Can being a mom be a business? Yes, say two women who did it

There are a LOT of us working moms out there.

In fact, 70 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 at home do work, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.

That’s a lot of women struggling with the same challenges.

  • How best to juggle your career with your kids?
  • How best to re-enter the workforce after your kids are a bit older and in school?
  • How best to find a job that provides for your needs, while also understanding you have children who need you too?
  • How best to find a career that makes you feel happy and fulfilled?

What if you could turn something you loved into an actual business, where you set your own hours, on your own time?

It’s possible, say Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein. They’ve been there. And they’ve done it.

Their business? Being a mom and talking to other moms about topics that interest moms.

The two, who have a background in broadcasting and journalism, founded their lifestyle brand/business, “The Moms,” in 2010.

Since then, they’ve ventured into print and TV, hosted a Sirius XM radio show and started a podcast.

Denise Albert (left) and Melissa Gerstein (far right), interview actresses Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer as part of their “Mamarazzi” town hall series.

They also regularly interview celebrity moms and dads through parenting town halls that are streamed live on the internet. Several were done as part of a deal with People Magazine’s Entertainment Network on Facebook.

Guests at these “Mamarazzi” events have previously included Tina Fey, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Jackman.

This week, they’re interviewing Toni Collette and Halle Berry.

Here, Albert and Gerstein, who have five children between them, offer some career tips and advice for moms everywhere.

How do you take the first step (in starting a business, doing something new)?

Albert: Well, we were the average working person. We worked really hard and long hours before we started The MOMS as journalists and producers. I spent many years getting coffee for others, answering phones, working overnight. We spent many years in offices, working from 7 a.m. for 12- to 20-hour days, sometimes. My first piece of advice, though, is it’s all about passion. None of it matters if you don’t find something you love and are passionate about. Then…the work…no matter how much or how hard, becomes easy. “

Gerstein:You pick up the phone! You reach out! You cold call! You email blindly! You message everyone! No one will do the work for you. You must go for it 100 percent. You have to be vulnerable and confident. Just do it, like Nike says.”

Does work-life balance exist? How do you find it?

Gerstein:It does not exist. It’s important to just take care of you; take care of yourself. If Mama isn’t good, nobody will be good in the home. My children are 15, 12 and 8, and what I have learned is that it’s the quality of time together over quantity. When you’re with your kids, be present and engaged. That’s what they love. That’s what they will remember. It’s also extremely important to do the things that make you happy. That could be a workout or going out for a drink with girlfriends. The pre-mom still has to exist too. That’s the balance.”

Denise Albert (left) and Melissa Gerstein (right).

Albert: I think it can exist actually. I believe it’s really about what works for each individual. And why does there have to be a defined balance? It’s really about if you are happy with your situation. If you are passionate about what you do. If you are able to figure out what works best for you.” 

“So one day I may work all day. But the next day, I may spend with my kids more than I work. That’s the way I have been able to set my schedule and that’s balance to me.”

What’s the biggest challenge facing women today?

Albert: Health care. Equal pay. In some fields, equality all around.”

Gerstein: The biggest issue is still the clock-in-and-clock-out model or the 9-to-5 work model. Moms know how to multitask and juggle better than anyone else. They need autonomy to feel good about their work, their home, their children and themselves. If they can get the office or workload done on their own time and meet deadlines, then we would see more women or moms in the workforce and not leaving the workforce. If we had longer maternity leave like Canada, we would have more moms stay in the workforce, and if we had more men with smaller egos, we would all be at the top together.” 

Any mistakes/regrets you have from when you first launched The Moms?

Gerstein: Regrets are a waste of time.”

“We always say that if we had a business plan, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Our business unfolded and developed organically from successes and failures and trials and errors. We are five years in now and have mapped out our expansion plan, which is very exciting. We turned down many reality shows to grow a smart parenting brand and we are excited about our next phase. You have to get up every day and turn the page.”

Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

Albert: “I’m proud of my relationships. I work hard on them. I am proud of my kids and how they have handled obstacles in our life, including divorce and my journey with breast cancer.” 

Melissa Gerstein (right) and Denise Albert (left) host “Mamarazzi” town hall meetings.

“My kids are my life and everything I do is for them.  I’m proud of my relationship with my parents. They were also divorced and it wasn’t easy… but I have worked very hard to be super close with both of them and appreciate and accept them and their choices and lives.  I’m proud of my relationships with my friends. I have a very large group of friends from all parts of my life — from nursery school through friendships through business. I’m a people person and work hard on my friendships.”

How do you carve out time for yourself?

Gerstein: I personally make sure to get my workouts in and date night when I can. You have to almost train yourself and commit every week to this. I have a very supportive husband who sees the difference in me and how I mother when I take time for myself and recognizes how badly I need this. I also let go of that mom guilt a long time ago and learned it’s a waste of energy. “

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