Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Dear Readers,

Last night I attended a wonderful entrepreneur panel hosted by Collective-E. I've blogged a little bit about how Ladies Who Launch was one of the ways that I connected with other women entrepreneurs when I first thought of the idea for Well Beth Schoenfeldt, co-founder of that company (and frankly my most favorite half), recently launched Collective-E - a collective of women entrepreneurs, along with my other friends, Katie Helmuth and Sabina Ptacin. And last night was one of their first events - and boy did it draw a crowd! I am so proud of these amazing women. SO proud!!

Now to be honest, I wasn't planning on attending. The panel of successful women entrepreneurs were moms - and the businesses they were discussing: Kidville, Skip*Hop, Patem Pads and Big City Moms, were all very mom-focused. Not being a mom, it wasn't as interesting to me as I would have preferred, but Beth is a good friend and told me I would meet great people if I attended - and I did. Beth is always right about these things and I thank her for persuading me.

But the panel was still very mom focused. There was lots of talk about how the women on the panel were stay-at-home moms looking for something to do and ended up with a very (very!) successful business. Or they were working moms that found a mommy product/service need-gap and wanted to fill it - and have! Each panel member explained how she had to balance being a mom and an entrepreneur - which I am confident is no easy task.

The other thing that these moms had in common was that they are married. One told of how she went to her husband for funding to seed the project (he was still working while she was home with the kids). Another mentioned that her husband was between jobs and starting this company together was the perfect opportunity for him. I've actually met her husband - a couple of months before I launched I interviewed with him for a marketing job at Skip*Hop. He's an incredibly successful serial entrepreneur, so I am sure he was welcome support and is a valuable partner. In fact, had it not been for the fact that the company's main products are diaper bags, for which I have little passion, I would have loved to work with him.

So here we had five incredible women entrepreneurs (Big City Moms is a sister team) who started their own companies, with children. But they also have husbands that support and contribute to their success. And I wonder: How many of these mompreneurs would have started these businesses without the (emotional, financial and skill) support of being married to their husbands?

I have often said that mompreneurs start businesses because they have children and auntrepreneurs start businesses because we don't. Still, even I delayed becoming an entrepreneur for years because I was hoping to have the support of marriage - which I still do not have - before I did. But in my late 30's - I realized it was time to take control of my destiny and start a company of my dreams anyway.

The good news is that I've never dated more. I guess happy people are attractive. The bad news is that I don't have the support
(emotional, financial and skill) that comes with marriage. And boy could I use a hand (to hold).

So there's no one to hug when a great thing comes about. Or when I am stressed. There's no one to bounce ideas off of. Or learn from. Or get help from. Or share experiences with. Or to be proud of me.

The mom entrepreneurs at the Collective-E event last night joked that finding ways to work with one's husband is a panel discussion all in of itself. And I don't believe having a spouse as a partner is always easy. I am sure it comes with its own set of issues.

But having a partner
to share life with makes having success that much more fruitful. I heard repeated again and again last night: "My husband and I...." "So I said to my husband..." "Our biggest mistake was that my husband and I thought..." Just having the luxury of sharing the entrepreneurial experience with a partner is something I am envious of.

At first, I wondered if these women would have started their businesses if there were single?

And then I wondered... would I have ever started my company if I had actually been married? Would I have been satisfied in just finding my love? Would I have needed to manifest this destiny if I were a wife?

And I wondered if my company would be more successful if I did have the support of a husband. What would he contribute? How would he be my other half?

But then I realized that the truth was, I never needed a Collective-Me. I just needed Me. And while I am working my tail off and have risked my life's savings on starting a business on my own, I have all the support
(emotional, financial and skill) I need. I know that because I've done it. And am doing it. I seem to be all I *needed.

Which isn't everything I've always wanted.

But it's enough for now.

Auntie Melanie

PS - Please use the comments section to tell me if marriage or non-marriage is a help or hindrance to your entrepreneurial ventures and aspirations. Men - this is for you too!

Please vote for in the Niche and Misc. Social Media category in the Mashable Open Web Awards! Thanks!

*Notwithstanding all the friends, acquaintances and business colleagues who have and continue to support me. Thank you!)


  1. When I started my business I was married and it was a hindrance. He couldn't possibly "get it" the way I did and saw it as detracting from his needs. But that was him. When I divorced him my business soared - I had SO much more time to devote to it (even with little kids underfoot) since I was in total control of my time. Now I am remarried to a much more supportive guy but it still slows me down compared to being single since my time is more divided again. For me it is a time management issue more than an emotional one. There are only so many hours in the day and if you believe people come before things, it's a trade off and the business comes 2nd or 3rd or 4th or... I think the grass is always greener, honestly! LOL
    Karen Clark
    Story Time Felts

  2. Melanie,
    I am single and had the goal of opening my own spa after completing my MBA (even my concentration was entrepreneurship!). Now I'm really terrified of starting it for the same reasons you mention above. I would love to have someone to support my tell me he's proud of me or that everything will be ok when I get stressed out. I applaud you for taking the initiative to do what you love without having a man in your life. Perhaps, in time, I will feel the same way too. Thanks for the post. It hit home for me.

  3. I found this to be very honest and insightful. Mu boyfriend and I live together, and I know that absolutely made it easier for me to start my business. Just knowing you won't be kicked out on the street makes things easier!

  4. I don't know if I would have started my businesses without being married. I *think* I needed the safety net - but since we are both entrepreneurs I guess it was really a false feeling of safety in terms of finances!

    Perhaps "safety" also comes from emotional support and encouragement as well, and for me that was/is even more important.

  5. When I co-founded The Savvy Actor, LLC, I was in a relationship. Unfortunately, I felt like it was all or nothing. When I focused on the relationship, the business suffered and vise versa. While my relationship was helpful in getting the business up and running, ultimately the relationship paid the price. That being said, I have a wonderful business partner who is married and we benefit tremendously from her husband's knowledge and input. I think the point is. It's import to find someone who relates with what you're doing...the ups and downs, as well as bounce ideas off of. (It seems like you have that to some extent in Beth Schoenfeldt.) It's not a married vs singles thing rather the creation of a support system. Much Success to You! You're doing great!!!

  6. I just met Risa of BCM in Vegas in September. I sat down next to her at Nobu and started chatting. I subsequently provided a gift for an auction she organized. Small world! As for the husband question - I have to say that I bounce most of my ideas off him. He's extremeny savvy financially so I respect his opinion and often find myself looking to him for advice.

    You can't run a successful business by being "an island". You need others, but it doesn't have to be a significant other. As long as it's someone you trust, support is support!

  7. Melanie,
    This is such an honest post, that poses important questions about us as women, what motivates us, and what truly lets us do what we want to do.

    As you know, I recently married. We dated while I was starting my first business, Katie James. Then, still dating, I started my second business, Collective-E. I was working on the website and sending newsletters from the wedding. ;)

    As a rule for myself as a person, as a possible mother of a child or children, I wanted to support myself and kids always. I'd watch people get divorced, and unhealthy marriages remain together for the sake of money. I vowed to never be that dependent on a husband. What if he died. What if we divorced. Anything.

    I was in a hard relationship for a long time, one that required most of my energy to go to the guy. When I left the relationship, I realized how much of myself I had lost, and I renewed the vow never to let that happen. One of the final breaking points was when I had moved to NYC, and started taking classes, on a whim, at FIT. Class was on a Saturday, and I scrambled to get sketches done each Friday night. He moved to NYC shortly after, and would be offended when I declined a Friday night date. Finally, I was doing something that made me so happy - sketching in a calm, creative place - that I put my foot down and got over the relationship. Took years!

    With my next serious boyfriend, who is now my husband, he is MUCH more supportive. His emotional support of course helped me develop and grow more strength. When we started dating, I lived in a 1 bedroom - the same apt we live in today. I could, and can still, afford the rent on my own. We split all bills. He does not help me financially with either business.

    Like funfelt said, there is the issue of balancing time between husband/family, and me/work. When he goes on a trip, beLIEVe me I get more done. Less guilt. I can work till 10pm without eating dinner, etc. I do not know if I'd be in the exact spot if he wasn't there for me to ramble to. I do know that I would still be working for myself, creating things to sell that create a life that supports me and my dog and two cats. Yes, I'm a pet mom. Not a people mom right now.

    The moms from the panel started something because 1. they needed more personal fulfillment out of of something they built, and 2. had a problem they wanted to solve. The problem solving was my take-away. Some problems I solve, and sell, are for my dog. The biggest passions in life can create wonderful things. Your problem solver was inspired by your nephew. These are all gifts, and they all work the way they work.

    I love the product you've created, b/c I am clueless as to what to get these new-mom-friends all around me. I am so glad you created this space, and created such interactive energy on it. ;)


  8. I'm not married, but I think it would make starting a business easier because then I could be on my husband's health insurance plan. Private insurance isn't very good and it's pretty expensive.

  9. Melanie, thanks so much for coming to our event, you looked really beautiful (another reason you are getting so many dates.)

    I loved reading your perspective and as someone who launched my first two businesses while single and my third while married with a child, I think that my primary motivation has always been to do something I love every day and have control of my life and that hasn't changed! My husband is supportive, but I also have a supportive family, amazing friends and a network of women entrepreneurs that have been there for me through it all. I have worked with thousands of women entreprenuers over the years and sometimes husbands are supportive and sometimes they are a major obstacle, sometimes they financially support the family but often, the woman builds a business and the husband ends up working for her and lately, recently, some husbands have lost their jobs so all the pressure ends up on the wife to grow or start her business to help support her family.

    Collective-E exists because we feel that you can't do it alone. Whether you get support from a husband, friend, parents, siblings, bloggers, or on Facebook or Twitter, building a supportive community is one of the primary components of success. Collective-E is growing to be a worldwide collective of women entrepreneurs and we are creating tools to harness the power of that community. We have seen that this exponentially increases opportunities, resources, ideas and most importantly FRIENDSHIP.

    Thanks again for coming to our event and I hope to see you at our holiday party and toy drive on December 2nd!

  10. These comments are great! Keep 'em coming!
    Auntie Melanie

  11. Great post Melanie.
    I asked my husband if he thought I would have started my company if I was alone. Both he and I think I would have. I crave adventure and learning - and I am not exactly risk averse. Even if I was alone I think I would have saved up and started my company.
    However, I do love and enjoy all the participation I get from my husband. We work in different worlds career wise, so that perspective change is immensely useful. And no, I would not have done this if I was a single mom - with two little kids I would have had no ability to take any risks if my husband was not a part of my life.

  12. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your experience. I have often wondered about all of these same questions. I'm not married and am in my early 30's. I know for sure that I have been in relationships that held me back and once released from them, my life took off in ways it wouldn't have in those relationships. I think the trick is to find that right person who can be an emotional support in your creative endeavors while not weighing your down. It's proven tough for me to find, but I do believe that guy is out there. And until I find him, I'm glad I've got friends and family who do celebrate with me!

  13. Reading a shared experience string like this can be the first big step toward putting our feet forward into our dreams. Thinking of all the women this can inspire, I thank you for this. There is a true sisterhood here, a welcome find on the Internet.

  14. So happy you are all here. This touched a nerve. Let's keep the conversation going!

  15. This is a great post - I started before I was married - but my now husband was my boyfriend and he did NOT support my becoming an entrepreneur. He didn't want to be the sole breadwinner in the household should we get married. We got in big fights about it and I even ditched him at a restaurant in Tribeca once :-). Four years later we're happily married, $1.3 M in the bank for the biz (which he negotiated the deal for) and he works for me as President and COO. While it's great to have him now because he cares about the biz as much as I do, in the beginning I funded myself - no help from a rich hubby.

  16. That's so interesting because when I met your husband I noticed how over the moon he was in love with you and in love with your biz as a team. I guess you both worked to get to that place. And now that I know the behind-the-scenes story, I'm even more proud and happier for you than ever! Thanks for sharing!


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