Momtrepreneurs Break the Business Mold

Interested in carving out your own family friendly business? Find out how these three Sonoma moms made it happen.


Don’t get me wrong, being a mother is the best job I have ever had. But sometimes I wish I could bring in a little (who's kidding, a lot) of money and still be there to pick my kids up from school. 

The career flexibility required for parenting is why more and more modern moms are founding their own businesses. According to a study conducted by Working Mother Magazine, more than half of the almost 4,000 moms polled said they would prefer to work in a non-traditional arrangement.

Every mother has a similar debate the moment their child is born: do you return to work or carve out your own employment? Here are three Sonoma moms on the cutting edge; they've figured out how to successfully meld their work life and home life by founding a business.

Michele Lynch: Girl Friday

The Why:  “Before I had my daughter, who is now 3 and 1/2 years-old, I had been an executive assistant for roughly 9 years.  When I decided to go back to work, I wanted to be able to use my skills and have flexibility to be with my family. It wasn't until a friend had passed on a job lead to me that the wheels started spinning.”

The How: Lynch's previous career involved doing a multitude of tasks at a moments notice. “No task was ever too large or too small for me to take on," said Lynch, "so I thought I would see how it would go if I were to market myself as the go-to-gal for people who needed an extra hand.  I also wanted to add an additional element of baking.  I love to bake, especially cupcakes, and wanted to be able to sell them on a small scale. And thus, Girl Friday was born.”

Juggling: Lynch says she likes the flexibility of making her own hours but trying to juggle it all can be a challenge. To balance work and parenting she tries to work in the evenings and when her daughter is in preschool. 

The Future: Goals for 2012: Becoming a certified Notary, taking on new clients and entering a baking contest.

Sandi Nalezny:  Photographer
(the website, www.sandie-exposed.com, launches March 1)

The Why: Nalezny made a slightly different leap, taking her photography hobby and turning it into her own business.

The Juggle: ”Trying to sell is the part that takes dedicated time," says Nalezny, "often the hours I find are late night and early morning - I like to be alone when I review and assess what I've taken. But a major pro would be the fact that I DO find time to hike and bike and explore the little world around me.

So far she and her husband have found a happy medium when it comes to care of their eight year old son. They are able take turns with pick up and drop off of after school activities and her husband does all the cooking since he is a chef. She is also an active member of the Sonoma Valley Rotary Club meeting every Wednesday for a networking lunch and is on the Board for Community Service projects.The Successes: She successfully landed her first photography show at the Sunflower Caffe, which will be up until the end of February. “The build up took many hours of reviewing and organizing photos, deciding which ones to have printed, and on which medium but that show has been the greatest exposure to my business," she said.

The future: Goals for 2012: Committing the rest of each Wednesday to promoting her photography business.  “Ideally I'd like my photos to be featured in homes around the valley - as well as spas, hotels, bed and breakfasts, wineries and restaurants," she said.

Jeannette Tomany: Republic Of Thrift

The Why: Tomany started her business during a brainstorming session with her sister:  a storefront that would donate 100% of the profits back to the public schools in Sonoma Valley.  “We both love thrifting and it seemed like a great idea," said Tomany. "It isn't a new idea of course, but turning unwanted goods into cash for our public schools made sense.  Our cause is what drives people to support us with their donations.  Our great prices will keep the shoppers coming back!”

The How: Her store has only been open for about two weeks and even though she is currently putting in 80 hour weeks, she loves “the challenge and excitement of creating something new and (hopefully) watching it succeed.  I have never owned a business before, so I would say pride is a huge factor.  When I look around the store and see people excited about finding a little treasure or a good deal, it makes me really happy!”  

The Juggle: Tomany has had a tremendous amount of help from friends and family to juggle the responsibilities of her 7-year-old son. She has found her biggest challenge is getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly that isn’t fast food!

The Future: Goals for 2012: "We will do whatever it takes to become successful, profitable and paying out to our schools," she said. She also wants to expand her market, and become a thrift shopping destination for Sonoma and the surrounding areas.

Lindsey Ladd February 16, 2012 at 03:32 AM
You go girls!!
Rena B February 16, 2012 at 02:26 PM
So agree with Lindsey. And I have to say that the cupcakes in the photo look amazing!!!
Sharon February 16, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Great article, really enjoyed it!
Lori Bigelow February 26, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I've seen Sandie's photos many times and each picture captures something that brings on a new feeling I can't always explain. Glad to see these women sharing their work with all the rest of us.
LaRae Meadows March 02, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Am I the only one who finds "Momtrepreneurs" pretty darned insulting. Why are business owners who are fathers not called "poptrepreneur"? These women built business and are demeaned in the business world by being thought of as a baby machine first, business person second. It really is quite insulting. I am a woman who owns a business. If I were to pop-out a human, would I be called a momtrepreneur or would I be allowed to be thought of as a business woman, an entrepreneur? Are we seriously back in the time when women could only ever be defined by anything other than her children if she didn't have any? Are these women just working for "pin money"? I am proud of these women for being able to balance such hard things. We should not demean their accomplishments by treating them like kept women who figured out how to pay for their nylons.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »