Welcome to the Mom Owned Business Spotlight. In each installment, I will feature a new Mom Business Owner. I am so excited to show how different each business is as well as how everyone has different experiences and lessons that go along with entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur that started my business when my daughter was born, I am passionate about business ownership, as well as honoring the mom experience while growing your business.
Today, I am asking Ashley Gelfound 10 questions about business and family!
Tell me a little about yourself. Who do you share your life with?
I share my life with my wonderful hubby Mike, my 2 year old son Dylan, and my fur baby Milo.
How did you get into business? Did it just happen one day? Did you have an exit strategy from your day job? Do you still have a day job? I love to hear how women got their start in business!
It was kind of an accident how it happened. My background is in the Performing Arts. As an undergrad I doubled majored in English & Theatre and minored in Dance at Cal State Northridge. I then went on for my MA in Performance Studies from NYU as I initially wanted to go for a PhD to teach at a university. Well that didn’t work out for several reasons which is a whole other story. Anyway, the past jobs I’ve had I’ve always been a Planner in disguise and didn’t know it. For instance I worked at the Pasadena Playhouse for a few years as the Patrons Associate in which I assisted in overseeing all the front of house. Since it’s a small non profit theatre, this meant that I had my hands all over including assisting with opening and closing night parties, fundraiser galas, marketing and development events, and more. When I graduated with my MA I landed a job working at Guitar Center in the Travel & Expense Dept. The thing with the Travel & Expense Dept., is that you are a Planner in disguise because you are not just booking company travel, but also putting together the retreats, business meetings, Drum Off and Singer Song Writer competitions, and more. So that’s kind of where it started. But it never occurred to me that I could get paid as a Planner until I was planning my sister in law’s baby shower 4 years ago. I was having so much fun with the planning, but having to deal with the family drama became a full time job in itself. Some of my in laws are very eccentric which means that when there is a big occasion the personalities clash and I was having to deal with it. At the time I just kept repeating “I should get paid for this. I should get paid for this” because it was exhausting. Needless to say that’s when it hit, and I thought “I wonder if I could get paid for this.” Well I started doing a ton of research into the field, and shortly after I had my son in 2014 I basically took the plunge and opened shop. It’s been a slow process growing my business while working from home and raising a child, but I’m having fun and I love what I do. I’m determined to make this my full time career in a few years once we are through having kids and they are in school.
What makes you excited to “go to work” each day? What helps you push through the long days?
As of right now the way I like to put it is that I’m a full time mom and part time Event Planner. I love what I do. Being a full time mom consumed by Mickey Mouse, dirty diapers, little kid songs, and constant messes kind of puts you out of touch with reality. Having my business keeps me current and in the adult world. It also lets me escape the mommy role and gives me a break. Plus I can make my own hours. Usually when I have to meet with clients or work an event it’s on the off hours from when my husband works so we don’t have to pay for a baby sitter because he’s home to watch the little one. Being a full time mom and part time Event Planner can be exhausting, so I consider Starbucks my therapy. When I’m having a long day I take a trip to Starbucks and delight in a nice white mocha latte or caramel macchiato. I probably spend a little more there per month than I should but it’s what gets me through. I also do a lot of yoga which enables me to keep up with the toddler and work, so I can stay grounded, focused, and calm.
What is the hardest thing about being a mom and being in business for you? What tradeoffs do you make when trying to balance both?
The hardest part of being a full time mom and running my business is that I do not get a break. I’m always on the clock. When my son is napping that is when I’m getting work done. In addition, sometimes there are business calls I have to take during the day, and having a toddler talking in the background or the sound of Mickey Mouse on TV can make it sound unprofessional on the phone. In addition, sometimes when I have to meet with vendors during the week, I often have to take my son with me so I’m constantly juggling the mom role and work at the same time. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being able raise my son and not have to put him in day care full time if I were to go back to working a full time job. I love being able to take him to play dates, Gymboree, the library, the park, or other activities. I have the best of both worlds and feel blessed I can do this.
Tell me about your business! What do you do/make? Who are your ideal clients?
I’m an Event Planner and my ideal clients are really anyone that needs assistance planning or coordinating an event. Since I’ve only been in business a little over a year, the clients I’ve mainly been getting are wedding couples needing assistance with the planning or day of management. I love working weddings though because it’s such a happy occasion and there is just something about being able to play a role in someone’s special day that makes me so giddy inside. But as much fun as I have with weddings, I do eventually want to break into the non profit and corporate world. The thing with weddings is that you do not get repeat clients. But with non profits or corporate businesses, if you do a good job they’ll keep bringing you back which provides a little more steady income.
Where can we find your business online? Please include your social media links as well!
Where do you work geographically? Do you work from home, have an office?
I work from home. My home office is in Simi Valley, CA and I cover all of Los Angeles County and Ventura County when it comes to clientele.
For someone considering starting their own business, what advice would you give them? How would you encourage them
to start out?
My advice is to just get out and do it. You learn as you go. Sure you could go to college and get a business degree, or do tons and tons of research into the field before branching out on your own. But getting out and doing it teaches you more than all the study in the world. I would also encourage them to join a bunch of networking groups because it helps being among others in your field and comparing notes as well as clientele. It also makes you feel less lonely being out on your own, as it can be scary sometimes when you’re running a business by yourself. I belong to about 5 networking groups though, and they have been life changing. The networking groups I belong to have given me the courage that I
What do your kids think about your business? Do they think what you do is awesome?
Well my son is only 2 so I don’t think he quite fully understands what I do. But considering that what I’m doing enables me to stay home with him full time and he is a happy kid, then I’m sure he likes that.
Lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what change would you make, if any?
If I had it to do over, I would have started a little sooner. My son was born in August 2014, but I technically didn’t open shop till March of 2015. If I had started say around October of 2014, I could have jumped on the 2014 engagement season bandwagon which is in November and December. So it wouldn’t have taken me as long to get a client. Even though I opened in March of 2015, I didn’t get my first 2 clients till November of 2015. But liven and learn.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Ashley. If you have questions for Ashley, ask them in the comments below! Thanks for checking out this installment of the Mom Owned Business Spotlight!