We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work hard, play hard. It’s a motto to live by as a business owner.
Regardless of whether I was working in an hourly job, or starting a business; the harder I worked, the more I imagined I might play in the future. As an hourly employee working in someone else’s business, actually getting to ‘play hard’ often meant either taking time off of work completely, or constantly running just on the edge of burnout (working and playing hard is exhausting, after all).
I told myself I was young, and now was the time to rack up the work hours. Hard Work = Success.
At some point in my early 20’s, the call of ‘Life’ rang out loud and clear. Call it a quarter life crisis, but I quit my job, stuffed my meagre belongings into a storage unit, packed a bag and boarded a plane. I spent four months backpacking around South East Asia before running out of money and heading to Perth, Australia with a work visa in hand. Perth, as it turned out, felt just like San Diego, only… Slower. Less traffic. Quieter beaches. Even the internet was snail paced. It was like landing in what I imagined to be San Diego of the 1980’s.
As an added bonus, the minimum hourly wage was $23. Well. You had better believe I got right back to work. I started racking up the usual 45-50+ hour weeks. Life could wait.
Eventually I met my partner, fell in love, and decided that this quieter version of San Diego might be a nice place to settle down. Plus, there was a gaping hole in the market that I was confident we could fill.
Perth had no Tacos, and very few places serving good beer. No joke. I still can’t find a decent burrito in this town. As a San Diegan, it was utterly incomprehensible that there was nowhere to enjoy a fresh West Coast IPA and a few Baja Fish Tacos. It was absolute sacrilege.
So, I rolled up my sleeves and told myself it was time to get to work. We started a bar/ restaurant, and again, it was time to rack up the work hours. Again, ‘Life’ became precariously balanced somewhere around the edges of all of these ‘Work’ hours. ‘Life’ was something to squeeze in- a coffee with friends, a date night with the significant other, a walk on the beach. Don’t get me wrong- in my experience, starting a business requires an insane number of long hours, anxiety, sweat, and tears in the beginning to really get things established and rolling. It’s a hard slog.
That ‘breaking point’ began to creep up again after a few years, but this time I couldn’t just quit and board a plane. I had a business to run. I don’t know when it dawned on me, but at some point, I looked around at our beautiful beaches and quiet little town, and I realized that ‘Life’ shouldn’t wait. Date night shouldn’t wait. Beach walks and bushland exploring with friends shouldn’t wait.
After all of those years of prioritizing work, I’d be lying if I said that it has been an easy mental transition, but I have come to truly appreciate a healthier balance between ‘Life’ and ‘Work’. There is a lot of juggling to be done as a business owner, but there are just some ‘Life’ balls that are too important to drop. Close relationships with family and friends take time and nurture. For me, that has meant setting out clear expectations, and trusting our team to work with us to reach our business goals. Bringing on an extra team member may mean a drop in profit, but does it give me an extra day a week off to live my life? Are my relationships stronger because of it? Am I happier? I have come to realize that I can’t do all of the work on my own, nor should I. There is a certain give and take, and I try to prioritize ‘Life’ everywhere I can.
Every day I try to ask myself, does this need to be done now? Is there someone else who can do it? Am I ignoring an important part of my life to get this done? Because at the end of the day, no matter how hard you work, there is no substitution for life.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We pride ourselves on being a valued part of the community and on pushing the boundaries of ‘the norms’ in our industry. We use free-range meats, local produce, and locally caught and processed seafood- when you go through over 45,000 lbs of produce and protein a year that’s a huge deal! We are super proud of creating our little piece of San Diego away from home, and still sticking to local, fresh ingredients. It’s tempting to import tons of Sierra Nevada (I do love a good Torpedo IPA), or throw a few Pabst in the fridge for fun, but at the end of the day, ‘fresh and local’ are more important factors to us.
That means making our own tortillas, spice mixes, sauces, etc all in house rather than importing, as well as seeking out epic local breweries. Our place is like ‘San Diego’, but with ‘Perth’ ingredients.
The biggest challenge I faced, was that by business partner was also my life partner. “How dreamy!” that might sound. “How beautiful, you get to create something so fun together!” was the common feedback. What no one ever warns you is that spending 24/7 with any human being is hard. What makes your partner a great business partner, might be aspects of their personality that grate on your nerves as a life partner. It also means work always comes home with you; there’s no leaving it at the front door as you come in. You can talk about it over coffee, at work, in bed, on walks, on vacation. You can’t come home and vent about your work to your partner. They were there, and they’re probably half of what you need to vent about. The boundaries between work partner and life partner begin to blur, and can take a massive toll on both relationships.
It took us nearly three years to figure out that it was essential for both the survival of our business, and for our relationship, to split up our roles. We created job descriptions for ourselves as if we were key staff- and not only stuck to them, but gently held each other accountable for, and supported one another, in our separate roles. We learned to leave work at work whenever possible. Rules like ‘No work talk in bed’ or ‘No shop talk on date night’ were put in place. For us, this transition had a huge positive impact.
To anyone looking at starting a business with their best friend or significant other, I would honestly say, DON’T DO IT. Or, if you’re crazy enough to do it, set out clear, healthy boundaries from the beginning. Don’t brush it off thinking it can wait. It can’t.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Let’s say I’m visiting the area! After these COVID border lockdowns, I’m ready for a trip home! Now, let’s say I’m lucky enough to bring an Australian friend with me?
Day 1: Escape the airport and go straight to Extraordinary Desserts on Union St for a little pick-me-up sweet and a coffee. Best desserts in town! I’d book an air BnB in Ocean Beach to ease our way into SD. It is still my favorite place to have lived in San Diego. It can be raw and gritty, but it’s also uniquely authentic of full of amazing people!
Day 2: Spent walking around OB and along Sunset Cliffs enjoying the views. Maybe a picnic somewhere along the cliffs. Then a trip over to OB Noodle House for Happy Hour! Some delicious pho and cheap beers never hurt anyone.
Day 3: Head over to PB for a little shopping on the strip, and honestly, mostly to people watch. PB is wild and weird. Escape back to OB and head for some live music down at Winston’s. It’s one of San Diego’s live music gems, in my opinion.
Day 4: A night of luxury over at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. Even if it’s just for a single-night staycation, the grounds are beautiful and it’s nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the coast.
Day 5: Ramona! Get country! If there’s the rodeo on in Ramona or Poway you’re even luckier. If not, a hike out to Devil’s Punchbowl or Black Canyon Waterfalls.
Day 6: Back to the coast and stay in Encinitas. It’s an awesome, super walkable beach town with laidback (but classy?) vibes. The Saturday Bazaar markets are always fun for unique homegoods and jewellery, clothes, etc. I’d probably go for a day jaunt out to Annie’s Canyon in Solana Beach, with its undulating coastal canyons and caves, and stop in at Pizza Port for bar snacks, and again….delicious beers (is there a trend here?).
Day 7: Off to La Jolla cove for a snorkel. If visibility is good it makes for a super approachable, easy snorkel. Bright orange garibaldi’s, kelp beds, and if it’s breeding season, leopard sharks! It’s a pretty magical feeling swimming over dozens of slow moving sharks. If we were feeling famished after I’d head to Bubbas Smokehouse for some greasy, good old fashioned smoked meats and BBQ. A stop into the Comedy Store for a few laughs in the evening is almost mandatory.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Team! Behind every great business is an amazing team. It ebbs and flows, and you’ve got everything from long-term rockstars to brief fly-ins, but a good team is invaluable. As a business owner, cultivating that culture is critical and takes concise expectation-setting and motivating, but the payoff is massive. Nothing beats a solid team.