After over a decade in autism and early childhood intervention, Brenda retired from a very successful career to raise her now-3-year-old daughter. Her venture into being a mompreneur began as a way to be with her but also provide for her.
1. Please tell us about your business and the service that you provide:
I have two (actually 3) businesses. Aerowyn’s Castle — hair accessories, tutus, custom tees, and much more. Master Signing Time instructor certified to teach sign language to infants, children, families, and educators utilizing the Signing Time curriculum (this one is on hold indefinitely). My newest business is as an Independent Consultant for Rodan + Fields Dermatologists.
2. What motivated you to start your business?
Aerowyn’s Castle began when my daughter was a few months old. She had a TON of hair and we couldn’t afford boutique prices for clips, or rather chose not to spend our money on them. It soon expanded into more items than I can name in this small space. I became a Signing Time instructor because I wanted the full curriculum for my daughter and I figured I’d give the business a shot. Not wanting to schedule weekly time away from her, I never taught organized classes, but have done occasional play dates, etc. It took me a long time to take this plunge into becoming an independent consultant for Rodan + Fields because I made every excuse as to why I couldn’t/shouldn’t. I finally decided to do it because I really needed the products and I found that I was almost instantly profitable. This business provides an opportunity to solidify an income that neither of the other two companies could provide in the same amount of time.
3. What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field?
Everything I make for Aerowyn’s Castle I’ve either taught myself or learned from others I’ve come into contact with. For Rodan + Fields, this is all new to me. I never saw myself in network marketing or any type of sales position. I’m learning every day and what I’m learning most is more about myself and the person I want to be. As far as building and supporting my team, I have a lot of experience in training from my years as an educator and program coordinator.
4. What trends do you see in your current industry?
Aerowyn’s Castle: It seems like everyone is on the tutu/hair bow bandwagon right now and so many vendors have driven the prices down to unsustainable by not accounting for time and incidentals in their prices. I still love making the products, but have come to realize that the income potential is not worth the time away from my daughter. This is why I’m choosing to focus on my skincare business.
Rodan + Fields Dermatologists: I have big goals for this. Anti-aging skincare is projected to double in the next few years and network marketing is an industry that does better when the economy is down. The timing is impeccable for this type of opportunity, especially with this one basically being ground-floor right now.
5. What are the most demanding aspects about your business?
The toughest part of being a work-at-home parent is finding balance. I don’t leave for the office, get my work done, and then come home without it. Then again, even in my old career I always brought work home. Network marketing is foreign to me, so the most demanding part is getting out of my own way and overcoming my fears.
6. What are the most rewarding aspects about your business?
Days like today are why I have my business. In one day I made plans for my good friend and business partner to join me on a trip at the last minute which is a huge step in her personal development, we talked about our dreams for our businesses, I touched base with old friends, worked on fostering new relationships, was able to alternate between calls/emails/research and playing games with my daughter and helping her put her first 24-piece puzzle together, and when she decided to take the all-but-gone nap, I was here for her to crawl in my lap, give me a kiss, give a big yawn, and fall into a peaceful sleep. I then made the executive decision to just hold her while she slept because I don’t know how much longer I’ll get to do that. I also love that I help others realize their dreams as they join me on this journey.
7. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours?
Enjoy the journey. You’ll hear people talking about running as fast as you can to the top, etc. and I agree you need to “hustle,” BUT be sure that when you get there, you can look back and enjoy the getting there too. And as most anyone in network marketing will tell you, there are two rules to being successful: Sign up, and don’t quit.
8. What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?
I’ve never been asked this question, and I’ve been interviewed by several people about being a parent-preneur. I guess what I’m most proud of is me. I’m able to fulfill my desire to be there to raise my family yet I’ve found a way to have a little bit of “me” left. I’d gotten lost there for a while. I had two dreams when I was younger: have a successful career and be a mommy. I’m happy that I’ve found a way to do them both the way I want to do them.
9. How have you been able to balance your time between work and your family?
Still working on that. I did just start using a time tracker for when I’m working on the computer because I found that a) you end up wasting a lot of time doing everything but the project you set out to do and b) I never really knew how much time I spent because I was constantly reading a book, playing a game, making food, helping my daughter with something, etc. in the middle of the project that I felt it took all day when I really only got a solid hour in. I have a few large, time-sensitive projects to complete and then I will be setting more firm work hours with flexible blocks of time to accommodate my daughter’s activities and her career.
10. What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself?
Right now, I’ve been going on word-of-mouth and calling old friends, but I’m working on building my social media outreach.
Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family?
It provides extra breathing room for us while my husband is finishing school and working full-time for free (actually, we pay tuition so that he can work for free). It also gives me back some of my self-confidence and self-worth, occasional reasons to grab some “me” time, and a little less guilt when I decide to splurge on something fun at the store for one/all of us.