This Mother’s Day, We Celebrate Moms in the Beverage Industry

Mother’s Day may be a so-called “Hallmark holiday” but any reason to show mom some extra love is a good one. Moms help keep things running smoothly – dads, we see you too, but today is about Mama Bear – often while trying to juggle a professional life and maintain personal relationships. It can be exhausting and thankless – but beyond worth it.

As a working mom of 2 sweet little girls, I know first-hand how tough it can be trying to find balance between work life, mom life – and taking some (seriously much needed!) time to recharge. Here we chat with a handful of rockstar woman in the industry – some who work behind the bar, others who are behind the scenes, all who are doing their very best every day – and hear about how they manage their day to day job with the most difficult job there is: being a mom.

Lucinda Sterling, Managing Partner at Seaborne and Middle Branch, NYC

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How do you balance being a mom with your professional life?

Always prioritizing and delegating. Sometimes the baby becomes an apprentice/accomplice.

What are some of the challenges?

Being behind the bar requires a lot of attention: guests need the utmost care (as do babies), details such as bottles, POS equipment and cleanliness.

Other challenges: finding time for self-care, home organization, administrative details as well as working long hours and being awake early (or sometimes not sleeping)

Any advice for other working moms?

Allow times for naps with the kids, exercise as much as possible, eat at home and teach the kids where things are in the kitchen. Buy a big dry erase board to help keep track of events/schedules. Ask for help.

Shirley Brooks, bar manager + bartender, San Francisco

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I am a mother, bartender and manager at 2 bars, partner in a cocktail consulting company, and do bar/cocktail catering sometimes. I work at Pop’s Bar and Madrone Art Bar and have a cocktail consulting company called Bottom Of The Barrel.

How do you balance being a mom with your professional life?

I don’t? It’s a constant state of imbalance. My partner is also in the industry so we trade off days. I bartend Monday and Tuesday and he works the weekends. I try to get all of my office and admin work done while she is in preschool, or she comes to the office with me. As far as consulting, I work with my partner as well and w have been fortunate enough to work with family-friendly places. We take her with us sometimes on location.

We write the menus, discuss ideas, catch up on emails, etc. while she is sleeping. Sometimes when we get lucky the client will have children too and they can all play together while we have meetings.

It’s a lot of trading off the kid. One picks her up, the other drops her off, one packs her lunch, one puts her to bed, one sits in the car while she naps and catches up on texts/emails. Having a partner in the same industry helps because we can trade off work days. I also try to mostly do events and fundraisers that she can come to.  And since my bartending shifts start at 9,I get to spend the whole day with her.

What are some of the challenges?

I never actually get to see my partner unless we are working together. We don’t have much family support, so its tough getting childcare to do anything from picking up shifts to attending educational seminars. I miss out on tastings and classes – unless I can bring her.

It’s lonely, especially in the beginning. My kid is a bar baby, so she sleeps late and wakes up late. So we are basically on the opposite schedule of every other parent out there. When we are waking up my mom friends are putting their kids down for naps. There are no mom meetups at 10 pm when you’re awake (because you’re used to the night schedule). I even started a SF “bar baby” facebook group because I needed to talk to other people in the same boat as me. There’s no daycare at night, finding consistent childcare at night is SO hard. I had to give up working weekends.

There are actually a few bills at state and local levels trying to advocate for universal childcare, however, these bills do not mention bartenders, grave shift workers, and other workers who do not work 9-5. Prop C did pass but it didn’t change the existing laws for outside hours – but thats a whole different article.

Pumping as a bartender is weird too. My bosses were obviously fine with it, and legally I have to be allowed to. BUT leaving in the middle of your shift (especially when its 5 deep at midnight) for 20/30 mins doesn’t make your co-workers super stoked. I also had a guest complain to my bosses that I left the bar and was ignoring her when I was actually in the back pumping (even though there was another bartender there) I have a picture somewhere of me pumping and studying flashcards in the bathroom right before going on stage for Speedrack. I did a big educational training once – called and emailed ahead of time to make sure there was somewhere to pump-alas another stinky bathroom pumping session for me.

It’s hard getting off of work at 4 am then getting up at 9 and being completely present for my daughter. Dance recitals at 9 am on Saturdays are brutal. It’s hard being that tired around her. The mom guilt is real. I hate being so stressed and tired around her and always bringing her to jobs with me when I wish I could just let her be a kid and be at a playground instead.

Any advice for other working moms?

Find your tribe. Other moms who can relate and you can call at 3 am. Be flexible, being rigid with a schedule is only going to lead to so much disappointment. Listen to your kid and sometimes the spreadsheet can wait or the shift can get covered… hang out with them while you can. Spend time while they still want to spend time with you-you won’t regret it.

Kate Laufer, founder of KLG Public Relations

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I worked in house at importing companies for 9 years. When I was on maternity leave with my son 3.5 years ago, my company was acquired by a supplier. While I was promised to keep my VP role, I knew it was time to move on. I have always dabbled with the thought of starting my own PR agency, but like most, I was afraid to fail. With my new son at home, I wanted the flexibility to be present for him and his many firsts in life, flexibility that my job couldn’t provide. Flexibility that MOST jobs cannot provide.

That is when I realized, my fear of missing moments in my son’s life was greater than my fear of failure. With that, I started my own PR agency when my son was just 3 months old. Three years later and I have an office in tribeca, incredible clients and an extremely talented team of 10+ employees.

How do you balance being a mom with your professional life?

I always think of the saying: if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I believe that being busy helps me focus and utilize my time more efficiently. I know that when it is time to work, I need to dig in and get it done so I am present for my son when it is his time.

What are some of the challenges?

I think the biggest challenge with small children in our industry is that I am no longer able to be at all of the many events that take place, both locally and nationally. It is not as easy to pick up and go, nor do I want to be away from my family for extended periods of time. Luckily, I have a solid team in place who represents the agency well.

Any advice for other working moms?

As cliché as it sounds – you do not have to pick between career and family. You can have it all. I think it just takes finding that driving factor or that fear that is greater than your fear of taking the chance of trying something different.

I also think there are many advantages to being a mom in our industry. We see things differently, we connect with other moms and dads, we are more empathetic and are able to see what is important and worth prioritizing. It is still a male-driven industry but there are so many incredible women in the wine and spirits community that are paving the way and breaking stigmas daily.

Andrea Bergin, Assistant Food & Beverage Manager

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*Works at DLS Events LLC at The NYCB Theatre @ Westbury

How do you balance being a mom with your professional life?

It is difficult. I sacrificed a lot to stay at home with my kids when they were very young. However, as they got older and life got more expensive I had no choice but to go back to work full time. It’s been almost 2 1/2 years now, and I love my job. It is still hard to not be home at night to put them to bed, and to have to work during their school breaks and Summer. I try to make the best of the time I have with them.

Luckily, my hours can be a bit flexible at times, and I make the most of it. An example is just last week my oldest son was being honored with an outstanding achievement award at his school, and I was able to pop out for 40 minutes to go see him accept it. Those little moments are so important to me. Plus, I just try to be very “present” when I do have time with my family. As much as it is a struggle sometimes, we manage to make it work. My children know they’re loved and my boss knows I love my job!

What are some of the challenges?

My own mom guilt.  I think we all run ourselves raggedy, trying to be the best mom, and the best at our careers. Somehow, I can feel always like I am not doing “good enough” at work or home. Overcoming my own sense of guilt is my biggest challenge. Luckily at times, I am able to work my children’s “events” around my schedule, but other times I miss them. I think because I did stay home with them for many years, it’s still difficult for them when I am not there. It is for me as well. We all make it work. I love my job and the time I have with my family is even more precious.

Any advice for other working moms?

You’re doing great!! Don’t beat yourself up, know you are taking care if your family and doing a great job. No one has it “all together” some just give that appearance. You can kick ass at work, and still be an awesome mom. Try not to focus on what you can’t do, and be fully present during the things you can.

Tania Oseguera, Master Tequilier/Brand Ambassador for Tequila Cazadores

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*Mother of a 7-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy

My job is to educate bartenders, distributors, and restaurant owners on how to better understand and enjoy the complexities and unique elements of Tequila Cazadores, a premium 100% blue weber agave tequila from Bacardi. I received my Master Tequillier certificate from the Mexican Tequila Academy and am in charge of hosting and educating international groups who visit our distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. Every week, I spend time creating itineraries, making reservations, and organizing all activities. Of course, I also go out and enjoy great tequila at restaurants, bars, and agave fields with our guests. As you can imagine, it’s my favorite part of the job!

How do you balance being a mother with working?

I am able to balance being a mother with working by managing my schedule carefully during the week when there are visitors at the distillery. My husband has a job in nightlife (bars, restaurants, etc.), so he usually works on the weekends. I’m very lucky that our work schedules generally allow us to alternate the care of our kids, and also think I am fortunate because I found a modern man who believes that women and men can share work and house activities equally. It’s probably more common in the U.S., but here in Mexico, even as standards are improving, not all men have adopted this mentality.

What are some of the biggest challenges?

As I said, “usually” our agendas do not overlap, but sometimes they do. My husband and I sometimes struggle to find someone reliable to take care of the kids, especially because our jobs require our presence during the night, and nanny services can be hard to come by. Another challenge is that I always need to be mindful of the well-known phrase “enjoy in moderation” because the next morning, my kids will be up early wanting their mommy to play with them, and I like to be fully present!

Advice for other working moms in the industry?

My advice for working moms in the industry would be to be proud of yourself, and never compare yourself with other working moms who have more time to spend with their kids, organize amazing birthday parties, etc. For me, the most important thing is spending quality time with my children when I can and finding a sustainable balance between professional projects and personal life.

Camila Ruiz, co-founder ROH Brands

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I’m the co-founder (with my business partner and work wife) of ROH Brands,  a business that represents alcohol brands in different capacities. Right now we work with Bruxo Mezcal, Aldez Tequila, Marques de Riscal and Botran Rums

How do you balance being a mom with your professional life?

I feel that the most important thing is that when spending time with my son, I completely shut down my phone. It’s very important for me and for my son, to respect our personal time and I try to give him 100% my attention.

What are some of the challenges?

Definitely time. We work in an industry that doesn’t have the most normal hours and that affects my time with my son. I try to be home as much as I can and finalize everything so when I get home dedicate all my time to my son.

Any advice for other working moms?

Plan, plan, plan! Plan your schedule so you organjze yourself as much as you can. If you follow your schedule you would be able to multitask and to spend time with your family and also do all the work you have to.

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