powerful Oz runs these businesses? Of course, we know better. These are people like us, putting one pant leg on at a time, with family and friends and personal checking accounts. Let’s pull back the curtain and meet two local women who, by definition, are both great powerhouses of strength and character. Simply put, they are amazing wives and moms, as well as entrepreneurs, making a go at their respective businesses.
Meet Anitra Mitchell, who co-owns two Mainstream Boutique locations with her mom and husband. She’s also mom to 7- and 11-year old boys.
And meet Emily Davis, who co-owns Fleet Feet Sports of Winston-Salem and the local New Balance store with her husband. Emily is mom to three girls, aged 1, 6, and 8.
Anitra and Emily have a lot in common. Husband. Kids. Faith. Two stores to manage.
So, how do they juggle it all?
As the face of her business, Anitra relies heavily on her husband Brad who is the behind-the-scenes finance guy for Mainstream Boutique. Brad can create a flexible schedule that enables him to take on a large part of the day-to-day commute and extra-curricular activities for the kids. Anitra helps her family get started on their day and spends time at the Y every morning before beginning her workday.
At Emily’s house, her husband Keith has the leadership role in both of their stores, and she is the one shuffling the kids around between school and outside activities. But as the head of marketing and events for two businesses, she’s making sure she gets her full time responsibilities in around her children’s busy schedules. Emily wakes up early to exercise, and to coordinate everyone’s morning routine before heading to work.
Consistent routine is a big part of their lives, though Emily also shares that “every day is a fire drill.” Both women, no matter how crazy the day may be, make it a priority to be at home for dinner every night with their family.
Working with Spouses
For many of us, the idea of working with our spouses may make us cringe. But not only do these women work with their husbands (and in Anitra’s case, her mom), they both co-own and manage these businesses with their husbands! “I’ve been in business with friends before, and the friendship suffered,” shared Anitra. “But when you’re in business with your family, you have that extra commitment to make sure it works.”
Emily agreed. “While our business is important to us, our marriage and family come first. If our marriage were to suffer because of the business, we would have to stop and re-evaluate. The business is not nearly as important as our commitment to each other.
“It took us seven years to figure it out,” continues Emily. “We had to learn to understand each other in a way that most husbands and wives don’t need to worry about. We had to learn to argue differently.”
Both women agree that trust is a huge component in successfully juggling their marriages to their business partners. Anitra and Emily note that while their husbands may do things differently than they would handle them, they trust that their husbands are making decisions that are the best for their family.
“Brad has strengths that I do not have, nor do I want to develop,” shares Anitra. “We have very clearly defined roles at the stores and we don’t cross over or question one another. My strengths are his weaknesses and vice versa. That helps us make a great team.”
Faith, Service, and Empowerment
Both women view their businesses as ministries and they not only prayed about the decision to open their respective stores, but they pray daily to make sure their businesses represent their faith and commitment to serve others.
“When I feel overwhelmed,” shares Emily, “I pray and remember that our ministry is to help people. Our business is based on fitness and we believe in taking care of our temples (bodies) as a way to honor the gift of life that God has given us. That’s our ministry – to encourage others to lead healthy lives!”
“When it comes to our business,” shares Anitra, “we’re in fashion! One could argue, ‘How do you make a fashion boutique into a ministry?’” She laughs when she continues. “I tell our employees that our job isn’t to sell clothes. After the look of surprise leaves their faces, I explain that our job is to make women feel loved and get them ready to go out into the world so they can make a difference in it!”
With their faith that God has directed their decisions, Anitra and Emily are in this to serve others, and empowerment is the foundation for the philosophies of both of their businesses – empowerment for health and empowerment to feel good about oneself.
Making a Life, Making a Living
Emily had a prior career as a marketing manager for a California winery and later worked in marketing at Sara Lee Corporation (now Hanes). Anitra had a strong massage therapy client list and past experience as a Roly Poly franchise owner. Both women and their husbands came from financially viable careers and chose to walk away, and make a leap into the unknown.
“Keith and I were financially better off when we were in corporate America,” says Emily, “but the happiness factor outweighs the monetary one. We went from great incomes to nearly none when we opened the business, but we were determined to make this successful.”
Both Anitra and Emily agree – business failure was not an option. But neither was the failure of their family or marriage. They have worked hard to make a life, and also make a living.
Anitra and Emily admit that one area they struggle with is remembering to leave work at work. Emily told of a recent weekend trip she and her husband had. “Keith and I talked about work all the way up and all the way back. We didn’t realize until after the trip that we really should have focused our conversation on other things.”
But it’s part of their routine. “We work together at the kitchen table every night after the kids go to bed,” said Emily. “It’s a little like our days in graduate school, except its every night and there’s no graduation date in sight!”
Because they are committed to family and their marriages, both ladies work hard to find the balance, but admit it’s not easy.
Support Their Businesses
Anitra and Emily are only two examples of local business owners working hard to bring value to the community in which they live, support their families, raise their kids, and live their faith. The excitement and passion for what they do shines in their eyes and, within moments of meeting them, you know you’re in the presence of people who genuinely love what they do. It’s not merely a job to them, but it’s their calling.
Behind the curtain, we’ve revealed the names and faces of two local wives, moms, and business owners. Next time you shop at Mainstream Boutique, Fleet Feet Sports, or New Balance, remember that they are led by women like you – women working hard to balance their work life and family life. Let’s show our support for their efforts!
Mainstream Boutique Winston-Salem
110 Oakwood Drive, Suite D | Winston-Salem
336.448.1485 | WinstonSalem.MainstreamBoutique.com
Find Mainstream Boutique Winston-Salem on Facebook!
Mainstream Boutique Lake Norman / Mooresville
126 Mooresville Commons Way, Suite C | Mooresville
Find Mainstream Boutique Lake Norman / Mooresville on Facebook!
Fleet Feet Sports of Winston-Salem
278 Harvey Street | Winston-Salem
336.722.8477 | FleetFeetWinston-Salem.com
Find Fleet Feet Sports Winston-Salem on Facebook!
New Balance Winston-Salem
202-A S. Stratford Road NW | Winston-Salem
336.893.7908 | NBWinstonSalem.com
Find New Balance Winston-Salem on Facebook!