Fictional superheroes have cornered the market on multitasking. A newspaper photographer by day becomes a flying strongman by night. A millionaire playboy moonlights as a crime-fighting rodent.
In the real world, multitasking gets a bad rap today. It is seen as the kryptonite to wellness. But for working moms, it’s their way of life.
Being a parent is a primer for running a business, says Jill Saltzman, serial entrepreneur and the brains behind The Founding Moms. “Business owners will likely tell you that, at one time, they had no idea what they were doing. Similarly, when parents raise a child, they also have no idea what’s coming.” She started her business to help working moms find a supportive community.
Societal demand on women and working mothers became more obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing many out of the workforce. Women-owned businesses sprung up everywhere, as interest in entrepreneurship increased in the face of these challenges.
Running your own business while running a household isn’t easy, but it can offer more flexibility to working moms. Mom-owned businesses are creating freedom for women to strike a healthy balance between raising kids and making money.
8 successful mom-owned businesses
Parents everywhere are the real superheroes, simultaneously nurturing small businesses and small humans—both 24/7 jobs. We spoke to eight inspiring women about the businesses they launched and their advice for other mom entrepreneurs.
These are their stories.
1. Oh Happy Day
Jordan’s blog, an ode to parties, color and beautiful things, owes its 16-year run to creating original content and continually investing back into the business. Eight years ago, Jordan expanded Oh Happy Day to include an online store selling party supplies and gifts.
A typical day for a working mom
“I spend the morning with my family and drop my kids off for school. Mornings usually mean lots of meetings. I have meetings with the editorial team about content, meet with the ads team about partnerships, and meet with the shop team about any issues with the store. I help brainstorm photoshoots, or sign off on advertising partnerships. My main job has been to focus on the big-picture stuff, like working on new products for the party shop."
Jordan’s favorite business resources
2. The Break
Patricia drew from her experience as a popular beauty influencer to create her first business Y-HAIR. “I started my first business only a few months before finding out I was pregnant with my first child,” Patricia says. “There’s nothing like having to provide for your own child to inspire you to do the best you’ve ever done before.”
Patricia has since grown two successful YouTube channels and pivoted her focus to helping other women find success. Her brand The Break is a learning platform for financial skills and personal development. She’s still a force in the beauty space, boasting more than two million channel subscribers and several partnerships with brands.
A working woman’s advice for other moms
“Time is the most precious commodity. Find a balance, cut off when you have to, plan ahead, and do as much as you can when you have downtime. Great support is essential: you can’t do it alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!”
Patricia’s favorite resource
“I love YouTube. One of my all-time favorite channels is by female entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist Marie Forleo. She shares lots of practical tips on living life to the fullest and turning dreams into a profitable reality.”
3. Cheerfully Made
Emily Arbour | Founder of Cheerfully Made, maker, mom
Emily launched her retail shop and online store, Cheerfully Made, to curate in one place the many local makers who inspired her. Her success led her to expand the business, hosting local markets and sharing her entrepreneur advice through her course platform, Cheerfully Made University.
Emily attributes much of her success as a mom entrepreneur to her tight-knit and supportive community of fellow retailers.
A mom-owned business origin story
"I had my first store, Blackbird, for four years, and during that time I had two kids. When my second kid was born, I basically took my babies to work. I nursed them behind the counter, and put a crib in the bathroom."
Advice for other mompreneurs
“Find the balance and find it early! My kids are in school from 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. I work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and try only to work weekends when necessary. I also include my kids as much as I can. You'll find my five- and seven-year-olds stamping hands at the door at my craft shows, or running appetizers at open houses.”
Emily’s favorite business resource
“I use Instagram as a marketing tool but I also expose who I am as a real-life person. My followers get a kick out of seeing how messy my life can be sometimes. I think it helps make me relatable and leaves folks feeling like I’m someone they might like to support.”
4. Solly Baby
Elle Rowley | Founder of Solly Baby, mom
Solly Baby’s versatile baby wearing wraps were born out of the founder’s own frustration with baby carriers on the market. While pregnant with her son, she bought a $50 serger and created a prototype. Years after making her first wrap, Solly Baby is now a global brand, with features in Wirecutter, Vogue, and Martha Stewart Living.
"It's hard for me to believe it was 11 years ago that my daughter and I were pushing rolls of fabric across our living floor for our first round of wraps,” says Elle. “Those were some crazy days, with a toddler, a newborn, and a husband in school full time.
On being an entrepreneur—and a mom
“Motherhood taught me that our capacity is far greater than most of us believe. I learned to do more with 15 minutes than I could previously do with two hours. Not only that, there's something about raising children that has made me acutely aware of how fleeting time is. It put the fire under me to go after what I wanted. Not only for myself, but also to show them what’s possible.”
Elle’s advice for other mom business owners
“Really understand how your product or service adds value to the world and then work like crazy to share that.”
Elle’s favorite business resource
“Other entrepreneurs are my favorite resource. Surround yourself with people who get what you’re doing and who you can exchange ideas with.”
Sylvia Ng | Founder of Amidira, mom
While breastfeeding her son, Sylvia faced many complications. She never imagined it was because she had breast cancer. Receiving the diagnosis as a young mother changed Sylvia’s perspective on everything.
In recovery she launched Amidira, a cancer care-box brand, in the hopes that she would educate others on the best ways to take recovery into their own hands. Her products are paired with content that shares ways for people to advocate for loved ones’ health and invest in self-care.
Lessons on finding balance
“Running a side business on top of a full-time job, with the kids at home and my husband also running his own startup, it’s not a light job. Cancer gave me the perspective to have more balance in my life and really understand what’s more important. I put my family through a lot, and for me to not have that benefit of insight and perspective would be a shame.”
Sylvia’s advice to other mom entrepreneurs
“When you don’t get things right, try again. Now that I’m more experienced, I view starting over less as a thing that happens once or twice in a lifetime. It’s more something that happens regularly if you’re attempting new things and failing.”
6. The Bee & The Fox
Ashley’s mom-owned brand was born from a creative partnership with her best friend. The co-founders launched The Bee & The Fox with kids’ graphic tees, but caught a wave of attention when they introduced their “Mama Bird” shirt for women. The business is now Ashley’s full-time job—on top of being a full-time single mom.
On small business growing pains
“I used to work in an office. When my kids were young, they hated being at the office, which I totally get. The walls were super thin. The guy in the office next to me probably heard me scream at my kids every five seconds. I’m sure he thought I was a horrible mom. I’m not a horrible mom. I'm a great mom. But I just could not mother them in an office setting. I moved everything back home and I’m much happier working there.”
Ashley’s advice for other new entrepreneurs
“You have to drown before you learn how to swim. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have any experience. There was a time I was doing the emails, the marketing, all the photography, and shipping orders. These are the growing pains that you have to go through, the investment that you put in. And then you slowly move things off your plate as it becomes manageable and necessary.”
Inspired? Hear more from Ashley as she explains how telling her personal story helped her brand resonate with her target audience.
7. The Detox Market
Bita Doagoo | Partner at Detox Market (Canada), mom
The Detox Market is a lifestyle brand, skin care shop, and wellness experience created to cut through the greenwashing and offer products with clean, transparent ingredients. The brand has grown to include an ecommerce store and multiple retail locations in the US and Canada.
A mom-owned business origin story
“My son was 15 months old when we opened The Detox Market. After three days at day care, he started biting us. We knew it wasn’t going to work. So he started coming to work with me. It was a temporary solution, but it opened my eyes. Being a mother and an entrepreneur didn’t have to be compartmentalized into separate things. It was at that point that I started to feel all parts of myself integrating. It made me appreciate being a mother even more.”
Bita’s advice for other working moms
“Don't burn yourself out! Have a priority list and don’t lose sight of what’s most important—your kids. This will ground you and renew your passion. Once you have that list, pace yourself.”
8. Pretty Presets
Laura Thomas | Founder of Pretty Presets, photographer, mom
Pretty Presets is an online shop selling pre-made alterations for Lightroom, which save her customers tons of photo-editing time. It’s a business that Laura started with a $100 initial investment.
On starting her own business
“Many years ago, after a few failed businesses, I was feeling stretched, tired, and wishing for more time with my family. I started my current business on a generic blogger website almost overnight. My husband was away for work often and I had two toddlers at home. We had just moved to a new town and I didn't know anyone there. It felt as if everything was stacked against me. What I learned through the process was priceless.”
Laura’s advice for other mompreneurs
“Don’t throw yourself and family into a financial bind. Be thoughtful and deliberate about every purchase.”
Tips for working moms
From our conversations with these eight amazing women, we’ve distilled a few takeaways to help other aspiring entrepreneur moms find success with their own businesses:
- Remember what’s important, and prioritize
- Wear many hats while you’re learning the ropes—then delegate
- Mitigate financial risk to your family by growing slowly
- Avoid burnout by pacing yourself
- When your first plan doesn’t work, start over
- “Bring your kids to work day” might be every day (and that’s OK)
- Don’t neglect your mental health
Finding work-life balance as a mom boss
From Mother’s Day to Black Friday and all the moments in between, mom entrepreneurs are showing up for their kids—and their brands. As these mom bosses have shown, launching your own business can come with a steep learning curve, especially when you’re balancing family life too. But in the end, it’s all worth it.
“During a playdate, I overheard my daughter ask her friend, ‘Do you wanna play Let’s Go To The UPS Store?’ and hopped into her imaginary car,” says Jill Salzman. “It was a revelation: my daughter was not only unaffected by my being a working woman, but she was creating her own imaginary work day. Mom guilt? Gone.”
Feature image by Burst
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