Mother & Daughter, Inc.
Perhaps no family dynamic is more complex than the one between a mother and daughter -- an emotional cocktail that mixes love with equal parts defiance and devotion, respect and regret. Placing the same two people in business together might seem like one way to set the stage for explosive results. But in fact, when today's new generation of moms and daughters join entrepreneurial forces, both reap personal as well as financial rewards.
Although this phenomenon is so new that no one has tracked the numbers, the rise of women in the workforce generally has paved the way for such mother-daughter teams. Between 1997 and 2006, the number of woman-owned companies grew at nearly twice the U.S. average -- rising from 5.4 million to 7.7 million.
Here are five mother-daughter duos who've turned their talents, energy, and shared values into success stories.Mysteries, They Wrote
Traci & P.J. Lambrecht, Authors
"I do think we might share a brain," says Traci Lambrecht, who is half of a writing team that publishes under the pseudonym P.J. Tracy. The other half is her mother, P.J. Lambrecht. Writing in a single, seamless voice, the two have sold more than a million books, including comic whodunits Monkeewrench, Dead Run, and Snow Blind.
"We both have a dark and twisted sense of humor," says Traci, 40, "so that makes writing together easier." P.J., who's 61, concurs, adding, "neither of us is the leader of the team, so there aren't a lot of disagreements."
To write their thrillers, Traci travels from Los Angeles every other month and spends two to three weeks at her mother's farmhouse in rural Chisago City, Minnesota. There in P.J.'s home office, mother and daughter contribute equally to character development, dialogue, and their books' grisly humor. In Snow Blind, for instance, a killer stuffs his victims into snowmen -- just before they're judged in a charity snowman-building event. "We act out the dialogue," says Traci. "And we laugh a lot."
After developing the basic structure of a book, they retire to their respective cities and keyboards, revising drafts daily through e-mail and phone calls. P.J.'s husband, Ted Platz, a retired electrician, says their relationship is more like that of siblings than mother and daughter; in fact, Traci has always called her mother "P.J." "When we read our finished books, we can never remember who contributed what," says Traci.
The two women have been collaborating since Traci -- an only child -- was a kid. At bedtime they'd create tales in which P.J. would come up with one paragraph and Traci would provide the next. "We lived in the country with few neighbors, so neither one of us had anyone to play with," says P.J., who recalls few blowups -- even in the early years when Traci threatened to paint her room black during a punk rock phase.
P.J. began publishing short stories in the Saturday Evening Post in 1975 and romance novels for Harlequin in 1983. Then one day Traci, who'd graduated from college, needed money for a trip to Europe. P.J., who was overwhelmed with writing assignments, suggested they collaborate on a short story. They churned out the piece in a week, split the $2,000 fee, and the mother-daughter franchise was born. "Writing is usually a solitary endeavor," says Traci, who moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to live with screenwriter Dale Launer. "It's easier when you have a partner who can serve as a sounding board."
Since then, the mother-daughter collaboration known as P.J. Tracy has published 22 books, earning fans in 27 countries. In 2000 they were burnt out, so they took a break from romances and tried their hand at a mystery. Their first was Monkeewrench, a tale of a series of murders instigated by a computer game in which the killer is always caught. Published in 2003, the book quickly became a best seller in the United States and Europe and earned P.J. and Traci the prestigious Anthony Award for mystery writers.
They're now working on their fifth mystery/thriller. "We have no idea who's going to fall in love and who we're going to kill off," says Traci. "But getting there is all the fun."