October 30, 2014

My favorite resources for busy moms in business

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 3:38 pm

Coworking…with a toddler

For moms running a business, life can be a whirlwind. With all the daily work and family responsibilities, it’s easy to lose touch with friends, not to mention business connections.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to find groups and resources that have helped me learn, get inspired, and make beneficial business connections and friends.

Resources for busy biz mamas

Founding Moms
In-person and online events, including local meetups and the annual Founding Moms Conference.

In-person and online events, including the annual MomBiz Retreat, weekly #Mombizmondays tweet chats and the MomBiz Solutions weekly podcast.

The Mogul Mom
Super informative blog, plus a business resource Market.

Working Mother Magazine
Nice print magazine, plus online resources, the Working Mother Radio podcast and annual conferences.

For Chicago locals*

Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN) has a very active Moms in Business group with in-person events and a Facebook group. Founding Moms has 5 local chapters (find yours here).

There are also several coworking spaces—some even owned by moms—such as Enerspace Coworking (owner Jamie is a past featured Biz Mama), Collide Coworking, and Free Range Office.

*Thanks to my awesome Moms in Business group for helping out with suggestions!

What are your favorite resources for moms in business?

August 7, 2013

Biz Mama: Candace Thomas of Luxe…With Kids

Filed under: Biz Mama — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 11:46 am

Biz mama: Candace Thomas of Luxe...With Kids

Candace, the voice behind Luxe…with Kids, is a stay at home mom to two little boys, Bennett and Graham. Originally from the Chicago area, Candace’s family has been on a whirlwind tour of the U.S. the last few years, spending time in St. Louis, San Francisco, and has now landed in Houston. Candace loves going on adventures big and small with her family, listening to music, exercising, and all things pop culture.

On Luxe…with Kids, you’ll find tons of advice and first hand experience on how to live well with your children, including reviews and recommendations on their favorite products, hotels, restaurants, and services. Their philosophy is that you can live the ‘good life’ with your kids in tow, you just have to find the right places, brands, and products to help you do so.

Candace and I met in an Italian class and worked together on marketing projects for several years. We now share stories of being working moms and raising boys.

Candace Thomas of Luxe…With Kids

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I write the content on the website Luxe…with Kids and the accompanying twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook pages.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

I have two boys, Graham is 2, and Bennett is 4.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

After—in fact, being a mom inspired my business!

How did your business life change after having children?

Prior to having children I worked in marketing at an agency. It was a high energy and creative environment and I loved going to work every day. A year after my first son was born, I decided to become a full time stay home mom. Although I no longer sit in conference rooms or make pitches to clients, my daily life is still high energy and creative, and without a doubt I love going to “work” everyday!

Describe a typical workday.

I am a stay at home mom first, so I try my best to maximize nap time and spend the evening after the boys are in bed to write. Ideas come to me all the time, so it’s important for me to jot them down and come back to them when I have time later.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Connect with other mamas! Other working moms know the unique challenge—and the unique voice—that you bring to the world.

Luxe…With Kids

Houston, TX
twitter: @luxewithkids
Facebook: luxewithkids
Pinterest: luxewithkids

February 27, 2013

Biz Mama: Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Filed under: Biz Mama,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
Biz Mama: Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Left to right: Enerspace yoga session, Jamie Russo, and the Enerspace coworking space in Chicago

Biz Mama columnJamie Russo of Enerspace has a lot of start-up experience as well as big co consulting and brand management. Her passion is health and wellness, particularly helping people create a lifestyle that helps them excel at their business endeavors and achieve superior mental and physical wellness. After growing a health services company that became focused on getting employees at large companies engaged in their health, she conceived of this idea to fully integrate work and wellness.  The ability to self-select a work environment through coworking spaces is an explosive trend and she is shaping the ability to choose an environment that fosters optimal well-being. Chicago is the first location. Enerspace will be taking workplace + wellness national in 2014.

I was introduced to Jamie—a fellow West Loop business owner—through a mutual friend. I found that we had much in common, including children around the same age and a love of health and wellness. She loves to talk and write about integrating wellness into work space design and is available for speaking engagements and guest blogging (contact her).

Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am the Chief Work + Wellness Officer of Enerspace which is a coworking space for entrepreneurs and mobile professionals. The first location has been open almost exactly one year and we just doubled the size of that location so I still wear a lot of hats. I have an outstanding woman running the space now and am trying to shift my focus to growing the business and writing and speaking about workspace design of the future.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

My daughter, Dagny is 15 months old. Our first “child” is a male mini GoldenDoodle named Miles J. He’s three.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I had wanted to start my own business for a long time. A few years into the last start-up, where I had been the first employee but still not a founder, I was committed to making that happen. I got to a point where I just needed to be more in control of my life, both bigger picture and day to day. That was for me but also turned out to be very important to integrating a child into our family. While working on my business, I also got pregnant with Dagny. A famous Chicago architect once said “Make no little plans” so I forged ahead. I signed my lease in September, had Dagny on November fifth and started the build-out for Enerspace a couple of weeks after that.  I opened for business when she was three months old (and in the hands of an amazing nanny).

How did your business life change after having children?

Before I had a child, I was almost solely focused on career success. I worked long hours (nights, weekends), traveled a lot to meet with clients. I had an end goal in mind but wasn’t enjoying the journey. Now that I have a child, I have an unalterable commitment to doing what I am passionate about while STILL being successful. I just define my own success now.

I believe in working smarter, not longer, and I try to stay focused on designing my work around the life that I want to live vs. (barely) living around my work. This outlook is for my personal happiness, to help me to be a better mom day-to-day and to be a role model for my daughter.

Describe a typical workday.

Due to the nature of owning a coworking space and the stage that it’s in, there is no typical day. When I’m in Chicago, I get up at 5:30, go to Rowfit, then spend as much time with members and networking as I can. When I’m in the Bay Area, I get up at 5 am to get a start on priorities for the day and get organized. I go to CrossFit three times a week from 6 am to 7 am and other days I run sometime during the day to get my Vitamin D and to refocus and stay productive.

My ideal typical day would be: Get up, catch up on news, participate in social media activities, generate some content (blog post, book chapter), work out, make breakfast for Dagny while addressing any time-sensitive things going on at Enerspace. I have someone that runs the space but I am still very involved. Then, eat breakfast with Dagny, drop her at the sitter. Come home, answer emails, work on PR/Marketing, work on business plans for expansion, network for coffee or lunch, continue projects from the morning, catch up on a few personal things, take Miles to the dog park, pick up Dagny. Enjoy a healthy family dinner with my family. I try to doing significant work after Dagny goes to bed to a couple of nights a week. The other nights are spent with my husband planning weekend trips and watching Downton Abbey and Homeland.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Value your time. If you own a business that you can/want to grow, then think about what activities are taking time away from that growth. Cleaning your house, planning meals, buying groceries, cooking, getting the dog groomed.  Outsource those things.  In Chicago, for $15-$20/hour, you can have a very qualified individual do all those things for you.

The moms that I know that own businesses, and don’t seem like they’re on the ledge half the time, get other people to do these things for them so that they can either make more money or have the leisure time and flexibility that you deserve for working so hard/smart.  If you can bill a client $75/hour, then it makes economic sense to pay someone $20/hour to take your dog to the groomer. Save your down time for value-added activities like enjoying the dog park with your dog, eating dinner with your family, or getting a manicure!  For $100/week you could eliminate your errands enjoy your weekend and maintain your health and sanity.


Chicago, Illinois / San Mateo, California
Facebook: enerspace
Enerspace Blog

January 8, 2013

Biz Mama: Alisa Bonsignore of Clarifying Complex Ideas

Filed under: Biz Mama — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 12:58 pm
    Biz Mama Alisa Bonsignore along with her son and budding photographer

Biz Mama Alisa Bonsignore along with her son and budding photographer

Biz Mama columnAlisa Bonsignore of Clarifying Complex Ideas is a Philadelphia native who has been living in California since 1999. She’s been married for nearly 15 years and has an insatiably curious first grader. She has an incredible appreciation for designers who make her words look good [editor’s note: love that!], and letterpress, which makes everything look good. She’s a sports fan, a recreational cook, and a Captain for Team in Training.

By day, you can find her clarifying complex ideas, helping multinational medical device, high tech and healthcare IT companies translate complicated technical and clinical concepts into understandable English.

Her moonlighting project is a blog called What Would Betty Do: Health & Fitness Tips for  365 Fresh Starts Each Year.

Alisa and I met at the Creative Freelancer Conference a few years back and we keep in touch via twitter. Being a more experienced mama than I, she was my go-to gal for recent questions about traveling with a toddler!

Alisa Bonsignore of Clarifying Complex Ideas

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I’m a writer and strategist working primarily with large corporate clients. The industries range from healthcare and high tech, to healthcare IT, which is the intersection of the two. I fill a unique niche: I’m not the tech writer who creates your manuals and documentation, but I have more of a technical/clinical understanding than many marketing communicators. Most of the time I work as a sort of translator, taking the Big Technical Ideas from the engineering department and explaining them in “real English” for less technical audiences.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

My son is 6, going on 40. As I type this, at 6:30 AM, he’s sitting on my lap and asking me questions about the listings on my project board. (“Wait, I thought you closed out that one…”)

Did you start your business before or after having children?

Both! I’d been a freelancer years ago, back when we lived on the east coast. But then we moved to California for what was supposed to be a 6-9 month “temporary” assignment for my husband and never went back. So here I was, in an unfamiliar state where I knew no one but my husband, and I spent all day in the house interacting only with clients on the east coast. The isolation was killing me. I stopped freelancing and went back to corporate specifically because I needed to get out of the house and meet people. I still dabbled in some side projects while I was working full time.

At the time my son was born, I had a good corporate job with an excellent commute, a wonderful boss and a great team. I had no plans to leave… until I came back from maternity leave to the announcement that the company was shutting its doors in California and moving to Colorado. It gave me the push that I needed to really give the business a solid start.

How did your business life change after having children?

Everything changes in your life after kids, not just work. Trying to pretend otherwise will just make you crazy. No amount of planning will prepare you for juggling a rapidly approaching deadline and a toddler with a stomach flu.

I’ve tried to learn to work as far ahead of deadlines as possible, not just because it gives me an extra opportunity to read through things with clear eyes, but because you just never know when a sick kid is going to wreak havoc with your deadline.

Describe a typical workday.

I’m up around 5:30 or 6:00 to get some work done before the little man wakes up. It gives me a head start with my European and east coast clients, and gives me a sense of what’s coming my way throughout the day. He gets my undivided attention during breakfast and the walk to school, but it’s not uncommon to see me walking home while answering emails or dialing in to a conference call.

I try to hit the gym or run immediately after dropoff. Not only does it keep me healthy, but it clears my head and gives me a chance to sort through projects or brainstorm ideas. After that, it’s pretty much me and my laptop until it’s time to pick him up from after-school care around 4:30 or 5:00, depending on the day’s schedule.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Day care, day care, day care. I’m always shocked by how many people think that they can focus on their work with a kid competing for their attention. Mine is extraordinarily well behaved, and even I can’t do it.

Day care gives me uninterrupted work time to give my clients my undivided attention, but it also works both ways: my work isn’t encroaching on my son’s time, either.

Thanks Alisa!

Clarifying Complex Ideas

Pleasanton, CA

November 5, 2012

Biz Mama: Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design

Filed under: Biz Mama — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
Crystal Reynolds

Biz Mama Crystal Reynolds, her workspace, and her family

Biz Mama columnMy first featured Biz Mama is graphic designer and mama of two Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design in Calgary, Canada.

Crystal and I met “virtually” at the 2011 HOW Design Conference when she was seeking participants for a collaborative post-conference project. I loved her approach of making connections and we have kept in touch ever since.

Speaking of connections, Crystal has a blog called Creatives’ Cupboard in which she connects with other creatives in-person and online. She recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Creatives’ Lunch, her local gathering for Calgary creative professionals.

Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am currently running a print design solo design firm with goals of focusing on the niche market of publication design. As a solo firm my roles and responsibilities pretty much cover the full spectrum including from bookkeeping, client relations, sales, production, creative direction, art direction and business development. Oh don’t forget office cleaning and management. Yes, I am living the life.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

I have two girls ages 8 and 6.5. My first was conceived with purpose. I wasn’t happy with my job at the time and felt that I wanted instead to work for myself instead of for someone else’s bottom line. That way I would benefit from my efforts instead of a corporation.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I had been running a freelance business on the side of my salary jobs for about 5 years before we had kids. Once my year maternity leave was up I made the decision to focus on freelancing and not return to my position as manager of membership services at a high end fitness club.

Having children gave me perspective that one of the challenges of my position worrying about whether guests had towels for example, was not worth the stress. The driving factor to go it on my own was having the authority over my day. Flexibility required when one has children and the opportunities to be available for those moments that count.

How did your business life change after having children?

Since I was working part-time freelance in design before kids, after kids it was still part-time. As I found head space free from motherhood demands the business was my escape. Design was where I found my happy place when parenting made me insane.

As kids grew I needed space for my creative work. For me I couldn’t do that with kids around so found part time care for them. One of the key things I learned was to communicate my working office hours so earn I could be reached by my clients they could have my full attention and focus without kid distractions, as well this has helped to organize and balance my day and the variety of roles I have (designer, mother, wife and friend).

Now that my children are in school full time I have a much more regular work schedule, being house bound I have craved more interaction so started connecting with other creative professionals by hosting a creatives’s lunch where we simply meet up at a restaurant, buy our own lunch and let the conversation flow.

On the work front, seeing a change in my client needs I applied for an in house position at a creative studio and landed a part time freelance gig. It is the best of both worlds. Some regular work as well as an opportunity to work collaboratively. It has been an amazing experience to learn from others as well as flex my design skills on projects I haven’t landed myself.

So as far as how children have impacted my business you could say I have more focus and drive to be efficient and focused. I am a lover of print and I keep in my office a saying my printer has shared, “in the end, it is only ink on paper, you won’t be fretting about these projects when you are on your death bed.” Perhaps a little morbid, but it helps to give me perspective when clients or project deadlines are intense.

 Describe a typical workday.

Wake up an hour or more before the family. Coffee… Breakfast if a good day. Get kids and husband lunches made, their breakfast as well then drag kidlets out of bed, fed, dressed and out the door. Watch them get on the bus from my office window.

Depending on the day I am either out the door to freelance at a studio while kids in school or they don’t need me and I have the day to focus on my clients and the variety of projects I have on the go. (Creatives’ Cupboard, role as president for U of C Kinesiology Alumni Chapter, partnership in cookbook creation and design). Around all of this I still have the business to manage, tidy the house, I cook all the meals and work to have a social life with friends and colleagues.

Then…. The kids get home around 3:30pm and I step away from the computer to focus on them while they cry about being hungry, homework is hard and just overall sisters at each other’s throats… And it isn’t even supper yet. So if I was out freelancing during the day, my evening is filled with catching up on my client work and maybe catching a TV show to chill out then on a good day be in an appropriate mood to be social with my husband. Lately I have been making the effort to get to bed at a decent hour.

I would like to make one comment here about my day. I mentioned my husband a little but the fact is he is half of how I survive in a day. We divide up our responsibilities for the house evenly and I never hear him complain. If anything he complains about, is the limited time I have for us as a couple which as most married peeps know, a marriage is in constant flux and always needs work and TLC when you can.

 What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Sleep. The fact is you can kill yourself to try and catch up, but the fact is your job is NEVER done. So get your 7-9 hours of sleep at night (for those who don’t have young babies) or at least make sure to balance your day with anything that will re-energize you.

And NEVER feel like you need to explain or defend this sanity time. If you are waiting for someone to tell you to take a break… You will be waiting a LONG time.

Thank you, Crystal!

Crystal Ink Design

Calgary, AB Canada
www.crystalink.ca & www.creativescupboard.com
Twitter: crystalinkdesig
Facebook: CrystalInkDesign


September 19, 2012

Sneak peek: a new look for my blog

Filed under: Biz Mama,Featured Design Project — Tags: , — lidia @ 10:00 am
The inspiration for my revamped blog

The inspiration for my revamped blog (of course, modeling one of Mama’s onesie designs!)

Or should I say, a new voice for my blog. As many of you know, I had a baby boy a little over a year ago. Since then, my life has changed in so many ways—including the focus of my blog.

Many of my posts now incorporate the knowledge and inspiration I have gained through motherhood, so I decided to rebrand accordingly.

My “new” blog titled biz mama still includes my insight on creative small business and marketing, but it will also feature regular interviews, chats and guest posts—including input from other working mamas.

New regular columns:

  • Biz mama: Insight and inspiration from mamas getting’ it done.
  • Small biz spotlight: Getting to know a fellow small business owner.
  • Industry insider: Short chats with others in the creative industry.
  • Client stories: A brief interview with one of my clients.

I’ve always felt the best way to gain inspiration and knowledge is to collaborate with others, so I look forward to collaborating with other biz mamas and small business owners on my “new” blog.

Interested in being a featured biz mama, small business or industry insider?

Email me for info and the current schedule.