I have always admired moms who seem to do it all. That’s why we launched MOMPRENEUR MONDAYS on the New Mom, Who Dis? Instagram Page- so we could celebrate small businesses run by moms. Now we want to help YOU make YOUR entrepreneurial dreams a reality by launching this MOMSPO column.
I’m talking to inspiring mompreneurs every week to see how they started their businesses, in hopes these conversations will provide some knowledge or insight or just that push you need to start something from the ground up. This week it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Amanda Penner of heyfolks. Read, share, be inspired.
JESSI: What inspired you to start this business?
Amanda – When I began making soft-soled baby shoes in my home, the intent was never to start a business. I began giving them as gifts to friends and family who were having babies. Requests started coming in and my husband Jeff wanted to try his hand at making a website. From there it sort of just snowballed!
JESSI: What was your biggest fear about starting something on your own?
Amanda – Failure, and that there would be people who don’t like what I’m doing. (PS, both those things have happened multiple times and it turns out they have been integral to our growth and made our business stronger)
JESSI: It’s one thing to have an idea or a dream, it’s another thing to go out and make it happen- what gave you that push you needed to say, F*CK IT, I’M DOING THIS!
Amanda – I quit my ‘regular job’ a few months into starting the business. When our first son was born, Jeff took a year of leave from his job and we made a goal of growing the business into something that could support our family. That was the year that we really, REALLY made it all go. Once that year was up, Jeff quit his job and there was no going back. I suppose the ‘push’ was that there was no more ‘Plan B’.
JESSI: I hate asking moms this question (because dads NEVER get asked) but how DO you balance it all? What does your day-to-day look like?
Amanda – After 7+ years into this thing, I still have not found balance. In fact, as I write this at the kitchen table, my kids are yelling “can you skip the ad!” on their show (one is home from school with a runny nose, and the other is three years old). It’s a big beautiful mess and we take it one day at a time. I try my best to be present with my kids on non-scheduled ‘work days’, and when my kids are in school and childcare, I make the most of my time. We built our shoe factory in our town and our kids have spent a lot of time there, ‘helping’ aka making messes, but it’s all part of running our family business.
JESSI: What has been the most challenging part?
Amanda – Building and running a shoe factory, without any prior knowledge of what that entails. Throw in a pandemic and then sprinkle allll that with a bit of mom-guilt.
JESSI: What has been the most rewarding part?
Amanda – Connecting with our customers. In the beginning, we did every and any market/craft fair we could get into. We met so many amazing people and have seen these little babies grow up in our shoes. It’s been amazing to be able to offer another style of shoe for them to grow into now as well (the Voyageur sneakers) and we love that we get to offer comfy shoes for their parents now too!
JESSI: What advice would you give to a fellow mom who is thinking of starting her own business?
Amanda – Would saying “Just Go For It!” be to cliché? haha! I would say, be prepared to put the work in. Growth will not come easily and if it does at first, know that there will be hard times too. Find a group of like-minded Mamas who can cheer you on and that you can vent to and look to for advice.