With an MBA in finance and management from Columbia Business School and a pre-baby career that ranged from publishing to politics, Allyson Downey eventually found herself working on Wall Street only to get sidelined after her first pregnancy. An entrepreneur at heart, she founded weeSpring.com in 2013 (known as 'Yelp for baby gear') and soon authored Here's the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career Through Pregnancy and Parenthood.
Best tip: "Your personal network is the most valuable career asset you have. When I meet someone new, I ask myself, 'Who do I know who could help this person?' and introduce them. Investing time in supporting other people has come back to me tenfold."
Renee Dua, M.D., formed Heal, an on-demand mobile healthcare app, with her tech entrepreneur husband after an agonizing experience in the emergency room with her then-infant son. Aiming to reduce wait times and offer more affordable, convenient options for family medical care, the service offers highly-vetted doctors to your door, twelve hours a day, 365 days a year for just $99 per visit (or a designated co-pay).
Best tip: "I asked for help. I asked my parents, I got a nanny, I had someone help me with my practice so I could focus on learning how to run a totally novel business. I also learned everything I could about the business model from the ground up. For example, I put together my own kit using my own medical record system and seeing patients in my neighborhood while Nick drove me around—so we could understand routing and how to time visits."
A feature film producer before becoming a mom, Karen Beninati found the travel and unpredictable demands of entertainment and filmmaking nearly-impossible to reconcile with motherhood. Finding flexible childcare for her working hours was an ongoing problem (late nights/weekend/no contracts), so she created the solution she needed in 2009 with WeVillage (locations in Seattle and Los Angeles, currently).
Best tip: "Don't be afraid to create something that doesn't exist! If you see an opportunity, TAKE IT and never look back. I saw the need for my business idea and had little capital, but I knew I wanted to create it, and everything fell into place. It doesn't have to be perfect from day one, just make a day one."
Being denied a part-time work option when her second child was born (after serving 10 years at her previous company), Kyla Dahrling took a risk and quit her longtime and beloved job. She created Tiny Trucker Company (family-themed trucker hats for moms, dads & kids) from her home with the goal to provide other moms an opportunity to work flexible hours while providing for their families—she now has 8 moms working for the steadily-growing San Diego, CA brand.
Best tip: "I work a lot of late nights and early mornings—before the kids wake up and after they go to bed. I also work some weekends with the support of my husband. I've turned my garage into a storage facility to cut costs of renting a space for my hats and I've relied on family to help with the kids more since I work all hours of the day. There's good reason 'Hustlin' Mama' is one of our best-selling hats!"
A Kindergarten teacher up until the day she had her first son 13 years ago, Lyss Stern launched her national, NYC-based marketing and event company to 'get her groove back' after baby. Divalysscious Moms now has a database of more than one million moms across the country—connecting high-end brands including Fendi Kids, UPPABaby, Stokke Strollers and more with an elite group of women and children in the New York area. Stern is co-author of best-selling book If You Give A Mom A Martini, which has been recently optioned to become a motion picture. Stern is also co-author of new book, Motherhood Is A B#TCH, 10 Steps to Regaining Your Sanity, Sexiness, and Inner Diva.
Best tip: "Do your research. It's very important to not just 'jump in' without researching your new job and/or idea and prepare yourself for the change. Also, don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help."
An attorney who once worked in commercial real estate and specialized in transactions between $20 - 100 million, Rachel Pitzel sought family flexibility and launched ClubMomMe, a Los Angeles based event company for expecting and new moms, when her first-born was two months old. (She then sold the company in 2015.) Pitzel is now a digital influencer, working with top-tier lifestyle brands in the fashion and family space.
Best tip: "Free up your schedule of tasks you don't need to be doing to focus on your new career path. Outsource things like grocery shopping with Instacart, Google Express or Postmates, automate things like diaper shipments... streamline anything else that takes up time you could be spending working."
Prior to motherhood, Nadine Bubeck woke up at 2:30 a.m. every day as traffic anchor for the local morning news. When her first son was born six weeks premature, she shifted gears and changed careers to fulfill family needs and never looked back. Bubeck founded Mama B. Designs, a boutique apparel line benefiting the March of Dimes foundation. The goal? To stylishly spread prematurity awareness. Bubeck continues to work as a freelance parenting and lifestyle contributor on TV, in magazines, and online.
Best tip: "Be fearless. If your gut tells you to make a change post-kids, go for it. Yes, you'll need to seek balance, but you'll find a way to make it work. Time is something you'll never get back."
When Agatha Achindu had trouble finding freshly-made baby food reminiscent of her West African childhood in 2004, she started cooking organic recipes in her kitchen and freezing them. She soon started teaching new and expecting moms how to cook healthfully in local hospitals, which then led her to stock local specialty and natural food stores with her creations. In 2014, Achindu was introduced to actress Camila Alves and they became 50/50 partners. You can now find Yummy Spoonfuls in the frozen section at Target.
Best tip: "Make sure you are really passionate about your idea, because it's going to take an unbelievable amount of work. Get your financing before you leave your soon-to-be former job, if at all possible—that's when you're in the best position. It doesn't take long to run through all of your own resources, and then you won't be creditworthy. Also, rally your support network – family and friends will keep you going when the going gets tough."
During her decade-long ad sales career, Lindsay Pinchuk got her side-hustle on by hosting educational and social events in Chicago for expectant moms—and it all started so she and her personal friends could bond over new motherhood! Seven years later (after quitting the ad sales gig because BCB started growing and she wanted more family flexibility), Bump Club and Beyond hosts events in 25 cities across the country and has over 250,000 parents engaging, connecting, and getting educated about new-baby life on a regular basis.
Best tip: "Take baby steps, set goals and take everything one step at a time. ASK FOR HELP. I never could have built my company without the support of my own village—my spouse, my parents, my friends, my staff and my customers! I work now more than I have ever worked before, but I work differently and I am able to see my kids and be there for them. I have never regretted my decision."
A Seattle native, Jenny Keller lost interest in the 'grind' of the coffee biz after her first child was born and taught herself how to bake. Eleven years later, Keller is an entertaining expert, crafting stylist and 'Baker to the Stars'—actresses Tori Spelling and Tiffani Thiessen included—with her work appearing in People, US Weekly, Brides, OK!, Life & Style, InTouch, Romantic Homes, and more. Her book, Eat More Dessert, demos how to design the perfect dessert table and guides how to choose a theme to style your sweets using multiple desserts ranging from simple, crowd-pleasing sugar cookies to show-stopping, over-the-top cakes.
Best tip: "Use nap time if your kids are babies! I baked, blogged and party-planned during nap time for years while building my brand."