Think You Could be a Mompreneur?


Published:

Heather McDonnell knows how to blow up a Twitter stream almost as good as she bakes up her impossibly delish Sweet Tea cupcakes. That’s precisely what happened three years ago when she won the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”

The news went viral and she received thousands of kudos via social media. Of course, using Instagram to post pictures of daily specials and answering customer comments on Yelp is more than just keeping up with technology for her.

“I basically started my business through Facebook and Twitter,” says McDonnell, owner of Cupcrazed Cakery in Fort Mill, S.C. — which boasts 17,000 followers on Facebook. “It’s fun now, but in the beginning, getting started wasn’t just hard; it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”

A thorough business plan and subsequent bank loan, 20-hour workdays and a strong passion for baking put Cupcrazed Cakery on the fast track. Yet McDonnell still worried that she couldn’t afford to pay staff to help with the workload. Most of all, she worried that her work was causing her to neglect her four children, who now range in age from 6 to 19. McDonnell is typical of many “mompreneurs” who struggle to find balance between their family and business.

Striking Out on Your Own

The term “mompreneur” was coined in the late 1990s by Ellen Parlapiano and Pat Cobe, co-authors of Mompreneurs: A Mother’s Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success and Mompreneurs Online: Using the Internet to Build Work@Home Success. They also created mompreneursonline.com and even trademarked the term “mompreneur.” Today the term is simply used to describe a female business owner who actively balances the roles of mom and entrepreneur.

Although there are no statistics for the number of mothers who own businesses, the number of female-owned firms has increased exponentially locally and across the nation, and most mompreneurs typically start their businesses in their homes. According to American Express OPEN’s 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, it is estimated that there are more than 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., generating more than $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 8 million people. That’s an increase of 5 million businesses in only two years.

North Carolina is in line with this trend. “Most reports show significant increases in the growth of women-owned businesses in North Carolina,” including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy Report, says Mike Ernandes, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s North Carolina District Office in Charlotte. “I think this growth is encouraging for women interested in starting businesses all over the state.”

Despite the rising numbers, women launching their own businesses still face challenges getting access to capital and improving access to markets, including the federal government. The SBA is trying to make that easier. In July, the organization eliminated the requirement that lenders perform cash flow and debt coverage analysis on loans under $350,000. The SBA also implemented a new business credit-scoring model that combines an entrepreneur’s personal and business credit scores to make it easier and faster for lenders to work with new business owners.

Many mompreneurs still choose to either go at it alone, or accept help from family and friends. Others adopt a “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality by accepting funding from female “angels,” or firms that invest in women-owned startups.

Back in 2008, when Brandi Tysinger-Temple was a full-time mom to her four kids, she started sewing clothes for her girls as a hobby. Within a matter of weeks after she started selling her products on eBay, she had to hire dozens of relatives and friends to help her address the demand. By 2010, she transferred her eBay store over to Facebook, which really kicked off her children’s apparel company. She named it Lolly Wolly Doodle, and has since moved it to a 19,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar facility in Lexington that is half funded by the state of North Carolina.

“By creating jobs in our community, it not only creates amazing products but amazing opportunities as well,” Tysinger-Temple says.

Growing a Good Idea

When moms develop physical products, as Tysinger-Temple did, there is a period of development each mompreneur must navigate. Claire O’Neal, an avid biker and founder of Pogginz bike accessories for kids, researched plastic injections and foam to make creative helmet accessories. She tried various methods of attaching the pieces to helmets. She even tried using strong magnets, but realized they were not safe for young children.

O’Neal eventually began working with Betsy Hauser Idilbi, former president of a company called Little Idea Product Development, which merged with product development giant Eventys last year. O’Neal says Hauser Idilbi was instrumental in helping her settle on final designs. Hauser Idilbi had experience with fabric and suggested O’Neal use fabric for her helmets. “I fell in love with the glitter vinyl, which is weather resistant and easy to clean, and now that is a Pogginz trademark,” she says.

The women decided to put the Pogginz designs on Etsy (for only 20 cents per listing), an online handmade marketplace, just to see how many people might “favorite” them.

“It was a simple way to decide what products to produce and which to abandon,” explains Hauser Idilbi, who recently co-founded Tech Talent South, an intensive web development program with four campuses across the Southeast.

“Moms who have taken a leave from the business world to take care of family don’t give themselves enough credit for how much they already know and how much they have learned as a parent,” she says. “My advice to new mompreneurs is to be confident in your product and your ambition. You’re the one who put tireless hours in developing it and had the guts to get it off the ground. Don’t forget that.”

Balancing Business and Family

While building her business, O’Neal was also learning how to pivot fast and go from executive to soccer mom in seconds. She admits she has not mastered the art of balancing family and business, but tries to think of creative ways to stay involved in her kids’ lives, and also involve them in hers. Her 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter help out with everything — from packaging to assisting at events. O’Neal’s daughter even manages her business Instagram account.

McDonnell says her Cupcrazed Cakery balance began with a solid foundation in the form of assistance from the people who are closest to her. During the first year after launching her business, her husband would take care of their children, her mother and friends would stop by to help her do dishes at the store, and her sister-in-law worked as her office manager. This allowed McDonnell to focus on building her business.

“I still have days that I feel like I’m on a teeter-totter, but I’ve worked out most of the kinks,” McDonnell says. “Now I can go home after a full day and make dinner, help the kids with their homework, and the laundry pile isn’t as scary as it used to be!”

Resa Goldberg is a freelance writer and editor in Charlotte who has two teenage boys.?

 

Mompreneur Resources

The North Carolina Center for Women Business Owners
in Durham just won the 2014 SBA Women’s Business Center of the Year at the state, regional and national levels. ncimed.org

“Entrepreneur” Magazine’s Mompreneur Center offers business ideas, resources and feature articles. entrepreneur.com/mompreneur

National Association of Women Business Owners represents women entrepreneurs across all industries, with 5,000 members in 60 chapters nationwide. nawbo.org

Triangle Mompreneurs is a meetup group specifically established for female business owners with families. meetup.com/for-moms

“Ask the Mompreneur” is an online column published by The Charlotte Observer. charlotteobserver.com/1173

SBA resources for women business owners are available online. sba.gov/offices/district/nc/charlotte/resources/resources-women-business-owners

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I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets Dave Ramsey" class that has teens experience...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

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Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

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Azevedo Family Psychology and Kym Azevedo will host an Art for Life group each Thursday from 5:30-6:30PM beginning January 16 and running through March 26. This group is completely free, kid...

Cost: FREE

Where:
1903 N. Harrison Ave
Suite 201
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Azevedo Family Psychology
Telephone: 919-624-9568
Contact Name: Kym Azevedo
Website »

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Explore astronomy, biology, architectural and engineering principles, technology and so much more through our hands-on, play-based activities. Spend an evening with your preschooler, experiencing...

Cost: free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Rapahel Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Katie Mistele
Website »

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The goal of the How To Talk So Kids Will Listen Group workshop is to help you communicate more effectively with children.   In each session of the workshop you'll be introduced to an...

Cost: $12.95 materials fee

Where:
Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
3100 Damascus Church Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
Telephone: 919-260-6859
Contact Name: Shelley Welch
Website »

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Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
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Telephone: 919-962-7529

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

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Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

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Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Join us for Family Trivia Night!  Test your knowledge of pop culture, books, music and more. Pizza and drinks provided.  Call or stop by to register: 919-245-2532. Best for kids ages 8 and up...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
Website »

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Kids! Are you sick of the Winter? Enjoy a Summer's night at Peach Road Center. Enjoy a Summer-like evening with us. Get into the luau spirit and play summer games!  

Cost: Free

Where:
Peach Road Community Center
911 Ileagnes Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: City or Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-807-8545
Contact Name: Christy Famolare

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ No preregistration required. Meet...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel, and can animals really help? Come to the Finley Center to put our colonial weather proverbs to the test and make a pop-up woodchuck...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Join us to meet the educators, see the farm and learn more about our Preschool for 3-5 year olds and Camps for 4-10 year olds. We'll have a campfire for some warmth but please come dressed for the...

Cost: 0

Where:
Longleaf Forest School
4826 Mt. Moriah Road
Durhan, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Longleaf Forest School
Contact Name: Tara Lawson
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival, also Lunar New Year Festival. Largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE has vocal and orchestral music, folk dance, Lion and Dragon dances, martial arts, and comic...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival or Lunar New Year Festival, largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE with musical and dance performances, Lion Dance Dragon Dance, martial arts, comic skits emceed...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Did you know that Disney, Netflix, Google and NASA, just to name a few, are all using Python? Python can be used for creating web applications, automation, programming robots and artificial...

Cost: Free: registration required

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

FEB. 1, 2020 | 1 – 4 P.M. | BLUE JAY POINT COUNTY PARK Spend a winter afternoon getting to know Blue Jay Point County Park at our Winter Open House. Whether you’re a regular visitor or have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.