Certified life coach Shanna Nardone, a former denizen of the corporate world, does not work on Fridays.
“That’s my day with my daughter,” she said. “We go to the beach, we go to the woods, we go on bike rides. I want to show up for my kids.”
Nardone is raising two young children with her husband in Half Moon Bay and describes herself as a mompreneur.
“I honestly hate the word, but I can’t think of anything else that is descriptive of a mom that’s an entrepreneur,” she said.
On Nov. 8, Nardone organized the first meeting of the Mompreneur Coastside Collective, a group of mothers living between Pescadero and Pacifica who own their own businesses in industries such as telehealth, photography and textiles.
“At the playground, at school and just walking around, I kept bumping into these people who said they had their own businesses,” said Nardone. “I thought, ‘OK, there’s obviously something going on here, and there’s no organization in town that I know of that brings us all together.’”
Part support group, part networking avenue, the Mompreneur Coastside Collective helps women balance their professional goals, family life and personal identity. At the inaugural meeting, Nardone structured the discussion by providing a table topic. Attendees were invited to respond one at a time, expressing their thoughts and sharing their experiences.
“It wasn’t a venting session,” said Nardone. “It was about having time to connect and talk about a topic in depth and talk about the situations that people are struggling with or succeeding in and start learning from each other.”
One of the mompreneurs at the first meeting was architect Katie Kostiuk, owner of Fat Pen Studios in El Granada. She emphasized the value of interacting with other women who are managing a similar set of challenges.
“I have enjoyed meeting the other mothers that attended our first meeting this month and connecting with other ladies on the Coastside that can relate to the juggle struggle,” said Kostiuk. “Knowing other people who relate to the balance we are constantly striving for is so nice, since there is a lot of pressure, uncertainty and mom guilt to cope with, and it can feel a little isolating and lonely at times.”
While the responsibilities of mompreneuers and working mothers overlap in several ways — meeting work commitments, running a household, raising children, maintaining relationships with partners and other adults — operating a business often adds even more pressure to women’s lives.
“There are huge financial implications that come with a lot of stress and anxiety,” said Nardone. “You are in a position where you have to learn how to divvy up your time, and it's not like you have someone telling you what needs to be done.”
But Nardone explained that becoming her own boss was a way to be a better mother.
“A lot of these entrepreneurs, myself included, have started their own businesses because they could not find a balance that worked for them when they were working full time or working for someone else,” she said. “We all chose to become our own bosses so that we could have the flexibility we needed and wanted to manage all of the different components.”
Kostiuk said the Mompreneur Coastside Collective fills a special niche.
“Being a mother and a business owner is a unique path, and I have found that typical business networking groups and parent clubs don’t address this hybrid role where I find myself,” she said. “For me, mompreneur groups are about support from friends and peers that understand the challenges of being a mother and business owner, rather than only being about parenting or only about business development and networking.”
Currently, the Mompreneur Coastside Collective plans to get together on a quarterly basis so that meetings don’t become one more thing to squeeze into the calendar. Because when the workday is done, kid time is key.
“Kids aren’t the easiest,” said Nardone. “They’re not always fun to be around, but I want them to grow up knowing their mom. I want them to grow up and have these bonds with me.”