The Momtrepeneur Explosion
THE TERM Momtrepeneur may have been coined by our sisters across the Atlantic, but the reality is there is a growing base of successful career women around the globe, who also happen to be stay-at-home-Mums. From web design to making gourmet dog biscuits and massage therapy, modern mothers are carving a successful niche as entrepreneurs while choosing a lifestyle that blends well with having a family.
“Working from home is a very viable option. People choose this lifestyle for many different reasons and they deserve recognition,” said Ms Darina Loakman, founder of website www.iamawahm.com.
The first of its kind in Ireland and the UK, the website was launched last September, and has attracted great attention from Momtrepreneurs in both countries. A former IT worker with ECDL Ireland, Ms Loakman opted for becoming a WAHM (work at home mother) after experiencing the benefits of telecommuting.
However she soon realised there was a gap in the online Momtrepreneur market. “There are a lot parenting sites but the jobs are US-based. I soon realised that none were relevant to here. I kept waiting for something to happen and then one day I thought I might as well give it a go myself,” she recalled.
The resulting site is described as an online resource for mothers who want to work from home, but don’t know how to go about it, as well as acting as a support for mums already working from home.
“What amazed me was the number and quality of businesses being run from home by successful women. It’s been great for me to see what has and could be achieved,” Loakman said.
One such example is Momtrepeneur, Carol Feller who is busy juggling a thriving online business and three sons, with another baby due in April. The former software engineer turned her back on contract work when a conflict arose with familial life. The mother-of-three now spends her days running The BabyOrchard.com from its base in Inishannon, Co Cork.
“I wanted to find something that would bring the two parts of my life, my family and career, together,” Feller (32) explained. “Now if the phone rings I no longer have to make excuses for strange noises in the background. Before I would have to pretend there wasn’t a child behind me, whereas this is very child-centred.”
The business sells such items as cloth nappies, breastfeeding products, baby hammocks, as well as acting as a resource for parents. “I started using cloth nappies with my second son, as he was allergic to disposable. But I discovered I couldn’t find that sort of thing in Ireland and had to buy from the US,” Feller explained.
Having spent a year mulling over the idea the Cork woman decided to embark on a business that would reflect her own beliefs. “There are a lot of parenting styles that I believe in, that weren’t big in Ireland and I wanted to show parents that there are other systems out there,” she said.
Four-and-a-half years later The BabyOrchard.com has grown significantly, with a part-time worker recently joining the team. The business, which is run from a converted garage, allows its founder to enjoy her family, while at the same time enjoying a fulfilling career.
Mornings are spent doing invoices and checking email, before completing the post office run on the way to pick up the children from school. “I try not to work too many evenings and keep weekends free,” she declared.
However, she warns potential Momtrepreneurs of various pitfalls. “I learnt the hard way as I wanted to do something close to my heart, but soon realised I had to treat it like a business,” she said, advising others of the need for a good business plan when embarking down the entrepreneurial route.
Loakman also warns wannabe Momtrepreneurs to be aware of the challenges and also of the pitfalls that exist. “There are many scams out there. You should never have to pay to work at home,” she said, warning of the many advertisements that ‘guarantee’ to make you rich. The mother of three is also quick to dispel the myth, that working from home is ‘easy’.
“Yes, it is easier than commuting perhaps, but you work hard and face numerous challenges. If you take five minutes out to put on the washing machine you make up that time elsewhere- plus some,” she added. She also advises would-be entrepreneurs to avail of the free 7-day e-course, which allows the participant to work out what is the best direction to take. “Working at home is a very viable option. But you need to stand back and assess what your goals are and what you want from your career before you make any choices,” she advised.