Babies, Business + Breakfast Spring 2019 Pop-Up Event Recap
On Wednesday, May 1st 2019, a group of parents including expectant mothers, parents of pre-school, middle school and teenage children, took over the Incubator Room at Algonquin College’s new Discovery, Applied Research, and Entrepreneurship (DARE) District.
As Founder of Babies, Business + Breakfast, I believe parenthood and professional development don’t have to be mutually exclusive and thankfully, so do the speakers, sponsors and community members who joined us to mix babies and business, blurring those life and work lines a bit more!
We mingled over breakfast and coffee, in between sitting on the floor to build blocks and read books, meeting others and putting faces to names, before the interview-style panel session started.
What does parent-friendly professional development look like?
There was stroller parking, baby change tables on site, a play area and a table set up with colouring paper, crayons and markers. There was also paper and pens for the parents to take notes during the talk.
The wagon we used to transport our event supplies into the venue from the parking lot doubled as a stationary climbing station, used by babies practicing their standing and walking skills.
Parents arrived with babies in slings, carriers, strollers and holding little ones’ hands at the DARE District’s open plan space to find the room in the centre of Level 2, which was buzzing with happy chatter and baby babbles.
Some friends and formerly strangers–now Babies, Business + Breakfast attendees–it was awesome to see the concept and community unfold in real-time!
It takes a lot of preparation, patience and a bit of courage to venture into business spaces with kids, but everyone who attended amazed me with their positive and friendly attitudes, open minds and willingness to share and learn.
I interviewed panel guests, Sunshine Tenasco, Karla Briones and Susan Richards, on the topic of ‘How She Built It’, with questions covering business, mindset and parenting.
Their business offerings range from services to products, online to bricks and mortar, with industries spanning fashion, retail, hospitality, finance, consulting and events.
As parents, you’re often faced with unsolicited advice from strangers and loved ones alike, covering what worked for them, what they think will work for you and what parenting ‘should’ look like.
Since there are so many ways to set up, run and grow a business–as with raising a family–we focused on storytelling and experiences over advice, to illustrate how they went about setting up and running their respective businesses, while parenting.
How She Built It Highlights
Sunshine is a First Nations Mommy of four kids from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Founder at Her Braids, CEO of Pow Wow Pitch and previously, Founder of Quemeez.
For her, bringing children into work settings is the norm and at pow wows and business gatherings in First Nations communities, the two are always present and intertwined.
Karla is a Mexican-Canadian Mom of two kids, Founder at Karla Briones Consulting, Franchisee of Global Pet Foods and Freshii, Co-founder of Frida’s Attic, an Advisor at Invest Ottawa and mentor with Futurpreneur Canada and World Skills’ Entrepreneurship Connections.
She has grown up in an entrepreneurial home and witnessed her parents navigating life and work when they relocated from Mexico to Canada. These experiences informed her approach to business, encouraging her to experiment as a child and launch multiple businesses in Ottawa as a parent, alongside raising her family.
Susan is a Mom of three kids, is Virtual CFO and Co-Founder at Numbercrunch, Founder of Givopoly, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors at Invest Ottawa and Board Member at Kanata North Business Association.
She has brought her pre-teen and teenage children in their earlier years to networking events and travelled with them to business meetings, creating her own ways to meet her corporate commitments while caring for her young family.
Some key points from our guest speakers
Your time is YOUR time, carve it out for yourself each day or week:
- Depending on your schedule and what works for you
- Whether that’s before the house is awake, once the kids are on the bus or off to daycare, napping or after they’re in bed, take some time for yourself
- From five to 30 minutes and beyond, it all counts, is sacred and needs to be prioritized
Family structures and working styles vary so do what work best for you:
- Sunshine is a single parent and has sole custody of three of her four children; she focused on her need for rest; time to herself doing non-parenting and non-business self-care; and keeping a lean team and a flexible schedule so she can have low overheads, higher profit and better control of her time
- Karla spoke about her experience as a new parent and new business owner, the feeling of the need to control and ‘do what is best’ for your child and your business, which can often result in burn out; she now spends set hours on each of her businesses, regularly reviews the metrics and meets the team; she has learned to hire good people, trust them to do the work and get out of their way and in doing so, has created more freedom for family time
- Susan talked about 4:30 a.m. starts to get on top of things before the day started; using commute times and activity runs to connect with her pre-teen and teenage children and have really good conversations; the need to limit distractions and focus on the task at hand, whether it’s parenting or work, there’s no in between for her and she tries to be fully present; and talked about parenting emergencies always taking priority, sometimes sending your work day sideways
We talked about money and whether those exploring a business idea or looking to grow, should seek financing from outside investors or lenders over bootstrapping:
- The cost to sustain a business is often much greater than the cost to startup a business and test an idea, consider those implications, look at the cash flow required and stay on top of your numbers
- Speaking to potential customers about their problems, proposing your solution and asking them to commit (an enthusiastic yes means nothing, you want cash in hand!) will help with validating your idea and ensuring you have at least 20 potential users or customers is a good start
- Sales are great but profit is key, if there’s no money left over after paying your expenses, you have a hobby and you have created a volunteer role for yourself
- More capital intensive businesses may require different funding arrangements (bricks and mortar) but you need to research the market opportunity, create a business plan and examine if it’s the right one for you
We shared parenting and business lowlights, as well as their learnings:
- Unexpected bodily functions, emergency clean ups and times when meeting props came in handy to avoid further embarrassment
- The ever present ‘parenting guilt’ and how your view of a negative situation when you’re mixing life and work can actually be a positive and exciting experience for your children, creating opportunities to bond and make memories in a different environment
- Changing life stages as the audience was a mix of expectant and current parents of pre-school age children, and how the time available in the early years looks drastically different when kids are in daycare, school, activities, growing up and becoming more independent, resulting in your schedule and responsibilities shifting depending on the phase you’re in
All while the attendees listened, laughed, nursed and fed their children, played on the floor, watched their children wander and explore.
The vision for Babies, Business + Breakfast
I’ve been participating in personal and professional development since my two children were newborns (they’re currently 10-months and almost three years old), as a result of the belief I could keep doing what I loved to do as a parent, alongside my children.
It wouldn’t always be easy or comfortable, but along the way I started getting into my own bringing babies into business settings rhythm and in doing so, became an accidental activist.
I started writing about it, speaking with other parents and advocating for more inclusive spaces and business experiences, as it turns out others also believe parenthood and professional development don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
As parents, we are oftentimes building our careers while building our families.
So why does it sometimes feel like an either/or situation when it comes to life and work?
Should it feel like a special request to ask where the baby change facilities are?
Is it normal to feel isolated and excluded as a parent, when you’re never alone but sometimes lonely?
Babies, Business + Breakfast is focused on providing parent-friendly professional development, through an online newsletter and face-to-face event series, designed to start conversations, share ideas and create a sense of community.
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Read about my previous experiences bringing babies into business settings in the following blog posts:
- Reciprocity and parent-friendly event planning
- Parent-friendly presenting in real-time at CreativeMornings Ottawa
- Visiting Algonquin College’s DARE District with kids
- Visiting Invest Ottawa with kids
- Participating in Impact Academy with a baby
- Attending Creative Mornings Ottawa while babywearing
- Touring coworking spaces as a parent
- Bringing children into the boardroom