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I was just about to launch my company, Mia Tango, when I saw an email from Rockets of Awesome that had a blurb about a great community of kickass entrepreneurial moms called heymama. I clicked through and after a review of the site, I decided to apply to join. I wasn’t sure exactly what I expected to get out of it and I’ve never joined a women’s networking community before, but I love smart, ambitious women and the site looked really cool, so I thought, “why not?” I had no idea how much the community would mean to me and Mia Tango.

After reading the email updates and newsletters, I finally decided to attend a networking event at Rebecca Minkoff’s store. I’m not a natural networker, but I quickly found a few other mamas wandering around and found them so easy to talk to. I definitely enjoyed the event and started thinking about how I could work with the women I met (or heard speak) at the event. Naturally, I am dying to work with my #girlcrush, Rebecca Minkoff, but I’ve got a bit of growing to do first!

Shortly after that, heymama introduced its google group, and a whole new world opened up. Suddenly, I had access to the minds and experiences of hundreds of women who were trying to solve, or had solved, the same problems I was working on. To give a little bit back to the group that’s given me so much, I wanted to share the ways that heymama has helped my business grow in the last six months:

Supplier Sourcing

In the course of asking a business question to the group, I met Peggy Economou, who started a chic line of nursing clothes called Teat & Cosset. We connected and I asked whether she’d be interested in selling her products on my site. She became the first supplier I sourced directly, and a great business ally. We love to share tips about what’s working (and not working!) and recently co-hosted a focus group and shot a Facebook video together. Other suppliers have popped up recently too, and we now carry Produce Tees and NONA bags as well. With the site filters by industry and geography, it’s easy to find other women in your industry who could be great partners.

Co-Marketing

In February, we launched our Gift of Love Guide, which featured themed gifts of something to unwrap plus an experience for an unforgettable gift. We partnered up with several other women-owned companies to feature their products alongside ours in each theme. When it was time to find awesome companies to work with, we turned to heymama and found The Village Anthology, J.Mater Bags and Mama Medicine. Working together, we promoted each other’s brands on social media, reaching new customers and garnering new followers. The experience led us to work on our next guide – The Mother of All Gift Guides, which will feature five incredible moms and their businesses (including three heymama members!), along with their picks for the ultimate gift for Mother’s Day. There are so many business owners at various stages of growth on heymama – find the ones that are most aligned with your brand and use each other’s social media channels to amplify your messages.

You never know where a simple conversation will lead, and once you find a sympatico partner, go back to her often and dream up new ways to help one another and work together.

Events

We’re always looking for new ways to get our brand in front of potential customers, and when I saw Erin Lepone’s post about her upcoming charity event for The Lady Savant Foundation, we instantly knew this would be a great event to be part of. Heymama members are incredibly active at all kinds of events, so be on the lookout for charity events, trade shows, and other opportunities to team up with similar brands. Trying to do a pop-up on your own when you have no brand awareness is a waste of time – but partnering with other businesses with whom you share customers for a bigger event is definitely worth your time and effort.

Collaborations

When I started emailing Sydney Hinds from Village Anthology for the Gift of Love Guide, it was like I met my sister from another mister. A fellow twin mama, Sydney is a great source of information and inspiration. She was thinking of working on new content for her site and asked me to write a guest blog. Since I’ve always secretly aspired to be a writer, I was more than happy to contribute. You never know where a simple conversation will lead, and once you find a sympatico partner, go back to her often and dream up new ways to help one another and work together. Not only will your brand reach new people, but you’ll make a new friend and learn something along the way.

Models

We try to see every piece of clothing we sell on an actual pregnant woman (rather than just models with fake bumps) so that we can see how each piece fits. We are based in Westport, Connecticut and were running out of local pregnant women, so we decided to try New York. Fellow heymama member (and gorgeous woman!) Alexandra Gizela answered the call and we not only judged fit, but got some fantastic content for social media, our website and emails.

Influencers

We recently began working with influencers and asked a simple question to the group about best practices. Since there are so many amazing bloggers and influencers in heymama, we got some great advice and hooked up with some influencers who are introducing our brand to new customers in a very authentic way. Super grateful to the wonderful @vintagesplendor, Annette Vartanian for sharing her advice with me.

This community is so giving, thoughtful and helpful – don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice.

Survey

We are always looking for ways to improve conversion and to make our messaging more clear, so when we wanted some feedback on the value proposition, we created a quick survey. In addition to our customers, we wanted to ask people who had never heard of us before to weigh in, so we turned to heymama once again. The responses were so helpful in refining our front door messaging and product page design. Our conversion was boosted measurably as a result! This community is so giving, thoughtful and helpful – don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice. The new Facebook groups will be a great way to solicit information.

Follow Friday

We recently added about 200 new followers through Follow Friday and using the hashtag #follow_heymama. That’s no small boost to a new brand!

General Business Questions

In addition to the above, we’ve gotten advice on PR firms, digital marketing, packaging companies and more either from our own posts or from following the posts of other members. Every little bit of advice is helpful when you’re starting a new business, and I feel like heymama has been such a valuable resource from all the been there, done that badass mamas who are so generous with sharing their wisdom.

 

For all of you out there who have started your own businesses, this community is simply awesome. You will find so much knowledge, encouragement, and willingness to collaborate. On your own, you are awesome, but as part of heymama, your powers multiply and make you invincible.

Melissa R. Birge is the founder and CEO of Mia Tango, an online maternity boutique that features a curated set of maternity clothing that customers can buy new or used, and then trade back in for credits to buy new styles. She also serves as the audit committee chair on the board of directors of Paris-based SRP Group, which operates the fashion website showroomprive.com.

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