Okay, all you awesome mamas -- I am SO excited for today's interview and just KNOW that you will come away from it feeling so inspired to go out there and build your own business!
Meet Beth from Mama Bear Birth:
Beth is a former 4th-grade-teacher-turned-stay-at-home-mom-turned-mom boss who is married to her high school sweetheart, Sam, and mama to the adorable Noah and Juniper. Between raising her sweet babies and running the successful Mama Bear Birth, Beth graciously took the time to answer some of my questions about how she launched her business, as well as offer tips to other mompreneurs out there!
You are a very busy wife and mom to two adorable little ones! What was your life like before having kids? Have you always been a doula or did you work in a different field?
Life before kids seems like a lifetime ago! But it was only 5 years. Crazy how kids do that to you. Before having my oldest, I was a 4th grade elementary teacher in a suburb of Wichita. My husband taught instrumental band at a private school in town, so we both had very similar schedules with mostly the same time off. We loved gathering regularly with our friends, exploring our amazing city, and doing anything active we could (running, biking, rock climbing, etc.)!
Fast forward to when you had your son, Noah... Were you a working mom or were you able to stay home right from the start?
I always knew I wanted the option of staying home with our kids. Once the time came to make that decision, it was obvious what I should do. My husband and I felt very strongly about one of us actually raising our kids day in and day out. We were both on board with making the financial sacrifice and really looked at it from the perspective that we will never get these years back with our little ones. I had my son in March on the very last day of spring break (perfect timing for a teacher), took the rest of the year off for maternity leave, and then never went back after summer break. So I became a stay at home mom! It was a HUGE transition to say the least. I tend to lean more towards the Type A personality, and the lack of schedule or direction for my days was very challenging (and boring) at first. Five years in, the days are simpler, smoother, and so very worth it! I’m very thankful to be on this side of making that transition, and I empathize with all the working women who are currently making that decision!
What inspired you to begin your own business? What steps did you have to take to make it a reality?
My inspiration for becoming a doula/childbirth educator began with my son’s birth. It was a wonderful, truly empowering experience that I realized was unique compared to many of my peers. I wanted other women to understand their choices so that they, too, could have an amazing experience. I became a Certified Birth Doula in 2013 when my son was a little over a year. At first, I just took work as it came to me and didn’t do any marketing. Word of mouth is a powerful thing! It was a great part time outlet for me to help others, get my cup filled, and get some time away from being a mom. In 2014, I had my daughter and officially took off of work about 10 months (this baby refused a bottle), even though I attended a few births within that time. When my daughter was about a year, I became very busy with doula work. At this point, it was about ⅔ word of mouth and ⅓ couples finding me on a doula website called Doula Match. I still wasn’t doing any extra marketing. Throughout these years, I became very close friends with a few ladies that also shared my passion of supporting women during the perinatal period. We would chat and dream about what it might be like to go into business together, someday, when our kids were a bit older. Around this time, I also began training for and becoming a Birth Boot Camp Instructor (childbirth classes). All of us friends were working independently in our own various fields and finally just decided to go for it and launch our business, Mama Bear Birth (www.mamabearbirth.com). We all feel very strongly that there is no time like the present even if the timing isn’t perfect for our families. That doesn’t mean we sacrifice our families. On the contrary. We all fully support one another and the amount of work we feel like we can do during our own individual seasons. That means we give each other freedom to flow in and out of taking work as babies are born, families change, and us mamas may need some time off. We trust each other fully to make the best decisions for ourselves. We also understand that not all people have that option of flowing in and out of making an income. My family sacrifices a lot of conveniences because we feel strongly about me being the primary caregiver to our kiddos.
The tangible steps we took to make Mama Bear Birth a reality are fairly simple. We meet regularly to make big business decisions. We delegate each job or role according to our individual strengths and our time available to work. We built a website and had a logo designed. We meet regularly to build relationships with professionals that will refer clients to us (doctors, midwives, other doulas, chiropractors, photographers, etc.). We also meet once a month for a ladies’ night because we want to continue to nurture and grow our friendships outside of working together. The final thing I’ll share with you, and possibly the most important, is we all daily talk on an app called Voxer. Moms, if you haven’t discovered this already, you are missing out! This walkie-talkie type app allows us mothers to talk business with our voices (not a text or email) whenever we have a moment to without being interrupted by our kids. It’s brilliant!
How do you market your business? (Facebook, Instagram, print ads, etc.) What would you say has worked the best for you?
We love free marketing! As far as social media goes, we have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mamabearbirth/) and an Instagram (@mama_bear_birth). These tools seem to work the best to keep people hearing your name and having conversations around what you post, which brings interest back to you. We take our business cards and rack cards to businesses where our ideal client will be. We also spend a lot of our time making connections with care providers. These are the people who are going to give us referrals! Most of our business comes from referrals or word of mouth from previous clients. Another way we market is to have a sort of continuity of care for our clients. Once their birth class is done or I’m done being their doula, we have many other ways for them to stay connected to us, like public events, social gatherings just for them (our mama bears), and postpartum support groups. These gatherings keep our clients coming back to us and referring their friends to us.
What does a day in your shoes look like? How many hours a day (or week) would you say you spend working on Mama Bear Birth?
None of my days follow an actual “schedule”. But for the sake of this question I’ll use approximate times. A day in my shoes goes something like this:
6:30am- The 5 and 3 year old wake up and begin to play. I wake up and go start breakfast.
7:00am- Eating breakfast
7:30am- Hubby heads to work. I’m getting ready and then beginning my morning chores (make bed, unload dishwasher, clean up breakfast, etc.).
8:30am- Start our school work (I homeschool my 5 year old.)
10:30am- Kids snack, then go play outside. I complete whatever is on my “to do” list for our home (like laundry and cleaning). Or this is usually when we run errands or play with friends.
12:00- Lunchtime then play time. I make and clean up lunch, then have a little rest time (where I check emails and check Mama Bear Birth social media) while the kids are playing.
1:00pm- 3 year old naps while 5 year has quiet time. This is when I work! I make phone calls, schedule interviews with new clients, schedule prenatals, update the website, update social media, reply to emails, plan, look over the class I’m teaching for the week. I could go on, but you get the idea :).
3:00pm- Kids are awake and watching a show. I am wrapping up my work materials. We don’t have a home office, so it takes some doing to organize all of my supplies.
3:30pm- Snack then play time. We usually do something outside like biking or walking to the park.
4:30pm- Hubby gets home! I start dinner prep.
5:30pm- Dinner time. My husband and I usually trade who cleans up dinner depending on what my needs are. Some days I have plenty of energy to clean for the thousandth time and have no desire to play with the kids anymore, and other days I’d rather not clean again.
6:15pm- The kids begin cleaning up their toys/activities from the day, I help as needed.
6:30pm- Read our chapter book aloud. Kids do their bedtime routine.
7:15pm- We leave their room and the kids go to sleep! Depending on what night it is determines what we do with our. evenings. One night a week I teach Birth Boot Camp. Another night a week I meet with a doula client for a prenatal. My husband usually has to work at least one night. If we are not working, then this is our time to be together! We talk, read, get on the computer, watch a show together.
9:30pm- We are in bed reading and usually lights out by 10.
Like I said, our days are never the same. And what you don’t see in this schedule is the hundreds of times I break up arguing, wipe noses, clean up spills, kiss owies, read books, and completely lose my cool. But that should be implied ;)! I probably spend about 10-20 hours\ a week working depending on how many clients I have that month or if I attend an extra long birth.
Can you give some words of advice to any moms out there who are thinking of launching their own side hustle (but aren't sure where to begin)?
I’d begin by making sure your partner is completely on board with your desires! If you have their full support, then you will be successful. There will be many days where you will need your partner to make dinner, give up an evening with you, or use your family’s resources to keep your business going. It’s very important that they respect your work and believe in what you’re doing so there is no resentment or unmet expectations. Other than that, I’d say to get yourself out there! Meet with professionals in your field that you respect. Spend time nurturing those relationships and learning about how they’ve made a successful business. Attend community events that pertain to your field. Let people get to know who you are and why you believe in your work. You are what will get people to your business, not just a great business card.
What is the best part of being able to work your business from home?
By far the best part is being able to know my kids inside and out, better than any other person, while also having a purpose outside of mothering. My cup gets filled every week when I meet with couples or my classes. I go back home feeling like I’ve been seen as a person and professional, not just as a mother to my kids. It’s a very integral part to me staying motivated and energized day in and day out.