By VAL OLIVAS, Four Points News
Mommapreneurs of Austin is a newly formed professional networking group in Four Points made up of women building their careers while working to maintain the balance of family life.
The group boasts some 50 members, each representing her profession with nominal overlap of expertise within the group. (Directory listed below.)
Businesses vary in goods and services from health and wellness, kids’ haircuts, financial consulting, children’s toys and activities, cosmetics, to medical practices.
MOA founders are Brandy Harrison, Debbie Swanston, Carrie Harper and Alina Sholar. The group was born on the grounds of Bella Mar Park in Steiner Ranch. With one child in the pool and more on the swings, the moms began talking about how to ease back into the professional workforce while maintaining their desire to be available to their families.
One goal of the group is to familiarize the businesses among its members, resulting in greater pathways for lead generation.
The monthly meetings offer members the opportunity to present their businesses to the group with a 10-minute presentation. This format will continue on a rotating basis until all businesses have been introduced.
In addition to business networking, the women in the group are building a social network focused on supporting moms who are potentially struggling with the common challenge of achieving a positive work-life balance.
“We thought it was too hard to get together during the day because some still have babies. Why not meet in the evening and have wine? Talk about our businesses and struggles; how hard it is to manage a family and have our businesses, have something for us. We really enjoy helping others as well,” said Harrison, a residential and commercial realtor with HD Realty Team.
Traditional networking groups require large entrance and monthly fees to join. With the plethora of professional moms in the neighborhood, Harrison felt there wasn’t a need to pay for a service they could easily provide to each other for free. “Many of us are in the same stage of returning to the workforce and are hungry for [this group].”
MOA will target different businesses to increase social media presence for them. Each member’s business card is entered into a drawing at the meetings. The business of the card drawn is promoted by the group in their own Facebook feeds.
Harrison believes networking steps like this planned “Facebook blast” will greatly increase visibility to members’ businesses. “With each person having 300-1,000 Facebook friends, sharing the business just once could potentially reach thousands of new customers. Keeping an eye out for folks requesting referrals for automotive repair or tax preparers on Facebook pages like Steiner Ranch-Small Business is an easy way to refer members of the MOA group as well,” said Harrison.
Another goal of the MOA group is to provide business education to its members. Going forward, top-notch business coaches and inspiring entrepreneurs will be invited to speak at meetings offering the group their insight and lessons learned.
“When you are a [start-up] every penny counts, and networking and advertising can be so expensive,” said Sholar, a plastic surgeon who owns Sage & Sweetgrass Wellness Spa in Steiner. “We were not only looking for a way to enhance awareness of each of our businesses, but to do so in a way that didn’t bust the budget.”
Sholar also believes the MOA group is better suited to understand the struggle of small business owners where large networking groups falls short. She has offered her spa at 4500 Steiner Ranch Blvd. as an assembly place in which to host the MOA meetings.
MOA is an evolving group. Growth is anticipated based on professions represented.
“Change is good. We need balanced personalities (and to receive) everyone’s input,” said Harrison. “We support each other through these (transitional) times. I have not done my dishes in three days because I’ve been showing houses for hours on end. It’s a safe place to talk about this kind of thing.”
MOA plans to eventually set demographic boundaries on this group while rolling out additional chapters throughout the city. Member Barbara Castro—Nando’s Cookies owner—lives in south Austin and is considering spawning a chapter of her own to accommodate similar needs in her area.
The group is multi-national with members hailing from England, South Africa and Bulgaria to name a few, but most now reside in the Four Points area, and several women are members of the Four Points Chamber of Commerce.
Harrison notes meeting attendance is mandatory, and commitment to the group is important. To be considered as a Mommapreneurs of Austin member, send a Facebook private message to any founding member.
Mommapreneurs of Austin Business Directory
Red Cottage Kitchen
Dr. Sumita Chakraborti
Quinlan Park Dental
Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids
Bank of Texas Mortgage
HD Realty Team
Words by Val
Flagg Financial Group
Christy Duffell Seguin
Beth S. Roberts
Rodan + Fields Dermatologists
Studio Mama B.
Dr. Alina D. Sholar, MD
Sage & Sweetgrass Wellness Spa
T’s City Chic
Ice Interior Design
The Hatter Tea Co.
Spanish For All Austin, L.L.C
April’s Balanced Fitness
Gallo & Spence Toys
Stella & Dot
She Shines Wellness
BTAS-Bargsley, Totaro CPAs
Citron Soap Co.
www.citronsoap.com (coming soon)
Gardening on the Edge