Motherhood and Entrepreneurship: Why Parenting Is Actually a Career Opportunity

Tips from successful women who happen to be moms.

Grace Wilcox Photography

F*ck mom guilt. That was my takeaway from The Assembly’s Motherhood and Entrepreneurship panel.

As a mom of a six-month old, I was more than happy to leave the bedtime routine to my husband so I could connect with other driven women. Clearly I wasn’t alone. The clubhouse was filled with moms ready to learn from local entrepreneurs, who just happen to be mothers. The moms I mingled with before the panel seemed way past the impossible quest to “have it all.” Instead of feeling guilty for being career-driven moms, we wanted tips and inspiration for achieving our professional goals. Enough with *balance* — let’s hear the secrets of success.

Enough with *balance* — let’s hear the secrets of success.

And that’s what we got. The panel featured Megan Papay of Freda Salvador, April Gargiulo of Vintner’s Daughter, Sherri McMullen of McMullen, and Anna Chiu of Kamperett. Moderator Katie Hintz-Zambrano of In Good Company and Mother Mag, invited each woman to share how she got her first big break. They agreed that becoming a parent doesn’t have to hold you back. In fact, you can think of it as an opportunity. Here’s why:

Motherhood Can Help You Find Your Idea

If it weren’t for her pregnancy, April Gargiulo might not have created Vintner’s Daughter, a wildly popular, nontoxic face serum. “I got pregnant and started looking at ingredients. I discovered that expensive lotions and potions were made from cheap, bad products,” Gargiulo told us. Anna Chiu also thanked motherhood for inspiring her to take a leap of faith and start her own fashion business. After becoming a mom, she tried to negotiate a flexible schedule with her employer. When they declined, she walked away. Taking time off gave her the creative space to come up with the idea for her line, Kamperett, which came to her as a vision during a yoga class. “I wouldn’t have started it if I didn’t have kids,” Amy admitted.

Amy also credits fellow women and mothers for giving her the confidence and support she needed as a new entrepreneur. April backed her up: “There is a current moving women forward in SF,” she said, noting that communities of women like The Assembly have helped San Francisco become a welcoming place for female creatives and entrepreneurs. “That must be what it’s like to be a dude” everywhere else, she joked.

Parenting Helps Your Prioritize

Managing a business and a family are two huge jobs. But doing one can make you better at the other. “You have to prioritize brutally,” Gargiulo admitted. The entrepreneurs told us that they do what they can to work efficiently, because any time not working is more time you can spend with your kids. And when they are at home, they make sure to spend distraction-free time with their children — putting phones away at bath or dinner time.

“When I had a son it changed everything,” McMullen told the audience. “Before, I could work until 9 o’clock every night. Now I look forward to going home.” Instead of checking work emails first thing in the morning, she cuddles with her son. Filling two important roles — business owner and parent — motivates these women to bring a high level of focus to each.

Following Your Dreams Will Make Your Children Proud

Showing them your fullest self is the greatest gift you can give them.

“At the end of the day, Piper is seeing me at my best,” Megan Papay shared. She hopes her example running Freda will help her 10-year-old daughter, Piper, reach for her dreams one day and that inspires Megan to work harder. Gargiulo agreed that working hard doesn’t make you a deficient parent. Instead, it can add to your relationship with your children: “I’ve heard my six year old tell her friends about her mama’s work. Showing them your fullest self is the greatest gift you can give them.” If you’re a mom thinking about pursuing a business idea you’re passionate about, do it for your yourself. And your kids.

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