There is no right or wrong way to approach career after children.
by Lianne Kim
My entrepreneurial journey has been a long and winding path starting five years ago. Right before I gave birth to my first child Julia, I had this indescribable urge to start a side business. You see I was gainfully employed by a company which I enjoyed, but at the time I didn’t find the work particularly challenging and I was about to go on a one-year maternity leave. So I got myself a “side hustle”. It was a multilevel marketing Company, and although I love the products, after a while, I just didn’t feel like it was for me. In my heart of hearts I longed to create something that was just mine, and not anybody else’s. And while I learned a lot, I eventually dropped that business after about a year.
Fast forward to another year later, and I was pregnant with my son. In my free time I had been creating nursery art for his room and Julia’s room, and my friends and family commented on how much they liked it and some of them even wanted to buy it. I created a website that featured all of my best designs, and started a business just a few days before my son was born. While I love my kids dearly, it was important to me to have a some sort of focus that was not completely child-related. It was nice to have something to do in those down moments in between feedings and diaper changes, and naptime.
I ran that business for a year before I decided to start a group for local moms who had their own businesses. I was heading back to work and I had some new work-from-home privileges, that sounded great on paper, but also scared me a little. You see, I’m a very social person, and I was extremely worried about the idea of being home alone, day after day after day. So I created a networking group, now known as Mamas & Co. My primary reason for starting the group was simply so I would have one event on the calendar per month, where I knew I would get out of the house, have a glass of wine, and talk to women like me, who also had goals and interests outside of being a mom. At our first meeting we had seven women show up in a snowstorm, and I knew that this was going to be something special.
That group now has over 200 members across the GTA and counting. I have found a wonderful and passionate business partner, Emma Rohmann who runs the group with me, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Our members speak on topics that they knew about, that other people can benefit from. Back in the early days, in winter 2015, since I had a strong sales background I did a short talk on sales for small business. The talk was a hit and much to my surprise I uncovered a dormant passion of mine, teaching people how to get better at sales. I still had my same sales job, but at this point I was reaching new levels of achievement in my personal sales. And although the job did not fulfil me completely, I enjoyed it and my favourite part of the job was mentoring and training.
That sales talk lead me to the conclusion that there is a market for my skills. I discovered my passion for helping female entrepreneurs gain more clarity and confidence when it comes to sales. And so I started my fourth business, Think Big Sales Consulting. I do 1-on-1 sales coaching, group workshops and corporate training and I absolutely love it.
A few months ago I gave my notice and I finally gave up my day job. I really enjoyed my 6.5 years there, but I in the meantime tapped into a passion that I could never have predicted.
I tell you all this because I believe there is no right or wrong way to approach career after children.
“You must do what feels right for you and your family in that moment”
And that can and will change and evolve over time. There are lots of different ways to find fulfillment, and contribution, and earn an income at the same time.
Becoming a mother gives you time to pause and think about what’s really important in life. My dad always told me not to follow in his shoes, and to make sure I found a career that I loved. I have always believed that life is meant to be lived to the fullest, and that doesn’t mean thanklessly sitting behind a desk working for somebody else until you retire, if that is not your dream. I truly believe people should tap into what they love doing and what they are good at doing, and find a way to build a career around those skills.
As a mom, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have. The things I am able to do, the flexibility and freedom I am able to create for myself is something my mother could never have imagined. Back in her day you were either a working mom or a stay at home mom, and there was very little gray area. Now I’m so pleased to see options for work-from-home, reduced hours, extended and unpaid leave in the corporate workplace. This is creating an environment where women have more choice, and though it is not perfect, we are moving in the right direction.
As an entrepreneur, I can tell you that I’ve never felt so alive. I absolutely love what I do, but my family comes first and I build my business around my family and their needs. I’ve designed a work schedule so that I am able to walk my kids to and from school each day, volunteer for field trips when I want and prepare a healthful dinner for us to enjoy together most nights. These simple pleasures would not be possible if I still worked at my day job downtown 40 hours a week.
At Mamas & Co. we have such a diverse group of women, from many different backgrounds and industries. Some of them have a day job and side hustle, some of them are solopreneurs, some of them have larger companies with staff and some just have an idea for a business. But all of them are unapologetically pursuing their dreams in some way, and as a result, I believe, are living happier and more fulfilled lives.
If you are a mom who owns her own business, or you were thinking of starting one, I encourage you to check out Mamas & Co.
Lianne Kim is a mother of 2 spunky toddlers and founder of two businesses; Mamas & Co. and Think Big Sales Consulting. Her mission is to help female entrepreneurs feel more confident and supported in their entrepreneurial endeavours.