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Mompreneurs: The Business of Mom Networks

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New moms mainly crave sleep but the other thing that feels comforting is connecting with other new moms. For even the most social, it's easy to become a recluse with the sleep deprivation and the prep that goes into actually leaving the house in the first couple of weeks after giving birth. But with the help of moms groups, we don't have to go through it alone at any phase. Support is just a click away as we can take advantage of these supportive social networks both online and off.

The bond that new moms form with each other at Mom and Me-type groups is extraordinary as we experience new things that we never imagined motherhood would bring. So, I salute "mompreneurs" that start businesses by moms for moms, like Club MomMe and Divalysscious Moms where moms can get out, mix and mingle, learn and grow and enjoy both mom time and mom and kids time together.

Lyss Stern, founder of Divalysscious based in New York City knew that she never wanted to "trade in her stilettos for stollers" when she became a mom. She was determined to find a balance. Lyss says she "searched high and low, but she could not find a single company catering to the needs of a mother who didn't want to give up her high heels and make-up in order to embrace the life-changes brought by motherhood." So, Lyss combined her creative skills, sense of style, networking abilities, love of children, and dual master's degrees in early education and communications to create Divalysscious Moms, which she calls "Sex & the City meets Mommy and Me."

"Over the past 8 years, DivaLysscious Moms has become a wonderful outlet for New York City moms to share their experiences with motherhood, shop, eat, learn and have fun together without excluding their children. A woman's children help make her the fabulous, fun woman that she is, so they can definitely be a part of some of the fun things she does!'"

Lyss has taken the old Mommy and Me classes and revved it up to fit the social scene in New York City.

"A woman should feel her absolute best -- her strongest, most confident, sexiest and happiest -- once she takes on the role of becoming a mom, and that a woman loving her child doesn't mean losing herself. I personally plan and execute a multitude of events that cater to the needs and interests of moms and children alike. It is such a pleasure to see the change in moms after becoming part of our community; they have an excuse to get dressed up and go out, look and feel their best so they are able to be wonderful, dynamic mothers. I will never forget a mother coming up to me at one of our events and saying, 'Thank you. This is one of the first times in a while I've remembered to take a step back and enjoy watching my child grow."

Like many Mompreneurs, Lyss faces the challenges of feeling overwhelmed yet wanting to make this a successful business not only for her but for her community. She credits her strong family support system "I would not have started DivaLysscious Moms had I not wanted to incorporate work, fun, and family. My business is definitely unique in that it challenges the separation between worlds; embracing both the mommy and the chic. I cannot wait to help others do the same; everyone really can have the best of both worlds."

Lyss's Tips for How to Balance Your Chic Side and Your Mom Side:

  • Every woman, including myself, needs a gentle reminder that me-time is absolutely crucial and that it is OK to set aside time for herself -- whether it be to read, take a bath, or go to the gym -- where she is not confined to the duties of being a mom and wife.
  • If you can make time to do philanthropic work, your world will change. Giving back and focusing on others -- even once every few months -- is a beautiful way to remind oneself how lucky you are and definitely helps eliminate stress. DivaLysscious Moms hosts many charity events, such as the Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash with Baby Buggy to help families in need. It is just as important to me to serve communities in need as it is to serve my community of fabulous DivaMoms.
  • It doesn't matter when you get your work done as long as it gets done -- whether it's before your kids wake up in the morning, during naptime, or after you put them down to bed. Your emails will always be there, but there will one day come a time when your children don't ask you to read them a bedtime story.
Rachel Pitzel and Lane Gulotta are co-founders of ClubMomMe, a new social events company that launched in January 2012. Rachel and Lane met in 2010 when they were both pregnant and serving on the same committee together in Junior League of Chicago. They bonded over conversations about Pampers versus Huggies and the best stroller for city-living, along with about half of their committee who were all expecting at the same time.

When Rachel moved back to her native L.A., they realized the need for a larger, more formal community of women experiencing the transition to motherhood together. They envisioned a supportive, educational, fun and social atmosphere because "Motherhood is all about community, about supporting each other, helping each other out."

Lane says:

"My entire world changed in the blink of an eye and having a support group to lean on was really important to me during the first few months of my son's life. I couldn't have made it through that time without Rachel and a few of our other Chicago mom friends. That was the point when I realized the need for Club MomMe. Everyone needs to know the basics about raising a baby, but what about those other topics that no one seems to want to talk about? Stress on marriages, balancing finances, planning for the future, and developmental issues, we cover it all."

Rachel, a former attorney says:

"We started Club MomMe to create and foster a community for moms and moms-to-be. Club MomMe hosts several monthly social, educational, and wellness themed events designed to bring women together in a fun environment, introduce new products and services, all while learning about various topics that interest moms and expectant moms. Lane and I were extremely fortunate to have a group of women going through the experience of becoming a mom at the same time, and we bonded through these shared experiences. While your partner, family and non-mom friends can be extremely helpful and supportive, they don't actually understand what it is like to be a new mom, going through all of these changes. It is an immediate, overnight introduction to a new world, and it can be very overwhelming. It seems like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. We wanted to be able to provide the same shared experiences we had on a larger level, whether they happen to have mom friends nearby or live in the middle of nowhere. We believe that through providing social, educational and wellness opportunities, be it in person or online, they will organically grow to form a community of their own and have the support network and bonds that we've found through our journey through motherhood."

Rachel is learning to say no in order to find more time and balance in both life and biz. "I need to get better at owning my time; as a newer business, I feel like I need to always say yes. In life I am very assertive but in business I tend to be a yes person! Balance is really hard for me. Something always has to give. But I know I'm not alone, I often email other mompreneurs or moms in business at 1:30 or 2 a.m. and get immediate responses. Moms often work late at night as we can get a lot accomplished quickly, as there are no interruptions."

Rachel and Lane's Tip for Finding Some Balance:

  • Find Other Like Minded Friends: We all have bad days. We all have tough days where we feel completely defeated. But we also have amazing days, and we want someone to celebrate our successes with. Find someone else or a group of moms in business or in your field who understand what you are going through, and can celebrate the highs and support you through the lows.
  • Work During Nap Time: Make those moments count. Set a timer and challenge yourself to doing as much as possible during x amount of time before the kiddos wake up.
  • Hire An Intern: We quickly realized how valuable nap time is and having an intern to grab stamps, mail a giveaway, make a follow up phone call, stuff bags for an event or even just give me a second opinion about an event invitation is invaluable!

Lyss, Lane and Rachel agree that it's these bonds and connections that get us through those rough days that every mother experiences. These friendships can last a lifetime too. My kids are now teens and I'm still close with some of those first friends I met at Mommy and Me class. They not only got me through the infancy stage but we now support each other through things we couldn't even imagine back then.