Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Tiffany Washington had to say…
No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
Where I live: Bronx, NY
Job: Pastry Designer/Owner of IM Pastry Studio; Sales & Production Manager at a publishing company
Ages/genders of kids: 4-year-old girl
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
I worked as an Accounts Payable Specialist for an intimate apparel company in Midtown. It was my first job out of college. Not my first choice, but I was eager to join the workforce. I started IM Pastry Studio (formerly Ilene Miriam Pastry Studio) in 2009 as a side business. Thanks to the horrible economy in 2011, my company downsized and my position was eliminated. That’s when I decided to make IM my full time career and we have been blessed with wonderful clients and opportunities. I can honestly say that getting laid off was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I would probably still be at that job today.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Having it all can mean different things to different people. I have a great support system of family and friends, and I’m stepping out on faith to do something that I absolutely love. To me, that’s all I need to be successful.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I struggle with making time for myself or even purchasing personal things. I often feel terribly guilty if I purchase things for myself or make personal plans. I’ve noticed that this is a common problem among working moms that I know.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’ve gotten a lot better at time management. It’s the most important rule of balance. It’s best for me to make a schedule and stick to it. I’m finally participating in social activities again. I was out of the loop for a long time. I go to quite a few events for IM Pastry Studio, and sometimes it is nice to attend parties or social functions and just sit back, relax, and enjoy.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Strive to be the best that you can be. Don’t strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist.”
From your mother? “Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Trying to do everything can be counterproductive.”
From your kids? Hugs and kisses can actually make you feel better on a stressful day.
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Wow, what would I do?! I would work out with a personal trainer and get a massage. That would be great!
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
I wish I would’ve known that I could become an entrepreneur. I come from a family of people who worked 9-to-5 jobs, so it just wasn’t something I was exposed to. It was always important to go to college so I could work for the MTA, NYCHA or even the Post Office. I wish I would’ve tapped into my talent back then. I wonder where I would be now.
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
I hope to know that all of my hard work actually paid off and my daughter will follow in my foot steps of following her own dream.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Cleaning. It would be awesome to have someone clean up my apartment.
Whose job do you wish you had?
If IM Pastry Studio didn’t exist, I think I would be a flight attendant so I could travel the world. It just seems like a cool job to have.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Teaching. I commend all of the teachers of the world. I just can’t imagine being a teacher, that’s a lot of pressure
What are you reading right now?
On Grace by Susie Orman Schnall, of course!
Activity? Checking my iPhone. I’m constantly answering emails and checking comments on posts. I realized I had a problem when I answered emails in the movie theater. Whatever it was, it didn’t have to be addressed at that moment.
Food? Chocolate, definitely chocolate.
Website? Internet shopping on Zara.com. I love shopping for my daughter, and they have the best selection for girls.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
My sleep time varies. I always aim to get 7 hours but I often sacrifice sleep for work and only get 4-5 hours. I’ve gone 48 hours without sleep before. I don’t think I could ever do that again. I felt like a zombie.
What do you read every morning?
Email threads, lol. When I’m in front of my computer, I’ll read various blogs/websites like Time, Mashable, Design Taxi, Necole Bitchie, and Huffington Post.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: can become the mogul I envision in my head.
I wish I: had more time in the day to spend with my family.
My kid: is my sweetest creation :).
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“With sacrifice comes the greatest return of satisfaction.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for such a great opportunity to share my story with other women. All working moms can relate to the struggle of balance, so it’s nice to know that we are not alone.