Danielle Barrett is the founder of Around the Table, a meal delivery service with a goal to help families come together and connect over dinner.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am the founder of Around The Table, it’s a start up business that delivers great family meals and meaningful conversations to busy Australian families.
I say I am the founder, but actually Around The Table found me.
As a busy mum of 3 young children I hadn’t planned to add “launch business” onto my already full “TO DO” list. However the challenges of working and managing family mealtimes sent me out looking for dinner time solutions.
Instead of finding solutions, I uncovered proven research that highlighted the many social, emotional and academic benefits for children associated with family mealtimes as well as local research findings that indicated the demise of regular family mealtimes in Australia. Not exactly the solution I was hoping for.
This information encouraged me to continue to look for a family meal solution that was quick and easy but most of all made it enjoyable for my family to connect over dinner. After trialling many many meal delivery services, it was clear there was a gap in the market for family meals that encouraged mealtime conversation and fun.
Armed with new knowledge and wanting more than ever to help my own family to enjoy such meal-time benefits, as well as a strong desire to help other families, I left a very successful sales and marketing career in blue chip companies to start my first business helping families to come together and connect over dinner. The business was aptly named Around The Table.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’ve always heard people say when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I never really understood that, until Around The Table.
I am not sure if it is because I am so passionate about helping other families or if it is because it is my business but it definitely feels very different to any other job I have had.
I try very hard to balance my day between work and family. It isn’t always possible, particularly as a start up business because it is very hands on. Where possible I make the most of the flexibility I have with my own business and being able to work from home means I am also physically present for my kids, although may not always be available.
A typical day starts at 7am organising my 3 children for school, and a quick session at my local gym (let’s be honest this sometimes gets skipped in favour of a coffee with a girlfriend).
This is followed by “work” or as my children say, typing emails, filming a video or two of tips to help families to connect at mealtimes and liaising with my meal suppliers, marketing teams and printing company. All of which is done remotely so it is very efficient.
At 3.30 I become the multitasking master, between the kids’ needs such as; afternoon tea, homework, dropping off to after school activities and playdates and my needs; more emails and packing Activity Card deliveries.
Dinner is really easy with Around The Table meals ready in less than 15 minutes and our family of 5 enjoy our favourite meals and usually use 2 or 3 conversational Activity Cards for fun.
With limited clean up (YAY) we have time for TV or a book before bed.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Family is at the very core of my business Around The Table, so being available for my family is a priority. Working from home and remotely with my team helps to support this.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I think finding “balance” is a real challenge as a business owner.
I am fortunate to have the flexibility to be able to prioritise my family when they need or if I need some me time too – but I also recognise as a start up business it isn’t about balance but rather work life harmony. Being able to choose the right mix at the right time.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Of course the most obvious one is in the last 12 months my business has launched, as my families need for easy and enjoyable meals inspired its launch, that in itself has made our family mealtimes more relaxed, easier and our family is certainly more connected.
Looking beyond Around The Table, as my children are now 11, 10 & 10 (yes there are close in age!) I have asked them to help contribute more to the day to day runnings of our family life.
With tasks that are now family orientated such as hanging out washing or walking the dog so that the time we spend together as a family is quality time. I believe that by contributing they have each felt more connected to our family unit which had a positive impact.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I listen to many podcasts (they are my gym buddies), but the only one that I continually go back to is Mum’s with Hustle by Tracy Harris. It really resonates with me, being extremely relevant for me at the moment I find that it inspires me, particularly on challenging days. I love learning from other women in business, life is too short to make all your own mistakes!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my Breville coffee machine (every home office needs good coffee), it also makes me more efficient as I don’t need to go to the shops for my soy cap. Well, that’s what I tell myself.
The app that stops the “there is no milk left” conversation in our family is Bring! This app means that I don’t need to remember everything our family needs from the shops, it also means that everyone in the family can add to the shopping list so it is a shared responsibility. This was a game changer for my mental headspace.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to hear from Jacinda Ardern. No explanation needed.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think work life harmony is what we all need to aim for. Sometimes it’s not balanced and that is OK, so long as you are happy with what that looks like for you.
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