“My Mother-In-Law said, ‘I got you something.’ I just remember going through it and getting nervous, it was a big bag of boy clothes, so much blue and navy! I told her, ‘Ma you can’t return any of these, I don’t know if it’s a boy or girl.’ My Mother-In-Law then informed me, ‘It’s a boy.’” Kim wasn’t convinced and asked, “‘Do you want to put money on it?’ Her Mother-In-Law replied, ‘…yeah, I’ll put money on it!’” The friendly wager led Kim Jolasun towards a big idea. To modernize how we announce, celebrate and support new babies.
Nurture Your Idea
With kids, entrepreneurial pursuits can be scary. The time and income are usually unpredictable. And little humans are expensive! But Kim, while pregnant with her first, chose entrepreneurism in a new industry and city. How? She negotiated a reduced work schedule then invested in professional development and self-care by asking for help. Ambition feels inconsistent with hands-on Motherhood in most fields. So more women, seeking growth and flexibility, start businesses to outsmart the system.
Experiment & Gain Support
Kim said, “…There hadn’t been a girl in my husband’s family for almost 20 years!” She explained with each pregnancy, how excited they get to break the all-male streak. Kim decided to bring her friends into the game, “I put an image on social media that said, ‘Our baby bet, boy or girl? Cash money! The winner gets something at the baby shower.’ I had completely forgotten about it. Later, when I checked my Paypal account, there was $300! We didn’t tell anyone the gender until the drawing at our shower and gave the winner a Fitbit. We made $1,000 plus gifts.” Wow! Kim added, “I now know this was called an MVP.” In business, creating a minimally viable product (MVP) is a low-cost way to test early-stage ideas.
Test and Make it Better
Kim needed feedback and invited a pregnant colleague, “I said you should try this crazy thing! Her family is Mexican, and her husband’s family is from the Caribbean. My family is African, and I wanted to see if a family from a different background would do this.” Brilliant! She added, “I made the image for them to put on social media and kept an excel spreadsheet to track everything.” She said, “We’ve had families from just about every demographic now. Generally, most cultures do give at a major life event like a wedding or baby coming and this is just another way to do it.” Bravo. Kim realized the game would work better if she could automate it. Of course, launching a new product means dealing with the unexpected.
Learn to Navigate Surprises
When asked about the inevitable surprises, Kim said, “…There were days the website just didn’t work. I was having a conniption because I was holding people’s money! But they were, strangely, very forgiving. But these were also pregnant moms, at an exciting time in life, full of risks and questions. The whole process made me fall in love with my demographic!” She added, “…If you’re really providing value with your products, your initial customers will be very forgiving, I think that’s how you know you’ve got something.” Amazing. I had to ask, what was harder, having a baby or starting a business?
Motherhood vs. Entrepreneurship? Get Support for Both!
Kim didn’t hesitate and said, “…The new business! The baby is almost predictable. Once I figured out nursing and pumping and the 6 things the baby needs, there’s a schedule. I can do that. But, in the business world, there are so many different factors and emotions and moving parts.” True. Kim admitted, “The transition has been very, very, hard. I’m in a tech city and everyone wants you to be a ‘unicorn’ and have traction fast. And I’m in a whole new field. For 3 months, I knew nothing about what anyone was talking about.” Kim added, “I had to immerse myself. I think I went from idea, to MVP with customers, in a year. The deadline was the baby coming!” She admits, the intensity both helped and hurt. “Even taking 3 months, during my husband’s slow season, to attend this (start-up) accelerator has been hard. I just leapt into it. But I’m literally taking it one day at a time.” How does she manage the tough days?
Build Your Tribe & Know When to Ask for Help
Kim lined up support in advance. She told her inner circle, “I’m about to do this crazy thing, if it doesn’t go well, then I’ll need your help. Sign here!” Her tribe helps her manage the chaos of start-up and new Mom life. Kim said, “My husband is first for the good news and the bad news. I also have a very small group of close girlfriends, they’re the God moms who know zero about the business, but care about everything else. That’s the second line of defense. …The third line of defense are my founder friends. …They get those emails no one else would understand. Then it’s family. That’s the tribe.” Kim wisely asks for support when she needs it. She said, “…For my immediate girlfriend circle, if I need a break, I’ll say ‘I’m booking everyone’s ticket, were going to Miami for the weekend.’ Sometimes, it’s been, ‘Can I leave the baby with you for a week so I can meet with an investor in LA?’” Kim added, “With my founder friends, it’s ‘please help me re-read this email or pitch deck for the 16th time.” Can self-care happen with a new baby and company?
Enjoy Self-Care, Boss-Mom Style
Kim said, “I get my nails done, I do my hair and I’ll go out for an amazing dinner with anyone. With the baby, with my husband or with my Mother-In-Law, with anyone!” She added, “And I exercise. Especially with new-Mom-bod. Although I knew my body would change, nobody told me I’d lose a bunch of weight while nursing! And then (what happens) when you stop. …That was hard too.” Why yes. She added, “…I do these things weekly to stay sane.” Amen! An important part of growth is learning. How does she make space for it?
Navigate (and Anticipate) the Learning Curve
Kim has accomplished a lot quickly but is open about the challenges. “Starting in the tech space has been the hardest because I’m not technical.” She was also unaware of the initial expenses. “You would expect starting a restaurant that there are physical things to buy. With tech, it’s this invisible product but there are a lot of costs associated with it that took me by surprise.” The lack of diversity, in an industry where your network often makes the difference in funding, tends to present a circular problem for women and people of color. Kim was candid with her observations.
Stand Your Ground. There’s Room for You!
Although it’s improving, female-led businesses still capture less than 3% of Venture Capital funds and for women of color it’s a fraction of that. Kim feels supported in her local community but observes the limitations of traditional funding. “Whenever I apply to anything, they ask me about a ‘friends and family round.’ … This does not exist for us! My grandmother didn’t leave me $60,000 to start anything, if anything I’m helping to pay for her rent. So, there’s always catching up I have to do because I’m a woman and coming from the first generation.” Most of us from immigrant families can relate. Kim said, “The biggest pushback has been around who I’m serving. Targeting pregnant Moms is not as sexy right now to people as investing in AI and cryptocurrency. When I say, ‘Moms’ eyes roll.” Although Moms overwhelmingly control household spending, we’re routinely underestimated. Kim shared, “At the accelerator we had to do ‘investor tapas’ (which is) like speed dating. I remember this one guy, when I would explain the company, I would say, ‘Moms. Moms, Moms!’ And then he would say, ‘and Dads’ each time. I never corrected myself. He said there are two people involved in this process Kim and I said, Okay.” Our needs differ. That doesn’t invalidate the importance of Dads. Kim refuses to be jaded and credits her openness with shortening the learning curve.
Stay Naïve and Open
Kim said, “I think being naive has really worked in my favor. I did everything manually, for a long time, because I didn’t know there was another way to do it! Starting that way has taught me so much!” She added, “Even how I communicate with my Moms. I sent individual text and email messages. By doing that, I was able to get so much insight, including that they don’t read emails.” So true. Kim credits this with her ability to move fast now, “I didn’t have the barriers of doing ‘what I was supposed to do’ and did what felt right.” Yes!
Families are having fun with the modern gender reveal and Kim is thrilled to grow her business and begin to build a team. If you’re curious about the outcome, of the wager with her Mother-In-Law, she did have a baby boy.
Many thanks to the talented Kim Jolasun!
Share your pandemic experiences! How are the latest changes affecting your life? It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
Employers, let us help you transform your workplace into an environment where caregivers thrive. Learn about Allies @ Work.