As an entrepreneur and a mother you need a steel resolve and almost epic determination. Running a business is a very scary thing and the unique challenges presented by motherhood have a tendency to further complicate an already complicated situation. This is a situation close to my heart, so I am always on the lookout for companies and websites that support mother entrepreneurs. I had the pleasure of speaking with Beth Smith, founder of Hybridmom.com. HybridMom.com focuses on providing a platform of support and resources for entrepreneurs that have taken the plunge into motherhood and business. This February the site launched an extension called Hybridmombazaar.com. The extension gives mom entrepreneurs the ability to sell their products and services to other mom’s and provide a way to do business that benefits everyone.
LC: ‘Can you give me a little background on you and how Hybrid Mom started’?
BS: ‘The bazaar has been in the works for many years, it’s a culmination of what mom entrepreneurs want and need. I started Hybrid Mom in 2006 with a few colleagues in the publishing world. All of us were stay at home moms at the time and we needed the flexibility to work and parent. It’s expensive to start a website or a business and the bazaar is a great way to test the market and test the product. It’s a great way to start a business without a lot of capital.
LC: ‘How has the site grown’?
BS: ‘Hybrid Mom was actually ahead of the curve. In the beginning I lived the life, working for years without pay, working 40 plus hours a week and raising my daughter. Women are looking for other options. They want to work on other terms and they want the work to be meaningful for them. So many women just want a way to do it; they are so excited they just wanted a way to do it.
LC: ‘Your site covers a range of subjects, was that intentional or did it just evolve as the site grew’?
BS: ‘It was an evolution. It has been a long journey, and you go through ups and downs. Editorially, as you know, you just need to speak to one person and we are trying to reach that entrepreneur or that working mom because how people shop is changing, moms are smart shoppers. They want great products with great prices, now commerce is powered by moms.
LC: ‘You have a category for men on your site; does that mean Hybrid Mom is men friendly’?
BS: ‘Initially if you asked me two years ago I wouldn’t have pictured it, but now there has been a shift in the way men look for information. They want articles on how to raise their ‘little princesses’ and how to parent. They are actively searching for information. Also some of our most popular articles are the relationship articles, about how to balance running a business and how to give time to everyone’.
LC: ‘Your site features member profiles that are handpicked by your staff, what makes a good background story’?
BS: ‘We try to focus on the average woman doing great things. We actively try to avoid celebrity stories because people are always inspired by a woman or a mom who is willing to take a chance. It’s letting other people know they have the option. I love seeing an entrepreneur say ‘I made my first sell!’
LC: ‘A lot of mom entrepreneurs hear that because they work at home, they don’t really have an office or they’re not taken seriously. How does your site help members combat this’?
BS: ‘Women need confidence. People will sometimes look down at them and say ‘oh, that’s your little hobby’ and we remind them that they are entrepreneurs. Women sometimes get intimidated by the word entrepreneur. So this site is all about inspiration and support. You know, it’s very hard to work from home. It is very isolating. To gain confidence, you have to network and you have to find that community outside of you.
LC: ‘In business men seem to be able to have a career and a family without having to choose, while women have almost an either or situation. Do you find that concern voiced with your members’?
BS: ‘Oh yes, it’s a very big concern. For men it’s almost like a straight line. For women the line becomes very complicated when you decide to have a child. What the bazaar does is allow women to keep a foot in the door through volunteering or doing part-time work. It’s a tough choice for so many women. A lot of women go back to jobs they don’t want to do because they have to. For a lot of women it’s not an option. So for the ones that have the opportunity to make a choice, I want this site to provide an opportunity for them to stay connected’.
LC: ‘Where do you want to take the site in the future’?
BS : ‘I want it be a place where any woman can come to create any situation that they want. I want for this to be a place for them to make ends meet doing something that they want to do.