3 Important Lessons On Career & Motherhood
by: Sara Anderson, Creator and Founder of Britelites Vivid Temporary Hair Color
I never planned on being a mother. Like many ambitious millennial women, I felt children would slow my climb up the corporate ladder and interfere with my ideals of personal independence and freedom. I was never was one for taking on responsibility unrelated to my professional ambitions (i.e. a pet or a plant) for the sake of caring for it or having it fulfill me in some way. I once tried to grow an orchid hybrid that was specifically bred for the ultimate novice. Within months, my beautiful flower had turned into a pile of shriveled leaves. Situations like this led me to believe that motherhood should probably not make it to my Top 100 Bucket List.
While it involved a dramatic series of emotions and coming to grips with the news, an unexpected pregnancy turned out to be the greatest gift in my life. The infinite joy and love that I felt for my daughter gave me a vision for the future that extended far past myself. The irony? I have found more freedom as a mother and entrepreneur than I ever experienced working my way up the corporate hierarchy structure without children. Motherhood inspired the entrepreneur within to create a future that did not require compartmentalizing business and family into different brackets, like that of the modern day business world.
We are all connected as women, sharing similar struggles, challenges and joys. Through the power of vision, hard work and a little bit of luck, I managed to develop and launch a new temporary hair color product that has experienced exponential growth through our eCommerce website and growing presence in salons, fashion boutiques and retail locations nationwide. The achievements we’ve experienced did not come without hard lessons, struggles or tribulations. Whether you’re a mother, a daughter, sister or friend, I believe these 3 Important Lessons on Motherhood and Entrepreneurship speak to the female spirit. I hope that my honesty regarding my own life inspires you to look within yourself and fully utilize the incredible power you already possess.
- You are more beautiful, powerful and capable than you could possibly imagine.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
As a teenage girl, I was a talented artist, musician and top defensive 2nd baseman in the state of Michigan. Unfortunately, a preoccupation with my weight and winning the approval of my peers distracted me from making the most out of my potential. By the time I was 17, my life was consumed by an eating disorder that nearly took my life on two separate occasions. Despite my strong, expressive and confident exterior, I continued to struggle with my weight and perception of beauty far into my corporate career. Shocking? Hardly. According to a survey conducted by Self Magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, over 75% of American women (120 million women) endorse unhealthy thoughts, feelings, or behaviors related to food or their bodies.
When I discovered I was pregnant, making healthy changes was an immediate, maternal reaction. However, something happened that I did not expect. For the first time in my life, I began to feel love for myself. I don’t mean that in a narcissistic kind of way. I mean that in a “wow, my body is capable of creating human life” kind of way.
I soaked up the sun, listened to the ocean’s waves, learned how to feed and nourish my mind, body and soul. I accepted myself. I forgave myself. I began to feel powerful, beautiful and capable. It was an incredible time of healing and awakening. While I knew that a newborn baby would soon consume much of my time, I had to get started on my life’s path. It was time to discover what made me come alive and embrace, not conceal, the power within.
- Chase down your dreams and own them. Pursue that which bring you joy – immediately!
About 3 months after the birth of my daughter, I started to feel very lonely. While my sweet girl was my entire world, my social life disappeared. I still worked a full-time marketing career from my home office, but I missed interaction with adult humans. Believe it or not, midnight runs to Walmart were something I looked forward to.
Aside from the overall boredom, I began questioning the sorry state of my wardrobe. My old jeans were so small they looked like miniature stretch pants. My maternity collection depressed me. My hair had grown out in the back but not in the front and I felt like at any moment, I was going to win the Mullet of the Year award. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Point being, I had to do something.
I organized an entire afternoon for myself at the salon. My hairdresser gave me a sassy angled bob. Curious about getting some funky color applied, she recommended that I try hair chalk. I gladly forked over $30 and rushed home to try it! To my dismay, the chalk barely showed up on my dark hair and flaked all over the floor. The entire product was practically gone and I barely got 1 use out of it. With a little bit of research, I learned that the ingredients were basically the same as what you would buy at Michael’s Craft Store for $7. My marketing brain was so engaged that I couldn’t’ sleep.
The months that followed would change my life. I envisioned a new kind of product, one that moisturizes hair while creating vivid color without the need to pre bleach. Easy application was a must. With a colicky 3 month old sidekick, I made up my mind that I was going to find a way to create this product and inspire a movement about freedom of expression.
Some might consider this sort of thinking disillusioned. By this point in time, I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I remembered the incredible power I felt from within during my pregnancy. This was it – there was no turning back. Watch out world, mama with a baby coming through.
3. The unknown, the dark, the areas of life you are most afraid to venture into are often the places where incredible growth occurs. Refuse to be defeated.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
As a sleep-deprived new mother, the only time I had to develop my product was when my baby was sleeping. During the day, I breastfed her with one arm and Googled cosmetic chemistry with the other. When she fell asleep at night, I put on my ventilation mask and got to work mixing random clays, pigments, household waxes, and oils in an effort to create this new product.
Keep in mind, I had ZERO experience in chemistry but the internet provided with an incredible toolset that made my vision possible.
The entire product development process took over a year and a half but I continued to invest my time and money on an idea I believed in. As Britelites sales began to take off, I realized that I had to commit to my business full-time. This required sacrificing a cozy salary, reducing expenses moving my family into a tiny 1 bedroom apartment with all utilities included in our rent. All the money coming in for product sales went right back into the business for needed product and equipment costs. For over 6 months, we lived on practically nothing. Little Ceasars Hot-N-Ready’s became our form of fine dining. Mac N’ Cheese and Ramon were our hors d’oeuvres.
All joking aside, I am incredibly lucky to have a husband that has been in complete support of my venture. While you probably wouldn’t picture a Marine with 5+ years military service and 4 overseas deployments making a woman’s beauty product, he has gone above and beyond to help make this dream a reality. Even during our most financially tense times, he would stay up countless nights helping me to manufacture product. To top it all off, he is the world’s greatest daddy! :)
It was during this very stressful time that we established our first major accounts. Eventually, living on nothing began to pay off. Suddenly, the checks started to arrive in amounts far greater than ever before. With our business showing surefire signs of growth, we knew we had to move asap. We jumped for joy when we discovered we would soon be able to move into a spacious home located on 8 beautiful acres of land, where our daughter could run and play safely. A close family friend and successful entrepreneur and inventor himself, designed a professional manufacturing space equipped with proper ventilation, storage and custom tooling necessary for mass producing Britelites.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am a great believer in luck and I find that the harder I work, the more I have.”
The dark valleys of life meld your character and develop your inner strength. Refuse to allow the dark times to defeat you. Be relentless. Be definant. Refuse to fit into a “man’s world” and create the world YOU desire. You are reading the story of a woman that fought a psychological war on her own body, was 101% certain she would never make a good mother, had zero access to outside funding for her company and had zero savings in the bank. I started Britelites with my baby on my hip and grew the company while she transitioned into a raging (and sweet) toddler.
There is nothing you can’t do. Remember how powerful you are and don’t forget to sharpen your fangs, beautiful.