I've always known I wanted to make an impact in the world, but it wasn't until I had my boys that I realized I wanted a career that would allow me the privilege to be present in those early years of motherhood. This sentiment led me to my current role as a Mom-In-Chief, Founder and CEO of an apparel startup. A bit unexpectedly, I've found myself in the gray area of motherhood—I was an ambitious mom who paused her corporate career to raise her young family AND build a brand focused on postpartum fashion.
Before becoming a mother, I've held many roles in leadership and management, which prepared me for this challenge. I knew running my own business and making it successful would require a wide set of skills, but I don't think I really knew what it takes until I actually stepped into the role. From chatting to other entrepreneurs, I don't think any of us truly knew what we were getting into, ha!
In the last four years at MLM Brand, we launched five new products, made (and re-made) countless samples, changed manufacturing partners, experienced a factory fire, battled supply delays which caused prolonged out-of-stock periods, and steered through a global pandemic. Some days, I wanted to quit... but this quote kept me moving forward:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston S. Churchill
Here are my top lessons I've learned in my first four years as a fashion startup Founder / CEO, and a mama.
Don't compare yourself to others.
Every business is different. Everyone starts out with different resources, circumstances, priorities and goals. We all have our unique ways that bring value to the world. And we have a lot to learn from one another. One of the best decisions I've ever made as a business owner was to join professional networking organizations for women (and mothers, specifically) in business. Through organizations like Hey Mama, Dreamers and Doers and The Entreprenista League, I have been introduced to the most talented, inspiring, supportive and revolutionary women I look forward to chatting with on regular basis. I've always been a big advocate of having mentors and connecting with people going through similar experiences. Having conversations with these women has been extremely helpful in making those quick decisions in a bind and have opened my eyes to better solutions.
Entrepreneurship isn't for the faint of heart.
Running your own business isn't for the faint of heart. It's for the brave, patient and the persistent. It's for the overcomer who never gives up. As a default parent, I've also had to learn to be flexible and pivot throughout the day in order to be able to attend to my family's needs and business obligations. While I absolutely can multitask, I've learned this approach isn't sustainable or healthy in the long run. Whenever I feel pulled in too many directions, after a while I start feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and short-tempered, which is not good for my business, my mental health or anyone around me. Whenever I can, I like to integrate my work with my family's life, but family's needs always take precedence. No room for guilt there, ever.
"She isn't your competition. She's the proof it can be done."
This is one of my favorite quotes; one I recall often. We have a lot to learn from one another as women in business. It costs nothing to support another business and I will always choose support over competition. To me, there's nothing more beautiful and inspiring to see women in business encouraging and uplifting each other along the entrepreneurial way. Never underestimate the power of kindness, a caring gesture, an honest compliment and a simple, "Hey, how's it going? This made me think if you." There's room for all of us at the top.
Mistakes are lessons to learn from, not a reason to quit.
It's okay to make mistakes; you're going to make a lot of them. Embrace them as a chance to grow and learn. Failure and rejection, while painful, often lead us towards our best life and outcomes. The key is to trust in the long game and never quit on a bad day. Many of my mistakes and setbacks have redirected my business in beautiful and unexpected ways. For example, experiencing the factory fire led us to our current manufacturing partner and our new partnership has been a small brand dream come true! I don't say it a lot, but sometimes you have to trust the Universe, especially when the circumstances are beyond our control.
While the last four years have been filled with ups and downs, I'm so grateful for the community of incredible moms we've build together. I've said it before — MLM Brand wouldn't be here without your support, love and constructive feedback. Here's to another year filled with beautiful breastfeeding-friendly pieces, growth, persistence and valuable connections!
- Tags: JOURNAL