Doing the ‘Mompreneur Hustle’ During the Pandemic | GPS Business Insider | Marra Intel
They are easy to spot. The yoga pants, well-manicured toes in flip-flops, hair up in a messy bun…they just dropped their kid off at school, (sometimes it’s several kids at a couple different schools) and now they have settled into a seat outside their favorite juice place. With their husband at work and the kids in school, they are enjoying a few moments when no one really needs them. Maybe they are going to take a pilates class, get a mani-pedi, run to the store for dinner ingredients and then head back home to focus on their work outside of being a mom. They should have a quiet house until around 2 p.m. These are mompreneurs — female business owners who actively balance the roles of mother and entrepreneur.
And then everything changed. The news of a statewide shutdown due to the outbreak of a virus took a while to sink in with these women. “Wait, all of the kids at home, all day? The husband at home too? What about me? How will I be able to accomplish all of the things needed to keep this household running?” For many, it was terrifying to process.
The mompreneurs who frequent juice bars, yoga classes, high intensity workouts, hair and nail salons, were suddenly faced with nowhere to go to maintain their health, fitness and beauty routines. First-world problems, right? Think again. Without these small luxuries to balance intense work and parenting situations, many women became depressed and even despondent. Not only had they lost the ability to enjoy their set schedules and routines, but they also gained added pressures of being a teacher for their kids and often sharing a workspace with their spouse. No outlet for going out. No friends to pal around with. No workouts to burn off the tension. For some, tempers flared. Many relationships became strained. And studies show that divorce rates have increased during the past year.
But there are also mompreneurs who persevered through the shutdowns.
Marcie Madain, owner of Fresh Juice Bar, watched most of her loyal customer base disappear overnight. With creative business thinking, she was able to prevent her four Fresh Juice locations in the desert (Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and La Quinta) from completely closing down. Not wanting to lose the momentum the business had built over the last 7 years; Marcie quickly made the decision to switch to takeout only and created online ordering with their Clover point of sale solution. They added Postmates, DoorDash and GrubHub in an attempt to provide convenience to their customers and build a new customer base with promotional ads through the apps. They also added more “grab & go” items to increase options for their customers, however, in 2020, sales were down 30% overall compared to 2019.
Fresh Juice Bar qualified for the first round of Payment Protection Plan (PPP) from the federal government and Marcie expects it will be forgiven, which was key to keeping the entire staff on payroll. The landlord of the Palm Desert store, Jim Perry, was also incredibly gracious with deferring rent and the Rancho Mirage store benefitted from a $5,000 city grant to provide meals for eight weeks. Marcie felt the community support and it definitely made a difference.
Other business challenges Marcie faced were making sure her team of employees stayed healthy and engaged with customers to maintain a high-level service experience. Businesses like Fresh Juice Bar can suffer when a customer can’t see the employee’s friendly smile or hear them properly through a mask and behind a plexiglass safety barrier. A few bad Yelp reviews born out of the work arounds and safety measures did dampen her overall excellent rating, however, Marcie says tips for the staff have been generous and customers are grateful they have stayed open.
“Our workforce is the most valuable asset in our business,” she said. “The ones that helped trim the fat, find better pricing on products, and learned how to work leaner, truly became invaluable.”
Marcie also faced personal challenges in 2020. Last March, just before the shutdown, she was hospitalized facing the possibility of needing a liver transplant, and says she is “lucky to be alive today.” During that time, Fresh Juice Bar employee Vasni Luna stepped up and carried the load of the business for two months while Marcie was recovering from her illness.
Handing the responsibilities of being a mompreneur when your teenage daughter has to attend high school from home — with no more in-person classes, sports or friends to keep her busy also presented Marcie with another challenge. Marcie’s daughter is a sophomore and mainly attends classes on Zoom from home while her parents work. She created a school workspace for her daughter at home, but the interruptions from the gardeners and the dog now take the place of the class clown stealing the scene. Thankfully, some restrictions have loosened recently, so she is able to play some sports again and can socialize in a safe distance with friends at the park.
Many mompreneurs had to give up lucrative careers to stay home with their family when their workplace was shut down. In some cases, this was the blessing they never knew they needed. It forced them to reimagine their futures. Shanyce Washack is a very popular hairstylist who was at J. Russell Salon for 16 years. After three mandatory shutdowns, owner Meg Firestone and her husband announced they would shut their doors permanently on December 31, 2020, forcing about 35 salon employees to scramble to find a new place to work.
When the first shutdown happened, Shanyce didn’t panic. Her husband, Gerry, owns Next Level Fitness, which was also closed, so they welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with their one-year-old daughter, Sloane. They initially thought the shutdown was going to last two weeks to slow the virus spread. But, as the desert temps began to heat up, they decided to retreat to their Oceanside mobile home they have enjoyed on the weekends for six years.
In the first few days of the shutdown, Shanyce decided to create a side hustle for residual income by selling the “Happy Coffee” supplement she used to help her lose her baby weight. She began sharing her story on social media as the shutdown continued, so they decided to stay in their tiny beach digs through the summer and focus on being happy. It wasn’t long before the coffee supplement business exploded and soon her customers became distributors under her and by September 2020, the group was grossing $40,000 a month in Happy Coffee sales. Shanyce was able to successfully subsidize her income without going on unemployment.
But what about her hair clients? You could hear the desperation in some voices as they lamented the inability to fix their typically blonde hair which now had dark roots or dark hair that was covered in grey. Shaynce was able to make some house calls with protection protocols and delivered custom formulas to clients to apply at home. She taught daughters and husbands how to apply color treatments through FaceTime calls and gave instructions to wives for haircuts for their husbands. Some clients who normally would see Shaynce on a weekly basis, learned to not be so concerned about their appearance. Some even embraced the grey and let their natural color come out. They became relaxed about their style and look.
Through all of this, Shanyce realized she was becoming a better leader and team cheerleader. The joy she felt making people happy assisting them with their home color solutions coupled with helping people with their weight loss goals was so rewarding. She was on an opportunity call for the coffee business and was speaking about her team’s success when she got the news about J. Russell Salon going out of business, displacing many otherwise busy stylists. Rather than letting that get her down, she felt like something big was about to happen. She was right.
A group of nine stylists wanted to stick together in a new salon space, so Shaynce began thinking about opening up her own salon and her husband Gerry stepped in to help with his entrepreneurial skills. They made an agreement to buy out the owners of Dishwater Blonde and take over their space and within two months, on February 1, 2021, the new salon opened as Roots and Mane.
Another mompreneur, Jill Kreizenbeck, was also able to prosper through the shutdown. Jill is a wife of seventeen years and the mother of three children aged 14, 12 and 10. Jill jokes that wine helps her through the challenges of raising three strong-willed, whip-smart, active kids. She found clean-crafted wines through Scout and Cellar three years ago and loved them so much she became a distributor, and like Shanyce, her clients also became distributors. With an uptick in national alcohol sales since the pandemic began, Jill and her team were able to create residual income from continuous subscriptions and orders for wine delivered right to their client’s doors.
Each of these mompreneurs were able to manage their families, retain or create new income and do it all with style, grace, a little wine, and an occasional pedicure — all during a pandemic. We do what we have to do to live each day to the fullest, give thanks for the little blessings and let go of the things that we cannot control.
Kate Spates is a business strategist, marketer, writer, amateur photographer, filmmaker and community leader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published at https://marraintel.com on March 2, 2021.