Motherhood is considered to be a full-time job in itself, and yet many mothers are squeezing another title on their business card. Sometimes this is a result of household income needs; sometimes it’s the need for outside stimuli; and sometimes it’s just stumbled on because of a gap in the market.
I spoke to a number of women who have refused to, or been unable to, return to the rat race after having children. Too many were feeling the strain of balancing corporate life with kids and didn’t want to be the absent parent in their child’s life. Others were coming to the end of maternity leave and struggling with the thought of going back to a work routine that didn’t fit their new lifestyle. Some were even made redundant before or during their pregnancy and, finding the job hunt practically impossible as an expecting parent, were forced to find an alternative.
The main theme from all their stories is that there is a better way to earn an income while still being a big part of your child’s life. And the internet is a big part of this.
Sherene Alfreds is an accredited speech pathologist and mother of two, a son in kindergarten and a daughter in year 4. In 2009, Alfreds began telling her own bedtime relaxation stories to help her then newborn daughter sleep. She was surprised and disappointed at the lack of good relaxation and sleep CDs for children on the market hence resorting to her own efforts. It wasn’t until her husband suggested she turn her own soothing bedtime tales into CDs did she realise the possibility.
‘I realised he really meant it when he quit his job to create the website, the CD cover art, and help get me started. He has since got another job and now watches on as my Dinosnores sleep story CDs have won 15 international awards … have signed on with distributor Brumby-Sunstate; and our CDs are sold in the UK, US, NZ, Singapore and Hong Kong!’
When mother of two, Prue Jones, was tipping the scales at 115kg, she realised that some drastic changes were needed. Motivated to become the healthy and energetic mother she always wanted to be, Jones was determined that hers would be more than just another weight loss story. Inspired by her own success, Jones gained a qualification in personal training and launched her own business.
‘From humble beginnings in my small single garage studio in Caroline Springs, I started my own business called Pretty Fit. With just one very loyal client, my goal was to create a place for women of all shapes and sizes to become fit, healthy and happy.’
Jones’s business has since grown from her garage studio into a shop front facility and well over 60 clients and growing, and she couldn’t be a happier mum.
Hollie Drake-Brockman was hit hard by the Global Financial Crisis and lost her job before the birth of her second child. After spending 12 hours a day juggling a corporate role with her first child, she saw her misfortune as an opportunity to change her professional path. Drake-Brockman first gained the idea for her business in 2009 when iPhones hit the market and every second child was spending play dates glued to a smart phone.
‘More and more kids would ask to come over to our place all the time. When I asked why they said, “because you make stuff with us and it’s really fun!”’
Some careful research of craft kits available at the time (namely what was lacking) resulted in ZZ Totz – paper puppet kits. It was her creative nature and concern for the imagination of children that led to a successful business that she can be proud of.
Often motherhood can be the catalyst for small business start-ups, as parents become acutely aware of products and services missing from their frantic lives.
A classic case study for the growing trend of mumpreneurs, Natalie Dinsdale
recognised the difficulty mums had in finding a one-stop shop for all their parenting needs. Two years ago, she took the big leap by quitting her job, drafting a business plan and starting MAMADOO, an online shopping mall that brings together a range of online shops for mums and kids.
‘I noticed there were hundreds of small businesses run by mums selling the most fabulous products but no one knew about them. I thought, if we all collaborated together, we could offer customers better products and be bigger than we were as individuals.’
Dinsdale’s business is thriving and her passion for what she does remains unchanged, even if juggling her own business and two kids sometimes challenges her sanity.
‘Mumpreneurs are definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with.’
If you’re looking at retraining while you’re on maternity leave, the world of online learning offers you the ability to gain the skills you need when you can fit it in, and in any number of online courses.