LA GRANGE – Paul and Meg LeFaivre always knew they wanted to own their own business.
Both came from entrepreneurial families – Paul’s in finance and Meg’s in practical arts and retail. Her mother and grandmother owned an arts and crafts business.
“We thought our backgrounds would make a perfect fit,” Paul said.
So far, it’s working. Five years ago, the LeFaivres bought into the burgeoning Chicago-based Bottle & Bottega franchise, a paint-and-sip studio, and never looked back. Each year their La Grange studio has won the top-volume award of all of Bottle & Bottega’s 19 locations. They coordinate 18 freelance artists and a manager.
While it helps that their studio is only a block from where they live, their success didn’t come without planning, however, and the LeFaivres shared nuggets of advice for couples who are toying with the idea of opening a business together.
The couple, now both 48 and married 17 years, sat down with their daughters, then 7 and 9, to discuss the opportunity before they made the commitment.
"We sat down and discussed it as a family first," Meg said. "We put in a lot of hard work, and it’s been great for everybody in the family."
She said the couple has maximized on its strengths.
“The thing that’s worked out best for Paul and me is that we have the divide-and-conquer mentality where we’re able to work to our strengths, both at home and at work,” Meg said. “With his background in finance, he takes care of payroll and supply orders and working with vendors, where I work the front end, working with clients, hiring and training. Our defined roles help us to keep things in check."
Meg described their venture into business as “life-changing," and coordinating business with family life is a delicate balance between chauffeuring the kids and work.
“It’s also been really rewarding,” she said. “Being able to own your own business means that you can involve your children.”
The LeFaivres’ girls started out folding towels and washing brushes, setting up easels. At festivals they talk to customers and help out.
“It’s nice for them to be able to see us in our work zone,” Meg said. “We’re mom and dad, but we’re also owners of this business in town. Our daughters have become very independent and strong, and it’s rewarding to see them excited and learning about the business.”
If you go
What: Bottle & Bottega
Where: 1 W. Harris Ave., La Grange
Hours: Program times vary