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Carmen Mosquera, a lifelong serial entrepreneur, is the owner of Parent Crush, a baby gear detailing service company. Parent Crush will pick up, clean, and deliver your baby gear back to you! They are also certified car seat technicians so they can install your car seats upon delivery. Knowing how busy life can get as parents and how important your time is, Parent Crush wants to help parents by providing a service that is built on the values of trust, integrity, and commitment to safety. Along with a busy work life, Carmen also homeschools 2 of her 4 children, is a volunteer in her community, and is always looking for ways to empower women & mothers.
In this episode:
- Investing time in planning & scheduling can allow your work to better fit with your family rather than have your family fit around your work.
- Your connections, network, & relationships are key to success along with hard work.
- Being present for our kids means being both physically & emotionally present.
- Making mistakes is inevitable. What we learn & take from these experiences is what is most important.
Connect with Carmen:
- Instagram: @parentcrush https://www.instagram.com/parentcrush/
- Facebook: @parentcrush https://www.facebook.com/parentcrush
- Website: https://www.parentcrush.com
On this episode of The Part-Time Jungle Podcast, I had a great conversation with Carmen about her journey as a serial entrepreneur. She shared how planning and scheduling is key to her motherhood and work juggle, the importance of building a network of support, being present for our kids both physically and emotionally, making mistakes and learning from them and so much more!
Carmen is incredibly strong and resilient. She has creatively found ways to juggle motherhood and work as an entrepreneur all the while focusing on building community and connections. Carmen also shares the sacrifices that she made along the way with her own health and her relationship with her kids. She has learned so much from these experiences which have ultimately changed the trajectory of how she prioritizes her time and makes decisions.
PLANNING & SCHEDULING
Planning is key to Carmen’s motherhood/work juggle because there are so many things that she needs to do in a day. Some things are hard to plan because of the nature of her business. She doesn’t know when everything is going to come up. However, she can designate certain days for certain things, especially the important things. Then, she can schedule everything else around those things.
Carmen’s juggle involves virtual learning for her oldest child, in-person learning for her second oldest, and homeschooling for her younger two. Her kids are 18, 17, 11, and 5 and a half years old. Sometimes, with the homeschooling, she feels like she may have bitten off a bit more than she can chew. Joining a fantastic homeschooling organization, reaching out and getting the support that she needs, has really helped.
This is Carmen’s first time homeschooling her younger two kids. She previously homeschooled her second oldest when she was being bullied in grade 3. Carmen didn’t feel that she was getting the support that she and her daughter needed so she homeschooled her for almost 2 years. With homeschooling currently, a big challenge is that her younger two kids are so different from one another. Her youngest son is on the autism spectrum and her youngest daughter is not.
Carmen has been a serial entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship seemed like a great fit because she likes to be in control of everything. She has never really wanted to work for someone else. By being her own boss, Carmen feels like she can make a real difference with anything that she does.
Her journey in entrepreneurship started with working with an MLM (multi-level marketing company) selling jewelry when she was 17 years old. This worked for a bit but she felt like was still unable to work on her own terms. This led Carmen to start to look at other options. She did a number of different odd jobs including interior painting. Then, she became a mom.
Carmen’s first two kids were born only a year apart. With a one-year old and newborn, she was also a single mom. Carmen wasn’t sure what she was going to do. She decided to clean houses. Carmen didn’t have a car so she walked around her neighbourhood pulling a wagon and offered her clearing services. She wore two baby carriers with one of her kids on her front and one on her back. She would literally clean homes with her two kids strapped to her.
From there, Carmen sort of just fell into wedding planning. She had friends, in their early twenties, who were getting married and they needed someone to help them. That person was Carmen who had a reputation of being incredibly organized. This venture quickly had her getting busier and busier.
At this time, Carmen had met her now husband and they had a daughter together. The challenge with being a wedding planner and mom of three kids was that she had no time for her family because she was busy most evenings and weekends. Then, she got pregnant with their fourth child. Carmen felt like she wasn’t physically or emotionally available. She was just so tired.
This was an impetus to shift gears. Carmen and a friend came up with the concept of doing baby gear cleaning. She took a break from this venture but has now circled back to it after losing her job during the first week of COVID.
IT’S ALL IN A NAME
In choosing a name for her business, Carmen wanted something that wouldn’t tie her down to one service. She wanted something that could grow and evolve over time. Her last job was working for a high-end baby store. Carmen loves baby gear even though she has moved past that stage. She noticed that when parents would come into the store, they would be “crushing” on all of the baby gear as well.
When you become a parent, you tend to get really involved in and excited about whatever is relevant for your kids including the gear. It’s like a parent crush. Carmen wanted her service based business to be a parent’s crush. She comes and picks up the dirty, disgusting smelly gear and returns it clean. For car seats, she will even install them for you so that it can be a seamless process.
Carmen says that people have been intrigued by the name. What is a parent crush? Is it a dating service for parents? It makes you want to look. She has a lot of people who’ve messaged her and said that they came across her business and went to her website to find out more. Essentially, though, Parent Crush is about parents crushing on everything baby.
WEARING ALL THE HATS
For Carmen, the biggest challenge of owning your own business is that it requires 110% of you. You can’t get away from it. With a small business, you wear all the hats. You’re the marketing department, you’re the operations department, and you’re the pickup and delivery department. You’re every department.
With this, comes sacrifice. Your children need 150% of you. Now that Carmen is married, she has so much more support than she did as a single mom. She is so grateful because the challenges that she had with her 2 young daughters were unbelievable. Carmen had no support and no one to lean on or rely on. At that time, her kids needed her 200% because she had to be both parents.
How do you figure out the balance between being a successful business owner and a successful mom? For Carmen, it is all about lowering her expectations of perfection because you’re going to mess up. Sometimes, you are going to have to put certain things on the back burner.
A MINI STROKE
Carmen actually left her previous baby gear cleaning business because she had been so stressed out that she had a mini stroke. She had to refocus and reprioritize. Carmen had to make sure that she was taking care of herself both emotionally and physically. She also had to work in a different way. Her business was important to her but her health and her children were more important.
SUCCESS IS RELATIONSHIPS
For Carmen, success is all about the relationships that she builds. This includes the connections that she has made with other like-minded women. She feels energized by meeting empowered women and women who are being empowered through the support of others. The energy is incredible! When Carmen started Parent Crush, because people knew her from her previous business ventures, she had overwhelming support right out the gate. What kick-started the success of her business was her network.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE
Of course, success is also built on hard work but it is really built on your relationships. If people like you and gravitate towards you, then they are going to seek you out for opportunities. If they don’t like you, they’re not going to think of you when there’s an opportunity. For Carmen, success comes from that village. You have to find your people and when you do, they really do have your back.
In the short-term, Carmen wants to add more parent valued services to Parent Crush, She doesn’t necessarily want to provide them but she wants to recommend them. This reflects her previous business model as a wedding planner. For Carmer, her success as a wedding planner came from her successful relationships with all the vendors. If you had a good vendor list of florists, cake, makers, and dress shops, those connections and you were invaluable to the bride and groom. Carmen wants to be able to support the local businesses around her and to help them connect with a broader audience by promoting their services. Essentially, she wants to have Parent Crush take on the role of baby planner.
In the long-term, Carmen wants to build a strong brand so that she can provide the opportunity for other moms to do what she is doing. Other moms could work flexibility and from home with a known brand behind them. There is a need for clean baby gear for both aesthetic and safety reasons. Straps and buckles need to be clean to ensure that they are done up properly and securely. Carmen has her car seat certification and feels that this experience really empowers her to feel confident about car seat safety.
AN ESTABLISHED BRAND
With an established brand, and confidence behind the brand, there would be shorter timelines for moms to build their own businesses. They wouldn’t have to worry about creating marketing materials and operation manuals and they wouldn’t be starting from a place of obscurity. This would allow moms to focus mainly on the service itself rather than all the moving parts that go along with that. Ultimately, Carmen wants Parent Crush to be a Canada-wide service with a focus on helping other moms be empowered and create community.
Having her business be her main priority over her kids is Carmen’s biggest regret. As moms, we can set this bar for ourselves and we feel like we need to do all these things. The wake up call for Carmen was having her mini stroke. She was trying to do it all with work and being a mom to 4 children of varying ages with two of them on the spectrum. As her business became more popular, she found herself working all the time. She was working seven days a week and not taking any days off. Carmen neglected her health. She feels like she neglected her children’s emotional health as well.
A WAKE-UP CALL
Her teenagers came to her one day and told Carmen that she needed to pay attention to them. She was working so hard on her business and wanting to provide for her family. As an entrepreneur, she has a strong sense of ambition. That hunger and ambition to do more doesn’t just go away. What had happened, though, was that the people that were supposed to be Carmen’s priority, her kids, were on the back burner.
Carmen says that our kids are not always going to be there. They’re going to grow up. They’re going to get married and move out and they’re going to be their own independent adults. She had been missing out. This was compounded with the stress, overworking herself, and trying to be perfect.
Carmen has a love hate relationship with social media because of the perfection that is often portrayed. She sees these perfectly curated Instagram feeds. There are people that look they have it all. They look like they have the money,the house, the clothes, and the perfect kids. However, we know, that’s not how it is. It’s often the opposite. It’s chaos and it’s madness. You get lost in it. That’s what happened for Carmen and she regrets it.
Carmem is also grateful. She feels like she had done something right because her two oldest daughters came to her and told her that she needed to stop. When Carmen had her stroke, they literally sat her down and said that she needed to pay attention to them. They said “We want you”. To have teenagers say that they wanted to be with her and that they wanted her really hit home for Carmen.
LEARNING FROM OUR MISTAKES
Carmen was working from home and was physically in the building with her kids but she wasn’t there for them emotionally. This really affected them. This was hard. There was a lot of learning that came from this for Carmen. We are all going to make mistakes but it’s what we learn and take from these mistakes that is most important.
TAKE A BREATH
Carmen reminds us to take a breather once in a while. Take a step back. At times, it can feel like you are in a tornado. When you’re a mom and you’re trying to do any kind of part-time or full-time work, it can really get insane. Take a breather, take a step back, and reprioritize every so often because our priorities change. There are times where you can focus more on one thing than another. This will help to keep you calm.
Think about what you are willing to sacrifice. There are things you can sacrifice. There are things you have to sacrifice. But… never ever sacrifice your relationship with your kids. It’s not worth it. Your kids are only kids for a certain amount of time. Eventually they’re going to grow up and be adults and they’re going to have their own lives. They’re still your children but it’s not the same.
Keep your friends, the ones who are truly supportive, close. Surround yourself with people who are more successful than you. They’re going to help encourage you to keep going. When you are successful don’t forget about those who aren’t as far along on their journey. This isn’t just about you. This is you showing other women that they can do it too. Find your community. Be humble and be kind. Take advice and give advice. Share with others as there is more than enough to go around.
Thanks so much to Carmen for this great conversation and thank YOU for tuning in!