I'd never really taken a break , and I wanted to take the summer off after I semi-retired, and then really think through what the next chapter was gonna be. So I gave myself time to, decompress from 30 years of retail which was tremendous. And it's really given me an opportunity to really realize what I loved about what I did and the opportunities I had and the people I've worked with.
Hello and welcome to this week's episode of Pearls on Boards. I am so excited to sit down this week with Raina Van Delft.
Raina is an incredible, Senior leader, she has been in retail for over 30 years and she is a mom of three. Hey Raina, thanks for sitting down with me. How are you today?
So tell me about your career then. You've been all over.
Yeah, I've done retail my whole life from when we lived in New York. would work for Lowman's, which was this, you know, hot fashion place, you and I used to click people in and yeah, just lots of boutiques. And then when we came to Chicago, I worked for got ups and Downs, limited Express. I was in the stores. I went to school in Chicago. And Then I had the opportunity to go to buying for Spiegel catalog. So your mom probably knows what Spiegel catalog. And so I did that for a while. Had my kids during that tenure, went to Sears, did their private brand right when their private brand was taking off. It was fun. It was crazy. And then I left there and went to North Carolina. I worked for stage stores. So I ran all of women's there. And then uh, went to Detroit to go to Pet Supplies Plus, and I ran all the merchandising for Pets there for 10 years. And then now started my own business.
So it's been crazy done anywhere from men's kids, women's baby, Furry babies,
Yeah. So, it's retail, retail's pretty much the skillset's the same. You just have to understand who the customer is and what the product is, right.
So yeah, it's been a crazy career and uh, now all my kids are grown and,
So now that they're older, because I, okay. So I'm sure working as a mom, I feel like everyone I've talked to, we all kind of share mom guilt a little bit, right? So now that they're adults, did that stave off the guilt that you had experienced? Or
A little bit, if anything.
I, it made me realize that, kids are so resilient, right? So, my older ones, because I did travel to Asia a couple weeks at a time, twice a year, and go to New York once a month. And I asked them, they're like, it's just what we knew. And they had a great relationship with my mom and dad.
So they said they wouldn't have had the great relationship with their grandparents had I not traveled. So they, they flipped it that they had an opportunity to Get closer to other people. And they said, I, they said I never missed an event. And if I did, one of them said, if I did, I made sure there was someone there to watch 'em, like my mom or my sister or a friend, or there was always somebody they could look in the stands and see.
I was a single mom for many years, so my ex-husband, I'd make sure he was there, so yeah. So, I, I got some good positive feedback. 'cause I said,
I can't change anything. You might as well tell me the real deal now.
Did that make you feel good then for them did, it did, it made me feel good that they wouldn't, they wouldn't change anything.
I love it. And they're not sitting on couches. not yet. Knock on wood,
Well wait till they have their own kids. That's when they'll well they do.
One has three, one has two.
Oh, that's right. The
They actually, it's funny. We just went on vacation and we used to go on beach vacations all the time when they were little. And one of 'em pulled me aside because it's, it's a lot of work, you know, the beach pool, pot tub, sleep, and they said, I don't even know how you did it.
Like, I'm exhausted and it's day two, like you just, you just do, because, so I got some accolades all the times I would, drive out east and take 'em to the beach, so, so that was pretty funny.
I'm sure that's nice. Like I think my dad, growing up I was kind of, I don't know. I knew everything, then I got to college and I realized I knew nothing and I was like very apologetic for not knowing anything. And I think that's probably nice as a parent, like when your kids are old enough to realize that what it actually entails to, keep little children alive and happy and loved and fed and provided for, Funny because in the old, the old way, we used to do it, we used to be in Chin t Virginia, and we used to take a car from the house to the beach and, and Mike's like, I don't even know how he got us all in the car. Got us to the beach with food coolers, tent, and then we did it every day.
Set resetting up, you know, and he goes, I'm just exhausted thinking about
How many do you have?
I have three sons and five grandsons.
Oh my gosh. That's a dog. And a male dog. Yeah.
I have two boys and I just feel like anyone who has more than two boys is like my hero. 'cause I have two and I, they're 12 months apart. And I love them deeply, but they make choices. The more of them that get together, like the dumber, those choices seem to be.
And so like, I dunno how you did three boys as a single mom.
It was funny. Um, My older two are twins and Oh my gosh. they had a cousin the same age, and when the three of 'em got together, we ended up in the ER every time.
Somebody come running with blood squirting and, the other two in the back would always say, it wasn't me. It wasn't me. And I was like, oh my God, can you just like draw? growing up, during my career, I had a lot of friends that were stay-at-home moms and I didn't, I connected with them on a personal level, but I didn't really have that option to talk to them about it.
And then I. People at work. It's interesting, that somebody could easily say, I'm leaving early to go work out, but, and who didn't have children.
But if you had children, you were leaving. I don't know. There was just this kind of aura that maybe I felt it and it wasn't really real, but that, made you feel uncomfortable. But I think as I grew in my career, I got much stronger to say, Hey this is me. I'm gonna work really hard, but I'm not missing an event.
And you have to, you know, If you are upfront with your superiors on that, I think they respect that and that you make sure your calendar is very clear that you're not gonna miss something important at work.
But on a normal day, you know, you will maybe leave on Tuesdays and Thursdays because you have to be at the hockey game or the baseball game or whatever that is.
Yeah. And I think that's what a lot of people I've learned a lot of women is that they felt that way too. Maybe that if they said it was for, for family, they would like pretend they're going to the doctor, and it was like silly. But it was that fear of judgment, . And
then as they climbed higher and higher, they did have more freedom and more boldness, I think comes with that responsibility to now be like, no, I'm not gonna hide these things that I'm doing anymore. 'cause I am doing a good job and I am doing the work and it's okay that I'm also being a mom.
Absolutely. You And I think, juggling is a real thing.
You have to be able to juggle it all and be able to say, okay, these things I'm not gonna worry about.
My rule in my house is I really don't care what your bedroom looks like. I just shut the door. As long as there's not food in there, I'm good. And then the main part of the house I wanted to keep,
Reasonable. you know, So it's just that juggling of what are you gonna let go? You have to let go of something. as, we mature into the role and as you have a rapport with your boss or colleagues, I think they respect that this is where you're gonna focus work and home life with your family. And maybe you can't do drinks on Thursday night. That's okay. Like, it's just everybody kind of respects where everybody's boundaries are.
I love that you said juggling, 'cause that's kind of what I've decided it is. I think that you hear so much on social media about this like, balance and I'm like, I don't have balance. I don't even know what that is. Like I, I, I love the idea of it Totally. But I think it is a juggle, you're doing a lot and something like, you have to kind of pick what's important.
To me, having clean clothes is important, but maybe I don't need them hung up and folded nicely. Like, I, I just, I don't have time for that.
yeah, my husband, my second husband he is amazing. He works from home, so he was able to do the laundry for many years.
Now, with that said, things were inside out or not kind of the way I want it, but to be honest with you, you gotta be able to be okay with that, or you're
gonna be up till three in the morning. So
does that mean I have to throw it back into the dryer for a minute? Probably. Or some of the things that I really thought were amazing pieces I would bring to the dry cleaners and not have to worry that it was gonna shrink or but that, the fact that I came home and there were clean clothes for everybody is, the priority right?
Yep. And I think that's a huge thing is like learning to just accept the help that people are willing to give you at the level they're, able to do it. Like my husband loads the dishwasher and I always load it the exact same way. That's just who I am. 'cause it's the most efficient way to get all of the dishes in there in one go.
He will take three three different loads to get the same amount of dishes that I can do in one. And I wanted to get upset. And then I'm like, you know what? He's doing it though. He's happily doing it. Like I just need to let it go. And I think that's, especially women who are successful in career, we'll probably lean a little bit more Type A, right?
Where we have these like ways of things to go. But I think that you just, in order to be successful in your career and as a mom simultaneously, you have to just let go and be like, like he got the kids to school and you know what, that shirt's on backwards, but he has a shirt on and it's clean, you know.
Absolutely. And to be honest with you, I think the kids enjoyed when it wasn't me. 'cause they could really pick whatever they wanted to wear. , to be honest with you, seeing my sons as fathers,
It's amazing what they're doing. 'cause they've seen the example of, their dad or stepdad doing all this work in the house. So I think it just, it's really exciting to see their wives being able to work and do everything they need to do. So it's exciting.
I think that's like a characteristic too of women that I've noticed that are able to juggle it all is that they kind of thrive in the madness a little. Like a procrastinator to the extreme. It's a really terrible habit, and it was like my college professors, I think, hated me, but it was like if you gave me three months to do a paper, I was gonna do it four hours before it was due and it was gonna be excellent, but if I did it three months before it was due, it was gonna be garbage.
Yeah. And I think that is a real trait for work. Two, because when an emergency hits you're the calm one in the room.
You're the one that's like, okay, let's get all the facts, what's going on?
Get the team together. And then you come up with a solution. But Everybody's going like this around you, but you're kind of the one that can, manage through that. 'cause that's what daily life is like anyways, right? So it's just another cog in the wheel.
Do you feel like being a mom gave you kind of like this superpower ability to be more efficient with your time and, and operate under pressure differently? 'cause you had a different, or do you think you were always like that?
I think mom made it more of a superpower.
I think I've always had it in my DNA, but I think juggling, managing has been a trait that's helped me in my work for sure.
Because every day was a new day, which is what I loved about my role in, retail. And, every day, either a container fell off the ship and I didn't have a holiday program coming.
It's like, okay, what are we gonna do? How are we gonna manage this? How are we going to, get new sweaters in here in the next three weeks, so it was just, and that was, that was what I always considered the fun of it, so I think having that juggling mentality helped uh, within a crisis that came along at work. just, I've always loved having people work for me that also were new moms or going through this new stage in their life, be it, something's going on with their parents or something's going on with their kids. That I was kind of that calm place that they could And kind of help them through their own turmoils that were going through for work. And I was like, you fix that. 'cause you can't come to work when there's that big heavy load you have to be nourished at home as you are at work.
And I would say when people talk about balance, to me it's like an annual balance.
There's no balance. On a day to day, there could be a, a crisis that works that that is like a two week span and have to juggle, like who's picking up the kids that day? I can't get dinner that night. Something's come up. I mean, those things will happen. Also conversely, my son, pretended to be Batman and flew off the bookcase and, needs to get his arm in a cast.
It's a balance that at the end of the day, you're going to give back to both sides of the coin. Traveling, was tough, but I tried to make it fun for the kids. You know, I'd bring back money from all the countries I was in and I'd leave post-it notes for them every night, you on the calendar, like, have a great hockey game, or, your test goes well, or whatever those little notes were that made them feel like I was still connected.
And that was before FaceTime. So we're faxing each other, So it's just making sure that they feel. Connected and, I used to get the teachers involved and I would tell them where I was going on my itinerary and they'd follow me while I was traveling. I mean, that.
was more in grade school. Of course, not in high school. But so yeah. So it was just getting it, it does take a village and you need to make sure everybody's supporting you around you.
Yeah. Did you have a stay-at-home mom by chance?
I had a stay-at-home mom. Yes.
Because I feel like a lot of women who are very successful, they also had stay-at-home moms, and I think I learned quantity, like my mom was around all the time, but I didn't feel like I knew her well 'cause there wasn't that quality, but I feel like, 'cause I'm so busy when I'm with my kids, it's like very intentional. It's like no phones. It's very woo. Engaging and close and relational. And I feel like not to say that what my mom did was bad or wrong, but like I've noticed in my relationship with my kids, because I'm doing so many things, like the quality of time that I have with them is different
Yeah, I totally agree. I had this conversation with my mother. My mother passed about eight, nine years ago. But I had this conversation once 'cause I was uh, hitting the wall, we all hit the wall at some point, and I was having this conversation with her. I said, you stayed at home, you know, and she's like, wait, time out, time out.
She's like, yeah, I was physically in the building.
She said, but I did nothing. Like, I never played on the floor with you. I was ironing, I was cleaning, I was cooking. You spend more time with your kid than I ever did. So she kind of got me out of that guilt.
And I. think, to be honest with you, in her time when you got married, you quit your job. Like that was just the way it was. And she said she loved working. And she said , also always bothered her that she didn't work. So she said that she kinda gave me that you go girl attitude to figure it out.
yeah, so that made me feel better, that it was just a different type of Stay at home mom or work, working mom or whatever.
Was there a season that was harder to be working and having kids like at a certain age that was maybe harder than other ages? Or was it all like equally complex? I think for me personally, being a single mom was probably the biggest challenge.
Because it was literally working and being a mom, there was no out with friends or, or doing any of that. But I did learn um, for me, if anybody's going through this on the weekends you didn't have the kids.
That's when I, I had read that that's the time you should really nourish yourself. So that was the weekends I would go to the spa or go downtown with friends or go to the museum, do all the things that you didn't have the time to do. And once I started Filling that in when the kids weren't with me. I was much better that it was still making sure that
I was nourished on top of that.
But I would probably say that was probably the worst time for me.
But yeah, I mean, we all have our seasons, right? Some, work better than others.
Yeah. I think it's important and I'm glad that you learned that like in that hard time to take time for yourself because I think that you can't do it if you don't carve out time. If that means waking up early in the morning to work out or reading a book, I, whatever it is, that kind of is like going out with friends once a week or something like that.
Like, I think feeding yourself and your soul and not feeling like, okay, I'm just a mom and I'm just working. 'cause otherwise I feel like. You look back and you're like, where did my 20 years of my life go?
Do you have any tips for like stress management?
Walking, Yeah. walking by myself after dinner, they're calm. I would go take a walk. That definitely helps just removing yourself from the situation. If there's mayhem in the kitchen and the family room and everybody's just losing their mind, just walk away for 10 minutes, just walk away
Well, and I think it's cool too 'cause they get to see like, it's not just the men who do the work. Like what, what your mom saw, right? So your mom like had to give up this thing that she loved. 'cause that was what was appropriate in society at the time. And then there's this time period where women are starting to say no.
Like I, I wanna work outside the home. I wanna do stuff. And so now this generation is coming from women who chose to kind of go against the grain a little. And now they're okay with their, their spouse is working and they're willing to do more domestic duties to make the house work.
And I think in a way it's beautiful. 'cause now you see more . Like of a partnership in parenting. So dads are now more involved with their kids, which is good for the children to have two parents who are involved instead of like one primary parent. And obviously at times there's always gonna be one person who does more of something, but overall they have more exposure to both their parents and all of those things.
And I think that's really cool to see, and I'm sure for you now, seeing them as parents see that effect of like, oh, they are helpful at their homes and they're supportive of their spouses who are, in what they do and they're present with their kids. And I think that's cool.
And I think that's important too, is like just like actually being, being present.
Being present at, in the boardroom and being present at your home.
I mean, both are as important. I think for me, I've always struggled to juggle both at the same time. Um, so I'm more comfortable probably 'cause I was in an office environment for most of my career. But for me, it's like when I'm doing something with my kids, I'm more present.
And if I'm at work, I'm more present. Now. If, if one or the other calls me in either situation, of course you're gonna pick up the phone. And if there's an urgent issue at work or my c e O is calling, of course I'm gonna pick up the phone and, and figure out what's going on.
So, yeah. But in general, I would say being present is key.
So when you left retail, did you leave retail thinking like, I'm gonna retire,
No, no. I, I, I knew I was gonna take a break because I had taken maternity breaks and that's it.
Like, I'd never really taken a break and I wanted to take the summer off after I semi-retired, and then really think through what the next chapter was gonna be. So I gave myself time to, decompress from 30 years of retail which was tremendous.
And it's really given me an opportunity to really realize what I loved about what I did and the opportunities I had and the people I've worked with and my mentors, traveling. I mean, it was, it's really was an amazing and is an amazing career. And now I. My focus is really to share that knowledge with young entrepreneurs, young leaders that are going into the C-suite. Really being here as a consultant to help people kind of navigate, even moms that are struggling on how to juggle. They love their job, they love their kids, they love their house. How do you manage all that? So, so that's why I love what I'm doing right now. I'm really helping helping people in that space. met some amazing passionate people that are selling their own products or built their own retail small business, but they might not know as much about retail 1 0 1 or, I'm working with a woman who's, young in her career, but with a big corporation and it's, she needs help navigating, the boardroom and how to kind of manage through all that.
And, but it's, it's really exciting to share, what I've learned and maybe things I didn't do so well and things that I did great and, and, really helping people through that. So, I feel like I'm in a great space right now.
I think for me it's, planning, it's making sure your calendar has When you're traveling for work, when you, the minute you know there's a conference, a vendor meeting, a summit outside of the office, anything. Get it on the calendar and vice versa. You know, The, games, lacrosse games, baseball, the, karate. Have it all in there so that you can kind of flow into it
My sister was always great to be able to go and sub for me if you wanna call it, you know, and so you call them a couple weeks ahead of time, Hey, I'm not gonna be able to to go to this game. Would you mind picking up Mike and taking him to the game? Absolutely. I'd love to. And it was never a frantic 24 hours prior, so I would say that is going to make your life the simplest and then, then you'll be able to deal with emergencies. If you get that baseline right, then the emergencies are, are gonna happen, but they're gonna be less stressful 'cause the rest of it's kind of planned out.
Calm in the boardroom, and stay calm at home.
And walk away In both cases, get a cup of coffee at work, uh, Get off the zoom call for a second. know, Or just walk away and go take a walk and bring the kids with you. But just go change the trajectory of where you are at the moment.
If, if you're gonna lose your mind.
Yes. That's great. Thank you.