Shawna Swanson, 29, spent 10 years in Los Angeles, working in the retail sector for Gap and Disney, before asking her parents if she could come home and join the family enterprise.

They said yes, with a caveat.

“We told her she couldn’t displace anyone who already worked there, and she wouldn’t be getting paid in the beginning,” says Kathy Swanson, who owns Spectator’s, 710 Mass., and Hobbs, 700 Mass., in downtown Lawrence with her husband, Mark.

Kathy Swanson admits she’s a tough boss, but for good reason.

“I think it’s the hardest thing in the world to go into a business your parents own. It can set up difficult relationships between other employees and them. So, they better damn well do their job better than everybody else.”

Shauna Swanson rose to the challenge and now works side-by-side with her mother.

Although Shauna can’t imagine a day when her parents wouldn’t report to work on Massachusetts Street, her dream is to continue their legacy one day, in her own fashion. It’s a dream her mother shares.

“I would love for Shauna to carry on these businesses,” Kathy says. “They would never stay the same necessarily, nor would we need them to. When she decides to take over completely, they’ll be hers because we trust her that much.”

Photo by Michael

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