About the Episode:
Juliet Boydstun is a mom of three and is one of the owners of The Coop. She and her business partner started coming up with ideas of creating a next level kid's play place where parents could also enjoy with their kids. With their collaboration - ideas turn into reality.
I loved Juliet Boydstun enthusiasm, and I found her perspective on the Shark Tank effect hilarious.
She mentioned, " All the moms wanted to talk to us before Shark Tank. And now when we are at a parties’ the dads want to talk to us."
Question: If you could go ahead and just introduce yourself that would be fabulous.
Okay. Hi, I amJuliet Boydstun and I am one of the two owners of The Coop which is a fabulous modern play and party space in Los Angeles, California. And Texas, and San Francisco and soon to be Manhattan Beach.
Question: Great, you guys are expanding pretty quickly it sounds like.
Yes, we are. We are trying.
Question: It sounds like you are expanding for sure and doing really well.
Thank you. It's great!
Question: So part of this discussion is around trying to strive for having it all. What does that really mean and is it even possible? And so I wanted to get your definition of what you think having it all means or what you think of that term when you hear it?
I think to have it all is to just truly be happy in your personal and professional life. Not necessarily having everything as in a material way but, it’s to feel fulfilled and valuable and sort of a part of something that you are really proud of and you are working really hard to make it the very best it can be.
And that's your family as well, you are working really hard to make your family amazing and great. You are working really hard to make your business amazing and great. You are working like you’ve contributed in a meaningful way to building a loving family and a successful business.
Question: Do you feel like by that definition that you have it all?
Well, I think I am close. I mean I know I am really blessed. I thank my lucky stars every day. I have got three gorgeous, kind, inquisitive, fun, funny kids that you know, have made my life so full and so wonderful. I have an amazing husband who is just as dedicated to our fabulous little family as I am. And I have this extraordinary business that's really successful that Lucinda and I built from virtually nothing but,
I also think if you think you have it all, maybe there's a tendency to think “Well, now I’ll stop”. And I am not stopping yet. I feel like there’s always something that I want to strive for. I want to keep growing and evolving.
You know, if you think you have it all to the point that you are finished growing and learning, I don't really never want to get back to life.
Question: You have built this great business, what did that journey look like for you?
Well, Lucinda and I were friends for-- basically we both landed in LA right when I finished college. We were friends for a really long time before we had kids. So, we did all fun, young girls soused in LA. And then we had kids pretty close to each other. Our kids are like a year in between, there are 4 boys with a year between each. So we had our first two and we kind of shifted our hangouts to, you know, we were going to kids places. So we were going to kids playgrounds and we were finding that the only option-- like the mall, we were hanging out at the playground at the mall and we were sort of depressed by the fact that our surroundings have become so lifeless and horrible but, we wanted to make our kids happy, obviously. So we looked for somewhere that would be cool for us to hangout but our kids could also enjoy and there just wasn't anything. And so, we thought, well, “why don't we make something?”.
So we kind of started searching and really seriously talking about it, and so it really grew from an organic need. We felt like we wanted it and we kind of, crossed our fingers and hoped that other people wanted it. That there were other like-minded mommies and daddies out there that wanted kind of a fit where they still felt like it was for them as well.
Like they weren't being neglected. Like you weren't giving up your entire self because you were now a mom. That you had to hang out in Chuck E Cheese’s or somewhere like that. We literally just started researching and it just kept becoming more real and more real. And we were like-- we really make it real deal and we started looking at it. So it really kind of was organic, just out of a need thing and us really believing in the idea.
Question: When did you guys have that 'Aha' moment when you realized, “Oh my goodness, I have got a business here"?
We opened the door-- Lucinda and I are both creative, so for us it was like so much fun to do this amazing space and design it but we’re not like market researchers or you know. We didn't have like a whole bunch of “well for sure, it's definitely going to be a success”, and I don't believe that you can ever say even if you are opening a franchise that has proven track record. You can't always guarantee that it's going to be a success in the spot you chose. So we kind of just blind phased, then we were like we knew we wanted it, we sure help other people want it. I mean really the opening party was insane. There were so many people here. We probably had ten times as many people as we imagined but, I think at that point, it really hit us like, “Oh my Gosh, people really are desperate for what we are offering”. And then the birthday parties’ really just have-- I mean we were selling birthday parties before we were open. So that was sort of like “oh wow, this is really... we are really filling a need here”. And then obviously Shark Tank. When you are on Shark Tank, it's just-- Lucinda and I always joke about the fact that before we were on Shark Tank, the moms wanted to talk to us. That was all, you know, all the moms wanted to talk to us. And now when we are at a parties’ the dads want to talk to us, so that’s an accomplishment. So I guess that's what define a success. Now the dads are like, well it's not just these cute little ladies with their little hit business, now they want to have a serious business conversation with us at their kids’ birthday party.
Question: How did Shark Tank change your business then, because it sounds like an effect was the moms wanted to talk to you and then the dads wanted to talk to you, was that the change on the macro-level too ?
It certainly validated what we were doing. I mean when we were looking for a loan, no bank would give us a loan to open this business but, every woman we talked to was like “That's the greatest idea ever”, “I will book my party there”, “I will be there playing”. So it's kind of like all the men we went to business at the bank didn't get it, they don't get it as a viable business. It seems more like, “Oh that's cute, you and the girls want to hang out somewhere”. So kind of being on Shark Tank really validated us like, “no, this is a real business, this is a real business”. All of the sharks really respected what we were doing. They were super impressed with our numbers, they really thought we had a great business model. So it really did, it changed the way people viewed what we do and also the exposure is-- you can't put a price tag on that exposure that you get being on the Shark Tank. It's crazy.
Question: Did that change your mentality at all to go from where people were? What you would say in some naysayers saying when you go and talk and ask for a loan versus after the exposure where people are coming after you like “oh my gosh, so positive”? Did you have any sort of mind switch?
You know, Lucinda and I have always really believed in The Coop. We never opened The Coop to have it be one little tiny - just a local spot. We always had a vision of, “there needs to be a coop in every city across the country”. And everybody needs this. This is something that is not just for LA or New York. This is something that everyone wants. That everyone has a need for this. So, we never really thought of ourselves as just the mom and pop thing, where I think a lot of other people did but, when we were on Shark Tank, other people saw like, “Oh no, it is real”, “it really is something that could be all over”, that “they could scale and grow on a huge level” but, we always saw that. We always believed that, but it’s nice to have the validation and have other people see that. It’s certainly helpful when it comes time to scale your business. I mean, the response we had from Shark Tank was amazing. We were already operating, we have already been in business for 3 or 4 years before we went on Shark Tank. 4 years? 5 years? So we were already operating that 100% capacity. I mean we didn't go on Shark Tank to sell more birthday parties, we were already trying to add birthday party slots on Fridays and another one on Saturday night. So we were already operating at 100% capacity but, we wanted to grow the business bigger and do franchising and it certainly helped with that. I mean it’s been amazing
Question: So as you go on your business journey to have this national franchise model, how do you balance everything? What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day when you are a mom and you have a business but, I mean typically, my whole family gets up really early. My two older boys are in middle school and their school is pretty far away, so it's an early rise for everybody in the family. There’s a lot of moving parts to try to get the two middle schoolers off to school: making lunches, searching for missing shoes, and brushing teeth. It's enough every morning for like a full 30-minute sitcom every day. There is always something. And then you have the three-year-old in the middle of it, and it's a real chaos, but I am lucky my husband takes the boys in the morning. So after that sort of mass tornado, early-morning-tornado has left the building, I kind of have a minute to breathe for breakfast with Hazel that just turned three years old. And then I shower and then I am down here to The Coop as soon as my fabulous nanny arrives to hold my Hazey baby. And then afternoon, I usually spring back home, get Hazey, we go get the boys - they are usually at a friend’s house. I have a wonderful friend who usually carries them from school to her house, which is closer to my house so I don't have to make the really long drive to school. And then after school, we try to have a little play time as a group, a little outside time. We'll go somewhere fun or do something fun and then we all get back to work. The boys have homework to do and I usually work on the computer at home at night, and then everybody has dinner. Daddy comes home, the kids are usually shared by the time he gets home and then he usually makes me a fabulous meal. We sit and chat, the two of us, and have some dinner and go off to bed and get started for the next day.
Question: You touched on this a little bit but with the three kids - vary in ages, what does that child care look like for you?
You know, I think really the key to any type of success is really having great help in both areas of my life, at home and also at work.
I have got a great nanny who takes care of my three-year-old, I have someone who cleans the house, and I have, like I said, a friend who picks the boys up from the school and I have my amazing husband - he drives the kids to school. So I have a lot of help there and I also have great help here at The Coop. So if I need to skip off to do something for the kids, I can do that.
Question: On a typical day, how many hours would you say you work? What does that look like?
I think it's hard to quantify hours. I mean I think being a business owner, you are always on. You are always working whether you are here at The Coop, at the actual business, or you are at your computer typing emails or answering. You are still always working. So physically at The Coop probably 6 or 7 hours a day, and then I will be off with the kids and then at night, I am doing emailing and researching stuff that’s probably more hours at night but again it's constant. I will pick my kids up from the school and on the way home from school, I am like: we need to go to the flower mart to get flowers, we have a big party tomorrow, or we need to go to Michael's and pick up craft supplies because, when we get home we are all going to be making balloon animals for party tomorrow. Everything kind of bleeds together, very hard to quantify what is work time, it's like that life balance struggle.
Question: Are there any strategies that you have implemented to accommodate the demands of work and family?
Like I said, they are both so much part of the fabric of me.
They both demand a 100% of my energy and attention but, obviously I can't give a 100% of myself to two things at once but, they are both so much a part of my fiber that everything is sort of influenced by my family and my business so I just do the best I can.
I mean I try to be organized, I try to plan ahead but, again, if you own the business or have a family, you know you can't really plan for it all. You just have to trust your gut and do what you feel you need to do in every situation. And sometimes that means I miss a school play, and other times it means I have to turn down a work opportunity or, I am not here for something important but, you just have to trust in your decision and keep moving forward. I mean you can't second guess yourself constantly, since you will just drive yourself crazy.
Question: What would you say you are most proud of in your professional life as you have been growing the business?
I think just literally the fact that it was just the idea that Lucinda and I had, I mean, I am really proud of the fact that we had the idea. When we first opened a lot of people came in and they were like, “Oh I had this idea”, “I had the idea to do a really cool modern kids play place”, “I thought of that too”.
Lucinda and I would always say after they left, “It's not the having the idea that's the hard part, it's the doing it”. It's going out and getting a loan. It’s taking that leap of faith,
of no guarantee that we are going to be able to pay it back - that huge loan that we are putting our family at risk by signing off our house, mortgaging our house to get this business going.
I am really proud of the fact that we really trusted in ourselves, in our vision, and we left off the cliffs and we did it. We just believed it, we did it, and it's been a pure success in either of us.
I think we still wanted to grow huge and we have big plans for it and we have always had big plans for it but, I am really proud of what we have done thus far. It’s amazing.
Question: Was there any moment when you were like, “Oh my gosh this is such a big risk, I don't think I can do it”?
Oh, it's so funny because we had our partner in Texas that opened in Texas, and a woman in San Francisco who opened in San Francisco with a partner sort of before we franchised, they’re now converting to franchises, but they had the exact same panic moment that we did. When you have the money and you get the faith and it has become “it’s real”, it's too far to turn back like “oh my god”. And you are not open yet so you are not seeing the payoff. You are just bleeding money and putting all your eggs in the basket and hoping to God that it's going to have some sort of return but, you are not open yet so there is not all those happy faces coming in and you are going: “Oh yeah. Okay, it's great. It’s great but it's that really scary”, “Oh my god, the loan came through, the money is ours, now it's our responsibility, now it's just about-- now we are just spending money, spending money, we are not getting any feedback yet”. So that was a bit of a panic, but we worked through it and we helped our partners in franchising work through that same moment of panic because, once you are open with The Coop, I mean it really is every day you are getting amazing feedback and it's great.
Question: What would you say, on the flip side, what are you most proud of in your personal life?
My family. Personally my kids are the best parts of me and they are the best parts of my husband and sometimes not the best parts of us but I recognize myself in those temper tantrums but they are just-- it's amazing and the fact that I have a loving husband who works alongside me every step of the way.
I mean this is 2015, people get divorced all the time, you know it's hard, life is hard. I am really proud of the fact that we all have filled this amazing family and value it so much.
Question: You mentioned your husband. Does he help you at all with the business? What role does he play?
He helped a lot in the beginning as far as-- we did almost virtually everything ourselves. He put together our dance floors, he did all the electronics, he installed all our security cameras, he bought us computers, so he has supported us in every way. We had a flood one time and he literally left his job, his fancy corporate job, and came in his suit. Went home, put on shorts and literally dove in disgusting water into our bills pump in the back parking lot to get it out. So he has gone way above and beyond the call of duty.
He is just an amazing, amazing partner and I mean he is not a partner in the business but, he is absolutely a partner in my life and anything I need - he is always right there.
Question: Do you have any mentors or people that have inspired how you live and have helped you on your journey? And if so, who are they?
It's kind of a lame answer but, my dad. He is my number one supporter and he is the biggest coop supporter. He gave us money in the beginning,
he believed in us from the beginning, he is never surprised by how amazing we are doing, he adores me way more than I deserve and he thinks I am way smarter than I am and then to top it all off, he loves my husband and my kids as much as I do.
So he is just so amazing and I am lucky to have him at my corner and he is really in The Coop's corner as well. I really admire everything about him: his work ethic, his love for his kids and my kids, his brain. He is like the smartest person I know, and he is just amazing. Whenever we have some sort of problem or issue, Lucinda feels the same way about him, we pick up the phone and we bounce ideas off. So I am blessed.
Question: Do you feel like there are any specific skill sets or things that he has taught you to help you achieve what you have?
He is an amazing businessman, he is super smart, and he is very driven. He is a lawyer, he has his own law firm, his law firm is huge in the hay day. He wasn't at every single one of our kids event when we were little but he never let us think that we weren't number one priority for him, you know, and he was working hard for us and that's what I am doing now.
It's working hard for my kids though sometimes I do have to miss out on events and things because of what I do because, I own my own business, because there is no one but me that can do whatever needs to be done. So I have to miss a play or a soccer game or something like that but it's all for the greater good. It's a big picture.
Question: Onto mentors bit, how about books? Is there anything, a favorite book that you would recommend other people out there that has really inspired you?
I don't read a lot of business books, I mean of course Lucinda and I have read Barbara's books once we got our deal with our Shark Tank and she is amazing and her books are amazing. I love to read, I really, really love to read but, I don't have that much time for reading. I read Wiles on the car ride home from the family funeral this summer which I thought was great and a great female empowerment story. I haven't really read a lot of how to be a successful entrepreneur - those kind of business books.
Question: If you could boil down to one thing that you feel has enabled you to run your business while also raising your children and having your husband there, what would you say has really enabled you to grow professionally and personally?
Support. Having amazing support and that support, number one; the loving, supportive, amazing husband I could ever hope for. My children are also super amazing and supportive and understanding and they really feel a sense of pride and sense of ownership and they are so proud of me, so they understand that sometimes I am not available but they are supportive of me and amazing. And then just like regular support like, my nanny, the lady that cleans my house, my friend that drives my kids from school and of course Lucinda, having a business part. I mean Lucinda and I say it all the time like if we didn't have a partner, it would be really, really, really difficult, especially in the beginning. I mean now we have a great staff that I really trust and feel like I can trust them to handle things if I am not here but, in the beginning, it was like I only trusted Lucinda and I think Lucinda only trusted me. So we would not have been able to take even a 5-day vacation with our family if we had to leave it in someone else's hands but, if I leave it in Lucinda's hands, I know it's well cared for and vice versa. So, I mean I think just support, supportive family, supportive business partner, and then like real support staff here at The Coop and also at home.
Question: If you could give one piece of advice to other women out there who are on this journey, what would that be?
You just have to go for it. It's not easy. It is not easy but so worth it.
When you start a business, you have to know that it's going to be a lot of work. There is no guarantee of success, but once you understand that, you just have to believe in yourself and just do it. Just stay true to your vision, work really hard and believe in yourself.
Believe that it is going to happen, you know, it might not happen but I really believe that if you work really hard, you believe in it, you know that you can't do everything and surround yourself with amazing support team, I really believe that we can all accomplish so much more than we ever thought possible. You just have to step up the ledge and believe it will happen.
You just have to do it, you can't just talk about doing it, you know all those people that said, “Oh, I had this idea”. It's not about having the idea, it's about having the guts to actually do it, to make it happen.
Question: Do you have any last insights or comments that you would like to share? Any questions that maybe we didn't go over that you think would be worthwhile for other people to know?
I think the illusion of having it all, or trying to have it all, you might kill yourself trying to have it all.
The truth is you are never going to have the perfect balance but you just have to work really hard to feel like you are making the right choices and just move forward and I think it's important to not beat yourself up. It's important to enjoy everything and live in the moment and be the best you can be in those aspects of your life.
I think we are kind of fooling ourselves into believing that there is some magic balance and there isn't. And you just have to give in to the facts and reasons and some days something is going to have to give and other days the other thing is going to have to give. You just have to trust that in the end the sacrifices that you are making now are going to pay off a thousand times in the future for whatever you are aiming for. Whatever that is, whether that is the perfect business or perfect family…
How to learn more about Julia
call: (818) 760-9613