RUNNING your own business can be a daunting prospect, but for some, they can spend time relaxing with their families, switching off from the world of work.

That luxury is one that Jason Gregory and his partner, Caroline, do not have.

The husband and wife are co-owners of Sundaes, an ice cream parlour selling homemade Italian gelato and a variety of other savoury and sweet treats.

“Having to work with your partner 24/7 is definitely the hardest thing” said Mrs Gregory.

“We are both very similar - quite opinionated but in a good way.

“You get freedom with the kids, whether it’s walking the dog or helping with homework - you have to switch off when you at home.” The couple’s current venture is a million miles away from their former careers.

They met in London, when Jason was working in finance and Caroline, originally from Billingham, was training to be an actress at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

“I spent 25 years working with numbers” said Mr Gregory.

“I needed to leave the rat race. You end up working flat out just to survive – I wasn’t living.

“We wanted to take the kids to a great environment where they could have a good life.

“For us, it was important to be wealthy with family and in the social way, rather than the traditional monetary terms.”

In 2010, the pair moved to the North-East, but Jason would spend the next five years commuting to London every week to continue his work in the city.

“It was horrible” said Mrs Gregory.

“There was a lot of strain and stress on the family.

“There was commitments for the kids that I didn’t get to see, such as swimming or football” said Mr Gregory.

“I had missed a lot, and I couldn’t miss anymore.

“A lot of families have to do what we did – we know how hard it is.”

Caroline, who also previously worked as a teaching assistant, had always dreamed of a better quality of life for her family.

“We were always looking for an opportunity – I had always dreamed about running my own tea room.

“We decided Jason was going to give up his job in London, and we would create something based around the whole family.

“The opportunity came up in the right place at the right time.”

Building on the strengths of their former careers, Jason takes care of the business side of Sundaes, while Caroline adds her creative influence.

“We have different ways of working, but we made sure the right people were in the right jobs.

“Jason took to it like a duck to water” she added.

So why did the couple choose ice cream for their dream family business?

“We were looking to create something for a family and we saw so much potential we could bring with ice cream” said Mrs Gregory.

“We didn’t think our ice cream would be as well liked. People bought it and kept coming back – it is a really humble feeling.

“We really believe in our product and that is the key - you have to be passionate.

“If Vladimir Putin and Barak Obama were given ice cream during their negotiations, I think things would go much smoother” said Mr Gregory.

But being a mother herself, Caroline knows all about the importance of a healthy living.

“We are big into kids eating healthy and I am always thinking how we can make things healthier.

“But everything has to be in balance. We have our omelettes and our healthier range, but everyone deserves a sweet treat.

What are their most popular flavours?

“For the mums it is definitely salted caramel. The kids will go for something like bubble gum or even lemon sorbet because it reminds them of sweets, and the dads like anything.

“It has been a massively hard 18 months, and I have missed spending time with the kids greatly.

“They are coming round to it - they are seeing their parents work hard and that you get what you work for in life.

“We are both very ambitious and big plans. We have taken advice along the way. It is all about baby steps. Keep adding, keep doing little bits to improve.

“We are always trying new things and taking on new challenges.”

Sundaes are based in Yarm High Street, near Stockton. There has been a rapid growth in the number of cafes and restaurants in the town in recent years, including well known chains Costa Coffee and Café Nero.

Does Mr Gregory think it is harder for independent businesses to survive in the modern day high street?

“National chains can afford to make losses. Businesses like us can’t afford to do that.

“We need to be treated like endangered species. The high street needs to raise its game and invest in itself.

“I am worried we will get to a point in 30 years where people are talking about the high street as a memory” he added.

The memory Jason and Caroline want to create is that of the joy of ice cream, and as things stand, it is working like a treat.

Five minutes with Caroline Gregory….

Favourite North-East place and why?

Guisborough Woods with my kids, lots of happy, funny memories.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

In the fruit shop in Billingham town centre. I got paid £10 for the day.

What is the worst job you've had?

Dressing up as a cucumber to promote a health drink in Victoria Station in London, I knew there and then that my 3 years at Lamda hadn't quite turned out how I would have liked them to.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

A curry, my mother in laws recipe, she's from India and it never fails to impress everyone.

What would your superpower be?

Multi-tasking. I can get about 5 jobs done at the same time!

Name three people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party.  

My Dad he died 15 years ago and I still miss him everyday, Madonna for her stories and my friend Maria Hetherington because she never fails to make me laugh.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much?

I'm a charity shopper and love a good vintage buy. I recently bought a Nicole Farhi coat for £100 second hand and I love it.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? 

Babycakes in New York, I love her vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free cakes and goodies.

Favourite book?

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

When did you last cry?

I last cried about two seconds ago writing this and wishing my Dad was still here. I'm a big softie and fill up at the slightest hint of a sad story.

What is your greatest achievement?

My kids and my marriage

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given?

Take baby steps everyday, don't try to take huge leaps.

Favourite animal and why?

Giraffe, don't ask me why but on a recent visit to Flamingo Land I was entranced by them. Probably as they are so unusual and majestic.

Most famous person on your mobile phone?

Gordon Steel, Teesside's finest writer and director. 

What was the last band you saw live?

The Wildcats of Kilkenny. Mike McGrother is a genius and a great champion of Teesside and the North-East.

Describe your perfect night in.

With my neighbours and our kids, wine, good food and lots of giggles

In another life I would be... ?

A famous actress

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Emily Blunt

What irritates you? 

I hate lying - I'm quite good at reading people and have always taught my kids to tell the truth.

What's your secret talent?

Irish Dancing.