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Rise of the Female Breadwinners: Dawn Lafreeda

Photo: Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons, License: N/A

Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons

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How do you think society views female breadwinners?

You know, it’s an interesting question. I think it’s a different answer when you ask men or women. There are some men out there that don’t like that women can take their jobs. Women are empowered and it’s a great thing. There are enough jobs for everyone to let everyone work. I view women as a huge asset to the economy. Females now make a lot of decisions; they’re the decision makers when it comes to family, dining, shopping, travel. They’re not home cooking as much. I think they bring more to the economy. We’re eating out more, there’s more disposable income. We’re not in Ozzy and Harriet times; this economy requires two people to work.

What does “having it all” mean to you? Do you think you have it all right now?

Having it all means my needs are met, my family’s needs are met and that we’re all happy and healthy. I do. I think it’s always OK to want more, but I live the American Dream. I bought my first restaurant on credit cards and I turned it from one to 75. I’m grateful for the opportunities given and I do believe I have it all. The only thing I don’t [have] is youth. The years go by and life goes by quickly. I have a great family, great company, great employees and a great brand I’m partnered with.

Do you have parenting and childcare support from your family and friends?

Yes. I do. Not so much friends but from family. We never had to ask friends.
Has having kid(s) altered your career path?

I would say no. I always have them in mind. I was already well on my path when I had them. Before I started (the franchises) it probably would have changed my path, my priorities would have been different. I had 40 restaurants when I had them.

How do you feel like our job market accommodates working mothers?

I think it’s better than it used to be. There are more women in the workplace and employers understand that. Now that I’m a mom, I’m far more compassionate than I used to be. It’s getting better. Employers need good people so you have to make a balance for everyone.

What’s the most challenging aspect of raising your kid(s)?

My kids are 9, so they’re not little anymore. I’ve heard it’s the terrible teens. But really, it’s juggling it all. Making it to the important things, being there. We have great kids who are flexible and go with the flow. It’s a juggling act getting to spend more time with them without letting things slide with them or with work. You’re always running, running, running to pick them up, to get to this, whatever. I’m lucky that I get to set my own schedule and I’m not required to do anything I don’t want to do. I can show up at 9 o’clock if I want to go to school with the kids. It’s hard to be a mother, a career woman, and juggler your family. You have to hope you have a great, understanding partner and you can both run it together. Everyone should have their dream. Women can have it all as well.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of raising your kid(s)?

It’s just such an unconditional love. It teachers you to love in a selfless way. It’s not until you’re a parent that you know. You might think you know, but you have no idea ... It’s knowing that a little person is dependent of you for everything; it’s a very loving, warm feeling.
I always say to women to always follow your dream and never be afraid to take your career further. Women hold themselves back because of family or children. There’s a way to do it so you can have both. I always encourage women in the workplace to follow their dreams, aspire and grow to what they want to be. Branch out. Take that next step. The world, America, is so accepting. More and more women are leading companies. It’s an exciting time for female executives.

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