Stephanie Gerber was working full-time in marketing while saving and paying down student loan debt, before she decided to become a stay-at-home mom to daughter Caroline, born in 2007, and son Henry, born in 2010. That's when the Nashville, Tennessee-based entrepreneur became inspired to start blogging.
"I think one of my very first blog posts was a cake I made for [my son's] first birthday that was in the shape of a snake or something like that," recalls Gerber. "That's where I started."
Her good friend then introduced her to skills like baking, crafting jewelry, and even making laundry detergent. "We started doing projects and I would photograph them for my blog," says Gerber.
She also quickly learned that she was drawn more to creating natural beauty items over food. "Maybe it's because I didn't grow up cooking," she says. "Recipe creation was never as intuitive to me as the beauty stuff was, and it was just more fun. I felt like I understood that more."
Gerber was also motivated to create personal care products that she would feel comfortable using on her children—and on herself. She thought, "I don't have the money to go to or the time to get a babysitter for my kids and go do facials as often as I would like to, but here's what I can do to take care of myself and still feel good. I still want to feel like I'm keeping myself together a bit."
The blog also became a way for Gerber to take care of herself mentally. "I was kind of feeling a little depressed and sad, lonely from being the stay-at-home mom, and I needed something else in my life to supplement just taking care of kids," she explains.
It was 2011, and Gerber admits she didn't have a game plan for monetizing the site and was a novice when it came to creating a website. "It was a lot of learning and figuring out how to set things up and get things running," she notes. "I just sort of like stumbled my way through it."
Gerber initially based the blog around new motherhood. But by tuning into what she was drawn to and what her readers were enjoying, she narrowed the focus to what would ultimately become her natural beauty site: Hello Glow. "It's about easy, accessible, do-it-yourself projects; recipes that make you feel good inside and out," say Gerber who started out doing mainly beauty recipes for products like scrubs and masks and later brought in a food component with the help of contributors.
Running the site and creating products that doubled as money savers quickly helped Gerber feel more ownership of her family's finances. "It helped me engage more," she says. "I felt like, 'OK, not only can I can make these things and save us money, but I have skills that I can bring to the table as a partner, and I can do more.'"
After incorporating ads and investing in a professional photographer she met through Craigslist, Gerber saw Hello Glow start bringing in traffic—and money. "The efforts of that investment really started to pay off," she remembers. "In 2015, I was making enough that it was basically a similar income to the take-home pay I was making when I was working full time."
Today, Gerber has grown Hello Glow into a thriving community of natural beauty lovers, complete with editorial coverage on topics including, beauty, wellness, food, and nutrition. There's even a spin-off site, Hello Veggie, dedicated to vegetarian cooking. Gerber continues to test out beauty recipes after her three kids go to bed and has written two books: Hello Glow and Essential Glow.
Here, Gerber's best tips for moms looking to prioritize their well-being, confidence, and taking even more ownership of their family finances.
Self-Care Is Good Parenting
Not only did self-care serve as the fuel for Gerber's sites, but she believes in it wholeheartedly as a way of life for all moms. "I see self-care for moms as a way to reclaim a little bit of your identity and independence," she explains. "If you feel good about who you are and how you look and how you're presenting yourself, I think that carries over into instilling some values to your children and being a better parent. You just have more energy to give to them, because you have filled your own cup."
Following Your Heart Sets a Positive Example
By doing what she loves, Gerber believes she is inspiring her three children—Caroline, now 13, Henry, almost 11, and Sam, 8. "It's nice to hopefully give them the message that you can take something that's of interest to you or something that you want to learn about, and it can become a job," she says. "Things that you would not expect could become a job can actually become a job."
Ironically enough, her kids say they want to grow up to be on YouTube.
Let Your Side Hustle Become a Business
While Gerber resisted thinking of the site as a business for a long time, she ultimately had to change her mindset. "I wasn't separating out my finances and thinking about it in terms of, 'Oh, I need to make sure that this ingredient I bought was paid for out of my business account,'" she notes. "I thought, 'That's so much work.' [But I realized] it's not when I finally got around to educating myself and taking care of the financial side of my business."
It all became even more rewarding. "It did feel like an accomplishment," she says. "It was something I had started and grown—not just a little hobby anymore."
It's OK to Outsource
The Tennessee mom also learned to acknowledge her strengths and weaknesses. "There are things that I'm good at," she says. "And then there are things that I'm not good at. And it was really helpful to be able to somewhat acknowledge those and get help in those areas and not feel like I had to be everything."
Gerber found that hiring photographers or editors who could develop and write food recipes, for instance, allowed her to focus on the tasks that she was good at and enjoyed more.
Get Comfortable With Trial and Error
It can be intimidating to take the leap of faith required to start a small business, says Gerber. "You think, 'I don't know if it's going to fail. I don't know if it's going to make money,'" she notes.
Her solution: start small. "You can see how it goes and let it build slowly," she advises. "Give yourself time and enjoy the process. You try different things, and you try to figure out what works. And at the end of the day, you just do the best you can."