Meet Ashley Bivens Boyd, 45, best known as the pastry chef at her family’s local restaurant, 300 East. After pursuing a degree in fine arts and working in art restoration, Boyd fell into working in restaurants. After spending 10 years working in different cities, Boyd returned to Charlotte in 2001 where she took over as general manager of her family’s restaurant. After the birth of her children, Boyd narrowed her focus to pastries (while still having her hand in a little bit of everything at 300 East).
She’s balancing it all while raising her two children, ages 11 and 8.
CharlotteFive: Current favorite dessert?
Boyd: My sous chef, Laney, who just got promoted to pastry chef at 300 East and I have been working on this sweet potato blondie recipe for a while. I really love that right now. A lot of work and tinkering went into getting it right.
C5: What does a typical morning look like in your house?
AB: My husband works early mornings, so that is my undivided period of time that I get to have with my kids. I try to get up a little before them, between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m., so I can have some quiet time to myself. I wake them up at 6:30 a.m. and since it may be the only time that I get to see them that day I (try to) have a strict no-yelling policy. I make them breakfast, I try to give them a really good start to the day. They get on the bus at 8:30 a.m. and I head to work.
C5: What methods do you use to manage your career and family?
AB: My husband and I have our shared Google Calendar and then we have a whiteboard calendar in our kitchen and everyone has their stuff on there. It helps keep track of when I’m working, have events or if I will be out of town.
C5: How do you manage your time between working, being a mom and taking time for yourself?
AB: I’m not very good at taking time for myself. Because my kids are fairly young and my mom and I own our business, I go into every day figuring out whose needs are the priority that day. Sometimes I’m putting out fires, and it’s crazy. It doesn’t always feel great, but it’s focusing on what things need to be done that day. My work life and family life is very integrated. My kids have grown up in the restaurant. They are really involved and like coming in and seeing what’s on the menu. They get to be restaurant kids — just like I was. When I’m not working, I try to prioritize my time with them. I try to not take my work home with me.
C5: Having such an important role in your family’s business, did you find it difficult to take maternity leave?
AB: I took six weeks and that is the longest period of time that I’ve ever not worked, but I really didn’t take a traditional leave. At the time, I was working as the general manager and pastry chef and I had someone who stepped up to take over the general manager position. Being a young mom is so physically demanding, you’re just bone-tired, exhausted all of the time.
C5: How do you handle days that are overwhelming?
AB: First, it’s really helpful and important for me to find one thing that I have to do that day and really focus on it. I like to slow it down and enjoy that one thing really well. It reminds me of why I’m doing it. Sometimes I need to remember why I love to do what I do to get through the rest of the day and take joy in my day. Sometimes I need to relinquish that the day is going to be a shit show — and that tomorrow is a new day, and we can start fresh.
C5: What advice do you have for other working moms who are juggling parenthood and the workforce?
AB: We as mothers still feel like we have to do everything. You really can’t do everything and do it well. If you are lucky enough to have a partner at home, relinquish the control at times to that person. They may not do things the way you would do them, but they are there to support you. If you don’t have a partner and you are doing it on your own, you have to find a network, a community or rely on friends or family. You have to find a way to share the workload.
C5: Who is another working mom in Charlotte that you admire?
AB: My mom. She doesn’t have the physical responsibility of caring for me anymore, but she’s so driven and goal-oriented. She always was focused on my development as a well-rounded person and she has always had great respect for nurturing my creative side. Also, Kris Reid of Piedmont Culinary Guild. She’s an amazing mother and puts so much into being an intentional parent. Also, Courtney Buckley from Your Mom’s Donuts. She’s a trailblazer in single parenting and is just amazing.
Is there a Charlotte mom you would like to see us interview? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
Responses were lightly edited for brevity and clarity.