It’s every mother’s dream to be able to work doing something they love and earn decent money while at the same time being able to stay home to raise their children. Many women have been able to live the dream and achieve success as entrepreneurs without having to leave the home. There are many successful “MOM-preneurs” around us and Alma Latina Online Magazine had the chance to chat with Karla Conflitti, owner of Mostacia Jewelry, and Wendy Burgos, who recently started her own baking business, Sweet Things by Wendy; both highly creative, educated, assertive Latin American women, wives and mothers, who have delved into the uncertain and turbulent world of entrepreneurship hoping to come out on the other side finding a degree of success doing something they love and earning a living through their creations.
I first heard of the term “Mompreneurs” when I read the story of Genevieve Thiers, the founder of SitterCity.com, who became a millionaire connecting parents with sitters all over the United States. And she’s not the only one. Here in Canada there are already many organizations and groups working towards helping women achieve this dream through educational workshops, publications, events, conferences and more, in order to guide them in the process of empowering themselves by starting and successfully growing their own businesses, such as The Mompreneur and the Ontario Mompreneurs Group, who describe this brand new class of business people as “a multi-tasking woman who can balance both the stresses of running a business as an entrepreneur and the time-consuming duties of motherhood at the same time.”
Karla Conflitti, the driving force behind Mostacia Jewelry, started her business a little over three years ago. She started making jewelry as a hobby, but soon after she discovered she could actually earn some money selling her beautifully crafted hand-made jewelry. As a graphic designer, she already had the right tools to promote her business, and as she learned more and she became more familiar with the materials, what she liked, what materials worked better for her, what people liked of her creations, she became more comfortable with the pieces she was making and her creativity flowed easier. Taking the hobby more seriously, she began to do more research, learned more about what tools to use, read magazines to keep up with popular trends, visited beads stores, where she would let her imagination run free, always thinking about future creations.
She began getting feedback from customers and what became more popular was the custom orders. “I think that’s what’s most successful, people asking for custom orders for weddings, rosaries– one person bought so many rosaries off me,” she says. The bulk of the business at that time was coming from those custom orders, especially weddings, where bridal parties would have her create jewelry based on the colours the bride had chosen, all within a preset budget, and she would then be given the green light to create the pieces as she saw fit.
Around this time she became pregnant with daughter Isabella. “The year that I had Isabella, was the year that I had the most production,” says Karla. When the baby was born, her priorities shifted to being a full time mom, though never stopping completely with her jewelry business.
Isabella will be four this year and she will be off to school in the fall. Karla has been a full time mom all this time, and she sees this as an opportunity now to go full throttle into her business. Right now, she says, it’s hard to get motivated because of the responsibilities of being a full time caregiver, coupled with the restriction of not having a full time income to fund her enterprise, which needs to be constantly evolving by purchasing new materials, creating new pieces and keeping up with new trends.
It’s her intention to start promoting the business a little more now, and to focus more on expanding it. She’s making it her goal to start making more jewelry this year to add to her growing showcase. “People are visual learners, they want to see,” she says. But she also recognizes there are business tools she needs to either learn, upgrade or familiarize herself with– a disconnect that’s very common amongst creative minds: they are excellent at making beautiful products of the highest quality, but business and promotion skills may be lacking. “I’m probably just the quiet one who wants to sit down and make things. And then you lose motivation because you want to show people what you can do, and sometimes you don’t know how to do it. And I don’t want to sell people crap. I want to give them something that I like to wear myself,” she tells us. And this is where government entities, organizations, groups and even libraries that guide and help mompreneurs to obtain those highly necessary business skills come in handy.
Wendy Burgos, on the other hand, is just getting her feet wet as a Mompreneur. She started Sweet Things by Wendy late last year, pretty much “an idea on a whim,” she says. “I didn’t even really set out to do it, it just happened. It’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘One day I’ll do it,’ and then it just happens.” She can’t hide her enthusiasm when talking about her new enterprise, and her cookies and cakes have been receiving glowing reviews by her ever-growing clientele. Wendy, who has been doing this as a hobby for a long time– learning and practicing on her own, but also taking classes, volunteering cakes and baked goodies for family and friends in order to perfect her craft– saw an avenue to take her skills a little more seriously this past Christmas, when she began selling boxed Christmas-themed cookies for a profit. “From there it kind of snowballed,” says Wendy. “I had a lot of orders, a lot of positive reviews– a big demand, which was really surprising to me. I wasn’t expecting it. But it just happened. Based on the demand that I saw, it just took off from there.”
Wendy, however, has always known she wanted to take her crafty side to a whole new level. “I’ve always, always, always wanted to make money off of being creative. That’s how I want to earn my bread and butter, by expressing my creativity. But I just really didn’t know how, I didn’t know how to start and what my avenue was going to be.” She experimented with different crafts and ultimately found her calling in baking. She keeps on practicing, learning and enriching her knowledge, a process that is becoming easier and faster as she gets more comfortable with more practice and with more orders coming in.
She hasn’t found the business side of things all that difficult, she admits. People who’ve had her products have told other people and advertising by word of mouth is expanding her clientele. Even though she works full time, and she’s also mother to 2-year-old Juan Mateo, she has found the time and energy to keep up with the ever-growing number of orders coming in. But she recognizes having more time to concentrate on the business would be ideal. “I’m still a mom, I still work full time, I still have to maintain a somewhat clean and orderly household, I have to feed Juan Mateo once in a while, you know? I have to kind of keep up with my own life, but at the same time find ways to do what I love to do and to run a business.” But she credits her ability to manage it all to a very good support system in her husband and family, which has made it easier to not get overwhelmed with the growth of the business and to keep loving every minute she’s putting into expanding it.
Two mompreneurs, two different set of skills and two businesses at different stages of growth; the common thread being that they found something they were good at, focused on that particular skill, got very good feedback from friends, family and eventually customers and they just went for it– which is usually the hardest part: that initial push to begin. Karla sees herself eventually taking Mostacia Jewelry to an online business– a big step that she knows will take time and money to work towards. Wendy dreams of owning her own shop and living off her creations, something she says she loves doing so much, it doesn’t even feel like work. They both see themselves at some point in their lives earning a living from their creations.
And this dream is achievable, for them and for many other women who have talent and creativity. With the help of many Canadian organizations and groups, business skills can be easily obtained in order to give these women a chance to make a profit out of their creativity. Karla’s advice to these women? “Promoting the business more. You have to. And you have to dedicate more time to it. It takes a lot of time.” she says. Wendy advises to try to figure out early what avenue to concentrate on and learn and practice as much as possible to perfect it. “If I would’ve known from the start that this is what I wanted to do, I would’ve started earlier and I would be maybe at a point in my life where I would be living off what I love to do, not starting off now.” It’s never too late, however. This is an achievable dream that requires time, patience, practice and constant learning, but one that can be immensely rewarding for so many women who want to give the best of themselves to their families without sacrificing being there for them at all times.
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