Meet a Mompreneur: Crystal Kavanagh

Googaro is proud to present an ongoing series about mothers in the workforce.  Moms have to be adept at balancing work and home life and we’re always on the lookout for flexible work environments.  Many women dream of starting and owning their own business.  It is our hope that this series opens up to our readers the door to inspiration.  Perhaps you’ll be inspired to start your own business or perhaps you’ll gain valuable insight and advice that you can apply to your own life or work situation.  No matter what you take away from this series, we know you’ll love meeting the moms who are so generous with sharing their story and experience!

Our first mom, Crystal Kavanagh, owns an auto parts store with her husband while also raising 3 boys.  We have no doubt that she’s one tough mama, able to handle working and living with all those males!

Photo courtesy Crystal Kavanagh

Googaro is pleased to introduce you to Crystal:

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your family!

My name is Crystal Kavanagh; I’m 35 years-old and a mother of 3 boys. Brian Jr. is 12 years old, John is 3 years old, and Christopher is 21 months. We live in East Patchogue, NY.

  1. Tell us about the business you own.  

My husband and I own an auto parts store in Farmingville, NY; AMH Auto Parts has been a family owned business for over 40 years. We carry most parts for cars and what we don’t carry we go pick up at a warehouse. Our business is both retail and wholesale. We deliver parts to local service stations and we have contract accounts with several school districts, fire departments, police departments and other county facilities. We have 9 employees who are all delivery drivers. My husband and I run the business with just the 2 of us in the store every day.  Our website is one of the things I’ve been working on; ideally I want to be able to sell parts online so that will be coming soon. Right now it just tells where we are and how to contact us. It can be found at http://www.amhautoparts.com/. My husband started working there right out of high school in 1983 and was an employee for 20 years when he was offered the option of buying the business. We had a young child at that time so it seemed like a great opportunity for us.

  1. Describe a typical day for you at work.

Being the owner has its good and bad points. I bring my 2 young boys to work with me every day. A typical day starts at around 8:30am when I get to work. I take phone calls and write checks to suppliers while my kids play next to me. I’m responsible for maintaining employee records, handling county contract accounts, and accounts receivable and payable. My title changes depending on who I’m talking to or what I’m handling. Sometimes I’m a bookkeeper, a human resources coordinator, an office manager, or even a delivery person. All the time I’m a wife and a mom.

  1. What has been the hardest part about running a business while raising a family?

The most difficult part of running the business and taking care of my family is that I don’t get sick time or even maternity leave. When I had all of my kids the only time off that I took was while I was in the hospital having them. As soon as I was discharged I was back at work. Even before I left to have a baby the employees were asking if they would be paid on time since I would be out.  It’s great that I can be the class mom and go on field trips with my older son. Owning the business gives me the opportunity to be there for everything and also to take care of my kids if they’re sick. If they need to go to a doctor I can just take them without worrying how it will affect my job.

  1. You work in a very male dominated industry!  What, if any, are the challenges you’ve had to face as a woman that perhaps you wouldn’t have faced as a man?  

Being a woman has been an advantage for me I think because when I go out on a delivery to a station the guys at the shops will usually run out to get the parts from the car for me but not for the male drivers. Of course there are the guys who look at me and say things like “I don’t care that you’re a woman, if you’re in that job than you can carry my parts.”  Of course I can, but it’s nice to be treated like a lady too!

  1. How do you, or are you able to, find a balance between work and home life?

The way my husband and I make it all work is that once we’re home, we’re home. There are no work arguments that come into the house with us. At home we are just mom and dad.

  1. What do you hope your children are learning by watching you work?  What messages do you hope to send to them?

The biggest thing we hope our children are learning from us is responsibility. I have a bachelor’s degree and could probably make more money but then someone else would be raising my kids. I want them to know that this was a choice to be able to provide for them and spend time with them. Money will always come and go but I only have one chance to watch them grow up.

  1. Do you have any tips to share on carving out time for yourself?

I don’t really have time to take time for myself. Sometimes I wish I could just have a few hours for me but that never works out. That’s something I think women need to consider carefully before starting or buying a business. Having a family and running a business successfully are both very rewarding but also equally exhausting. It’s not something to go into half-heartedly.

  1. What is the one piece of advice that you think every mom should know before starting her own business or becoming a business owner?

Know that there won’t be much time for yourself, but at the end of the day if you feel accomplished anyway it was all worth it.

  1. What advice would you give your younger self if you were able to go back in time?

That’s what I would have told myself 10 years ago, if you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that what you did all day made someone truly happy then that’s what you’re meant to be doing.

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Isn’t that the best advice?  “If you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that what you did all day made someone truly happy then that’s what you’re meant to do.” 

Thanks so much Crystal!  If we need a part for the car we’re definitely going to look you up!  (We’ll even come out to the car and get the part!)

Are you a mompreneur?  Googaro would love to feature you and your business in our “Meet a Mompreneur” series!  Contact us on Facebook or Twitter!

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