Candy Johnson Bellau and Kenny Bellau know the secret to happiness: spending time together and with their 1-year-old daughter. They also know that owning a business takes work, persistence and commitment. How are they able to run two companies and find time for the close-knit family life that’s so important to them?
Loving each other – and New Orleans
Candy is the owner of Kramerica Business Solutions, which provides accounting and business consulting services to small and mid-sized companies. The New York native is a problem-solver whose passion is helping companies grow and succeed by facilitating good business function and practices.
Kenny is an elite level bicycle racer, and after nearly 20 years on the Pro-Am bicycle racing circuit, is now involved in the transition of his team, Palmer Cycling, into an elite semi-pro racing team. He’s a 10th generation New Orleanian who says his family “was here before anyone spoke English,” and has pursued various creative opportunities including flipping houses, writing, and acting in local film productions and commercials.
They met in 2005 in New Orleans when Candy came to visit friends for Mardi Gras, and they’ve been together ever since. Candy tried to persuade Kenny to relocate to New York, but when she realized how strong Kenny’s connection is to his hometown, she decided that she would take a leap of faith and make the move to a new city and a new life.
Starting over in a new city
Candy had to give up everything to move to New Orleans: her home, friends, and clients of the successful consulting business that she had started in New York. Undaunted, she handed her clients over to some trusted colleagues, packed her bags, and moved to the Big Easy.
Rebuilding a business in a new city where you have no contacts is difficult and scary, but Candy worked hard, persevered and eventually developed a roster of new clients. During this time, she was also adjusting to the culture of her new home. As she puts it, “I was becoming a Southerner. I learned how to slow down, and realized that New Orleans has its own pace, which is very different from the go-go, hard-charging character of New York.”
A new baby and shifting priorities
By the time Candy and Kenny married in 2014, they were leading the busy life of two successful professionals. Candy was expanding her business – her client list was growing and she was in the process of hiring additional staff – and Kenny was spending part of the year conducting bike tours across the country. Life was good, but it was about to dramatically change for the happiest reason. Daughter Sofia’s birth in 2015 completely shifted their personal and business priorities. Caring for her and making sure they had family time together became their main focus, which meant that they had to re-think their approach to how they ran their businesses.
How the lessons of parenthood can translate to the business world
Not surprisingly, becoming parents in their forties was a life-altering experience for Candy and Kenny. Parenthood has taught them that time is precious, and making the most of that time means setting priorities and being able to let go and say no.
When you’re raising a family and running multiple businesses, it’s vital to have a strong team around you. “It’s great to have a partner that I can depend on 100%,” says Candy, “and that’s what I have with Kenny.” Business owners must be able recognize when a team member is hurting instead of helping; there is no time for disruptions, and you need to be willing to make changes if necessary.
They also advise that business owners must have a good relationship with their banker, and consider their Whitney banker Jason Gauthier to be an indispensable part of their team. Candy says she’s worked with many bankers through the years in New Orleans and in New York, and no one has provided the level of service she receives at Whitney. “I’ve called Jason while traveling and he’s always there to help me. I don’t even have to use my last name, just ‘Hi, this is Candy,’ and he has my account pulled up, ready to help me. He’s the best.”
Kenny adds, “Things got pretty chaotic when the baby came. We had a new, growing business, a new cycling team, a small house and a baby. It was hard to stay on top of things for a few months, but we kept on track with Whitney’s monitoring and account alerts.”
So happy together
Kenny says that he can’t believe how much his life has changed in such a short period of time – and he couldn’t be happier about it. As he puts it, “These days, it’s all about Sofia. We have so much fun with her, and we’re so happy when we’re all together.”
Candy Johnson Bellau and Kenny Bellau have forged a true partnership, and while they’re not sure if they always achieve work/life balance, they’re positive that they’ve found their own unique formula for business success and family bliss.
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