This week, we’re sitting with the uber inspiring Becky Balderstone, mama of two beautiful children and founder of organic produce company Ripe. Becky talks to us about juggling a booming business with motherhood and lets us in on a few of her favourite activities in Dubai.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I’m 32 and originally from the United Kingdom. James, my husband, is from Australia, but we have been living in Dubai for the pastnine years and now have two children; Freya, who’s 2, and Buddy, who’s 11 months old.
I have always worked for large brands in roles with a marketing focus. I also ran my own brand consultancy company, Beka Group, which is still going strong today. Beka Group helps introduce brands to the Middle East market; supporting the company from start to finish with everything from understanding market conditions to appointing distributors and implementing a marketing and product launch plan.
Ripe was born when I decided I wanted to do something I was passionate about. A few years ago, my husband was working on a big agricultural project and realised there were no food markets in the UAE selling fresh, organic produce from local farms. I love visiting food and craft markets in the UK and Australia and the concept for Ripe channeled many of the things I treasured from those experiences. I wanted to bring farmers markets to the UAE, where the focus was not only on food, but on providing a space for the community to interact and a platform for talented local artisans to sell their wares.
Since then, Ripe has blossomed as a company, developing into other areas across the UAE; fruit and veg boxes, home delivery, online ordering, retail stores, corporate sales and community and school initiatives.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
I launched Ripe when I was 10 weeks pregnant so I never really got out of the swing. I haven’t taken any time off since having the babies, however I have scaled back on work, especially meetings. Freya loved coming to work with me, so she was by my side through everything we did in the early Ripe days. After a few home renovations, I was able to create an office that allowed me to work and spend time with the kids during the day.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
Balancing work and being a mother isn’t easy, but getting organized and being disciplined with my time helps. I work in the mornings and then do activities with the kids in the afternoon. Since Ripe is a family business, some of my work involves the kids as well; we often pop into the Ripe Farm shop in Umm Sequim to see what’s happening and we visit the Ripe Markets at the weekends as a family.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
I have an excellent team around me both at work and at home, and they are the key to being able to manage my time and enjoy running a business and being a mother. I also plan a lot! It helps me to stay focused and productive, especially during the busy parts of the season.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Dubai?
Follow your dreams. It’s not easy having your own business in Dubai, but doing something you love and are really passionate about means it doesn’t always feel like work.
Favourite activity with your kids in Dubai?
We’re outdoorsy family; being at the beach or going on an adventure in the park are some great ways to get outside with the kids. My kids are quite young so we don’t go to wild with the activities, but Freya and Buddy both love animals so we make regular visits to the Dubai Aquarium and the zoo.
We love hanging out at home too and make great use of our back garden; a little imagination can keep the little ones entertained all afternoon.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
Definitely Jamie Oliver’s – hands down. The food is great for kids and the staff are awesome, they really enjoy interacting with the children too! Since it’s full of families, no one minds if there’s a bit of noise.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot?
As our children are so young, we tend to head to my husband’s parents’ house in Australia, just outside of Sydney. It is five minutes from the beach and they have a number of animals including, horses, chickens, sheep, cows and a dog, which my kids love. It’s amazing how much fun the kids have on the farm; from tractor rides and dog walking to playing in the playground and collecting eggs from the Chook shed, there are so many fun activities to keep them busy.
And with such great weather, we can get out and about; go for an early morning surf, walk along the beach, go for bike rides and obviously explore the amazing farmers markets to indulge in some great food from local vendors.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Juggling a busy business like Ripe and being a parent is tough, so putting aside quality time for each other is really important in our relationship. Date night is a great way for us to spend time together as well as do fun, kid-free activities and of course, try out local restaurants.
We also see hobbies as an important element of our relationship and appreciate spending time with our friends.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
We love Zuma; the food is amazing and there is a really nice, fun and informal vibe about the place.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Trust your instincts: don’t get caught up in the do’s and don’ts and instead, go with what you think is right for your child.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Sleep is so precious! I think many mamas to be will know sleep is soon to be forfeited, but until the time comes, you won’t realize just how precious. Savour those moments of quiet while you can.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Capturing special moments on camera and documenting the fun we’ve had as family so far. Special moments pass by too quickly sometimes and everyday fun can be quickly forgotten. I recently bought myself an iPhone in the hope of snapping away more freely. I just to need to put together some albums now.
My most humbling mama moment was…
When my daughter told me I was her best friend…what a cutie!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Spending quality time with my children. Work is important to me but my children come first.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Vegetables. Ripe prides itself on offering the best locally grown, organic fruit and veg in town, so each season I want to make sure the quality of everything coming out of the ground is the best.
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
Want to spend quality time as a family with them.
My favourite moment of the day is…
A freshly brewed coffee…after my morning green juice of course!
I always feel saner after…
A massage. I love reflexology and if I have had a stressful week, it’s the perfect way to unwind and relax.
I wish I had more time for…
Friends. What with two young children, a husband and Ripe, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to spend with friends.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
My husband and I put our kids to sleep together; two pairs of hands are always better than one.
These gorgeous photos of Becky, Freya and Buddy are courtesy of the hugely talented and very lovely Claire Barlow of Claire Barlow Photography.