Let’s Hear It for Women Entrepreneurs

I was destined for success in a conventional track. I would work hard in grade school, get into a good college, and graduate with a great job in graphic design that would sustain me for decades. Yes, the product of two business owners, hailing from a long lineage of innovators, entrepreneurs, and scrappy survivors looked forward to a nice, stable, corporate career.

I spent the better part of my employment feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Not only was I an entrepreneurial female at heart in a male-dominated industry, but also, I am someone who values good work in addition to hard work.

In hopes that it would provide me with better opportunity, I exited corporate life to work in startups. During my tenure I did time as a designer, software developer, and product manager. Five positions later, I finally figured out what role I was intended to fill: business owner. Shocking, right?

My favorite part about being a business owner, aside from the obvious of setting my own hours, and taking calls #inmyCalvins, is the same thing that drove me to starting my own web development and design business. As an employee of other companies, I found myself constantly frustrated having to sacrifice quality in favor of getting things out the door rapidly. So, the greatest perk of being my own boss and running my own operation is having total autonomy to set and adhere to my own high standards, and treating each project with care and attention to detail.

When I first set out, I was a diehard member of the “Ya Ya WomenInTech Sisterhood”. I was frustrated with the way I was treated as a female in a male-dominated industry. I felt singled out and demoralized by what set me apart. I was disenchanted with being the only female manager in a room of C-level men, so I left, and sought opportunities and partnerships where I could leverage what made me different.

Women bosses, nay, women EMPLOYEES are important because we bring something different to the table; women tend to be more empathetic, pay closer attention to detail, and even problem solve differently (not necessarily better, just different) than their male counterparts. Research shows that gender diversity isn’t just good for moral, it’s good for the bottom line too! Gender diversity is a crucial ingredient when it comes to true innovation. Women and men are objectively and fundamentally different, but it’s not a bad thing. While some may refer to this as “an inability to see eye to eye”, I see it as a great opportunity for collaboration.

I practice what I preach at my business Stacks and the City. We believe in diversity, but not without the advocacy of women in tech and leadership.

I’m no stranger to being the odd person out, and while I resisted it for a long time, learning to grow and accept unconventionality as a superpower is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and my career. It’s important for us all to reward each other for what makes us different (not just in terms of gender), for the future of innovation as well as acceptance.

Rachel-Stakin

Written by our guest blog partner, Rachel Shatkin, Founder of Stacks and the City

Finding Life Balance as a Mom

This week we present a guest blog writer, Jolynn Jaekel, who tells her story about becoming a mom, and her journey of balancing life and motherhood. Read her relatable and impressive story below!

Our mom was home with us while our dad went to work until I was in high school and even then, we had our grandmother to take care of us when mom went back to work. I grew up thinking that’s how it was done, but not certain that’s what I’d choose. Nothing about my path was traditional.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version… graduated college with a journalism degree; moved to Los Angeles and became an entertainment publicist; loathed LA; moved home to New Mexico; moved to New York City for a PR stint and confirmed I didn’t love PR but I did love New York; moved back to New Mexico to “figure it out;” rediscovered my love of acting; and then moved back to New York and became a professional sometimes working actor who taught fitness for survival. Whew!

So, when I finally got married and pregnant, I was hustling hard and knew no other way. BUT the second I looked into my daughter’s baby blues, everything changed. And it kept changing.

Before she arrived, I “knew” I’d be a better mommy if I was working out of the house. But then she came, and I realized I “knew” nothing. When I returned to work after my eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave, I couldn’t stand being away. I raced home as soon as I could, eliminating all non-parenting activities. It took both my husband and I plus two part time childcare providers to cover our crazy schedules with no family around for support. So, we moved to just outside of Washington, D.C., where one of my sisters lives.

We decided that initially, I would be home with our daughter. This was what I had been longing for, to be present for every single moment. At first, I reveled in the stay at home mom culture. We were busy with playdates, story time at the library, exploring every museum, farm, nature center and kids’ music performance, and finally making the crafts I’d pinned long ago. I got to be with my baby girl all the time. I was also alone with my baby girl a lot of the time. My husband’s hours had always been long, but now I was keenly aware of how long. My husband was receiving well deserved accolades at work but at home no one cheers you on for doing a great job cleaning a dirty diaper or gives you a promotion for keeping your child alive and well fed. It is the hardest job you’ll ever love. And I LOVED it, but I had no balance. I had cut myself off from everything I had known before motherhood and I began to notice.

I also began to realize it was time to go back to work because living on one salary in a city just as expensive as New York would not cut it, but where to begin and how to make it work? Fitness seemed like the most flexible place to start. I developed a mommy & me fitness program that let me teach a few classes with my daughter by my side. I eventually became a group fitness director at a local boutique gym which had on-site child care. It felt good to be back in the workforce without compromising my time with her. Then the gym eliminated child care. Time for Plan B.

We needed an additional income and I needed something of my own. I took a leap of faith with something I knew nothing about and previously had no interest in trying;  a home-based sales business. Turns out, what I had prejudged as totally wrong for me, was the perfect solution to my complicated equation. It gives me the flexibility to maintain our mommy & me adventures, while I get to flex my atrophied mental muscles AND bring in a salary. It’s given me something else I realized I desperately needed, a community of like-minded women who are courageous, smart, inspiring and supportive of my journey no matter how many twists and turns it takes.

Here’s what I know for sure. I AM happier when I have something to focus on that inspires me outside of the incredible gift of our daughter. I AM a better mommy when I have balance. I DO love my job as her mommy and am so grateful to not have to miss a moment, but I’m glad I’ve found a way to have some moments of my own too.

Jolynn Baca

Written by our guest blog partner, Jolynn Jaekel
Photo taken by Shauri Dewey

How to Avoid, “Are We There Yet?”

Holiday travel season is here, and people everywhere are wishing they could magically wake up in their desired destination without having to deal with the crowds of people. Travelling with the kiddos can be an added challenge, but what’s the holiday season without some hurdles, right?

We took to investigating some travel tips to help parents keep the kiddos entertained during both air and road travel. First up, try these ideas when it’s time for wheels up.

  • Story time: Bring a classic story to life with finger puppets! Three Little Pigs, anyone?
  • Who’s that relative: Use photos of Grandma, Grandpa and other family members to play the guessing game.
  • Origami: Fold origami paper into cranes and caterpillars. Print pages from the site Origami Club for simple-to-follow directions.
  • Arts and doodles: Don’t underestimate the power of a roll of stickers. Pro tip: for coloring, bring triangle crayons so they don’t roll off the tray. 

Keeping your feet on the ground for holiday travels? Try out these road trip games for fun entertainment!

  • Road trip bingo:  Search for road trip sights like bicycles, wind turbines and airplanes. The first player to find five in a row wins!
  • Word search road trip style:  Search for road trip-themed words using the word search puzzle template.
  • Are we there yet: Write in and number the cities you plan to pass during your route on the template cards. String the cards around the car and have the kids take down the card once you’ve conquered another city.
  • Scavenger hunt: Check off the road trip-themed list while in the backseat, at a rest stop, or while out exploring together.
  • Moving truck mural: Kids can practice their drawing skills to replicate the murals of moving trucks they spot while on the road.
  • License plate game: See how many license plates you can find during your road trip and check them off the map.

All templates for the road trip games can be found here.

Happy travels, families!

Travel-2

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell