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Britt Riley: “You are not defined by your mistakes, your best self is shaped by them”

The only way to move forward is to take the next step. When we were going through the three years it took to open our first club, there were many moments when I would look around and think,’ well in order to open this club I need something I do not personally have,’ whether that […]

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The only way to move forward is to take the next step. When we were going through the three years it took to open our first club, there were many moments when I would look around and think,’ well in order to open this club I need something I do not personally have,’ whether that be money or a specific knowledge or skill set I thought was important. And instead of letting those things or any obstacles that arose get in the way of continued forward movement, I would look at the big picture and work backwards to what the smallest next step was in order to move forward, and I would take it. That took a certain tenacity which you have to foster within yourself by always keeping your thoughts on the why and never losing sight of what inspired you in the first place. That is what gave me the discipline to be patient and steadfast enough to keep going until we somehow, some way, had an open, healthy business. I will never forget those times, the most challenging moments when you never question why you are doing it, but you have to question, tear apart and piece back together in tiny bits, the work you are doing to get there.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Britt Riley. Britt Riley has always looked forward to life as a working mother, building dreams with her kids. She is a mother of two young girls, wife, fractional CMO, chair of Founders Networks in Sisterhood (a network of more than 700 tech founders), and now co-founder of the Haven Collection of Clubs. Britt began her career at Patagonia, embodying the spirit of the entrepreneurial millennial: working on marketing strategy and development for a range of luxury travel + tech brands including Bugatti, Everglades, and TUI. She is acutely aware of the importance of the first five years of life both for children and for families and will stop at nothing to evolve the integration of work and life for them.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

At about 3am, in between feeding, catching some z’s and tending to our first daughter I began wondering how people do it, how families are able to have two working parents and tiny kiddos successfully, at the same time. I was working as a fractional CMO at the time, which when it doesn’t involve travel, is a remote job. What I thought would be the best of both worlds — working from home and having a baby there — just wasn’t possible. Even with the best help, I didn’t feel like I was doing either job particularly well; the baby was distracting me from work and vice versa.

So, the idea for The Haven Collection of Clubs was essentially born then, out of a deep-seated need to see the foundation upon which we build our families re-bolstered by a major disruption in the way we approach childcare and work, in order to support the modern family.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Childcare is an industry ripe for evolution. Now that 71% of college degrees are being earned by women, almost all knowledge based jobs are becoming flexible in the sense that the industry enables movement and desks are no longer something people are chained to just for the sake of tradition. With this tech disruption and all of the other waves of change that have come with it, it was clear: childcare now needs to turn into family care, where we take care of every individual member of the family — by providing the highest quality Montessori style daycare and unlimited access to workspace and fitness opportunities. Adding the value back into the major expense that is daycare tuition. Decreasing the minutes spent shuffling from place to place, we take as much stress off the plates of our members as we can in order to provide for optimal productivity, wellness, and meaningful moments as a family.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

In the very beginning of my career I had the opportunity to work in the marketing department at Patagonia. I saw so many young families not only loving parenthood but also loving their work, which made an impact I didn’t realize the depth of until I too became a parent, 10 years later. Their leadership and culture places the wellness of every member of their workforce’s families as paramount which is why they have such low turnover and high productivity. Their employees are the embodiment of that brand. That company was my inspiration for sure.

Over the course of this journey, we have cultivated the most incredible group of mentors, advisors and supporters who have seen the need for and even experienced the need for this solution. That experience at Patagonia though was easily one which had the most impact on me personally.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

The only way to move forward is to take the next step.

When we were going through the three years it took to open our first club, there were many moments when I would look around and think,’ well in order to open this club I need something I do not personally have,’ whether that be money or a specific knowledge or skill set I thought was important. And instead of letting those things or any obstacles that arose get in the way of continued forward movement, I would look at the big picture and work backwards to what the smallest next step was in order to move forward, and I would take it. That took a certain tenacity which you have to foster within yourself by always keeping your thoughts on the why and never losing sight of what inspired you in the first place. That is what gave me the discipline to be patient and steadfast enough to keep going until we somehow, some way, had an open, healthy business. I will never forget those times, the most challenging moments when you never question why you are doing it, but you have to question, tear apart and piece back together in tiny bits, the work you are doing to get there.

You can do whatever you put your mind to if you want it bad enough. — I believe that wholeheartedly, but obviously within reason!

This is certainly one of those things which stems from childhood. For better or for worse, I was raised in a household and a family of entrepreneurial-minded folks. There was never a day that went by where I wasn’t learning or hearing from my parents about things to do with their small businesses and the work of many which is often times done by one or two. As I sat there on the floor of my mother or father’s office, filing invoices in alphabetical order for them or “playing office”, it was instilled in me that I could I could do anything I wanted in life.

For me, the end goal was never about becoming a brain surgeon or an astronaut; rather it was to follow in my parents’ footsteps as business owners driven by their passions in this world. I would watch their highs and lows and would experience all of the glory and difficulty that comes with being an entrepreneur. I was never told that anything was out of my reach even when one of my parents businesses had to be closed or when they were in the troughs of economic downturns, struggling to make ends meet for our family. They never lost that glimmer in their eyes and always encouraged me to also pursue my passions, but that the only way to make it happen was to find solutions to problems and depend on my own educated judgement on what next steps to take. There have been so many “passions” prior to this one which only made it into a notebook, or a thought and some which almost became a real thing but failed for some reason or another, and it is all of that experience which has given me the foundation to successfully take on the childcare industry as we work tirelessly to provide a better future for new parents and their kiddos.

You can’t control what other people say about you, so behave in a way which inspires positivity.

This definitely stems from the whole “you can’t please everyone” argument and the knowledge that no matter how much good you are doing, there will always be someone who finds some fault with it. Acknowledging that jealousy or other ill feelings directed towards me usually has nothing to do with me or my ideas is a very strengthening and centering lesson. That one took years to figure out. There were lots of times where I thought I needed everyone, even the people who just aren’t in the right mental space to have a positive interaction with, to like me or what I was doing. It just isn’t the case, and knowing that they have to do the work when they project that type of negative energy in my direction is very freeing. It frees me from wasting time trying to solve someone else’s internal struggle and gives me the confidence of knowing, that is not my own responsibility anyways. I am my own responsibility, and being the best version of me is the only thing I can completely control.

How are you going to shake things up next?

One of the most surprising things which became apparent once we opened our first club was how undervalued early childhood caregivers are in the workplace. When we were hiring our team we realized that, while this is a passion-based career choice for people, one which requires a bachelor’s degree and nurturing nature towards our tiniest humans, is one of the most undervalued careers there is. It was appalling to hear how little these college graduates were being paid, and that practically none of them were ever offered benefits. We are hoping to reset the bar by making caregivers salaried employees with benefits packages, giving them the careers they have given themselves to, for years before arriving at our door.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

On this journey, I have learned so much from the previous experience of other entrepreneurs and risk takers. There is so much doubt and so many naysayers when you are attempting to do something innovative that you have to definitely look to the experience of others who have pushed through the troughs and ended up achieving their wildest dreams. Hearing the stories of the founders and business owners who are featured on Guy Raz’s podcast “How I Built This” was pivotal for me on a number of occasions. Also, reading motivational and strength fostering guidance from people like Rachel Hollis has been helpful.

The books Family Matters by Malinda Chouinard and Jen Ridgeway and Let My People Go Surfing by Malinda’s husband Yvon, have provided great guidance. These kinds of people helped me to set the type of culture I wanted for my business. I find to be so important to have people like that to look up to through this journey; people who started from nothing as well who have pushed through all of the obstacles and seen their dreams come to fruition.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

When I look back in time through the 100 year lens of The Haven Collection, my greatest hope is that by providing the quality of care that we do from birth through the first five years of life for every member of the family, we are able to see improved maternal health as well as improved long term mental health of the children who begin their life’s journey in our care. This would be without a doubt the greatest impact we could have on the world. There are others, but this would amplify further great movements in humanity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You are not defined by your mistakes, your best self is shaped by them.”

There are so many times in life when people get down on themselves, myself included, for not having done something correctly, or for test scores, missed opportunities or any number of failures. What is important to remind ourselves is that the only real failure or mistake which could be made ultimately is not learning a lesson from whatever happened. Some things hurt more than others and some “failures” take a while before you can really wrap your head around the lesson to be learned.

But, given the time and effort, you can learn valuable personality, character and career-shaping lessons and become a stronger, more resilient person as a result. Opportunity certainly abounds for those who seek it if they are able to climb the steps laid for them by lessons past.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The Haven Collection is on FB and Instagram: @yourhavenlife

Our pilot club The Coggeshall Club is also on both: @thecoggeshallclub on instagram and @coggeshallclub on FB

My personal instagram is @brittriley

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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