If you were driving by a Starbucks in Euless, TX one night this week, you may have heard the laughter and chatter of eight women; talking about things such as generators, permits and a passion for food. These were the women who own and operate their own food trucks in Dallas Fort Worth. They represent 15% of the food trucks in DFW and each of them has 100% passion for their product and the career they have chosen. They are doing it all; scouting locations, buying supplies and cooking food; marketing their truck and keeping the truck in operating condition while still taking care of the families at home.
Some of these women have had their trucks out for several months, some are waiting on their trucks to be finished out or to get through the permitting process but together they bring a unique perspective to the food truck industry. It was my pleasure to spend the evening with Gina and Michelle from Crazy Sisters, Leora from Trailercakes (who had to leave her business partner Heather back at the shop to finish out an order), Ashley from Cup Cakin, Megan and Christina from Good Karma Kitchen, and Natalie and Christina from Red Jett Sweets. Sarah from Taco Heads were not able to join us in person but contributed her thoughts by email.
This is a group of women who are enthusiastic about the food they are selling and confident in the career they have chosen. One could easily assume that there would be competition between the truck owners but that is not the case. This is a group who recognizes the idea of strength in numbers and that they are a group who is stepping outside the stereotypes of food truck operators and making their own way. Conversations varied throughout the night but in all the talk there were three themes over which these women, most of whom had never met, seemed to bond.
1. Balancing work life with home life: Virtually every working woman has concerns about how to balance work and home life but when you are a truck owner and average 15 hour days, the concerns are increased exponentially. All of these women voiced their concerns about how relationships with their kids, significant others and pets are being affected by their career choice.
Several have their kids visit on the truck as much as possible; several have husbands and boyfriends come to the truck for “date night”. Most have become obsessive about making To Do lists, often to the point of scheduling school pick up time. All admitted to having given up ever having a full night’s sleep in order to have time to keep their household running. Even with the schedules and compulsive planning, many of the women admitted to having guilt when family plans have to change because of a catering event or having to call a friend to take care of their pet because they can’t leave the truck to go home to tend to their pets.
One of the ladies admitted that one of the things that she missed from her previous life is cooking dinner. But, when you are cooking for hundreds of people a day, it’s hard to come home and cook for 3 or 4 more. So, family dinners are often from the truck and families and significant others are learning that when one family member owns a food truck the entire family owns a food truck.
2. Mechanical issues: All of the women had multiple storied about learning the technical and physical aspects of running a truck. All agreed that over time their physical strength has grown in ways they never expected. They are lifting 250 pound generators, hitching trailers to trucks, and standing on their feet for hours at a time, often in trailers that are reaching 110 degrees inside. The theme of these ladies’ lives seems to be “learning by doing” and the women have learned to make truck repairs and build their strength and stamina to a point greater than many of the men in their lives.
3. The Power of Partnerships and Camaraderie: All but of two of the trucks are run by partnerships that own and operate the food trucks. The women find their partnerships bring strength to their truck that benefits them in ways they never expected. Across the trucks, the partners have split responsibilities, based on interest and abilities. One woman will be responsible for the truck finances, one responsible for scheduling. One responsible for ordering supplies, one responsible for truck maintenance. Perhaps the most important aspect of the partnership is the one that all shared, each group has one partner who is the dreamer, thinking of multiple trucks and business expansion; the other is the voice of reason, reminding everyone not to take on more than they can handle at the time and building the business slowing and deliberately.
These women also have formed bonds with their other food trucks. They look for ways to make everyone’s truck successful. They talk amongst the truck operators and local businesses about route sharing and how to work with local governments. They exchange ideas on where to buy the best produce and where to park their truck in the off hours. They understand the power of a united group standing together.
Without a doubt, these women are doing it all and doing it well. They have jumped in to what is generally considered a job for a young male and shown that they can roll. They are making a positive impact on the DFW food truck scene and their families and they are serving some darn good food!