Meet Courtney Buckley, 32, best known as the owner of Your Mom’s Donuts, a Charlotte-born doughnut shop that creates square doughnuts with fresh, local ingredients.
Buckley started small in the doughnut world: She created Your Mom’s Donuts in 2013 as a delivery-only gig that would allow her more time with her children. Her delivery business turned into one brick-and-mortar, and then two more. Buckley also sells her donuts at local farmers markets. Now, her plans for the business include regional expansion.
In November, she leveled up again, acquiring Carolina Artisan Breads, which will enable her to incorporate breads and pastries into her lineup.
She’s balancing it all while raising her three children — a 5-year-old and twin 4-year-olds.
C5: Favorite doughnut flavor?
CB: This is such a tough question because we do different ones all of the time. We always have cinnamon sugar with cream cheese frosting and you can never go wrong with that. It’s sort of my go-to if there’s nothing extra that I want. We did a sweet corn creme brûlée one time that was definitely top of my list.
C5: What does a typical day look like in your house?
CB: I pretty much get up at 5 a.m. and leave. I feed my three horses and five dogs. My kids are usually still asleep in my bed. I have an au pair, so she lives with us and takes care of the kids and brings them to school. The beauty of the business I’m in is that I can pick my daughter up from kindergarten every day. Sometimes we make runs to the store for the donut shop or run back to work for a while, so they are very enmeshed in my business. It’s fun. I love having a business that they can be around.
C5: What advice do you have for other working moms who are juggling parenthood and the workforce?
CB: Find good people. 100% the only way this can be done is to find good people. We also need to reframe the conversation around this because you never hear stories about working dads. There’s so much pressure on us as mothers. We’re expected to work like we’re not moms and to be moms like we don’t work and that is not reality. I had someone ask me if I was a mom first or an entrepreneur first and I was like, “Oh my God, have you ever seen anyone ask a dad that?” We don’t expect dads to juggle it all. No one is asking men “How do you father and run a business?” That’s not a thing, and why is that? Because they have help. They have wives, right? They have people. So, that’s the secret. Men have been doing this forever, we’re just getting caught up.
C5: How do you handle days that are overwhelming?
CB: Every day is overwhelming. I think that is part of being an entrepreneur and a mom. I’ve had to be very intentional about carving out time for myself. My animals are kind of my zen place. I just rescued another dog, so he’s my project to focus on right now to calm myself down. When I found him, he was tied up in the bed of a truck and 40 pounds underweight. He has his own Instagram account.
C5: When you were looking for an au pair, did you find that to be a difficult process to find one that you trusted?
CB: Oh God, yes. It’s crazy. I mean, you’re talking about a Skype interview with somebody in another country who doesn’t speak great English. You’ve got two or three Skype dates before you’re like “Yeah, come live with me for a year and be with my kids!” With the cost of having full-time childcare, especially as a single mom and because I have such crazy work hours, it’s more financially viable for me to have an au pair than to send my kids to daycare or something like that. I go through Cultural Care Au Pair. The cultural exchange is amazing. We learn so much, my kids are learning to speak a little bit of Italian. And we have another family member. We still FaceTime with our two other au pairs that we have had.
C5: What is your favorite thing about your business?
CB: People. I don’t sell donuts, I want to sell an experience and have relationships with these people. I have families that I used to deliver to when my first was 6 months old and they still come into my shop and bring in their families to meet me. It could be doughnuts or it could be tires, I don’t really care — it’s just the relationships within the community that I’ve been lucky enough to forge.
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C5: If there was one thing you could teach your children about being a woman in the food service industry and being a working mom, what would it be?
CB: Try to find balance. Be able to look at your accomplishments and be happy. One of my biggest struggles is that I never see my accomplishments. Be able to stop and take a breath and see everything that you have done.
C5: Who is another working mom in Charlotte that you admire?
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.