RRP: Being a working mom and entrepreneur, how do you balance your life and determine how to be present for your family?
AJ: I had to get my core values in line. They serve as an unwavering guide for every decision I make. I also admitted I needed help and learned it’s okay to outsource. I hired a house cleaner and sent the laundry off (with pickup and delivery), which was helpful. I began to be less on edge at home, be present for my family with a better attitude, and not constantly think about what needed to get done.
RRP: What was the most unexpected thing you experienced as a mother?
AJ: Resentment. I had a plan before I had kids that I was still attempting to follow. It was an impossible task, and I had to realize the old plan was not realistic. It didn’t include the immense love and desire to be present at home. So, I made a new plan. A strategy that would move me to generate passive income included building JDB Hospitality’s team so everything didn’t fall just on me.
RRP: How did you become passionate about tourism, and was it a calling to turn your passion into a business?
AJ: My foundation for entertaining guests began working as the “Lead Hospitality Garcon” at the extravagant parties my grandparents threw. While serving as the Director of Communications at Central Restaurant, the Governor of Alabama appointed me to serve on the State Board of Tourism. I did a lot of research, which led me to realize I could help organizations curate itineraries throughout Central Alabama by starting my own tourism and destination management business.
RRP: How do you encourage your two children at a young age to embrace their passions?
AJ: We strive to create opportunity, access, and exposure to all different careers, sports, passions, etc. Children learn by doing. I make it a point to enroll them in as many diverse after-school and seasonal programs as possible. Also, we talk to them. We ask questions and don’t let them give one-word answers, even the three-year-old. The goal for us is to raise well-rounded children. We try not to sweat one passion just yet. We are still exploring.
RRP: How do you foster strong relationships with your children?
AJ: I don’t dismiss their feelings and work to put down the phone. At times, children may not know how to express their feelings. They may cry or want to lay on you all day. In my case, when this happens, it’s because they want some mom time. Every morning, we wake up early, watch cartoons, and drink coffee before getting ready for school. It has become our thing. I am not always home at 6 pm, but I am home at 6 am. So, I take those moments seriously and use them to bond.
RRP: You had your son two weeks into the pandemic. What did that experience teach you?
AJ: I learned that it was okay to do absolutely nothing. I spent 18 months prioritizing my family, learning to manage two children (two and under), creating magic moments without ever leaving the house, and realizing how much I loved just doing nothing with my husband. It brought my family together and helped us see the light in a dark time.
RRP: How do you maintain your own identity as a mother?
AJ: First, I had to figure out my identity as a mother. I had to ask myself: What do you value and even like to do? The last question was the hardest because I realized I couldn’t be out all night or travel all over the country. I learned I like lunch dates with friends and brunch. Professionally, I changed my target market to fit my new life. I found alternative ways to network besides after-hour drinks and dinner.
RRP: What was most important to you during your children’s first year of life?
AJ: When my husband and I started building a family, I vowed to spend the first year of their life mainly at home. Because I owned my own business, my clients got to know my children well. I only had clients who understood and respected my wishes.
RRP: What role has your mother played in your parenting journey?
AJ: She taught us to be independent and to be young entrepreneurs selling cookies to neighbors. She taught us critical thinking skills at a young age and would make us explain why we made bad decisions, not just punish us for them. We could tell our mom we wanted to do and be anything, and she would support us.
Ashley Jernigan is married to Carl Jernigan for nine years. They have two children, Helena (5) and Ashton (3), and live in Pike Road, AL.