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.
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
Thank you so much for including me in your series. Its important for moms to know that you can still have the business of your dreams no matter what phase of life you are in. Don’t wait!
Business owners, pregnant or not, can learn from Karla. When she says “create your own trail,” she means it! I’ve seen her do it, and do it well.
Kristin, thank you for saying that. Its wonderful to have such great entrepreneurial women in my corner who I consider friends.
I love this story!! I really, really needed to hear the “put on your big-girl pants” and push through part. I’m in year 2 and just as sales are starting to pick up, I learned that I’m pregnant with twins. I laid most of the groundwork for The Original Panty Pinata (www.pantypinata.com) while I was pregnant with my first and launched shortly after he was born. Now that I’m pregnant again, I’ve decided to wait to launch phase two (Baby Bump Pinata) until my twins are sleeping 6+ hours a night…just to be a little kinder to myself:). Thank you so much for this great story. Wonderful inspiration for fellow mommy-prenuer!
Heather, your business is so unique and the way that you executed everything is just top-notch. I’m glad we connected. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Excellent article. I work for a major school system in Northern Virginia. It is more than a notion, sometimes! I greatly respect and admire anyone, especially women with new & growing families that have the insight, inspiration, talent, & faith to not only have children, but to start their own businesses! Congratulations to my Alpha Kappa Alpha Soror and I wish you continued success & prosperity in your business. As for me, keep the babies coming & I’ll keep teaching them! Lol!
It was interesting to read Karla’s story. As women it is important to realize that if we want to do something we can. We must ignore and push aside obstacles in our way. Now that I have nursed twins while typing proposals for clients on my computer, ordinary work aggravations have no power over me!
I think I am done in the baby department. Two boys is enough for me. I am in the nap phase of life where I can actually take one and know that the boys won’t burn the house down.
This was a great read! Karla is truly an inspiration to other entrepreneurs.
Great Article Karla is inspiring. 🙂
I know. Aren’t these the kinds of articles you wish your younger self had seen more of? I do! I’m so grateful that these women are sharing them with us.
Great article! I’m inspired to keep pressing forward with my busineess goals & get them firmly in place, prior to starting a family in the near future.
You know what they say, keep calm and carry on…with business.