Meet and Love: Ali Cayne
Alison Cayne is the founder of a Manhattan business called Haven’s Kitchen. We are so excited to have her on our next panel on Tuesday, May 28 about the art of balancing motherhood and owning a business. We wanted you all to get to know her a little bit before chatting with her next week. Enjoy!
1. First, tell us a little about yourself and Haven's Kitchen?
Haven’s Kitchen is a recreational cooking school, café and event space on West 17th street. Last year, we launched a line of fresh sauces at Whole Foods and other groceries, so now we do that, too! I opened Haven’s in 2012 to (re)connect people with cooking — to give them confidence to make their own food and feed their friends, and to make positive impact on our food system, because home cooking is good for us and good for our planet.
2. What was your biggest inspiration for starting Haven's Kitchen?
I’d have to say my kids. I learned through them that the way to inspire people and motivate them is through getting them to enjoy themselves and the process. So, we teach cooking without a strict recipe and we’ve built an inclusive community where people can let their guards down and find joy. Our sauces are an extension of that - people can play with them and make them their own. That way they have more fun, feel more confident and cook more often. I learned that if my mission was supporting people on their cooking journeys, I had to, above all, make it FUN.
3. What is your favorite part about being your own boss?
I love my job so much. And part of it, for sure, is that I have the ability to make my own schedule. But I think my favorite part of leading a team is learning how to be a better leader. It’s about personal development and continually challenging myself and I love that I get to do that.
4. What is the most challenging aspect of being your own boss?
Well I am a strong believer that assets are liabilities and liabilities are assets, so if my favorite part of my job is the personal growth that comes with learning to lead a team, then it’s also the most challenging part. I come right up against my own issues pretty much every day. No one to blame. It’s on me to make things groove.
5. Please take us through an average day in the life of Alison Cayne.
I have no average days! Every day is different and that’s what makes it fun. I can say that I wake up around 6:45, eat dinner with my kids at night, and try to be asleep by 10:30. Sleep is everything.
6. What are your everyday essentials for when you’re on-the-go?
Water! I need to have a bottle of water with me at all times. I also like lip balm and Ricola cough drops.
7. What is your biggest piece of advice for mothers?
I have a few parenting goals:
-Teach my kids that their instincts will guide them well. No other voice - not mine, not their friends’ - will give them as much wisdom as their own.
-Don’t attach my ego to their successes or challenges. My job is like the bumpers on the lane at the bowling alley – just to keep the ball from totally derailing. What they do, where they go, that’s their journey and my role is to give them support along the way.
-Be honest about who you are. They can smell inauthenticity and it doesn’t work. Let them know who you are and what you care about. Be real.
8. What has been your most significant obstacle while balancing motherhood and your career? How did you overcome it?
I opened Haven’s when my youngest was 5, and it was a big transition for my kids because I became (and still am) totally consumed by work. But they’ve grown up with a mother who loves her work and gets deep satisfaction from it and I think that is a great gift for them. Dinner together at least a few times a week keeps us all connected.
9. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. How do you take care of your mental health?
I do Kundalini yoga twice a week and take an Epsom salt bath most nights before bed. I also love reading at night and try to put the phone away. And I’ll say it again: Sleep is EVERYTHING.
10. Lastly, what does Love Squad mean to you?
Find the people in your life who leave you feeling full and seen. That’s your squad. Trust those people, listen to them and nurture those relationships. I’m 47 years old and I can tell you that life is too short for relationships that drain you or you keep just because of inertia. Choose those people that you let in and then really, truly let them in.