Welcome to Chicago North Shore Mom’s weekly feature, Moms in Business (a.k.a. Meet a Mom)! This is a special time of the week where we pause for a few minutes to celebrate and gain inspiration from the incredible moms in our North Shore community. Moms know how to hustle. We are expert multi-taskers and moment-makers! This week’s feature is a Pharmacist by day, award-winning jam maker and children’s author by night, Jill Drury! The mother of 4-year-old Jack has recently published her first children’s book that was inspired by her love of travel called, “Julius and Little Nero,” a whimsical story about a boy on a Roman daydream. The book is transportive, inspiring the love of travel in our little ones (and grownups, too). Welcome, Jill!
Where are you from originally? What brought you to your current town?
Hi! My name is Jill Drury, I have lived in the Chicago area now as a pharmacist for almost 20 years but am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I travel a ton for my day job and briefly lived in NYC. Chicago is home. Great humble people, great food, diversity and Lake Michigan.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have one son named John Jr. but we have always called him Jack. He is my 4 year old best buddy who always has the ability to light up a room with his smile and compassion.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Being a mom is tough. It is a humbling experience to balance everything—my full-time job, my husband John’s full-time job and schedule, projects, quality time, fun time….life! Before becoming a mom I am not sure I had such amazing multitasking and organizational abilities. Well, let’s face it. I am a pharmacist by trade so I did. Haha. 😉 I just didn’t know the power of those skills. 😉 Day to day can be exhausting but I try to give Jack the best life possible so he has good memories of a hard working and loving mom. As they saying goes, “The days are long and the years are short…”
Do you have any parenting tips that make your everyday life a little easier…
Sure! Always have “stuff” on hand. My purse is full and obnoxiously heavy at all times.
My philosophical tip is to not be so hard on yourself. I am guilty of this and it makes the day so much harder. Be kind to yourself, you are only one person. I am honest with Jack, I usually tell him if my day is awful and 100% of the time he makes it better.
Any favorite apps right now?
Instagram is a guilty pleasure. I love looking at photos of travel, food and Rae Dunn items.
Least favorite mom job?
Many of my non-favorite things to do went away with time (bottles, diapers, potty training…). One that always lingers is snack and lunch shopping, and packing. Packing lunch for a kid who doesn’t eat real food is hard . It is especially hard when all the moms around you have kids who apparently eat every veggie or fruit from A-Z. I am always judging myself thinking what did I do wrong.
Erm they definitely don’t, haha! What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am an award winning jam maker and baker. My company is called Jack and Jill’s Laboratory. And, as of late, I am the author of a travel-themed children’s book, “Julius and Little Nero!” I also got my MBA as a mommy when Jack was just 6 months old! My graduate degree is from University of Michigan Ann Arbor (2018) – MBA, PharmD in 2007. Go Blue!
Impressive! And, how delish! How did you get involved with jams and baking? Can anyone purchase Jack and Jill’s Laboratory jams?
Ten years ago I started making jam to honor my late Grandma and that became a fun small business thing to share with friends and patients. Baking was always a love of mine as well and I went on to win awards for some goodies.The jam is no longer for sale to a large customer base. But it can be ordered via email email@example.com or at farmers markets in Summer!
For our out-of-town guests, what are your favorite local places to spend with the family…
This is tough. Chicago has so many great places. But, can I say home? We like being home! We love to get gelato, go through walks in the City and on gloomy days go to Costco to people watch.
What was your most memorable family vacation and why?
We took my mom and Jack to Paris and it was just a great trip to see the “City of Lights” as a mom. To deal with the stroller struggles, food issues, naps and time change, and language barriers on vacation somehow brings you closer together. Visiting Notre Dame before the fire and having those photos will always be a part of Jack’s memory book.
You are a mompreneur! Tell us about your business!
Yes! I’m so excited about my latest creative endeavor – I recently published a children’s book inspired by a love of travel! The book is is called “Julius and Little Nero” inspired by one of my favorite cities in the world – Rome.
I am always finding creative outlets as a way of constantly growing! I am a pharmacist by day and entrepreneur by night. As a pharmacist by trade, I think we all have an entrepreneurial spirit. All those math, science and critical thinking skills can get channeled into so many great opportunities. I parlay these skills into fresh creative endeavors!
What inspired you to write a children’s book about travel?
Our little guy, Jack, is a huge influencer. I love all the new things he gets into as a 4 year old. It keeps my spirit young to see things through his eyes. Yes, there are days I just want him to go to bed! But, his energy and imagination are inspiring. Society influences me everyday. To be kind in a world that is all too often gray. I hope people pick up a copy of “Julius and Little Nero” for a dose of imagination, travel and happiness. I hope they know someone tried their best as a Mom and human and maybe inspired them to travel to Rome and see and try new things.
Once my husband and I both finished graduate school and started seeing the world, travel ideas started to pop in my head. I was convinced at one point I wanted to be a snow globe maker. Go figure! It wasn’t until my baby shower when everyone was giving me books that I realized none of the books inspired imagination and travel! So I set out to write about and explore one of our favorite cities, Rome, in “Julius and Little Nero.”
Generally speaking, I believe it’s healthy to be a passionate person. To put your all into something and be proud of the outcome. To pass something on to others that has pride and meaning. I often find it so hard to find meaning in my 9-5 job yet financially that is what sustains me. Why not try to use those 9-5 resources and in your spare time make the most of your ideas.
What advice do you have for fellow mompreneurs?
My best advice is don’t give up! People say “no” to me all the time. There are people who are unhappy, mean, crabby and just “no” people. I learn to live with and work around those people. That’s not to say the answer should always be “yes,” but it should be ,”maybe” or “how.” And it is also not an excuse to be unprofessional, know your numbers and facts. Be honest and genuine. For example, If you are passionate about making cakes, then you should bake and share the love and see what people think. You never know, maybe it will turn into something else. If you are passionate about writing, publish your work online or print out your work as leave behinds. You never know who may pick it up. There is always a way to get something done and hopefully you can do it with grace and guts.
When the going gets tough….
I usually eat carbs and gelato. I usually try to rest and know that tomorrow is another day.