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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?
Welcome to an interview with another successful pregnant entrepreneur, Sarah Bond, CEO of Main Line Parent.
You are nine months pregnant and are at the helm of a great resource for moms called Main Line Parent. How did this come about?
Main Line Parent been online for two years and we are about to publish our fourth issue of our print magazine and launch a digital edition with customized mobile application for Spring 2012. We identify as a regional parenting publication, but what sets us apart is that we started out as a Facebook group in 2010. I started this company when my first daughter was four months old and I wanted to make more mom friends who were in a similar stage of life. I invited the four or five moms I’d met in prenatal yoga within days it grew ten-fold as their friends and friends of friends joined. We planned social networking events and started a website to publish parenting articles and features on local resources for families. Within a year I had my sights set on planning a charity benefit for the local birth center, where I’d had such an amazing experience for the birth of my daughter, and launching a print magazine as well. Mom’s Night Out for Mother’s Day was a huge success and the first issue of our magazine was met with rave reviews, so I kept going. In the following year I attracted a team of experts to fine tune our editorial and design and to assist in client relationship building, which also kept me going.
You are about to release your fourth issue of the beautiful magazine Main Line Parent. How are you feeling about the business right now?
I feel great about the business. Our Spring Issue is about to come out the first week of March and we are riding a wave of success from our first Main Line Early Childhood Education Fair held earlier this month. The Spring Issue celebrates outstanding local parents with exciting features such as one several local moms who have built amazing businesses, another about a Mom’s Club which is building a $50K playground project, a chef from a new culinary hot spot in Wayne who makes cooking at home fun with his daughter by reinventing culinary classics with creative twists, and many more. This issue will be available for free through our distribution network of schools, cafes and local businesses as well as online to our subscribers and through a new custom mobile application for iDevices.
We are also preparing for our second annual Mom’s Night Out for Mother’s Day and we’re excited to already have $5,000 in contributions from local businesses for our silent auction. This night of beauty and fashion for moms is the ultimate girl’s night out: with a VIP lounge, swag-filled gift bags, cocktails, a red carpet, and dinner at the Radnor Valley Country Club and a fashion show by Van Cleve Collections. Our auction will benefit the Main Line Parent Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to students, mompreneurs, moms clubs and local groups that share our mission of Building Community.
You started this venture in the midst of the Great Recession. Some would say that is crazy. What do you think?
Unlike many business models, such as opening a retail location or manufacturing products, Main Line Parent was built as a financially self-sustaining business. I already had the necessary skills from my years working in marketing roles, such as web and print collateral design, copy writing and integrated marketing communications planning, so I was in a good position to offer my expertise to local businesses and allow them to tap into a desirable niche market through the social media network I developed. The biggest investments were my time and my family has been very supportive financially so I did not need to take on a large amount of expensive debt to begin. We tapped into a niche market and have grown steadily with careful consideration to our financial position to ensure that we do not overextend ourselves as well.
What are your plans to take a maternity leave once the baby comes? Will your business be able to pay for you to be out?
I do not plan to take any kind of formal maternity leave, though I will be relying more on the rest of my team to keep our momentum going for a few weeks while I adjust to life with two. I’m optimistic that I will manage with a lot of baby-wearing and working during naps, which I did within two weeks of my first daughter being born (she was such a big sleeper during the day… cross your fingers for me that I’ll be so lucky again?)
How important are your staff and team to this business? How did you connect with key individuals?
My team is absolutely essential. I would not still be doing this if I have not been joined by the natural relationship-building talents of Pamela Badolato, the copy writing savy and strategic editorial direction of Melissa Greiner, and the visual talents of Brittany Ostrov (our Photo Director), Veronica Utz (our Design Director), and Meredith Miller (our Art Director). And we, as the executive team would not be successful without the support of our contributing photographers and writers. As a business-owner, I would not be where I am today without the support and encouragement of my mentor and PR/Social Media expert, Dawn E. Warden, the event planning expertise and support of Karen Pecora and this would not have gotten started at all without the encouragement, financial support, and strategic consulting that my husband has provided.
I connected with this team through social media and networking (I even met my husband seven years ago on match.com… I guess I’ve always been connecting with key individuals online!) We united under a vision for taking this brand and with every issue we have fine-tuned our product.
Are there any physical challenges with your pregnancy, and how are you working through them?
As with my first pregnancy, I had challenges getting pregnant because I have the most common form of infertility, PCOS. As anyone who has gone through this process will tell you, this is emotionally and physically exhausting — and I was about a year into running this business by that point. But with my determination, a great team of infertility specialists, and a tremendous amount of fortunate circumstances I was able to get pregnant again.
Then, about half-way through my pregnancy I was crippled by back and hip pain, barely able to walk or climb a flight of stairs and I was SAVED by chiropractic treatments twice and three times a week by Dr. Brandi Nemchenko in King of Prussia, Dr. Cara Hillwig in Bryn Mawr, and Dr. Martin Orimenko in Ardmore (I rotated between their practices based on my schedule and where I could fit in adjustments between client meetings!) I highly recommend all three to women who are pregnant — if you are experiencing any kind of hip and back pain — or if you are ever faced with a breech baby — give one or more of them a call!
People talk about mommy brain like it’s a bad thing, but I know you have serious plans for the future of your business. Would you be able to share the next big thing we should look for from Main Line Parent?
Our next big thing is about to come to market, we are so excited to be working with Nxtbook Media, a company based in Lancaster, to be launching a free mobile application and digital edition of our magazine. (We are in the final stages of approval from Apple and expect our spring issue to be available in March through this medium. You can see a demo of our Winter Issue’s digital edition here.) This will compliment our printed circulation and enhance the reader experience with rich multimedia aspects and click-through links to share content through social networks. Along with our next big event, Mom’s Night Out for Mother’s Day, we’re looking ahead to the Fall 2012 when we will host the first Private and Independent School Expo for the region.
Hear more about why I wrote this book, what kinds of economic benefit having your own business as a mom can offer, and what I think about balance. My interview takes place the last 10 minutes of this hour-long show. Enjoy!