• 14 Local Moms on How They Balance Motherhood + Work

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    When we think of businesswomen, we often picture the career-driven corporate types. However, there is another type of businesswoman, the self-starter. Starting a business is never easy, but it is much more difficult to do while you are trying to raise a family; even more so when the children are infants and toddlers. Such is the case with the entrepreneurs featured in this article. These entrepreneurial moms are proof that, though difficult, owning one’s own business is not impossible for women who are also raising a family. In fact, it is much more rewarding because they get to spend valuable time with their families while pursuing a passion that also provides an income. Read on to learn more about these 14 local mom entrepreneurs and how they balance motherhood and work.

    mom entrepreneurs 2019

    Tara Lappen {of More Please, Mama}

    tara lappen mom

    Tara Lappen is a mom to two boys aged four and two and baby girl due in June. As one of the masterminds behind More Please, Mama, she’s crushing it in both the business world + as a mother.

    What is the name of your business and what is it all about?

    More Please, Mama.  We run a blog and Instagram {@morepleasemama} that shares our favorite {and new} baby, mama, and kid products we love, simple food ideas, and learning through play ideas. We wanted to create a space that every mom could relate to and share useful information.

    How is the mom + work juggle?

    To be honest, lately, pretty crazy. We both are moving and I’m pregnant with #3, so our blog has taken a bit of a backseat. And that’s okay with us; life is full of ebbs and flows and sometimes as moms, it’s best for us to give in to those moments and know they will change again.

    What is the best advice for other moms looking to start a business?

    It’s okay to take your time and put you first. Also, find people that you trust and feel like family to work with. My partner, Emily Struchen is everything to me as a friend and More Please Mama wouldn’t be what it is today without her.

    Who is your role model and why?

    Daniel Tiger’s mom because she always has patience. Jokes aside, my own mother because she really inspires me to be a better mother every day.

    Favorite Motto

    Find the good.

    Jennifer Choi {of Sugarsuckle}

    jennifier choi mom

    As the mom to Mila {seven}, and Ryan {five}, Jennifer Choi is the creative and talented baker behind Mile Square favorite, Sugarsuckle.

    What is the name of your business and what is it all about?

    Sugarsuckle. We’re a custom cake and dessert bakery and we strive to make everything look beautiful and taste delicious. We also love to share our passion for baking through baking workshops and classes.

    How is the mom + work juggle?

    There never seems to be enough hours in a day. My business is young, so at the moment, it is requiring long hours, including weekends. But the upside is that I have the flexibility to plan around the little events going on in the kids’ lives, whether it be a presentation at school, a special play date, recital, etc.

    What is the best advice for other moms looking to start a business?

    Do your research and if you’re confident with your findings, go for it! A new business might require a lot of nurturing, so be aware that it might be a lot like having a new baby. That being said, focusing on your business and spending time apart from your kids does not mean you’re any less-invested in their lives. Don’t let anyone {including yourself} guilt you into thinking that.

    See More: We’re Totally Crushing on These13 Local Ladies

    Who is your role model and why?

    I got my entrepreneurial spirit from my dad. He has experienced huge setbacks in different businesses at various points in his life, but he always got back up and tried again. I can’t name a better role model.

     Favorite Motto

    “Remember why you started”…when business gets tough, I reflect on this quote.

    Olivia Burks {of Hugs & Bugs Club of Hoboken}

    oliva burks mom

    Behind Hugs & Bugs Club of Hoboken is Olivia Burks. Mom to Jackson {five} and Rex {three}, Olivia goes above and beyond to help her own little ones while creating a fun and safe learning environment for the children of Hoboken.

    What is the name of your business and what is it all about?

    Hugs & Bugs Club. Messy play! We offer a unique approach to early learning through process art and sensory and independent play while building a community for both parents and children.

    How is the mom + work juggle?

    It’s a juggle, literally. Finding a balance is a challenge and something I struggle with each day. My daily goal is to be present and in the moment while teaching my classes, setting aside time to research each day for upcoming class ideas, and always trying my best to carve out special time with my children without my phone or computer nearby and just be fully present with them.

    What is the best advice for other moms looking to start a business?

    Just go for it! Feel confident in your idea, your talent, and your value and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. I started my business with a toddler and pregnant with my second, no money in the bank and no experience starting a business. What I did have was an idea of how I wanted my children to learn through play and socialize in a small group setting and hoped others would join me on this journey. I was scared to tell people what I was going to do because I didn’t want to hear that it wasn’t a good enough idea or that I should wait until after giving birth and my kids were older. But at that time in my life, I saw no other choice but to jump and go for it. So, I tell all others that sure, it might not be the perfect moment in someone else’s eyes to try something new, but it is the perfect moment for you to just take a leap of faith in yourself and do it.

    Who is your role model and why?

    My parents and my kids. I’m very lucky that I was a part of my parents’ journey as they hustled for better opportunities. They changed jobs regularly, moved us to new places throughout the country, started businesses, and took chances. They set aside the word “can’t” and just went for it. I think that’s where I get my “jumper” mentality to try new things.

    It might seem mushy to say my kids, but when I think about people I want to be like, I think of my kids and their many superpowers. Their imagination and creativity are incredibly inspiring. They help me to rediscover my inner child spirit on a regular basis. My kids also have this beautiful quality to always be in the moment as they point out a pretty flower or cool looking bug. And they have boundless energy! And even though it drives me crazy, they ask for the most ridiculous things sometimes and even when they’re told “no” they keep asking anyway because the 100th time might be a yes.

    Favorite Motto

    It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

    Erin Celletti {Freelance Writer and Director of Communications}

    erin celletti mom

    As the mother of an eight-month-old infant, Erin Celletti is a new mom, director of communications, writer, and jewelry-maker.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    I work full-time as the Director of Communications for Integration Charter Schools and I absolutely love my job. I taught for seven years prior to taking this position and it is the best of both worlds. Kids, education, and writing are my passions in life and I get to work with all three. But, I was never that good at “down time” {not that that exists anymore as a new mom} and so I have two other side gigs that I love, too.

    Grande Gifts — I found myself getting bored with summers off and so I started making jewelry. Grande Strands for my friends and family. Pretty soon that turned into an Etsy business that grew and had reach throughout the country – including many celebrities! From there, I expanded to making custom, personalized gifts as well. It’s awesome working with others to create the perfect gifts and apparel for all of life’s celebrations. I’ve been in business for seven years now, and since I’m much shorter on time these days, I have awesome hired help for the busy season.

    Freelance Writer — I also write professionally for a variety of publications including BRIDES, TeenVogue, Allure, Today Parents and, Hoboken Girl. My BA is in Journalism and I’m so lucky to have so many opportunities to still practice what I love, even though my full-time career took a different course. Over the past four years, I’ve been able to cultivate a base of loyal readers and awesome relationships with editors and clients. I write for a variety of beats including women’s health, motherhood, lifestyle, housewares, astrology, and advice.

    How’s the mom+work juggle?

    Not easy! And I don’t think anyone would say it is. But, it’s worth it. By doing work I love, I hope to set an example for my daughter by showing her that it’s possible to do whatever your heart desires — especially if that’s to be a professional and have a family at the same time.

    I’m not sure I believe I’ll ever truly find a balance. It’s hard to shut off “work brain” but I never, and would never want to shut off “mom brain.” My mind and heart are always with her.

    I promised myself the moment I found out I was pregnant that if anything got to be “too much” I would take things off my plate as needed, with my daughter and marriage as my #1 priorities.

    I also have an incredibly supportive husband. Our parenting approach is very 50/50, with each of us keeping an eye out for the other and “stepping up” more as needed. We have this really awesome partnership that helps us to tackle whatever is thrown our way as a team. I can’t imagine being able to do all of this without him.

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Don’t let fear keep you from trying anything new, but don’t let money be your only motivation. If the passion and hustle are there, then go for it!

    Who is your role model and why?

    Every mom to ever exist. Really. Being pregnant and having my daughter made me want to hug my mom and grandma tight and say, “I get it.” Being a mom {working, SAHM, mom of one, mom of five, young mom, older mom, single mom, married mom…} is the most beautiful blessing but also the hardest job you’ll ever have. Regardless of whether you “work” or not, all moms are magic and we need to stick together and support each other. 

    Favorite Motto

    Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.

    Tina Rivera {of Baking Mama}

    tina rivera mom

    Baking Mama is a Mile Square favorite for sweet treats {especially on Mother’s Day}, so it’s only right that the woman behind the tasty snacks is a mom herself, Tina Rivera as a mother to Luke {24} and Maria {20}.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    I am the baker and owner of Baking Mama

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    I am lucky that I went into business when my kids are old enough. However, I am still very much involved with their day-to-day lives especially with my daughter who still lives with me and my husband. We’re a closely-knit family that we remain involved with each other’s concerns 24/7.

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Starting a business is not a walk in the park. However, when things get stressful, it is always good to take a walk in the park. When you start a business, accept the fact that your time will be divided between your family and your business. However, when the time comes that you have to decide between time for your family or time for your business, choose your family. Make sure to study and know the business that you are getting into. For example, if you are planning to open a bakeshop, you should also learn how to do bookkeeping.

    Who is your role model and why?

    My parents Joaquin and Eduviges are my role models. They work so much and love so hard.

    Favorite Motto

    “Make each day a masterpiece” – former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

    Mary Clavieres {of Brief Transitions}

    mary clavieres mom

    Mary Clavieres is the mom to Evie {five} and Elean {two and a half} and founder of Brief Transitions.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    I founded Brief Transitions which is a product-based business selling mesh underwear for women after childbirth and surgery. It’s a unique item that isn’t talked about much but is very necessary for postpartum recovery.

    I also founded The Transitions Collective which is a platform providing access to experts and resources for women transitioning from corporate to entrepreneurship — building and scaling their own businesses.      

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    It’s often challenging. I think I’ll always be working to better understand myself, my family, my work and my limits. I think being a mom and working is always a juggle and ‘balance’ doesn’t really exist so I try to set realistic expectations for myself. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, I try to give myself grace and know that tomorrow is another day.

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Make a plan and take action against it. It’s easy to prioritize something else over your business {kids’ activities, housework, etc}. Find a time where you can to work on your business even if it’s 30 minutes a day {or week}. I started Brief Transitions by working at night when my kids went to bed. It wasn’t until three years later that I left my corporate job to scale it full-time.

    Also, surround yourself with others that are going through similar things and that have started businesses. There will be a lot of people that don’t understand what and why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important to have a community around you that supports you.

     Who is your role model and why?

    Both of my parents have been huge role models for me. My mom for her work ethic and determination. My dad for his creativity and open-mindedness.

    I’m a huge fan of Sara Blakely for her creativity with Spanx. Also, Ellen Degeneres for her comedy, standing in her authenticity and spreading kindness.

    Favorite Motto

    “The best way to predict your future is to create it” — Abraham Lincoln. I think it’s important to recognize that you are responsible for your own future. It’s up to you to take action for yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.

    Tamara Soru {of The Little Play Co.}

    tamara mom

    With two little ones under 10 {Sebastian who is five and Luca who is four}, Tamara Soru balances being a mom and the businesswoman behind The Little Play Co.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    The Little Play Co {formerly Little City Play}. The Little Play Co was purposefully designed to be a small-scale version of our beloved little city. I wanted to create a beautiful space for children to playfully explore a little version of our everyday world. Through discovery and imaginative play, we allow children to learn, engage, and develop in a social setting. We offer open play, host beautiful birthday parties, summer camp is just about upon us, and we’re super excited for our Pre-K Prep Learning Series program to launch this fall.

    I love a good theme! Whether it’s a birthday party, social event, week of summer camp, room design, or just a Tuesday afternoon activity in the park… a theme is a must. Through decor, a theme can tell a story, and personally, I’ve always been better expressing myself visually. Our main play space offers a variety of “themes,” so whichever direction your child should head, there is always a new experience waiting around the corner.

    We aim to inspire, so when your child says, “I love bunnies and ballet and disco balls”… well, you will get a bunny ballet disco party. I will get inside their precious little heads and bring it to life. Nothing makes me happier.

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    So, they say it all seems impossible… until it’s done. Most days my plate seems so full I have no idea where to even begin. My wheels are always spinning, be it work or kids — there is always something to think about, plan, conquer, fix, create, cook, pack, or do. As a single mama of two little boys, my days are full, and thankfully my heart is fuller.

    A huge reason for starting this business was so I could be with my kids after school, even if it meant bringing them to work with me. I knew how fast this was going to go {the school ages} and I didn’t want to miss a minute of these years or trade this time with them. Every night ends with dinner, homework, bath, books, perhaps some screen time for them and then we unplug and snuggle for some quality family time. I do my best to save the return emails, scheduling, and online work for the business until they are asleep.

    I realize that it is all possible with some key ingredients…a positive mindset, a smile, a good laugh with friends, and a plan to chew off one thing at a time. Full plate = full heart. 

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Know your limits, ask for help and delegate. Confessions of a control freak: it’s hard to ask for help. I’ve learned that having a great team and surrounding myself with supportive people is the only way to truly be successful. When I started The Little Play Co. I had a specific vision and refused to stray from it. Letting go {even a little} has given me the opportunity to grow and improve so much more efficiently! 

    Who is your role model and why?

    Throughout my life, I have had so many different role models. At this particular point, my kids are the most influential little humans for me. Kids just see things from a different perspective. They are completely genuine, don’t judge and live life to the fullest every single day. Although they have moments of frustration and discomfort, they don’t over think things the way we do as we get older. They are learning patience and I love how their little minds operate so freely when they are faced with a problem or choices. They express what they feel in the most natural and lighthearted ways and it is truly beautiful no matter what the emotion {although sometimes I don’t see that until the tantrum has passed}. Every day, I watch and listen to them and try to learn from their innocence. I am obsessed with my boys and everything I do is inspired by them, because of them, and for them.

    Favorite Motto

    Let it go…yes, now the song will be stuck in your head, but let it also be a constant reminder that in life, holding on to things, physical and emotional, will only hold you back.

    Alyssa Stern {of Baby Bandstand}

    alyssa stern mom

    Alyssa Stern is the mom to infant Luke who is just a few weeks old and the woman behind Baby Bandstand.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    Baby Bandstand. We provide music classes with an emphasis on speech and language enrichment for children ages zero to five years and their caregivers. Our class uses music to help children form an early foundation for strong speech, literacy, language, and social skills. All classes are filled with live music including guitar, ukulele and more. We also offer birthday party entertainment.

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    As Luke and I are still finding our groove in terms of eating and naps, I’ve been able to get most emails and calls answered right after feeding time. I am also incredibly lucky to have such wonderfully talented and committed teachers on my team. They have been so supportive during these early weeks with Luke!

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Reach out to other local businesses for advice along the way. This community is filled with people looking to connect and help out!

     Who is your role model and why?

    My parents: They were always extremely hardworking professionally but always found a way to make family a priority whether it was coaching my sister’s basketball team, taking me to an audition, or just cruising around town in our car as a family every weekend.

    Favorite Motto

    “As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.” Desiderata-Max Ehrmann

    Jess Someck + Lauren Russell {of ISO Style}

    jess lauren mom entrepeneurs

    ^ Jess on the left and Lauren on the right 

    As the mom to Bennett {five} and Zanna {18 months}, Jess Someck balances being a mom while running ISO Style; and Lauren Russel is the mom to Hudson {four} and Harlow {two} and the other owner behind ISO Style.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    Jess: I’m the co-founder of ISO Style {@shopISOstyle}, an Instagram boutique that offers a curated selection of contemporary women’s fashion.

    Lauren: ISO Style is an Instagram contemporary women’s boutique where you can shop directly from our feed without ever having to leave the platform. We curate each season’s must-have items to make it super easy for busy women to shop! 

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    Jess: The mom/work juggle is not easy and some days are more challenging than others. We’re in a unique situation where we’re self-employed and also the primary caretakers to our children, so we multitask frequently. We take calls while our children nap, do showroom appointments while our big kids are at school, answer our customers while at the playground and do a majority of our work after they are asleep. The days are long and we often don’t have much downtime. However, we both left corporate fashion careers so we could have a job that enhances our lives with our children and we’ve been able to achieve that, which is everything.

    Lauren: Sometimes it’s difficult to juggle it all but you just figure it out.  I try to find times to sneak in some work during the day but most gets done after the kids are asleep.

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Jess: It’s not for the faint of heart. You are raising young children while simultaneously growing a small business so everything {and everyone} needs 100 percent of you at all times. You work while parenting and parent while you work, but it’s incredibly gratifying to build something from nothing and fulfills you in a way that can’t be matched by working for someone else. Also, an iPad and lollipops are your best friends. 

    Lauren: Don’t be afraid to fail. You can learn the best lessons from your failures.

    Who is your role model and why?

    Jess: My mom — she is an incredible mother {and grandmother} and truly the backbone of our family. As a speech therapist, she was able to make her schedule accommodate the needs of her family and achieve a work-life balance that inspires me today. She taught me that you can have it all if you put your mind to it and be grateful for all of the opportunities you’re given personally and professionally.

    Lauren: My mother because she was a single mom who worked full-time and somehow managed it all!

    Favorite Motto

    Jess: Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

    Lauren: Wake Up. Kick Butt. Be Kind. Repeat.

    Amanda Berlin {of Amandaberlin.com}

    amanda berlin mom businesswoman

    Amanda Berlin has a five-year-old daughter named Lola and is brains behind her own namesake website.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    Amandaberlin.com; I help entrepreneurs and small businesses get publicity and more attention for their work so they can get in front of more of the right clients, make more money, and do more of the work they love.

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    Quality childcare has always been very important. I am a divorced mom and for the majority of my daughter’s life, I’ve been the primary breadwinner. Finding time to do my work and be completely present has been essential for me. Also, being able to be present with my daughter when she was not at daycare or school was also very important. Otherwise, I was working and thinking I should be with my daughter, and when I was with my daughter, I was thinking I should be working. I have figured out how to navigate the juggle so I can dedicate time for both. 

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Go all in. Prepare yourself with savings, but you have to be all in. You have to have skin in the game. It’s very hard to start your business and create something successfully if you have a plan B.

     Who is your role model and why?

    My dad is my role model. He taught me to follow and trust my instincts and to believe in myself as resourceful.

    Favorite Motto

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” Maya Angelou

    Stephanie Manganelli of {Stowaway Collection Maternity}

    stephanie stowaway mom

    Stephanie Manganelli is the woman Stowaway Collection Maternity {for all the expecting mamas out there} and mom to Leo {three} and newborn Matteo.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    Stowaway Collection Maternity.

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    Never ending. Whenever you think you have it all figured out something changes. I look at my mom now and see how she’s juggling it all even though I’m grown. You’re a mom forever and if you’re working, you’re a working mom forever, too.

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Push aside self-doubt. It’s only in your head and keep pushing through!

    Who is your role model and why?

    My sister, Alissa. She is the strongest person I know who has overcome so much at such a young age. She may be my younger sister but I’ve always looked up to her.

    Favorite Motto

    Close your eyes and jump!

    Read More: Little City Play: Hoboken’s Newest Indoor Play Space

    Cassie Mascari + Melissa Wise {of Little Hoboken

    cassie melissa mom entrepreneur

    ^Mellisa on the right and Cassie on the left

    As the mom to Eliza {four} and Leo {six months old}, Cassie Mascari co-runs local parent favorite, Little Hoboken; and Melissa Wise works with Cassie to run Little Hoboken while also being a mom to four and a half-year-old Kane.

    What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?

    Cassie: Little Hoboken – The go-to resource for parents in and around Hoboken.

    Melissa: Little Hoboken. We are the go-to resource for moms and families in our area with a blog featuring comprehensive and thorough lists, expert advice, real-life mom experiences and moments, we host events, and we are the creators of the only program that offers exclusive deals in our area, the Little Hoboken Hook-Up card.

    How’s the mom + work juggle?

    Cassie: I am pretty much always trying to keep my head above water. It can be tough to manage kids and work all of the time, but I love seeing a big idea, event or project come together and I love that my kids get to see their mom be ambitious + successful.

    Melissa: I don’t think it can ever be perfect. You just make it work. I work full-time, I run 50% of Little Hoboken, and manage my household. We have my son and two dogs and it’s mayhem most days, but I wouldn’t change a minute of it! You work at weird hours, my son helps me fill gift bags, and Cassie and I text at 2:00AM sometimes, but it all gets done. As my son says, “Mommies are the most powerful superheroes!”

    Best advice for moms looking to start a business?

    Cassie: Just go for it! It will never be easy, but if you love it then it will always be worth it. 

    Melissa: You are a mom, but you are also a person. Being a mom shouldn’t define you and you shouldn’t lose yourself. Have a great idea for a business? Go for it! Your kids will respect you and learn so much about what a badass mama they have and that they can do anything they put their minds to also…lead by example, mamas!

    Who is your role model and why?

    Cassie: My mom! She was always so involved and attentive to us no matter what else was going on, and I hope my own kids always feel that same way about me.

    Melissa: My mom was my role model. Sadly, I lost her nine months ago. She was the perfect mom and could get more done in a day than most people get done in a month! She was Pinterest before it began and the most selfless person I ever have met in my life.

     Favorite Motto

    Melissa: If Mama ain’t happy, no one’s happy.

    These businesses were established to support locals in their endeavors as women and moms and we encourage you to visit them.  We celebrate these entrepreneurial moms and hope they encourage and motivate those of you who are thinking of pursuing your own passions.  It can be done — Happy Mother’s Day!

    Are you inspired by any of these local mom entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments!


    Written by:

    Ashley is a thoroughbred Jersey girl who has lived in Hoboken for 7 years. After graduating from Fordham University with a degree in Journalism and Psychology, she pursued a career in the AdTech space. (think banner ads and website analytics) Although hard to say goodbye, she can now be found focusing on full time mom business and contributing to multiple blogs. She is always on the lookout for the next family fun event or mommy & me class. She is hoping her investigative nature will help other #hobokenmoms find fun things to do!