There’s No Right Way For Beauty Entrepreneurs To Take Maternity Leave: Tales From 11 Moms
In the first edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 11 mothers and brand founders: What did you do for maternity leave?
- Christine Luby Co-Founder, Pinrose
When Phoebe arrived, I wanted to focus on my new role as a mom for the first few months. Grand visions I had of responding to emails while the baby naps flew out the window while I was recovering and getting to know my new little girl. Having an incredible co-founder, Erika Shumate, was a gift to me as I took on my second job. Erika and the rest of the Pinrose team took over my work, and I made a conscious effort to completely step away from the business while focusing on my baby for two-and-a-half months. After that, I eased back into work over the course of a few weeks. Mine was the first Pinrose pregnancy, so we wanted to be sure to set a tone, and let each of our employees choose how she wants to experience pregnancy and motherhood. We recognize that one new mother or father might get stir crazy and want to come back immediately, another might need some extra time.
- May Lindstrom Founder, May Lindstrom
Maternity leave has never fully happened for me following either pregnancy. With my daughter, I launched with our very first retailer on the day of her birth. Essentially, I had twins. I was in labor one day and filling bottles the next with barely a breath in between. Talia is five, and her and I are still due to reclaim that time. With my pregnancy last year, I was put on complete horizontal bedrest from June to September with complications, and my world was forced very dramatically into full pause until he came. Then, of course, it was catch-up time. While I haven't slowed down for a true maternity leave, Sterling has given me the incredible gift of learning to pause, and delegate and trust in the care of those around me. Four months of forced stillness was a gift beyond words.
- Jen Auerbach Co-Founder, Clary Collection
The day I gave birth, I was approving label designs from my bed. My husband was like, “What are you doing?” I thought, “I have to do this because I’m going to have to bring this baby home, and I’m not going to focus.” You don’t get maternity leave. You just had a baby. So, you just have to do it all. I think maternity leave is before you have the baby. There is no leave of anything once you have one. I was pumping, experimenting with products, designing a website and breastfeeding at the same time. It’s amazing what a woman is capable of doing with a small baby hanging off of her.
- LaKeisha Entsuah Founder, Elements of Aliel
I became a first-time mom and an entrepreneur almost simultaneously. By the time my daughter was born, my business was still a rough concept and a few recipes. I didn’t think maternity leave was really an option. I did not want to lose the momentum; the ever-constant flow of ideas that were pushing me forward. Instead, I slowed down for about two weeks to acclimate and figure out a schedule where I could dedicate time to both of my babies, my daughter and my business. In the end, it was the best decision I could make for us all.
- Elyse Marie Founder, Elyse Marie Botanicals
It was in those quiet moments of preparation for the arrival of our first child that I envisioned Elyse Marie Botanicals. My maternity leave was essentially spent creating the business. Prior to giving birth and in between feedings, I researched, developed and expanded my mind in every way possible to formulate the most effective and potent products. When our son was 10-months-old, after over a year of testing, we launched our first five products.
- Grace Lee Founder and CEO, Nine Naturals
The thought of maternity leave is daunting when you run your own company and lack a deep bench of employees to ensure things get done when you're out of the office. I am incredibly fortunate to have a great business partner who helped to cover for me for the four weeks that I took off from working with my second daughter Frances. In the last month [before she was born], I included my business partner on all critical conversations I was having and made sure she knew exactly where I was on any outstanding projects I was working on. It can be hard to relinquish control of your work when you're so committed to it. I was still sending texts and emails from my hospital bed after delivery, but eventually I relaxed and focused on spending time with the baby and on my recovery.
- Ira Kaganovsky Founder, Free Brands Inc.
Maternity leave with your own business? No way. You're always working. That being said, you are working more smart than hard. I truly believe that being pregnant, being a mom, makes you more creative or crazy, perhaps a little of both. Kids are great workers, too. What I mean is they can help and learn at the same time. My business is a full family business. My girls help with packaging, inventory, labeling, transactions, the list goes on. They have been involved since they were about six. Our peach scent came when I was testing it, and my kids fell in love with the aroma and the next thing I knew all their friends wanted to buy it.
- Jenna Hipp Founder, Jenna Hipp Clean Beauty
I can’t even say maternity leave existed for me with Max or Bowie. I did stay at home, but people expect you to answer emails and messages. We literally launched a brand the day I went into labor, and there was no one else that could really take my place. There is a lot of pressures entrepreneurs put on themselves, and I certainly felt them. Literally, within a week of having the baby, people were expecting me to come to events. I was like, “I had a baby a week ago. I haven’t even had one night sleep.” That was hard for me. It didn’t really allow me to disconnect. Looking back, I wish I would have been able to disconnect, but I don’t know if things could have been different.
- Holly Green Founder, Norabloom Botanicals
My pregnancy actually played a role in starting my business in the first place. I was in my third year of college as a dance and art major, had no real-world experience yet and, suddenly, there's a little life growing inside me. Facing single motherhood with zero resources sounds like the absolute worst time to start a business, right? Except something else happened. I was overcome with this powerful feeling, a drive and determination to persevere in the face of what many might consider incredible odds. As to maternity leave? Ha! I still haven't taken it, and that was 19 years ago.
- Galit Strugano Founder, Girlactik
Being a mom and entrepreneur of three children all under five has its challenges, but it can be done. My maternity leave with all three varied from one month with Liam, my oldest, to two weeks with Marco, to one week with Maya, who is 17 months now. The Girlactik headquarters is near my home. So, a week after Maya was born, I would go into the office for an hour while Maya was sleeping. With technology, my iPhone was a lifesaver with being able to work from home. All three of my children came to work with me for the first year-plus, and it was great. Sometimes it’s hard, but the secret is a good staff and patience.
- Rebecca O’Connor Co-Founder, YAYA Organics
My mother Alex and I co-founded YAYA Organics when my firstborn David was just learning how to walk. I was part-time and our schedule was quite relaxed. But our business quickly grew, and YAYA took on a life of its own. I found myself torn between the demands of work and the responsibilities of family life. That struggle was and continues to be very real. Each day I have to prioritize, give it my best, and let go of the rest. When Noah was born, my second, I forced myself to slow down and took a few weeks to rest and take care of my family. But, to be honest, it wasn’t a true maternity leave. When you own and co-run a business, you can never totally turn it off. Early on, we welcomed a new managing partner/owner, Valeria [Diodato], who we completely respect and trust, and who is also a mother of three beautiful girls. She has been understanding and patient with the fact that I am a hands-on mother - nursing, diaper changes, etc. - mostly because she is also a mother. Because we are three partners, we are able to divide the workload and cover each other when things come up. We all know that our family is our first priority.
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