One of the best things I’ve done recently is join an online course for female entrepreneurs. In addition to having some really great content, I’ve gotten to meet, both in person and online, some truly incredible, ambitious, creative, and successful women. One such lovely lady that I’ve been fortunate to connect with both via the course and in person is Brenda. Her brand, Box Babe Gifting, caught my eye right away, and it turns out she is a beautiful soul who cheers on others’ success more than her own, and takes a genuine interest in the people she meets and especially her clients. Read on to hear about her journey to entrepreneurship as a working mother.
Tell us a little bit about your professional background and how you got to where you are today.
Those close to me know I take the long road home! I was working as a hairstylist and a corporate receptionist when I got divorced in 2006. For the next 7+ years, I worked hard to move up to an executive assistant, often working 3-4 jobs to make ends meet as a single mom. As an executive assistant, I had the opportunity to plan many, many events. I felt passionate about the extra details no one else was thinking about. In 2013, I got remarried, and my husband adamantly supported me quitting corporate life and creating my own business. I started a business, but it fell flat. Something wasn’t resonating. I was a virtual assistant for a little while and loved the little details I was able to contribute to my bosses retreats and events, but I still wasn’t settled on what I wanted to be doing.
Meanwhile, I kept sending my mother-in-law gift boxes and she kept saying, “This is your thing! You should do this.” I didn’t think much of it. Last winter I was laid up post surgery and someone said, “I don’t know what to give you.” At the same time, there were ads on television with people giving an empty box and saying, “I was going to get you something amazing, but…” It hit me that maybe this was my thing. I looked into being a professional gifter, I figured out how to create a website, and launched Box Babe Gifting on Thanksgiving Day! It boomed! I was “thoughtful gifting,” still in my recovery boot, and was having a blast. On the first day of this year, I registered my business and redesigned my website. I adore the details and put a piece of my heart into every gift I send. Mother’s Day was a bigger success than Christmas and Father’s Day showed growth over Mother’s Day… long road or not, I’ve found my home! THIS is my passion!
How did your career change after having kids?
After having my second child, I knew I had to work more to cover the added daycare expense. I was living my dream as a hairstylist, but with baby #2, I became increasingly aware of the sacrifice this meant, not just to build clientele, but to maintain it. A career as a hairstylist takes so much time away from family, and I just couldn’t commit to that. I needed to be the mom that didn’t miss a school play or event. My career transformation was mostly around finding freedom to work from home and late hours when the kids were in bed. It meant everything to me! This is what was always at the front of my priorities when creating a business from home as well.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge of running a business and being a mom?
The biggest challenge lately has been balancing my time and finding the best use of it. Working from home is a new beast and with it comes new challenges. I’m most creative later in the day (go figure). After the kids went to bed was always my most creative and productive time, so now I’m challenged figuring out how to be as productive and creative during the school/work hours so I can be more in tune with my family at night. It takes a lot of reprogramming. I cherish my family time so much and struggle telling them to leave me alone when I’ve had all day to myself.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as a working mom?
On tough days, I remember what I’ve been through and remember that if that didn’t break me, neither will this. “Just remember Bre, you WANT this! You chose this! If you bail now, then what?” It’s still that I-have-no-choice-but-to-succeed attitude that pushes me, so when we need advice, I think it’s important to look within. We all have exactly what we need to hear already inside us! When I was a single mom, I accomplished so many things because it was never an option to bail on my kids or my life. When I need a push or a pick-me-up, it almost always comes from my past challenges or my husband.
If you could go back and change anything about your career, what would it be?
I honestly don’t know if I would change anything! Everything I’ve done, everywhere I’ve been, and everyone I’ve met have influenced and taught me. My journey brought me here. If I could change anything, it would be to have done it all with more grace, dignity, and gratitude. I had no idea all of those highs and lows would lead me here, and I’m so grateful for where I am. I guess I’d also have to say that I would trust the process more, too!
What are the biggest benefits you’ve experienced from being a working mom? What about the positive ways your kids’ lives have been impacted?
There are so many beautiful gifts that come from being a working mom! We’ve had so many challenges, but challenges aren’t a bad thing and we’ve learned to embrace them together. We are all strong because of me being a working mom and are all striving toward our own dreams. We’ve all learned to dream big and that we can change our own stars. Those things that we think are horrible are only as horrible as we make them out to be, and so many of those things become wonderful lessons we all take with us. We’ve all also benefited from learning balance in our lives. The greatest benefit, however, came from me being honest with them about stressful work situations.
I’ve learned to make time to meet everyone’s needs effectively, whether that’s 10-minutes at the top of the hour or a break to play a game. And thanks to their time in daycare and being shuttled around, they’ve never really had separation anxiety. (This is a huge plus now that we live 1300 miles from their dad and they fly alone to go visit him.) They’re also respectful and easy going around other people, but cautiously aware as well. Now that I’m pursuing my dream with a home-based business, we’re all more prepared and are enjoying it together because of our journey. We are all very grateful for where we are.
Any parting words of wisdom you can share with other entrepreneurial moms out there?
No matter how tired you are, or how important your deadline, 10 minutes of undivided attention are golden to children. It is a loving, thoughtful, and respectful way of dealing with their needs. 30 minutes is even better and it might even recharge you as well!
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