Interview by Faith Briggs
It’s Wednesday at 3pm, to some this might seem like a weird time to be out riding bicycles, but it’s the perfect time for Jenn Pereau. As the founder of Rawdacious and the newly opened cafe Tiny Moreso, an avid cyclist, runner, and mom, the middle of the day is the best way to sneak away for a midday road ride.
As we peel off from the shop and head up towards Forest Park she breathes one of those wide real smiles that are part of the gift of spending time with Jenn. “I really just started riding again, and looking forward to it and getting excited about it and heading back out on rides by myself.” We talk about running and riding and climbing and how you go through these phases about what you want to do more and we both agree on the joy of being on a bike, every single time.
Jenn is a few years older than me and I just kind of look at her and think #goals which she’d probably say “yea, right” to, but for me, she’s someone that lives life with passion, keeps great energy and surrounds herself by an incredible inspiring network of people. We met through Julie and Jeremy, co-owners of The Athletic Community, and they met Jenn through cycling.
“So how long have you been in Portland?”
We get into the backstory: Oklahoma, St. Louis, a brief stint in Washington and now ten years in Portland. We share a few service industry stories, my five years experience pales in comparison to her twenty, but we both agree there’s nothing quite like waiting tables.
She describes herself as a shopkeep, which I really like, it feels old school and familiar and when you come into Tiny Moreso and Jenn greets you with a smile and a denim half apron, the term feels right.
We’re riding because I want to interview Jenn for Mother’s Day. We start talking about Fisher, her son and I ask corny questions like, “What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?”
“My favorite thing about being a mom is him, it just is. He’s my favorite person, he cracks me up, and he knows me so well. I feel like we are friends now, he’s fourteen with a hell of a personality and a hell of a sense of humor.”
“We have a really good relationship. I’m guiding and helping now but more than anything I feel like I can just be his advocate and also learn from him, he’s going to teach me about the world and in a lot of ways, he already does.”
This is all said with such honest joy, and while I know her life hasn’t been easy, this small window into their relationship is such a privilege, I hope my parents smiled like that when asked about me growing up.
I ask a little bit about what it was like to be a young mom since my parents were young and I really loved that close relationship. We recognize the fact that young is relative, for the Midwest, Jenn was somewhere mid-curve among her friends from
“And what about being a single mom? What do you say usually when people ask you about that?”
Jenn has to think for a moment and then says, “Honestly, people don’t ask me that much, I think people are really surprised to hear that I have a kid.” We talk about that. “He’s known me most of my adult life and I had to make decisions based on him. I would probably have a different career, or maybe I’d be married with four kids, maybe not, but you can’t spend all that time there. I don’t. I tell him, ‘The minute you turn 18 mom’s living in a van!’ We joke about that, I think I get to be in my twenties again when I’m in my forties. But that’s the bad stuff I guess, I can’t imagine choosing it any other way.”
“What about becoming a mom but being such an active person? When you first found out were you like, ah how am I going to keep doing all the things I love?”
“I grated against the idea [that my life was going to stop when I had a kid]. I’d never been one of those moms. It was challenging for me to give up my selfishness and my independence, and my body when breastfeeding, and my freedom and sleep and desires for a lot of things. The sacrifice didn’t come as naturally for me as it did for other people [I chime in ‘or so they say’ and she laughs in agreement]… or as it's been told. It’s a struggle to maintain, a struggle between being a “badass do what I want entrepreneur feminist” and being a good mom.”
Tell me a bit about Rawdacious?
"Rawdacious started because I was managing a vegan restaurant and I saw all these young punk kids making a political decision about their eating and I wanted to support that. I also saw a need not being met, so they were trying to eat well but just eating food that wasn’t great for them."
"At Rawdacious, we are just trying to make really nice food as accessible as we can. It’s normal real food with nutritional value. Most deserts don’t actually have nutritional value so in our case, you’re paying for something as good for you as trail mix. We get the nicest ingredients we can get, the best cashews, the best…well, I don’t know who this "we" is?” Jenn starts laughing, “Do you ever do that?”
I guess when you wear so many hats it makes sense that you might start talking in we’s. Mom, entrepreneur, lover of adventure, sister, business owner, friend and I’m sure so much more I didn’t uncover.
“It's not romantic or sexy it's about work and struggle, it was helpful as an adult to remind myself that it's love and trying to be love and be present.”
Jenn is talking specifically about motherhood here and I think it’s applicable to pretty much everything else in life too.
Thanks for the ride!