1. How did MommyCon start? What is the evolution from its inception to now?
MommyCon has evolved very organically over the past 4 – 5 years. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I started off working in marketing and branding, first in the hotel industry and then heading up my own agency in Chicago.
My professional and personal paths convened when I became a mother. After my son was born, I started a blog called The Mommy Dialogues, to document my experiences and self-education. The blog grew into regular meet-ups with like-minded mothers and mothers-to-be. The meet-ups grew into several retreats. The retreats grew into larger gatherings which included natural parenting advocates, supporters, and exhibitors. This is where the idea for MommyCon started! Within four years, MommyCon has grown to serve more than 50,000 parents from nearly every state across the country.
2. How important has the community support been in building up your business? Any tips for nurturing a growing community while nurturing a growing business?
Community is everything to us. We value the input given from everyone in our community, and their feedback is what shapes our events. In return, we provide our community with a beautifully designed conference that features the topics they are passionate about. When a business trusts their community, the business will directly benefit, and the community will feel valued. It’s a reciprocal relationship.
3. You are a very successful female entrepreneur, balancing the demands of family life with a growing business. Do you have any tips for other women in a similar position?
Drink lots of coffee, and set personal limits and boundaries. Balancing a family and business can be a huge challenge, and I haven’t figured out the magic formula, but what I have been able to do is set clear start/stop times to my work. The work is never ending, and if I were to ignore these personal boundaries; I wouldn’t be able to nurture my children the way they need me to.
4. How has MommyCon been received in Washington, D.C.? What are some things you’re looking forward to sharing with the growing natural parenting community in the area?
D.C. is one of our favorite locations to travel to. The community here is vibrant, and people come to D.C. from the surrounding states to embrace us. It’s a truly special community, and each time we come back I hope that we can bring valuable resources to the area. Whether those resources come in the form of educational sessions, phenomenal exhibitors or new products.
5. What challenges have you faced as a business woman and what key business lessons have you learned during your entrepreneurial journey?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is simply being a woman. Sexism permanents every level of our society, especially in business. As a woman, you have to try even harder to prove yourself. Motherhood is still seen a career set-back by society, but in fact, it really is the opposite – motherhood gives you a new set of interpersonal skills and fresh perspective on business. Plus your ability to multi-task becomes superhuman! I’ve learned to keep working hard, keep fighting against the stereotypes, and to create a family-friendly work culture that empowers women.
6. What business “routines” do you incorporate into your daily work life to ensure efficiency?
My best friend is my to-do list and my spreadsheets are what get me through each day. I make a list every day before I leave work, and I start a new one every morning. I prioritize items that have to be done throughout the day by dividing my day up into fourths. I know that I am most efficient in the first two hours in the office and the last two hours at my desk. This is the time that I can tune out exterior input.
7. What are your ambitions and dreams for the future both individually and for your company?
I hope we can continue reaching a larger audience. I see us expanding into new markets, and helping more families. Community is what we are passionate about, and while I love seeing how we impact each area — it’s fun to explore new places and reach a broader audience.
MommyCon D.C. takes place at the Walter E Washington Convention Center on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016. To book tickets visit www.Mommy-Con.com
Written by: Jem Bahaijoub