Kerri Walker is a Wenatchee Valley mom of two boys, ages seven and nine, and the owner of two businesses: Prime Point Care Consulting, which provides geriatric care management services, and Mission Street Commons, a co-working space located at 218 S. Mission St., in the old Golfer’s Edge building.
The latter she co-owns with her husband, Jason. Her co-working space sits in a newly-renovated building, and has a crisp feel to it as the windows let in a lot of natural light. Local art is displayed on the walls.
So what’s it like being a mom of young children while running two businesses?
“It took a paradigm shift,” Kerri explains, when we sat down to chat in the conference room at Mission Street Commons. “No longer was I a stay-at-home mom with a side business. I’m still working to find the balance.”
Kerri experienced a complete shift with motherhood. After working about 20 years in healthcare, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Ecology, she became a mom at 37. After a complicated birth and her oldest son’s difficult first several months of life, “I realized I needed to be with him 24/7, and I made the decision to leave my job,” she says. At the time she was working as an occupational therapist.
She was an at-home mom when her sons were small. As they got older and started school, she did as well, to obtain a graduate certificate in Geriatric Care Management. She started Prime Point Care Consulting, and soon realized there was a great need for such services in Wenatchee. It quickly grew from a small side business to one necessitating an assistant.
One of the biggest, most recent challenges, she says, has been opening the co-working space with Jason. From starting the business, through renovating the space, to welcoming clients, “it took lots of communication, and learning and accepting things about each other we didn’t know — how to approach a problem, for instance,” Kerri says. Jason works from home in Operations for Microsoft. “He thinks like a total engineer,” she says, “very practical, very matter-of-fact. I approach things differently. While we balance each other out, it was a struggle at times.”
With Kerri also working from home at her expanding consulting business, the need arose for a separate work space. A native of Portland, and having lived in Reno, Nevada, Kerri had seen the co-working concept. “When we moved to Wenatchee in 2014, we saw it was a growing community, and we saw an opportunity.” And Mission Street Commons was born.
I asked her what systems she’s put in place to help find balance as an entrepreneur, a mom, and a wife. Good communication with your partner, she tells me, is key. Without it, a difference of opinion or a mistake can easily lead to blaming and yelling. She finds weekly dinner dates or happy hours with Jason to be crucial. And he has re-framed her role as well. Jason typically drops off and picks up their two boys from school each day. Also, both their jobs offer some flexibility.
“I do a lot of work over the phone, consulting with families. When the need arises, like a school closure due to snow, I’m fortunate in that I can usually adjust my day. If I’m not able to, Jason steps in.” On the flipside, she’s had to leave her son’s birthday party to attend a meeting with clients.
As with everything, Kerri says, there’s a give and take. Her advice for moms wanting to start a business? “Be kind to yourself. In the process of trying to make it all work, sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s OK.”
(Do you have a story to share about how you balance a career and kids? We’d love to hear about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk!)