Novem­ber and De­cem­ber bring an aw­fully fun frenzy along with var­ied stress­ful pres­sures like no other time of the year. For this rea­son, I’ve re­searched a se­ries of ad­mirable trail-blaz­ing cou­ples on the Sunshine Coast to in­spire us with how they man­age to stay co­he­sive and, most im­por­tantly, sane.

I’m par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in re­veal­ing whether their re­la­tion­ship or mar­riage helps or hin­ders their suc­cess. Our chang­ing times fea­ture more en­tre­pre­neur­ial busi­ness­women than ever be­fore. Some are the primary in­come earner and rely on their part­ner for car­ing for the chil­dren.

Do our cur­rent work ar­range­ments cater to this? De­spite equally con­tribut­ing to a busi­ness, do these cou­ples in­te­grate the more tra­di­tional gen­der spe­cific roles or stray from the norm?

I know you’ll love their be­hind the scenes sto­ries, chal­lenges and sage advice. The first fea­tures Re­becca Do­morev and hus­band Alexei. En­joy my in­ter­est­ing chat with them:

How did your lives col­lide?

We met in St Peters­burg, Rus­sia, one fate­ful af­ter­noon in Septem­ber 2001 af­ter church among mu­tual friends. I had been study­ing abroad (singing and Rus­sian lan­guage) at the Rim­sky-Kor­sakov Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic for sev­eral months and made close friends with Alexei’s friends while he was un­der­tak­ing an in­tern­ship in London. Three months later we were en­gaged and then mar­ried in May 2003 in a fairy­tale Rus­sian mar­riage palace on the river Neva in St Peters­burg. We have been mar­ried for 16 years.

Tell us about Tielka and your role in the busi­ness.

Re­becca: Tielka is a bou­tique or­ganic tea com­pany that is pas­sion­ate about a life­style of rest and joy through the beau­ti­ful cer­e­mony of teatime. I am at the fore­front of the busi­ness, tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the day-to-day op­er­a­tions, from sales, cus­tomer ser­vice, ware­house man­age­ment, book-keep­ing, mar­ket­ing etc, you name it – I’m do­ing it.

What are your busi­ness con­nec­tions to the Sunshine Coast?

Re­becca: I some­times call Tielka the adopted child of the Sunshine Coast Food and Agribusi­ness Net­work – we were one of 13 food busi­nesses that was se­lected to take part in Sunshine Coast’s GrowCoasta­l food ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram ear­lier this year and are build­ing our big­gest pres­ence on the Sunshine Coast with the sup­port of FAN.

Re­becca, de­scribe your jour­ney to suc­cess in your cur­rent role in the busi­ness.

I think the jour­ney to suc­cess is never a com­pleted process, I still feel like I am on that long road full of ups and downs. There have ab­so­lutely been suc­cesses along the road, and it has been off the back of raw de­ter­mi­na­tion, per­sis­tence and grit.

Re­becca, are you con­tent with where the busi­ness is at right now? Why or why not?

Of course not. As a per­pet­ual en­tre­pre­neur with for­ever evolv­ing ideas and goals, I don’t think I will ever be con­tent with where the busi­ness is at. It’s both a curse and a bless­ing, for­ever frus­trat­ing and driv­ing me on. Nat­u­rally I would like to see our turnover and shelf / cafe pres­ence grow in Aus­tralia and then be­yond Aus­tralia into ex­port. I would also love to see the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Tielka, a life marked by rest and joy, be em­bed­ded deeper into our iden­tity and com­mu­ni­cated more heav­ily to those we want to reach.

Alexei, what is your role in Tielka?

When we started Tielka, I was in the mid­dle of my MBA at Mel­bourne Busi­ness School. It was a very ex­cit­ing time, be­cause I was able to ap­ply newly ac­quired knowl­edge in busi­ness strat­egy, mar­ket­ing, con­sumer be­hav­iour and re­search straight to our busi­ness. One of those les­sons that stood out to me was from the brand man­age­ment class taught by a renowned pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing, Mark Rit­son. The best brand man­agers build their brands in the back­ground, let­ting the founder take the spot­light. That is why I am quite OK with be­ing at the Tielka’s back­ground, help­ing Re­becca with strate­gic di­rec­tion, mar­ket­ing and de­sign. I tend to stay away from the op­er­a­tional part of it as I had to learn the del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween be­ing right and be­ing happy.

Read next week’s col­umn for more on Alexei and Re­becca’s story.

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