Today’s Home Work: Leslie Banker

We love getting to know parents in our community. In our Home Work series, we ask moms and dads how they juggle their work while raising kids, hoping to get some insight on how to better balance our own work/playtime while being introduced to our neighbors and their cool businesses. Today, meet Leslie Banker owner of on-line shop and blog, Empire Delicious. She lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island with her husband and daughter.

Empire Delicious (ED) is a line of fun, simple and chic accessories for decorating and entertaining. It’s a collection of things that make entertaining at home as effortless as possible. The idea behind Empire Delicious is a desire to spend quality time with friends and family. The ED collection includes things for the table and bar, interesting art for the walls, beautiful gift wrapping, and more. Starting this fall, Leslie is collaborating with Edible Rhody (one of our favorite partners) to make some of their beautiful photographs of fruits and veggies available for sale.

ED is offering Kidoinfo readers a 15% discount off all purchases during the month of October.  Use the CODE KIDOINFO15 at checkout to receive 15% off everything in the ED shop, good through October 31, 2012.

Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Leslie Banker: I love decorating and writing and have always wanted to have my own line of things for the house. In my 20s I worked as a journalist and in my 30s I started working as an interior designer and also wrote three books. After I had Harriet I wanted to start my own business so I could work from home and be flexible about time. Empire Delicious, an on-line shop and blog, seemed like the perfect combination of my work experience and things I love doing.

How did you start your business?
Leslie: Slowly but surely I started putting the initial collection of products together. I began my blog and setting the tone for Empire Delicious. It took close to a year to get it ready to launch–Harriet was in a toddler program two to three days per week, so that’s the time I had to work.

How do you balance work and family?
Leslie: Still working on that! I think it’s important to remember that family is the most important thing at the end of the day.

Please describe a typical day.
Leslie: Harriet gets up around 6:30AM and runs into our room. We all get up by about 7AM. I take Harriet to pre-school and while she’s there I do as much as I can for Empire Delicious. I fill orders, work on new designs and products, and take photos for the website, blog posts and the newsletter. Once I pick Harriet up from school I try to keep my phone out of sight and focus on her. We might go to the farm or grocery after school or take care of a few household errands. After Harriet’s dinner and bedtime, I catch up on emails and things I didn’t get to from the day.

personalized stationery for kids

Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Leslie: I’ve had to limit the number of committees and volunteer work that I do. I still want to participate, but I can’t run around to frequent meetings and also keep up with everything else.

If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Leslie: Travel more and just enjoy life more. I would tell my younger self to live a healthier life.

photo print for sale at Empire Delicious

Where do you find inspiration?
Leslie: I feel inspired when spending time with friends and when I do something different from the routine like, for example, when we pack a picnic lunch and just go somewhere.

What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Leslie: iPad? Is it terrible to say? It’s both a kid and parent product. Harriet has puzzles and drawing apps and I have a mobile office. We don’t use it that often, but there are moments when it’s so nice to have.

What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Leslie: We have been listening to these great French songs before bed: The CD is A Tire D’Aile by Helene Bohy and Agnes Chaumie.

What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Leslie: Make play dough from scratch. Sometimes we make hummus in the blender, which is always exciting. When all else fails, we have a dance party.

What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Leslie: Just Kids by Patti Smith. It’s beautifully written. I love how she stuck to the story and I love the portrait of New York at that time.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Leslie: Facebook.

If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Leslie: Exercise more often and get an occasional massage.

Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?
Leslie: Harriet, age three and three-quarters, is now sometimes making things for Empire Delicious. She will fold, crumple, adorn with tape, and color a piece of copy paper and then ask me to photograph it so it gets onto the computer like the other stuff in my shop. I take the pictures then we look at what she made on the computer screen.

How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Leslie: I feel more in charge now than I did before I had a child. I don’t have time to dilly-dally. I’m much more direct about what I want or need, which is helpful for business.

What is next for you and your business?
Leslie: For Empire Delicious I’m working on expanding the collection of items in the shop. I’m so excited to be collaborating with Edible Rhody starting this fall to make some of their photographs of fruits and veggies available for sale. The images are amazing and are going to look so great in kitchens, dining rooms, or wherever.

As for me, I love being back at work and doing what I’m doing. So, I’m just going to keep going and see where it leads.

Photo Credit: Andrea Hansen

About Anisa Raoof
Anisa Raoof is the publisher of She combines being a mom with her experience as an artist, designer, psych researcher and former co-director of the Providence Craft Show to create the go-to spot for families in Rhode Island and beyond. She loves using social media to connect parents with family-related businesses and services and promoting ways for parents to engage offline with their kids. Anisa believes in the power of working together and loves to find ways to collaborate with others. An online enthusiast, still likes to unplug often by reading books and magazines, drawing, learning to knit, making pop-up books with her two sons and listening to records with her husband.

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