From Teen Mom to Small Business Owner
When people comment on how young I look or that I can’t possibly have a daughter who’s over 24, I typically smile and respond along the lines of, Trust me. I remember giving birth to her.
Eight Months of Insanity
The school year I got pregnant with my daughter was somewhat of a blur. I carried on like normal, as if I weren’t pregnant, pretending like the pregnancy would go away. That year, I even took extra classes by taking before and after school courses. I’ll boldly tell you right now, I was a smart cookie, even back then. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, but I knew whatever I decided, I’d do well.
I talk about being smart, but I made some very unwise choices back then. Honestly, I still don’t know why my teenage brain let me do things it was telling me I shouldn’t do. Not only did I let myself get pregnant, knowing I didn’t want to have children and definitely not at 17, but I was one of the silly girls who hid her pregnancy. Oh… and when I said I hid it… I hid it.
When I hit 6 months, schoolmates had started to question. My mother even asked me at one point. I denied my pregnancy. My mother and I had a wonderful relationship, and she trusted everything I said. So, when I said I wasn’t pregnant, that was the truth to her. She and friends of the family decided I’d finally begun to put some meat on my bones. At 5’4″ and 112 pounds, I’d been a scrawny thing. I don’t know why I was still trying to hide the growing obvious.
My deception lasted another 2 months before I came clean. I still remember the soft leather jacket I ALWAYS wore out, along with a sweater in the ever-increasingly hot spring days. Why? To better to hide myself, my dear. We were getting our hair done, and I’d managed to push myself out of the salon chair. Not nearly as agile at 8 months of pregnant, not as capable of hiding the belly bulge.
My mom finally asked me asked me again if I was pregnant, and I finally told the truth. It was hard watching my mom cry. It’s still hard for me to think about it. I’m not sure if she was more hurt that I’d lied to her so long and didn’t share something that big with her or that I’d gotten pregnant at all and the consequences of it all. I imagine it was the former.
The only thing I remember my dad saying when he found out was something along the lines of me being an adult now. That hurt me more than anything. It was like a death sentence. As if nothing else in my life would ever be great. The best years of my life were behind me.
I’m so thankful I had my mom, because she had the opposite viewpoint. She told me I was still a child. She said everyone was doing “it.” I just happened to get caught. And she said she’d do everything she could to make sure I had a childhood.
Thank you, Mom
Apparently, not having prenatal care was a bigger thing than I’d thought. The doctors pulled me out of school and put me on
house arrest bed rest. I ended up having to drop all but 4 core classes. I had to give up my job. Would you believe I was a courtesy clerk at a grocery store throughout my pregnancy? I pulled carts inside (this was before they had those machines that let you pull thousands at a time). I ran down the aisles doing price checks… well, not run… jogged at 8 months pregnant. Anyway… when I came clean, I had to give up a lot.
I wasn’t sure I was going to keep the baby at first. One thing I knew for certain, I definitely didn’t want to raise a boy. Though I’d consider a girl. Don’t criticize my thought process. I was young. My father furious that I’d give up a boy for adoption. He said if I had a boy, he’d adopt him. I was really blessed, because I ended up with a girl.
My daughter changed my life. I truly didn’t know what love was until after I had her. She taught me how to love. It was as if all the other love I’d had in my life was superficial… like I was going through the motions and saying the words to appease everyone. Then my daughter came along and my world opened up. She truly is my first love.
She’s the reason I wanted more children. Before her I’d never wanted children. Now I have two other children (a daughter and a son). I absolutely love being a mom. I’ve had quite a bit of opportunities to be a stay-at-home mom, raising each one them. Truly am blessed.
Being a stay-at-home mom has offered me quite a bit of free time. Raising children has never seemed to be enough for me.
Mary Kay. My road to entrepreneurship started in 1996/1997 when I became a Mary Kay consultant. I’d originally wanted to be a Pampered Chef consultant, after attending a party. I wanted to fill my kitchen with Pampered Chef products. Becoming a consultant seemed like the most economical way of doing it. I’d shared my interest on the way back home with a gal from the party. She happened to be a Mary Kay consultant and convinced me what a wonderful opportunity it would be.
Though I learned quite a bit about skin care, and still take great care of my skin after 2 decades, Mary Kay really wasn’t what I’d wanted. I decided to return to the workforce after my Mary Kay experience. This is why it’s so important to chase your true desires and know what you truly want. You’ll save yourself quite a bit of time, as you’ll see from my later experiences.
Lesson Learned: Pursue your true desired and don’t be distracted by the paths of others.
Pampered Chef. A decade later, I remarried and attended another Pampered Chef party. Once again, I fell in love with the product. Unlike before, I didn’t let myself be dissuaded. I became a consultant. Even to this day, I am so happy I did. By selling Pampered Chef products, earning rewards, and even winning items, I was able to fill my kitchen with everything I wanted plus some.
I’m no longer a consultant. While my Pampered Chef products are precious to me, for some reason, they’re not so precious to others. I’ve had my mother leave plastic wear on hot stoves to melt. My husband has taken his anger out on pieces or just been plain careless. *sigh* It makes me think about rejoining to fill my kitchen.
My Pampered Chef experience taught me the importance of having goals as a business owner. My goal was to fill my kitchen with the products. I made a checklist of everything I wanted and pushed hard to check every single box.
Lesson Learned: Set goals and have a way to measure your progress. That way you know when you’ve hit the market.
Authorship. After Pampered Chef, I decided to become an author. I’d been a reader for as long as I could remember. So… I decided to try my hand at writing. Eventually, I took the next step and published my works under the pseudonym Reena Jacobs. I’m not too shabby. My readers say I’m a high 3- to low 4-star writer.
One thing I realized early off is my writing wasn’t for everyone. I would say most of my reviews are positive because I took care in whom I marketed my books. When I sought book reviews, I made sure the bloggers I targeted read my genre or enjoyed similar books.
Beyond that, being sure my books were of high quality was important also. I researched, edited, had others help me edit. I put a lot of work into making sure my books were ready to go to market. Now, that doesn’t mean the books are perfect. From time to time, I’ll reread sections and find errors. Have high quality, but don’t be hampered by perfectionism. 🙂
Lesson Learned: Know your target market. Provide high quality, but know when to release your baby into the world.
Financial Advising. This is more of a hybrid entrepreneurship opportunity. I was a financial advisor for short stent for a large corporation. As a financial advisor for this organization, I operated independently. They fed me the line that my financial success was only limited by me… or something like that. As with all things in life, we can limit ourselves or push ourselves to success.
I enjoyed learning about investments. However, most of the time I felt like they were trying to put me through a trial. They pressured me to work in the least opportune area, using the most archaic techniques. Now, I’m not laying blame here. If others were able to use the system and make it work, so could I. However, my heart wasn’t into it. The long hours, pounding the pavement like a door-to-door salesman… not my cup of tea.
Needless to say, that position didn’t last long.
Work life balance truly became important to me after that experience. I’d worked harder than I’d ever worked before (other than maybe in the army) and got little satisfaction out of it.
Lesson Learned: Prioritize what’s important.
Today’s Entrepreneurial Woman
That brings us to today. I decided to start Backbone America after being laid off from my Business Advisor position at the SBDC. A few things entered my mind with starting my business.
- It was the second layoff I’d had and the worst. The employer ended my department’s contracts prematurely, but gave us absolutely no compensation in the process. We were simply blind-sided with a 2-week notice (because they’d found some policy that said they HAD to give us 2 weeks). I guess our contracts meant nothing. I felt it was disrespectful, after the hard work we’d put into the place. I wasn’t ready to go back to an employer, with my faith in corporate America shaken like that.
- I thought to myself… what could I do, if I put in the kind of work for my own company, as I’d done for others? The outcome seemed pretty good.
- It’d be nice to work by my own rules, for once. I wanted to be able to make decisions and take actions that were purely my own. I wanted to work without conflict with myself. To go in the direction I wanted to go and pursue the activities I wanted to pursue.
And so, I set off on my own. I woke up the next day and filed the registration paper to operate Backbone America.
Lesson Learned: Invest in oneself.
My life hasn’t been perfect. Being a teen mom was just one of the many challenges I’ve faced in life. I know you have your own challenges. On thing that I’ve learned is sometimes you have to create your own opportunities, keep your eyes out for opportunities, and simply know what’s best for yourself. Above all, take the first step on the path to living the life you want. Today I ask you: