In celebration of Mother’s Day in the US, we put a call out to "herteliers" in search of families who work together to profile. In our first installment, we are pleased to share the entrepreneurial journeys of Frances and Ariela Kiradjian of BLLA, StayBoutique, BLLA Events, Boutique Money Group, and the Travel Industry Executive Women’s Network.
Serial entrepreneurship runs in the Kiradjian family: Frances is the Founder & CEO of the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and its five divisions: BLLA, StayBoutique, BLLA Events, Boutique Money Group, and the Travel Industry Executive Women’s Network (TIEWN). Ariela, her daughter, is COO and Co-Founder of the growing StayBoutique, the official organization for the world’s boutique lifestyle leaders promoting connection, education, and advocacy. BLLA has long been recognized as a catalyst for trends and the future of boutique hospitality.
How did you prepare Ariela for working in the family business, Frances?
I introduced travel and hospitality very early to Ariela. As a kid, I would bring her to industry events and hotel site inspections in an effort to introduce her to the wonderful world I’ve been working in for most of my adult life. We also traveled extensively from the time she was a baby and even if she was too young to remember, the visual images always made a great impression.
A few memories…
I brought her to World Travel Market in London when she was 13 as an introduction to my work world, my passion. She went on her own to meet with many hotels and destinations. We also did several site inspections where she learned the art of hospitality.
We celebrated her 18th birthday at IHIF in Berlin (International Hotel Investment Conference) where she was serenaded by the CEOs of several hotel groups who sang Happy Birthday to her and provided a huge glass of beer (you can drink at 18 in Europe).
What do you love most about working with your daughter?
I have to say, what could be more incredible than sharing your passions with your children? We are able to drive the business we adore into new and amazing directions … together. We can share in our successes and ponder the tough questions, coming together, in the end, to follow what we believe is our purpose in life … supporting and growing our beloved boutique community. We are also able to experience traveling together around the world and creating forever memories.
What is the hardest part about working with Ariela?
The hardest part is giving your child space to fail from time to time. It is the best way for her to learn on her own.
Frances’s Tips on working with family:
Respect and boundaries should be considered along the way in order to separate the business from personal. It’s important to have a healthy balance between work and family life.
During work hours, we sometimes use each other's first names, especially on important calls and when we’re sharing the stage. Ariela frequently explains that “you might not know it but Frances is my Mom.”
Business goals and financial objectives must always be maintained along the way and discussing business topics as professionals.
Support mixed with a little love is always needed on both sides.
Ariela, what do you love most about working with your Mom?
My favorite thing about working with my Mom is her positivity and open-mindedness. She’s wise, progressive, innovative, and compassionate.
How has she prepared you for the business world?
My mom began teaching me leadership skills from the day I was born. She did so through action for the most part as she showed me that you could be a powerhouse businesswoman and be a loving, caring, present mom. When I quit college to join her at BLLA, she just threw me into the ring which ended up being the best education I could ever have. We shared an office for the first three years so she could mentor me and teach me everything she knew. She let me make my own mistakes so I could learn from them. She also truly believed in me and supported me every step of the way.
What have you learned about working with your mom that you didn’t know about her before?
I learned that Fran is a huge icon in the industry. I didn’t really see this growing up because she’s such a humble woman. It wasn’t until I started attending shows by myself that I realized how beloved she really is, people often come up to tell me how she changed their lives.
What’s been the biggest challenge working with your Mom?
We definitely have different ideas about many things and there are definitely times when we get into arguments. My mom has a more traditional view of things whereas I have a more contemporary view of things which is where our communication sometimes gets misguided. But we also end up hearing the other one out and coming to a resolution.
Ariela’s Tips on working with family:
Not everybody is meant to work with their family. The number one tip I have is to give it a trial run for a few months to see if it’s a good fit. Don’t have expectations and don’t get disappointed if one of the family members would rather go down a different career path.
Create an energy field of support, compassion, and open-mindedness to the work environment for family businesses, especially. It’s hard to distinguish family life and work life, especially if your business partner is also the woman you celebrate on Mother’s Day let’s say.
Make sure to have plenty of time for yourself so you don’t burn out. Burnout can escalate a lot quicker with family businesses so it’s crucial to have time away from work and family life so you can re-align with your soul and your personal mission in life. I have many hobbies outside of work and family including yoga, meditation, art, solo travel, reading, women’s circles, and such.