Jody Steinhauer is chief visionary officer of The Bargains Group Ltd. (TBG), a Toronto-based discount family clothing wholesaler. Founded in her basement in 1986, “Bargain Jody” has grown TBG into three divisions — retail clothing, promotional items and corporate wear — offering more than 4,000 items at up to 80% off regular retail prices. Steinhauer is also the recipient of several awards, including the Top 40 Under 40 and Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award for innovation.
With a huge roster of work, personal and charity obligations, Steinhauer’s schedule is enough to leave the average person breathless. But Steinhauer, 42, is not your average woman. She’s found the secret to being a happy mother, entrepreneur, philanthropist, wife and friend — all at the same time.
“My day is organized to the exact minute,” says Steinhauer. But to stay ultra-organized, she enlists some help. “I have several people who keep me in line,” she says. “I’m very good at saying to people: make me do it.”
At home, Steinhauer employs a full-time nanny/housekeeper to run the house and look after her kids (nine-year-old daughter Spencer and four-year-old son Dawson): “She is the VP of the house. She manages every aspect. During business hours, she’s the boss.”
At work, Steinhauer credits her assistant, Holly for keeping her schedule on track. “She runs my life,” says Steinhauer. “She’s my full-time left hand.”
And in order to accommodate her personal philanthropic interests — fighting poverty and homelessness — Steinhauer has made working with charitable causes part of her company’s mandate. The result is several annual company initiatives such as toy and snowsuit drives and working with the Salvation Army. “I’ve figured out a way to donate and mentor and give back,” says Steinhauer, “and do all of that within my business day.”
While she admits that she happily runs on just three hours of sleep a night, she’s also adept at “working smarter, not harder” to make the most of her time. For example, she uses her BlackBerry as only an emergency phone and limits e-mail to just her employees and her husband. Steinhauer often answers her e-mails at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. in the morning. And she has built processes and structures into her company in order to pare down her direct duties, freeing her up to build relationships with potential clients.
When juggling so many balls, “there are compromises, no question,” she says, such as dropping extras like the weekly manicure, making do with three workouts a week instead of five and letting laundry pile up a little bit longer. “If something doesn’t happen or doesn’t work out, I don’t beat myself up about it. Goals are there to be goals. You never get everything done that you want to,” says Steinhauer. “Every day is a new day, and I have a very positive attitude towards it.”