MSCEO.NET (beta)

Separation of Home and Business: Mother and Daughter Team Lean On Faith and Clear Cut Roles and Responsibilities to Build a “Dream” Boutique

Posted in INSPIRATION by msceonet on May 30, 2010
It takes two
The ladies of Pie in the Sky boutique demonstrate how to run a successful family business


By Nina Hemphill-Reeder for Ms. CEO 




Since the age of 8, Julie Dugger Elleby and her mother Debi Dugger shared the dream of starting their own business. The “where” and “what” of their dream business often changed, but the grand scheme was always the same. But it wasn’t until Dugger, a retired teacher, was diagnosed with breast cancer that the “when” of their dream was challenged by the question of “if.”  

“It was even more important after having cancer that I move forward with what I had said I was going to do. [And] that I didn’t let that interruption in my life be a permanent interruption in my dreams,” Dugger, the mother, says. “It was real important emotionally to revisit it— to still do it.”   

After winning the battle over the cancer, she and her daughter decided there was no better time to act on their dream. In 2007, their dream materialized when they opened the doors to Pie in the Sky, a gift and gourmet boutique in the Smyrna Market Village in Smyrna, Ga., which Julie, now 28, and Debi, now 57, solely own and operate.  

And it has been a dream come true in many aspects. 

“Everyday is pretty sweet. It’s fun to be at work with her,” Elleby says. “There is a little more security in it when you start a business with a family member.”   

Wayne Helms, Ph.D., the founder of Atlanta’s Consulting Psychology Group, which specializes in helping businesses foster fruitful workplace relationships, agrees that there are great benefits to family businesses.   

“The advantages are the opportunity to be together in a business setting and have that shared time,” Helms says. “In a mother-daughter business, it is simply more enjoyable to have your daughter or [mother] in the business. I think there is an inherent trust.”   

But Helms also warns of the same close-knit relationship can often create the most trouble for family businesses.   

“In other words, they can have a great personal relationship, but when you mix them into business—because of their different personal styles or their beliefs about the direction of the business—there can end up being major conflict,” he explains. “It gets a little more complicated when those two people are related because there is a tendency to personalize some of those differences.”   

Elleby admits that at the start of their business things sometimes got complicated, but they eventually decided to work through their problems by defining the line of when to be a family member and when to be partner.   

Helms firmly agrees that the best way to avoid conflicts is to clearly define roles, responsibilities and a chain of command before even entering business together.   

“Anticipate that each of you might have very different management styles and ways of leading—each of which could be effective,” he outlines. “Accept the fact that you cannot change the other person. Agree to sometimes disagree–sometimes it is the best solution.”   

He also advises mothers and daughters to avoid dealing with issues when there is too much emotion involved. When dealing with family, people can sometimes be a little more forthright than when in disagreement with a coworker.   

The mother-daughter pair confesses that navigating and nurturing a business relationship has been a learning process. But as they learned the “in’s and out’s” of their business, they also discovered more about each other—seeing each other beyond just a mother or a daughter, but as respected business partners.   

“We are both hard workers,” Debi says, but unable to resist a motherly dig, adds jokingly, “I’m just a little more punctual than her.”   

Julie and Debi Dugger



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: