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 if their relationship or marriage help or hinder their success? Our changing times feature more entrepreneurial business-women 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 frontierswoman, Rebecca Domorev and husband, Alexei. Enjoy my interesting chat with them:
How did your lives collide?
We met in Saint Petersburg, Russia one fateful afternoon in September 2001 after church amongst 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 Tea 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 tea-time. I am at the forefront of the business, taking responsibility for the day-to-day operations, from sales, customer service, warehouse management, bookkeeping, 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 imbedded 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.
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 are 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 screen time 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?
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Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.