For all its joys, being a hands-on mom can be a relentless, exhausting, and sometimes even thankless role. You can go from moments of love and contentment to feeling like you’re stuck in a “Groundhog Day” scenario of ear-splitting cries and soiled nappies.
So it’s no surprise that more and more we are seeing mothers, both seasoned expats and recent arrivals, taking advantage of the industrious climate that exists here in Beijing and starting up unique businesses. They’re breaking free from the “trailing spouse” label that so often gets attached to moms who have had to give up their own careers for the sake of their husbands’ deployment in China and finding a sense of accomplishment and purpose in entrepreneurship.
We need a sense of progress to keep us feeling motivated and energized. It is important to look back, at the end of the day, week or year, think about what we’ve accomplished, and enjoy a sense of achievement at a job well done.
We talked to three Beijing moms about how they decided to take things to the next level by setting goals and building businesses for themselves, and how they balanced the conflicting demands of being a mom and an entrepreneur.
Creator, Piece of Cake
Polina Savelyeya-Gumbu came to China 11 years ago as a student to study the Chinese language, but ended up staying. She loves the opportunities and diversity that Beijing offers.
Savelyeya-Gumbu has a deep passion for creativity in the kitchen, and this had translated into her taking lessons at a pastry school to explore her love of baking. It so happened that she finished her baking course just before the arrival of her firstborn baby girl. After three months of caring for the baby, she decided to post her first advertisement for personalized cakes and desserts.
When we asked her what inspired her to start her business, she replied:
“I grew up in a family of businesswomen, and always saw hardworking women around me. I always loved desserts, the beauty of it, textures, and flavors. I saw people getting excited for cake and pastry, and I felt excited to make it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I rarely eat what I make, but the joy of people getting great dessert makes me happy and motivates me.”
In Savelyeya-Gumbu’s world, success is being able to do what you love, really really well.
We asked how she manages both her family and work life.
“I have a great husband who supported me from the beginning,” she said. “I always value his opinion on each cake or dessert I make. My now two-year-old daughter helps me make decorations. I learned to include my family into what I do. It lets us spend more quality time together.”
Gumbu also keeps herself accountable to her goals, with the help of a vision board and business plan. This helps her check in on a daily basis with where she’s going, and how much she has accomplished along the way. It’s a great visual motivational tool, she told us.
Savelyeya-Gumbu’s advice for wannabe Mompreneurs:
– Don’t let fear get the better of you. Yes, it’s hard to manage everything, but you’ve got this!
– Help your kids understand that what you do, is for them to get to know you better – your passions, strengths, and skills. It will inspire them … and they might even pitch in!
– Include your family in your work where possible, so that they’re sharing in its successes or failures alongside you.
Each mom we talked to found their own path, and for many, mothering and family management are challenge enough. However, if their stories have inspired you to reach out to that part of yourself that dreams those sometimes silent dreams, then be reassured that even the most successful women were exactly where you are now. Remember that everything is “figureoutable!” Work for what you love and try to make the process joyful.
As the poet Cleo Wade says: “The beauty of you is not where you are perfect. It’s where you are fearless.” Go forth and be brave, Mama!
This article appeared in the beijingkids November 2018 Beijing Makers issue
Photos: Courtesy of Polina Savelyeya-Gumbu