FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
PART TWO OF THE INTERVIEW WITH BOUTIQUE TEA PIONEER REBECCA DOMOREV AND HER PARTNER ALEXEI AND HOW THEY MANAGE FAMILY LIFE, RUNNING A BUSINESS AND KEEPING IT TOGETHER.
This week we continue last edition’s story on Rebecca Domorev and her husband, Alexei. Rebecca started the Tielka — a boutique organic tea company — and Alexei has backed her the whole way. Alexei, how do you make it work as a team at home and in the business world?
Anyone involved in running a small business would know that it’s almost impossible to separate your home life from your business.
Our dinner conversations quite often involve topics such as food supply chain, branding, packaging design or global food trends. Our two oldest boys (who are 8 and 13) are quite accustomed to looking at the world around them from a business perspective.
Sometimes when it gets too much, we give each other permission to tap out from the conversation and change the topic.
We are also used to the idea of tag-teaming. For example, I will look after our youngest in the late morning or pick up his brothers from school, allowing Rebecca to focus on the business. In the afternoon we usually swap. Do you follow a more traditional style of partnership or equally share roles and responsibilities at home? Rebecca: I would say we have a partnership that leans towards a more traditional style.
The domestic duties tend to fall on my shoulders with the support of Alexei and Alexei has typically taken the responsibility of being the primary provider. The current uncertain financial atmosphere in Australia is impacting us and not ideally. We are leaning more heavily on Tielka for provision.
Alexei: I come from a very traditional Eastern European background, where roles and responsibilities at home are pretty much defined by your gender.
Both of my parents worked full-time, yet my mum managed the household, while my dad had a more demanding physical job, so he would help around the house only on the weekends. That was the model I grew up with.
The culture in Australia is a bit more relaxed in that regard. I think what helps us a lot in managing business and household is our parenting style. We have been quite intentional in involving our kids and sharing responsibilities at home with them. For example, we rarely have to do the dishes after dinner as it is our boys’ responsibility now.
One will clear the table, and the other one will load the dishwasher and handwash whatever is left. They also earn their screentime by doing other chores like hanging the washing, folding the clothes or collecting palm fronds in the backyard. It’s not unusual for them to ask if there is anything they can do around the house to earn time. It is a win-win situation for everyone. Do you think Australian society allows flexibility in the workplace for men as much as women to manage family alongside their working woman? Rebecca: It’s hard to comment on the workplace, as both of us are involved in running our own businesses. However, there are definitely outdated attitudes that linger in terms of family roles and business. I am part of a 100,000-strong group of entrepreneurial women on Facebook and there is often conversation around “how do I manage running a business with children”. I never hear this conversation among the male counterpart of society. It seems to be a non-issue for men.
Alexei: There is a lot of talk about flexibility in the workplace for men when it comes to managing their family. I think we are not quite there yet and a lot depends on the workplace itself. I know some companies are quite proactive in that area.
I have a friend, for example, who recently took a leave of absence to become a stay-athome dad, while his wife re-entered the workforce. Something like this would be considered impossible in other countries, even now. I just wonder what kind of long-term effects this arrangement will have on the relationships between children and their mothers. Any other tips for our readers on keeping it together? Rebecca: On a flourishing relationship? Forgive often, trust the love your partner has for you despite not always being able to express it well, and find love and acceptance in God. I personally don’t believe any human is capable of providing all the love that another human needs and to flourish, I believe God can only ever fill that role.
Alexei: Make a deliberate effort to unplug, disconnect from work and just be.