Tampa "Mompreneurs" share secrets (and struggles) when doing it all
Updated: Jul 13
As they feed kids with one hand and email clients with the other, Tampa's "mompreneurs"-- entrepreneurs who are also mothers-- are making serious business moves.
And with Tampa being both a family-friendly city AND the number one city in the country for female entrepreneurs, it makes sense that women who juggle both are becoming more common.
Among Yamel Belen's many roles, she is the founder of One Love Doula Services, a team of doulas and birth professionals helping women in the area. She's owned the business for a few years now and manages to run it while being a mother to five children.
"Unplugging is very important. One of the days that's very important to us is Sundays. Maybe because it's a day of praise and worship, but it's sacred to us. The best way to maintain that healthy balance is to dedicate time to your family. The more that you submerge yourself in your business, you're going to be unhappy. "
As the president of the Tampa Bay Birth Network, Yamel is a key fixture in the city's birth community.
"I don't think people realize just how much support there is here." For women considering starting a business, Yamel says that Tampa has "so much support. If you feel isolated, it's because you're not putting yourself out there. You have such a strong network here."
And while Yamel gives back by supporting new moms, others are finding their own ways to connect with working mothers.
Lori Vella is an estate planning and business attorney.
"I specialize in helping other moms like myself determine 'who's gonna take care of my kids'."
She helps parents draft wills and trusts.
"I was meant to do this. I had my baby boy one month before I turned 40 and he literally changed everything for me. I was hanging out with the single gals and now suddenly I was hanging with mothers and I'd never spent time with them before. And that's when I realized no one has anything in place if something happens to us-- who would take care of our kids?"
In addition to helping women professionally, Lori started North Tampa Moms a Facebook group to help moms like her connect with each other. Lori says she'd approach women who were shopping for diapers at Target and begin chatting with them and, before long, they admitted they were lonely and looking for support.
"Believe it or not, I'd approach women -- like, when you have your own little black book-- and I started collecting names. And I'd say 'Hey, I'm starting this group...' It can be lonely being a mom. Your parents may not understand, sometimes spouse doesn't understand, some of your friends may not get it-- but to talk to another woman who gets it. First we talk about the kids, and then we asked "What do you do?" and over time we start talking about who we are. There are women have met each other [through the group] and have become best friends."
Both Yamel and Lori are proud to live, work, and raise their children in Tampa. And it's that same Tampa pride that inspired another "mompreneur" to start her business.
Francessca Randall is a real estate agent and the founder of Reid and Lou, a specialty apparel company that provides Tampa pride shirts for everyone from infants to adults.
"I love this city. Being in real estate during the day, I'm one of the first to know about all that Tampa has to offer and that lets me have a first look, and it makes me really appreciate where I live. But whenever I would go to find cute little shirts and things to rep Tampa for my kids, I couldn't find anything."
And that's how Reid + Lou was born.
While Francessca loves her job as a realtor, creating new designs for her apparel company excites her-- and word has gotten out.
"We only have a few followers on Instagram, and we only launched a few weeks ago, but we've already sold out more than once."
And it's the inspiration she needed in a world with demands to juggle work, children, and marriage.
Francessca spoke to the struggle of choosing which route to take as a mother.
When asked about common misconceptions that exist about working moms, Francessca paused, and answered earnestly:
"I think one misconception is that stay-at-home moms and working moms judge each other. But it's all hard work. You have to do what works for you and your family, and what makes you happy. "
Francessca's sentiments of the challenges to balance and combat misconceptions is in line with what research says about the stress American working mothers face. But with support networks, many mothers find the challenges are less daunting.
"I joined a group where I met amazing women and it's nice to have two worlds. I've met many stay-at-home moms who've become my friends, and our situations are different but it's nice to have that common ground."`
And when it comes to thriving in both business and motherhood, the key is focus and intention. Lori Vella shares how she gets it done:
"I had to develop segments of time when I'm really intentional. So I have to take care of myself . I get up early, make promises to myself for the day. I try to stay off social media but that's hard as a business owner, but when I'm done, I shut off. My son and I, we swim, play Legos. When I'm done with work, I'm completely focused on him. And when I'm working I never say, 'I'm busy'. I say 'Mommy's helping other mommies right now, so I'm getting on a call.' I explain because I want him to be invested in the idea that I'm doing something for both of us."
And while it's challenging maintaining it all, Lori's outlook may be one more mothers need to adopt:
"It's difficult but I'm doing the best that I can and I'm learning something new every day about how to be more present."
And that's all that any mom could really ask for.