Mama Mentors is powered by Lincoln. Learn more about our partnership here. To us, our partnerships with brands are about so much more than business. We carve out relationships with brands whose values reflect our own and those of our members, and work together to thoughtfully tell stories and create experiences that speak to moms’ real lives and real interests.
Through projects like this one, HeyMama endeavors to enhance the professional success of our members by bridging the gap between those who have already arrived and the ones who are still on their way. We hope this journey will keep us all moving forward, just like Lincoln.
Jana Blankenship, founder and CEO of organic beauty brand Captain Blankenship and a mom of two, was working full-time as a contemporary art curator when she decided to study natural perfumery. Before she knew it, what was just a hobby quickly turned into a passion project, which almost immediately morphed into Blankenship’s side hustle.
“It really was a tipping point when my passion project took my life,” Blankenship told HeyMama. “I was staying up late making products for fun and realized: I love this, I could really do this, the world needs this, I need this. It happened really organically and was certainly a surprise to me. I had a whole other career and then I just changed course.”
The decision to switch professional gears is never easy, especially when you’re preparing to have a child. But it was motherhood that actually gave Blankenship the courage to get rid of the safety net that was her full-time job, change her career trajectory entirely, and build something of her own. “I ran my growing business while working a full time job, but when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I realized I couldn’t do it all anymore,” Blankenship explained. “I followed my intuition which clearly showed me this was the path I should follow.”
To no entrepreneurial or business-owner’s surprise, the initial months (and even years) of growing Captain Blankenship, which creates clean skincare and haircare products made with organic, botanical ingredients from the forest, sea, and fields, were far from easy. “Scaling the company from a passion project in my kitchen to a product line sold in stores nationwide [was challenging],” Blankenship said. “With no previous industry experience, I really learned by jumping in. I made a lot of mistakes and it was incredibly frustrating, but I am the better for it.” One of those mistakes, Blankenship said, is saying “yes” too much.
“I [wish I had] been more cautious about the accounts I worked with,” she said. “I definitely had stars in my eyes, but many accounts are more trouble than they are worth.”
Blankenship decided to share what she learned as an entrepreneurial mother, including the hard lessons, with other aspiring entrepreneurial moms, and at a time when small business owners need more help than arguably ever before. Even though she’s caring for two children, helping with at-home e-learning, and managing the growing e-commerce side of her business as well as the challenges facing retail partnership, Blankenship became a HeyMama Mentor this year. HeyMama’s Mama Mentor program, powered by Lincoln, matches an up-and-coming entrepreneurial mom with a seasoned vet to facilitate a professional relationship and foster support, solidarity, and connection.
“Everyone needs support this year and I know how hard it is as a business owner and mom navigating the unknown this year,” Blankenship explained. “I wanted to share everything I have learned, including all the mistakes, in the hopes that it could help others get ahead more quickly and cut through the bullsh*t. After a decade of running a business, I feel like I have learned so much — the good and the bad — and it is my responsibility to be as transparent as possible and also to inspire.”
Blankenship knows it’s not just other working and entrepreneurial moms who are inspired by her years of business ownership. She knows her children, ages 5 and 7, are watching her work and parent simultaneously, and hopes to teach her kids that “anything is possible if you work hard and follow your North Star.”
It’s also her children that have helped Blankenship maintain her business during a tumultuous and financially precarious time. When there’s so much to worry about in regards to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Blankenship’s kids give her peace and perspective.
“[Motherhood] has definitely made me incredibly efficient and also fiercely protective of my time. It has definitely lowered my tolerance for things that don’t really matter and now I truly cut right to the chase,” she explained. “It has also made me grateful to create products that bring a moment of pause and joy to people’s days. I know how special it feels as an exhausted mom to use that dry shampoo every morning and relish in the ritual and scent.”