Tete-a-Tete with Chyka

Chyka’s view on Motherhood

In honour of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we have decided to include an interview with one of the most amazing women - Chyka Keebaugh. Chyka serves as an inspiration to so many working mothers out there and it only makes sense for us to pick her brain and see what wisdom she can give to the hustling mums out there! The interview was conducted during our last Mother’s Day Shoot.

How old were you when you decided to start your business?

Bruce and I met when we were both 20 years old and we were working at Peter Rowland at the time. We decided that we could do this ourselves, and decided to do a small catering business on the side just to make enough money to go overseas and backpack through Europe. It actually turned into more than just a couple of little jobs! We got the most extraordinary opportunity to open Southgate for 6000 people and had to include all of our friends, family and everyone that we basically knew! That day, we had put on aprons printed with “The Big and Small” (as that was what we were known back then) and gave out our business cards and the phone started ringing the next day. We never really thought about the processes in starting the business, for us, it was more just a means to an end. Once we got married, babies came very quickly and we were just right in the middle of it all and just kept going!

What do you think is the key to balancing your work and family life?

I think that the whole work-life balance is a very difficult thing to get right. We have made a lot of mistakes along the way but you just do the best you possibly can. My kids came to every job, just sitting in the corner, folding napkins, unpacking boxes, or doing whatever it was they had to do. We missed out on a lot of school concerts and races but the business was our first baby and we really had to put that as our priority. Did we get it right? Probably not, the kids do say that when they were growing up, it was difficult for them to feel second best to the business, but now at 22 and 23 years of age, they both turn around and say that they have the best work ethic. It’s been hard but we are happy that we are on the better side of it.

What is an integral piece of advice that you could give to parents with businesses?

The main thing you have to do is to be kind to yourself.

We can’t get it right all the time. It’s okay that your child is being brought up differently to someone else's at school. You know there will always be mums who stay at home and make the perfect child who always looks clean and ready all the time, and your kids don’t - and that’s okay! I think we’re really hard on ourselves and I think there’s an expectation that we need to be perfect, and the truth is, none of us is. I think that our kids actually become stronger and a little bit more resilient when they have to deal with a few other things in life. Letting our kids be independent is a good thing!

You really are living out a lot of mother’s life goals!

I mean, it’s easy for me to sit here and say it now, but God, it was tough at the time. You feel guilty all the time and I remember once at school, a mother said to me, “Oh, how nice of you to make the effort to come to school pick up”. I would dream to be there every day, I would dream not to put my children in holiday programs, but it just wasn’t an option! You do what you have to do.

So, what future plans do you have for The Big Group and for your own personal branding?

Oh wow, there’s so much going on at the moment! I’ve done a lot of reality TV which took me outside of The Big Group and in the last 4-5 years, and I’m very much concentrating on my own personal brand. I’ve just released a book which is called Chyka: HOME, that has been my absolute love and passion. My hope is to do a homewares range, a couple more books, and just do what makes me laugh and what makes me happy.

Thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of your journey!

Absolutely, this has been so much fun! I don’t even know what it feels like to not have done anything, I’ve always been involved and putting in my 25 cents worth, but you guys at Oh It’s Perfect have just done a beautiful job - so thank you for involving me as it’s been a perfect end to a couple of really fun weeks.

Thank you Chyka, you are one of the best unicorns we have ever had the privilege of meeting!

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