This Mother’s Day, we decided to shine a light on some of the inspiring mother-daughter stories that can be found in our small business community.
Frances and Bridget Harkins are the mother-daughter duo behind Wheels Up Wealth, a local financial planning firm. Frances’ career in the financial sector is what inspired Bridget to forge her own path in the field. When we spoke with the Harkins’, Bridget recalled watching her mom navigate her career while always being the one to handle the family’s finances, and credits her with her own early financial education. So, although Bridget grew up singing and acting, it’s no surprise she chose to follow a career path similar to her mom’s.
Frances’ career began in the banking industry, moved to the US Treasury, and eventually landed in the Financial Planning industry. Bridget’s career began in the corporate world at Dimensional Fund Advisors, where she quickly moved up the ranks to become Regional Director. Bridget described having a “lightbulb moment” there, when she realized that she could help women navigate their finances and have the opportunity to work with her mom by opening her own firm. While Wheels Up Wealth doesn’t exclusively work with women, they’ve developed a niche by acting as a beacon of allyship for women, who so rarely see themselves reflected in financial professionals.
The Harkins women described the way they learn from each other and how their previous experiences – tax planning and real estate investments for Frances and research-driven global investment design for Bridget – have come together at Wheels Up Wealth to serve their clients with multifaceted expertise. Bridget noted how working with Frances has allowed her to see a different dimension of her mom as she works with clients. Frances reflected on how enjoyable it has been to watch Bridget grow in her career and how thrilling it is to see the enthusiasm and confidence the next generation of women is bringing to financial services.
As we suspected, there is a sweet mother-daughter story behind the name Daughter of Luna. The owner, Michelle Yong, told us about her parents who immigrated to the US, landing in San Francisco in the 1980s. They opened a gift shop in the Mission, which they ran for 20 years and at which Michelle helped out from a young age. This was a formative experience which helped Michelle decide at an early age that one day she wanted to own her own business.
Eventually, Michelle grew up and went to college to study design. While she was in school, her mother tragically passed away from complications from an autoimmune disorder. It was in helping to arrange her mother’s funeral sprays that Michelle first came to appreciate flowers. As she continued on with her post-grad life, Michelle was working in corporate America, helping to arrange corporate events. At these events, she would see fantastic displays of flowers coming together to make an event feel magical. Inspired, she viewed this as another call toward working with flowers.
So, she quit her corporate job and started looking for flower shop jobs on Craigslist to gain some experience. From there, she combined the notion she had as a young girl – owning her own business – and this new notion – working with flowers – and thus, Daughter of Luna was born. The name of the shop is an homage to her mother, whose name in Chinese means “moon.” Michelle describes her mother as tireless and hard working. She clearly was an inspiration.
Michelle is opening another shop on First Street called Bell and Brass, which is scheduled to open this spring. Bell and Brass is an expansion of Daughter of Luna, focusing more on home goods and furnishings. While Michelle currently has no children, she hopes to one day have a daughter of her own who she can pass the reigns to.
Fox and Fawn is a grandmother-mother-daughter operation that started in 2011. It began by operating out of owner and lead baker Tara Allen’s home and has since become a vegan sensation on First Street. Tara grew up baking with her mom, whose traditional recipes were always crowd pleasers. When Tara decided to become vegan, she started adapting her mom’s traditional recipes to make equally delicious vegan baked goods.
She began selling her wares at the Farmers Market and eventually decided she needed a storefront. When the bakery near their Farmers Market stand, Rosanna’s Bakery, closed, she jumped at the opportunity to fill the vacancy. Happily, the landlord agreed to the renovations necessary to give the bakery a full kitchen so that all confections could be crafted onsite. All the while, Tara’s mom was there, lending a hand where needed.
Since then, Tara’s mother has stepped back a bit and her daughter has stepped up. Having been homeschooled for the past three years, she has been able to keep up with her traditional studies and gain a little business education on the side by helping out at Fox and Fawn.
Fox and Fawn has been enjoying steady popularity from vegan and non-vegan patrons alike – a testament to Tara’s creations. She plans to reopen the interior of the shop to patrons this summer.
Sparkly Ragz and Le Sparkly Chateau
A treat for many mother-daughter duos is the hallowed shopping experience. At least, this has certainly been the case for Holly Conse and her daughter Salina. Holly, a self-proclaimed impulse buyer, has always been an avid shopper. When only daughter Salina came along, she often found herself buying something for herself and something for Salina, which eventually led to a collection, of sorts. Eventually all those items would end up being donated to make room for more things.
Eventually, Holly decided to start consigning as a way to deal with the excess. However, she became frustrated by the limitations of some consignment shops. So, she decided to make her own – one that would offer “high end without the high prices.” Thus, in 2013 Sparkly Ragz was born, initially in Suisun. When it opened, Holly and Salina stocked the entire store with their own things – over 100 items.
Salina, an actress by training, decided to help out at the shop in between gigs. With Holly still working her full time job, Salina quickly became the face of the business, running day to day operations. Eventually, they became successful enough to allow Holly to quit her corporate job so they could run the shop together; and in 2020, they were able to secure their current location in Benicia (where they had always intended to open). They credit the late Deb Machado of Romancing the Home with helping them find their storefront.
Sparkly Ragz has developed from solely a consignment store to also offering new goods produced by Benicia and greater Solano County artists and makers. Holly told us that Salina has expertly carried out their shared vision – so well, in fact, that there simply wasn’t enough for them both to do at Sparkly Ragz. So, they opened another shop, Le Sparkly Chateau, just up the street from Sparkly Ragz. Le Sparkly Chateau focuses on new goods for home decor, accents, small gifts, barware – all things “sparkly and bubbly.”