Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. My name is Kathryn Hubert. I am the oldest of four girls, originally from Long Beach, CA, my family moved to Boone, NC when I was seven. As a result, I feel at home both in the mountains and at the ocean! I have loved food for as long as I can remember, and have early memories of making food out of construction paper as a four or five year old. The kitchen became my playground as a high-schooler and a way for me to be creative and express myself. It also became a tangible way that I could show my friends and family that I cared about them as well as a practical way to satisfy the fact that I love to eat!! My parents are both avid cooks and love learning new things, which cultivated a spirit in me to explore and try new things. As a result, my sisters and I all love music, art, traveling, dance, gardening, hiking, movies, writing, playing games, animals, and adventures. Basically, our motto is work hard and work first, but don’t forget to play hard too. :)
Q. What is your work?
A. My most recent work venture is a small French cafe in downtown Greensboro, called Chez Genèse, which stands for the place of Genesis or the place of new beginnings. We are open every day from 8am-2pm and serve breakfast and lunch. It’s our goal to create community by serving great food and coffee and by being an inclusive work environment by hiring adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (just over 50% of our staff). It was my hope and heart to create a space that both met a need in the Greensboro community, but that also honored my team. I want my team to be so proud of where they work and to know that they are valued and worthy, because they are!! I wanted to give them the very best.
This restaurant has been in the making for at least 6 years and combines several different personal life experiences into one concept. First and foremost, I have three cousins with Autism, who have rocked my world in the best way and inspired my heart. In addition to that, my education background is in culinary and hospitality and I have also worked with the Autism Society of NC and in special education in the Guilford County school system. I also spent a year living in France in my early twenties, and absolutely fell in love with the country and people. The French understand and prioritize the connection that happens across the table, and their mentality of “when you are in my home, my time is yours!” seemed to fit hand in hand with the community and mission that I wanted to cultivate.
Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. Being a very new business owner, which really feels like being a new mom a lot of days, I would have to say I’m pretty excited to be working on growing and developing my team. They have become my family, and watching them thrive makes me so proud. When we hired, we hired for heart and work ethic. Restaurant skills were not necessary. I told my team that they didn’t have to know how to cook or serve, but they had to be willing to work hard and give me their best. They show up every day and do just that and as a result, it has been an honor to teach and implement the cooking and serving skills. We are all still growing and learning, but oh my gosh, the skills that they have developed in the past 6 months (both personally and professionally) have been incredible. It makes me all soft inside and I’m happy to brag on them any day. The air of hospitality that you breath when you walk in our doors is credited to the 24 people on our staff who pour their hearts and smiles into their work every day.
Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Taking one day off a week! It took a solid three months before I felt like I could leave, but now I protect that day at all costs! It costs me more short term to take a day for myself, but in the long run, I know I am setting myself and my team up to be sustainable and successful. Sometimes, I still feel guilty for being gone, but it not only gives me a chance to catch my breath and live life, it also shows my team that I am confident in their abilities and trust them to operate independently. I think that it also communicates that I do value personal/work life balance, which is something I want to provide for each of them.
Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it? If not, why not? What's stopping you?
A. I think I have finally settled on it, but it took a long time to get there. I spent a couple of years going back and forth about whether or not I really wanted to start this project because I knew the sacrifice and time commitment it would take to do it. I’m not a lazy person, but it is daunting giving all your time, effort, money, and heart into something that could fail. And, I am a high achiever with a big fear of failure! In the end, I felt like God gave me the option of joining in on this adventure and I was kind of gently pushed into jumping in! Once I did though, I knew it was the right step and never regretted the decision. I have cried many tears, and faced some hard challenges, but I have also been met with an incredible community of people who have rallied around this project and truly made it possible. We had over 300 people who participated in getting Chez Genèse off the ground, whether it was financially, with their time, or talents. I have honestly played only a small part in what I hope you get to see and experience today! It’s exciting to just be part of the process!
Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Relax! Grades are good, but so are friends. Balance is a good thing, and harder to achieve than it seems like it should be! Be disciplined and do your best, but not to the point of isolating yourself from the world or people around you. In the end, it’s your experiences and the people you meet that will impact you more than an A in your online math class. :)
Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. I tend to have different mottos for different seasons! Sometimes I need one that is comforting and provides kind encouragement, and at other times, I need one that will kick me into gear! “For such a time as this” has been a consistent thread in my life, as well as “just do the next thing” when life is overwhelming. My last motto; however, was the quote from Home Alone, “this is it. Don’t get scared now.” When I was getting ready to open the restaurant, I had a picture of little Kevin McCallister as my screensaver to remind me not to back down now! It was goofy, but it actually helped a lot.
Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Remembering my “why”. In the midst of busy schedules, chaos, and routine, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and to-do lists and forget the big picture. It’s in those moments that I can easily get frustrated by either the fast pace or mundane and lose sight of my passion. My original “why” traces back to my cousins, Zachary, Tyler and Tate and has grown to encompass my entire team. It’s their faces and enthusiasm that constantly drive me to push myself and our team and seek out new ideas and growth.
Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. A cup of coffee or a good meal! If you stop by the restaurant, please come say hi. I love getting to meet and interact with the friends who share our space. You keep us going!
Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?
A. Confession: I don’t have one. I have never gotten into yoga. I don’t know how to relax enough to actually enjoy yoga and end up frustrated or bored, which yoga instructors always tell me means I’m not doing it right, which stresses me out because I don’t like to fail, so VICIOUS CYCLE! I just say, “nah, yoga” and choose more active exercise instead. Moving around and moving in a direction (so running, hiking, etc) helps me clear my head which ultimately enables me to relax. So, I’m super impressed by people who excel at yoga (and I think the clothes are super on point) but it’s not for me!
Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. By surrounding myself with people who are honest and loving. Life is crazy, beautiful and hard, but doing it with people that know me and that invite me into their world and hearts makes all the difference.