Mompreneur. Momtrepreneur. Enterprising mamas. Whatever the term, it describes a phenomenon in our community: women who make radical changes in their career paths after their transition into motherhood, abandoning the confines of traditional employment—and the safety of a regular paycheck—for the risks and rewards of independent business.
A desire for work-life balance often draws mothers to make a change. In 2014, Stapleton resident Samm Diep-Vidal was working two jobs, as the executive director of the nonprofit Billiards Education Foundation (BEF) and as the manager of a 20,000-square-foot pool room, where she worked 70 hours a week. “I had a Pack-n-Play at the pool room and I’d set it up under the bar,” Diep-Vidal recalls. “I’d nurse my 2-year-old, put her to sleep, and then run tournaments until 2am.”
Even with help from husband Marc, a professional billiards player, her schedule was unsustainable. “On the way home from the hospital, after having our second child, I told my husband I was going to quit,” recalled Diep-Vidal. She quit the pool room job, but the former competitive pool player could not stay away from the tables. She continues her work at BEF and now instructs junior players and, with her husband, opened Stapleton Billiards (www.stapletonbilliards.com), which sells pool tables and supplies online.
Entrepreneurship allowed Diep-Vidal to let her nanny go while working around her children’s schedules, squeezing in lessons, foundation work and business management during nap time, evenings and weekends. “I feel very fortunate that I have an opportunity to work from home doing something that I’m very passionate about and also be able to balance my children’s schools, doctor’s appointments and the rest,” she said.
Uniting Passion and Family
Mothers who have transitioned into independent business ownership often do
so to follow a passion. Melissa Downham began her career in advertising and public relations, followed by a long career as a professional photographer, and now works
as a travel advisor.
When her husband’s job relocated their family to Qatar in 2008 and she quit working, Downham realized they were located in a sweet spot to visit different cultures. “I planned 13 trips, and helped friends plan their trips, and I kind of got bit by the travel planning bug then,” she recalled.
After returning stateside, the Stapleton resident became an independent contractor for Departure Lounge, an Austin-based travel agency, and she particularly loves planning family travel (http://theroamingfamily.com/). Often parents of young children are reluctant to travel abroad, she notes, concerned that their children will not remember, but Downham recalled traveling with her young son in the Maldives: “We remember the look on his face when he ran on the beach, the chocolate chip pancakes he ate, the awesome hotel manager that swung him around in the water. And once they get to 5 or 6, they’re going to remember for a while. It opens their mind to the wider world beyond our borders.”
From Denver, Mexico and Central America are favorite destinations, and Downham often steers clients to resorts, which offer great options for multigenerational family trips, even in exotic locales, because “there is something to do for everyone in the family and many amenities.” Helping families plan memorable trips has become her passion, and her profession.
Blood, Sweat and Tears
Owning a business means hard work. With a rodeo scholarship and a degree in equine management under her belt, Maggie Broadrick was working at a racetrack in barn management when she met her husband. After their daughter was born in 2008, Broadrick realized she needed a change. Naturally given to matchmaking, Broadrick had long been connecting friends with caregivers for their children, and she wanted to start her own business.
She worked with SCORE (https://denver.score.org/), a nonprofit, small-business consulting organization, taking “every workshop imaginable—finance, accounting, marketing, communications.” Broadrick created a business plan and, with a partner, opened her first nanny agency in 2010, which has since evolved into the aptly named “Kiddie Up Nannies” (www.KiddieUpNannies.com).
The business operates from her Stapleton home, where Broadrick employs one assistant and one intern (her daughter) to educate and connect approximately 500 families and 160 nannies. Broadrick loves the flexibility and control that being her own boss gives her. But it involves “a lot of blood, sweat, and tears … it is not for the weak of heart, there’s lots of pressure … I’m working with people’s most prized possession, which is children, and that is a great responsibility,” she says. “I’m honored to be trusted with that, but I think of it every day when I wake up.”
Risky but Rewarding
Entrepreneurship is always a risk. Park Hill resident Katie Kannen and her husband, Chris, moved to Denver from New York City four years ago with their young daughter. Kannen had worked as a private chef and catering manager, but “we knew life in New York was just not going to be good for us as a family.” They chose Denver from connections with family and friends, and “The Spicy Radish,” a meal delivery service, was born in a home kitchen in Castle Rock.
From its humble beginnings, the Spicy Radish (www.thespicyradish.com) has grown to serve over 400 meals a week throughout the Denver metro area. The company now employs seven part-time cooks and seven delivery drivers, who deliver to 150–180 families every Sunday.
With the change from employee to business owner, Kannen has found both challenges and successes. “When we first started, it was so stressful,” she says. “It was a big risk.” Although she had a background in culinary arts, it took tons of planning—and trial and error—to work out details like what days to deliver, how many meals to make, or where to set the delivery area.
But the rewards have more than offset the challenges. The Kannens coordinate picking up their daughter from school, and now Kannen “can’t imagine wanting to do anything else.” Business ownership has allowed her family to buy a house, something they never could have imagined in New York. And she is a model for her daughter. “When I was a kid, my mom had her own business. It was small—she worked from home—but I felt so proud of her. Our daughter sees that we are building something, working hard, and that it’s ours,” says Kannen.
Finding a Niche while Helping Others
Many women who start businesses are drawn to helping professions. Park Hill resident Jennifer Eure and her business partner, Amy Larchick, are no exception. In their “before kids” lives, Eure had been a middle-school teacher, while Larchick was a speech pathologist/audiologist for adults. Their husbands had demanding jobs, and both women wanted to play active roles in raising their children, so Eure and Larchick had become stay-at-home moms after their children were born.
Their business, Simple Path Transitions (www.simplepathtransitions.com) grew organically from circumstance and interest. “Three years ago, we started talking about how we each felt it was time for us to get back to the workforce,” said Eure. “We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do.”
Close friends, they found themselves facing similar challenges: “My parents were downsizing, moving from a house they were in for almost 30 years to a retirement community,” said Eure, “and Amy’s grandparents were in a similar situation.” They began downsizing their own and their friends’ families. They soon realized they were efficient, worked well together and could really help people.
Through online courses, Eure and Karchick educated themselves about the industry, starting a business, and marketing—and they decided to focus on assisting senior citizens and others to downsize. They help clients like Eva, a 94-year-old woman who was moving from independent to assisted living. “She had to tell the stories of things before she could let them go. For her it was important to pass on the history of her belongings,” recalled Eure.
The women are grateful to have a business of their own that allows them to pick up their children from school, work together and help others, while providing an income. “People just want to be heard, they just want someone to be there with them, going through their items, and a lot of times a loved one can’t be with them because they live remotely,” said Karchick. “We can be there to help, to listen.”
For listings of these and other mom-owned businesses, visit “Front Porch Guide to Momtrepreneur Businesses” at https://frontporchne.com/article/momtepreneur-business-listing/.