Please welcome Karla Trotman, owner of BellyButtonBoutique, which she started during the most uncomfortable nine months of her life. She offers some button-sized gems in this interview.

 

KarlaTrotman Pregnant Entrepreneur

What was your life like when it hit you that you were or were about to become a  pregnant entrepreneur?

I started my business at the end of my pregnancy, when you are feeling like the baby is going to fall out of you and that the pregnancy will never end.  So  it kept my mind off of those physical issues, but because my company is  about making pregnancy more comfortable, it provided me with great inspiration.

 

What was the one thing you wish you had known before you got pregnant? 

That it wasn’t going to feel good.  You don’t realize that the baby is going to be squished up against your innards like  that.  Its quite crowded.

 

Was there a really challenging part of your story, where you considered  closing or changing your business?  How did it turn out for you?

I’m blessed in the fact that I am a 3rd generation entrepreneur.  My father’s company is still thriving.  I remember my mom telling my father in the beginning, “we are going to      push through the 3 to 5 year mark, where most businesses fail.  If it doesn’t work out, then fine.  But we are going to stay the distance”.   There were times in the very beginning where there was NO money coming in, I had stocks of product and felt that I had done everything that I could to  make it work.  Additionally, I had two small children and was a bit frazzled.  It was then that I realized that I had to put my big girl panties on and push through.  Whenever you think that you have hit a wall, that is when you realize that you need outside help and/or advice.  So I became humble and asked my father for advice.

 

What was your maternity leave period like?  

During my leave, I launched my online store.  That was exciting.  You see, when you are working towards something that is your dream, its not work. I juggled it well because I had a supportive family.  Plus, I was up nursing and taking care of a baby at all hours of the night, so it all worked out.

 

If  you had the chance to trade your situation for the “corporate paycheck, kids in daycare” option, would you?  And why or why not? 

My kids always went to daycare and I still collect a check, per se.  Because my store is online, I am able to do marketing and special projects for my father’s corporation.  I really miss the interaction with my peers because my current situation is very isolating.  But this is what I was born to do.  And when mommy is happy, everyone is happy.

 

Do you have a funny story about being a pregnant entrepreneur? 

Unfortunately, I do not have any funny stories about being a pregnant entrepreneur.  My husband did think I was nuts signing papers  in the hospital and fielding calls from my attorney.  And there were all of those nights nursing my son while typing with one hand on my computer…

 

What  advice would you give to the independent young women who follow you?      

Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own.  Lots of people thought that my idea was dumb.  But based on my research and a spiritual directive telling me to move forward, I knew that it would work.  So I proved everyone wrong.  All roads to success aren’t paved.  Sometimes you have to get off of the beaten path and create your own trail through the woods in order to reach the goal.  And try to start you business before getting pregnant and having a family.  Sooooo much easier 🙂

 

Karla Trotman, Owner

BellyButtonBoutique.com

http://about.me/karlatrotman

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If you are looking for proof that Lynn Bardowski’s book, “Success Secrets of a Million $ Party Girl,” is a serious book, there it is, right on page 84, with her tip to “get a crock-pot”. As she says, “As long as your family is fed, they will let you do what you have to do.” Truer words were never spoken.

Lynn shares truths from her rise to a million dollar business owner over the last decades in order to encourage other women. I’ve known Lynn for years, but only in reading this book did I learn how similar our backgrounds are. We both spent years in corporate sales. We both considered our hot pink suit to be our power suit. We both raised (I’m still in the midst of) two girls. And we both absolutely love what we do. That last one is pretty important, because it’s awful to work for yourself doing something you don’t love.

Lynn’s book is full of good, tactical advice, like her reading lists on page 13.  She advises women to read, read, read.  Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People are the two basics, but she goes on to list many of her favorite “can do” books.

She gets you excited not just for the idea of building a business, but building one that can create aundance for others, and not just the people who work for her. Her vision of prosperity goes well beyond your own home office.

 Think about the impact on the economy and the abundance my vision created.  That includes supermarkets that sold food that was serves at the parties, lighters purchased to light the candles, purchases made with the income entrepreneurs earned, etc. It’s a ripple that just keeps on going! And that doesn’t even count the number of UPS workers that delivered the products!

By chapter 10, I was thinking, “Who can I pass this book on to?  Who else needs to read this?”  Chapter 10, you see, is entitled, “Your business Is Your Life”.  The leading quote is “No one ever dies from sleeping in an unmade bed” from Erma Bombeck.  Not even this professional organizer will tell you to stress about the little things when there is so much life to be lived!

Lynn’s story of how a cell phone, sister-in-law, and candles collided to send this career gal into a totally new orbit is a quick read. And if you’re looking for a boost in the right direction, a little encouragement from someone who’s been there, you’ll pick up your copy quickly.

Available in paperback:

And available for your Kindle:

(Affiliate links included)

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how to juggle a Ph.D., new biz and new babyPlease welcome Marissa, as she shares her story of adding a new life to her already very full life, twice!

 

I was in the last semester of a Ph.D. program when I found out I was pregnant. Luckily, I had most of my dissertation written, but I still had the daunting task of defending my research before an audience of professors. At seven weeks pregnant I can remember walking into the committee room at the university and facing my dissertation committee – with massive morning sickness. It felt like a miracle that I made it through the presentation without vomiting, but I managed to complete this last hurdle with grace. And, a few short weeks later at eleven weeks pregnant I proudly graduated with a doctorate in Educational Psychology.

I had done it. I had reached my life-long goal. I was ecstatic, overjoyed, and as elated as I always thought I would be. Only I hadn’t ever dreamed that graduation would coincide with pregnancy.

So, I had a new Ph.D. and a new baby arriving later that year. I’m not going to lie and say that this didn’t make me nervous. I had worked extremely hard — five long years of classes, teaching apprenticeships, research, writing, oh, and a full-time job – to reach this goal, and now what? Could I find a new job with a baby bump? Should I keep my current job and put my child in day care once she arrived? Or should I quit work to stay home with my baby?

In the end I made the difficult decision not to return to my job. In fact, never in a million years did I think I would want to stay at home with a baby, but there I was in my new found profession of “Dr Mom”.   I loved (and do still love) every minute of it.

But, I found that I did miss conducting research, writing, teaching, and most of all, working with children. So, I founded a blog called Land of Once Upon aTime, which is devoted to showing parents how to guide their child in learning, literacy, and development with the help children’s books. In 2011, my blog was nominated for a Bammy Award which recognizes excellence in the field of education, which was a proud moment for me. In addition to blogging and being Dr Mom to my daughter, I was freelance writing and teaching college courses in psychology (in my spare time).

As my daughter got older, I became ready to take on even more work, but I didn’t really want to go back to a corporate job. I wanted the freedom to be my own boss, work from home, and set my own hours so I could continue to spend as much time as possible with my daughter. After a little brainstorming, I came up with the idea for A First Foundation, which provides consulting to parents and education professionals to equip them with the knowledge they need to give the children in their lives the best foundation for a lifetime of learning.

As luck would have it, I found myself (happily) pregnant again as I was just setting the groundwork for A First Foundation!

Being a mom to a toddler and a pregnant entrepreneur wasn’t always easy, but I tried my best to capitalize on my bursts of energy and the “nesting” phenomenon. Now, after nine long months of pregnancy and planning, I’m ready to launch my ideas into action with a new little baby boy in tow.

 

Marissa Kiepert Truong, Ph.D. is a mom on the mainline, early literacy blogger, and early learning consultant. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. For more information about her consulting services, please email her at AFIRSTFOUNDATION(at)GMAIL(dot)COM.

 

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Welcome to Carrie Curry.  She’s the first guest this year eager to tell her story of being a Pregnant Entrepreneur.  I hope her experiences help you get through your special nine months!

carrie and baby-pepostWhen I became pregnant with my first child, I was working full time for a great non-profit organization. I did much of my work from home so I was able to sneak in a few naps here and there and rest when I needed to. I thought I was exhausted then…

After our precious son entered (and rocked) our world, I decided to stay at home with him full time. I loved watching him grow and explore his little world. But he napped a lot. And slept well at night! So I started to get bored, and needed an outlet for my creativity.

When he was around 1 year old, I started a cake business, Coastal Cakery www.coastalcakery.com. I had a strong passion for making beautiful cakes that tasted delicious – and there was very little competition in our area for it – so it became successful very quickly.

Soon enough, I was pregnant again. It was much different this time. I couldn’t nap when I was tired. I had a 2 year old to chase around and the cake business to manage on the side. I was responding to emails, planning cake designs, and shopping supplies during the days with my little helper by my side. After bedtime, I would bake and decorate until the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, most of my business was done Thursday – Saturday as most cake, cookie, and pastry orders are placed for the weekend. I was able to rest more during the week and was refreshed for the next busy weekend. I remember thinking on Saturday nights, “I can’t do this anymore!” but by the time I had the next cake to work on, I was ready to get my creative juices flowing!

When my daughter was born, I realized how much my life had changed. I got a call for a cake order the day she was born and non-chalantly told the client from my hospital bed, “Well, I just had a baby today so I can’t do it this weekend.”

Fast forward a few years and the creative outlets grew. I started a website and blog with my sister called Chockababy ( www.chockababy.com). And then, found out I was pregnant again. This time, something had to give. I passed on most of the cake orders to my assistant and the website/blog became a stand-alone blog.

This pregnancy was the hardest on my body as I had a hard time saying “no” to all the things I love to do. But, being my own boss, I was able to take breaks when needed and find assistance so as to not feel the stress of looming deadlines. The Chockababy blog has adapted over time as well. I was able to focus my attention from sharing about everything to my passion: being a supportive mom community and my life dealing with a child with food allergies.

As much as being an entreprenuer can be exhausting, it’s also so freeing to be able to control my own schedule. I think I would have a very hard time being a full time working mom outside of the home. Occasionally, I may feel like I work all the time, but I am doing things I love. And, over time, I have come close to finding a great balance – with hope that perfect balance will come soon! I think, the best thing about it is this one truth: you can do what works best for you and your family. It makes whatever you do “the best job ever!”

 

Carrie Curry lives in Milton, DE. She’s a blogger at Chockababy.com, owner of Coastal Cakery, and part-time math instructor – when not actively being “mommy” to 3 crazy kids. 

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THANK YOU for voting and helping The Pregnant Entrepreneur to win this award.

 

See more posts and info about the other winners here.   

Q:What tips would you give a mom who wants to write a book?

If you want to write a book, start writing. Seriously, that’s it. Also, start connecting with others who can help bring your book to market. Writing your book is the easiest part. Publishing the book is harder. Marketing the book is even harder.  But in the end, if your book is something you believe in, or if you have a story only you can tell, then all of the hours you put in both pre- and post-publishing will be worth it. Don’t write a book because you can.  Write it because you must.

Q:How do you balance writing and motherhood?

I was absolutely possessed to write The Pregnant Entrepreneur. I was pregnant with my second child when it became clear that I was the one to write it. Much of the book is about how there is very little balance in a mother’s life, and even less in the life of a mom who is also an entrepreneur. Moms use the kind of balance needed to ride a bike: always in motion, constantly adjusting your position and center of gravity, going off road when the old path doesn’t lead you to the right end. My children have always seen me working, but very often they don’t realize that I’m working because my life as an entrepreneur is so much fun and I’m around more than I would be if I had to go to an office 10 hours a day. I want them growing up knowing that you can achieve everything you strive for, but you don’t have to “have it all,” at least not all at the same time. My main business, a successful professional organizing and design business (www.HeartWorkOrg.com) , makes even more demands on my day and time with family than my book does, so I make sure that I really love what I’m doing.  Since I’m the boss in both my kitchen  and my business, shame on me if I’m not creating a life that I love. Entrepreneurship offers the best path to a workday that caters to a mother’s own family needs.

 

Q:Where do you find writing inspiration?

The inspiration for The Pregnant Entrepreneur was personal. I needed a guidebook to get me through something completely new, which was how to get through my special nine months as a credible and successful entrepreneur. I was honored to include in my book the stories of other women who have gone through pregnancy while running their own business. It’s hard to find these stories when you most need to hear them. Even with all of the improvements in women’s rights and working conditions, women are still largely unsupported in the US as young mothers, so I wanted to give women a heads up on the issues they will face as pregnant entrepreneurs. The book includes some simple spreadsheets in the book to help women do things like fund their own maternity leave, so they can stay home with their newborn for as long as possible. I want to encourage women to take the next step to their dreams. Technology has created an amazing opportunity to kick the Old Boy’s Club to the curb and really maximize the New Girl’s Club. We are put on this earth to help each other, and women’s stories from around the world inspire me to encourage others.  Since writing the book, both of my blogs (www.PregnantEntrepreneur.com and www.HeartWorkOrg.com ) provide a platform to help other women and men live more organized, peaceful and maybe even more balanced lives…even though balance is like the mythical unicorn.  But wouldn’t it be great to happen upon it one day?

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Why yes, it really is that simple.  Not only do most US corporations effectively send some of their brightest and most motivated employees packing with a baby shower, but the US economy is the big loser.  You know, the US economy that we’ve been hearing so much about in recent years, with stagnated growth and recessionary tendencies? 

According to Sallie Krawcheck, a former corporate president, “Fully engaging women in the economy can increase GDP by as much as 9%.” 

Let’s be clear on one thing.  Women who leave the corporate life in favor of raising their families aren’t generally sitting home eating bonbons.  They are the women volunteering all around us and taking low-paying but indispensable jobs in what is known as the “shadow economy.”  These women make our schools run, keep our churches growing, mobilize others for political agendas, and lend their influence to their communities as bloggers and small business owners.  They volunteer in the health care systems.  They run back offices for their family business.  They take care of the aging.  They mentor others.  They teach our children.  And they are penalized in corporations for it.

Read more in this compelling article. http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121211003923-174077701-big-idea-2013-flexibility-without-shame.

While a lot has improved in the work world in past decades, we still have far to go.  It is amazing how far behind the curve the US is, compared to many European countries.  If you can’t wait for changes, then entrepreneurship is probably for you.

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The title pretty much sums it up.  I read Every Single Article that comes across my desk with the words “balance” and “motherhood”.  I have it about as good as it gets, really.  Honestly, I write my own hours, I have a husband who shares the load, and I don’t have any crazy extenuating circumstances like a high-needs child or a high-maintenance parent.  But still I look for the magic bullet to creating a more successful day, often bolstered by coffee and/or chocolate. 

Today, I’ll share a good one from a friend with a wicked sense of humor, Kelly Brown.  She normally writes over at her blog, The Turnip Farmer.  She tells it like it is from her situation as a person working for an employer.  But really, she could be any mom, with any permutation of work/stay-at-homedness.  Do you recognize yourself in this article at all? 

Finding the Balance as a Working Mom

 

Girl Power

This last week or so, I keep seeing things that
make me all weepy. Yeah, I’m a girl, and girls do that.
But there’s power in these images, these stories, and these
tears. This is for your girls, you, and even your boys.
Prepare to be awed.

Last night, a friend sent me
the post titled, “I am Malala.” This is the story
of the young girl shot point blank in the head by the Taliban for
advocating for the rights of girls to go to school. Here’s
the video of Malala’s family’s situation
well before this took place. Trust me, it is worth the 9
minutes, even if it shocks you or makes you cry. Her father thought
he was offering himself up to danger to stand up to the forces of
evil, but his daughter took the bullet. What this man and his
daughter teach the world, for her sake, for her friends’ sake, and
for the betterment of his whole country, is really
awe-inspiring.

;

Hours before
that, I was sitting in the ballroom of the Baldwin School taking a professional
development class. The class, by the way, was organized by
and for moms in social media who help
each other grow their networks and their businesses, which alone is
a testament to the creativity and power of thinking women. I
entered the building a bit put off by the wealth and entitlement of
the expensive private school education that the Baldwin girls
receive. But after taking a tour led by some of the senior
class, I can’t help but admit what a great world it would be if
all girls were
nurtured in the way that these bright, motivated girls clearly were
within their school. I actually came home thinking, now how
could I create that same environment of a close-knit community that
encourages the kids to become “thinking girls”… but without the
tuition? In fact, nearly all of the children that I
personally know here in America receive an entitled education,
compared to what the girls in Malala’s class- and girls in much of
the world- have access to.

Today, Daily Worth highlighted a new project,
being funded through Kickstarter, that offers the first engineering
toy specifically for girls. You have to go watch this video
for GoldiBlox, The Engineering Toy for
Girls
. Yep, I got weepy while watching. You
see, my girls love to read, and they are super smart (of course
they are). But I’m still afraid that they won’t even consider a
lifetime in the science and engineering fields. Why would
they? I didn’t even know what an engineer was until I was in
college. Despite my label of gifted as a youngster, despite
my involvement in problem solving clubs, despite my curiosity about
the world, no one ever mentioned a career where I might engineer my
world. Ever. I ended up in the language arts,
because I was a good reader. I would
gladly pony up $30 today to give my girls that option, covered in
pink and ribbon and accompanied by a book, but over 5,500 other
people beat me to it, and now I’ll have to wait to buy mine when it
hits the stores next year.

;

Just last week,
I was overjoyed (more tears) to hear that the practically medieval
law disproportionately affecting stay at home moms that
incredibly got passed and put into effect last
year is going to be revised. The CARD Act of 2009 included a
provision that kicked in last year disallowing stay-at-home parents the right totheir own credit without the approval of their spouse if
they could not document their own income.
GRRRRR. What bull!!! But thanks largely to one woman,
Holly McCall, and www.MomsRising.org,
it looks like the CARD Act will be revised to make sense
for families. Even when society falls back to bad choices for
women and their families, we persevere, pull together, and make
things better for our daughters.

Having been
decimated by divorce, having been shaken by layoffs, having seen
friends who lost their whole self when their world was financially
devastated because of some man, I’m grateful to have this business,
started before my kids and carried on through two pregnancies, to
carve out my professional self. I am not an engineer, I am
not a politian, I am not an international activist, but I am a mom
who is modeling success in this world to my daughters through my
business. I have that right. I have that
privilege. And so do you.

You go,
girl.

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I just finished reading the book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  It is a must read for many of us introverts, closet introverts, socialized introverts, and those who love them.

My first real job out of college, I later found out, the managers all expected that I would fail quickly.  I was too quiet for sales, or at least that’s what they thought.  It turns out that being quiet has power and allows for a different level of engagement.  (I went on to rise to management and a very healthy salary in the 12 years that I worked at that company, by the way.)

Many women, I believe, are concerned with their ability to succeed in their own business or someone else’s because they are introverts, hate to sell, and can’t stand to do the pressing-flesh networking events that seem so necessary to get ahead.  No need to stress about it, says Cain.  Just make a “Free Trait Agreement” with yourself.  She outlines exactly what this is leading up to page 222 of the book. Basically, it’s a concession that you make with yourself or someone else, allowing yourself to do a certain number of activities outside of your comfort zone in exchange for allowing yourself to spend more time comfortably in your natural state, which might be solitude or comtemplative time.

On page 222, she uses the example of a woman who wants to build a small business, work for home, and take a more active role in the daily life at home, but hates to do the necessary networking that will allow her to grow a business to the right size to accomplish staying at home.  She suggests, “make a Free Trait Agrrement with yourself: you will go to one schmooze-fest per week.  At each event you will have at least one genuine conversation (since this comes easier to you than “working the room”) and follow up with that person the next day.  After that, you get to go home and not feel bad when you turn down other networking opportunities that come your way.” 

This is great advice, and something that all of us, even the die-hard introverts who absolutely hate to sell, can practice.  The key is making the agreement that allows you to spend time where your personality is fulfilled.

There are lots of other gems in this book, including the validating estimate that 1/3 to 1/2 of the people in any room are an introvert. 

Go read:

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Read the full article here:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223299

pregnant entrepreneur

Another successful women business owner, and pregnant entrepreneur, Joey Fortman of Real Mom Media.  Listen to our interview.

90% of women business owners consider their business a success, as compared to 80% of men. 

 

Good work, ladies.

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