A Single Mom Raising a Child within a Business
My daughter, Malia, was 2 years old when I started my business, Anahola Granola, as a single mother. I began the business with no capital, and only 1 very part time employee. I scrimped and saved and never hired a babysitter except when I was baking my granola in the sweltering kitchen. Malia was my only child so my business and Malia were like sisters and they grew up together. I am certain there was sibling rivalry on both sides. As the mother, I did my best to keep them on good terms. I attempted to nurture each one separately and blended them with the upmost awareness of not overdoing their time together. As for Anahola Granola, maybe if I hadn’t had Malia the business would have grown faster and smarter. However, as any mother knows, it’s a balancing act and I did the best I could to keep the balls in the air.
There were constant fires to put out in the beginning of my business. Every flame seemed like an out of control forest fire, fires popping up as soon as the older one had died down. I remember when an order for a new hotel account came in and with the assurance of my can-do confidence, I promised to deliver the granola the next day. Meanwhile, I drove all over Kauai, trying to locate the oats and other ingredients I would need to fulfill my promise. Hours into the night I baked, with bees swarming outside the screen windows, attracted to the sweet smell of honey and the light in my small bakery.
After a few hours of sleep and getting Malia up and out the door to Waldorf School, I delivered the granola to the hotel, breathing a sigh of relief as I pulled away from the loading dock.
Whether it was stacked boxes of granola ready to deliver or buckets of honey from a local bee keeper, Malia grew up surrounded by Anahola Granola. We were a team as she traveled around the island in the backseat of my Honda Civic Station wagon in her car seat. Every week we ventured off to deliver boxes of Anahola Granola to stores and hotels throughout Kauai. From Hanalei to Poipu, I sang with Malia, told animated stories at the same time I silently prayed for the curves of the country road to lull her to sleep. I creatively fit into my day all my business work. By night I was very tired. When I read a night time story to Malia, I continually fell asleep and woke up to Malia’s chubby elbow jabbing me in my side.
One of the benefits of having a business with Malia is that she was around lots of interesting and varied people and experiences. She was well loved by my employees; many of them from Rehabilitation Unlimited Kauai, a day program for people with disabilities. When Malia was 6, I taught her how to attach the labels to the bag and safely use a paper cutter to cut the cello bags. Malia loved earning pocket change. As she became more capable, I gave her more jobs and responsibilities.
As both Malia and Anahola Granola flourished and grew, I never assumed Malia would work in the business; I kept a respectful buffer between the two.
Now that Malia is 26, I proudly see that she has picked up many benefits from her co-habitation with Anahola Granola. As a teacher in an inner city charter school, she is hard working, a creative thinker, and is comfortable around many different people. With her artistic eye for detail and design, she continues to help me with Anahola Granola today.