Some moms seem to have it all: a thriving career, jetsetter life, impeccable wardrobe and skin that glows year-round. But the truth is, we all have different stories, support systems, strengths and struggles.
That’s why we ask Boss Moms to discuss a personal challenge they’ve overcome. We hope these ‘behind the scenes’ conversations debunk the myths that surround motherhood & work-life balance—and remind us that we’re all doing our best with what we’ve got.
To an outsider, particularly anyone who follows the startup economy, 2019 was a hit for Michelle Muller. In an industry where many female founders struggle to raise capital, she and her co-founders managed to secure $7 million in funding in under a year for a tech venture focused on children’s nutrition.
She did this all while raising three sons, now ages 8, 10 and 12.
Before Little Spoon, the Texas native got her start in New York City by working for The Ian Schrager Company, a real estate and hotel development firm. She held on to the job after having her second child. “At the time, I was leaving for work before they woke up and coming home after they went to bed,” she recalls. “It was a crazy time.”
That’s when food preparation became tough. “I either had to choose between serving my kids baby food from the grocery shelves that were low quality and empty of nutrition and flavor, or become a short order cook for my kids. I thought to myself, surely this is a common pain point for both working and stay-at-home moms.”
After years of grinding in NYC, Michelle decided to leave her corporate role to co-launch Little Spoon in late 2017. She knew that if she was feeling the meal planning pain point, there must be other parents out there who need help too, particularly knowing what existed on the grocery shelves didn’t meet this generation’s standard of clean, preservative-free food.
Little Spoon now offers more than 100 ingredients in their organic purees, designs all recipes with a team of experts and has recently launched a clean line of all-natural powdered vitamins & remedies designed to help fill nutrition gaps, boost immunity and tackle common ailments like sniffles and constipation.
But the years leading up to this big win were filled with ups and downs—the absolute trough being a divorce from the father of her children.
“It was brutal,” says the New York City-based founder. “It went on for four years. It was ugly and unfortunate.” But she wasn’t going to let an “ugly” episode define her. Muller walks us through her personal journey of building a business while ending her marriage. And with her candor comes empowerment for any mother (divorced or not) working through private chaos, all while trying to be the best parent.
Michelle Muller, co-founder of Little Spoon …
ON ENDING HER MARRIAGE WHILE BUILDING A BUSINESS
“I left the Ian Schrager Company and my ex around the same time. By no means was my career stable while I was starting Little Spoon and making major life changes. I chalked it up to following my gut intuition and heart. I knew my ex and I were not meant to be and we were not modeling the best relationship for our kids. I’m grateful he and I never discussed the dark side of the process in front of them. Whatever happened in court stayed in court.”
ON FINDING THE COURAGE TO LEAVE
“When I got to the final straw, I vividly remember thinking to myself that I’d rather my children see me independent and happy than in a toxic, subpar relationship. We know children model their parents’ behaviors and what they see at home. I wanted better for my kids. The divorce was brutal but the things that don’t break us make us who we are.”
ON HAVING NO REGRETS
“I look back at my marriage and my worst day as a single mom is still better than my best day as being married to him.”
ON FINDING LOVE AFTER DIVORCE AGAIN
“I knew I wanted to share my life with someone again and find love after divorce. But I witnessed my friends date through apps and it looked like a train wreck. But one Father’s Day, my kids were with their dad so I had some downtime, and I gave it a shot. Two weeks later I went on a date with my now-boyfriend, Jason, and we’ve been together for almost three years . He’s a divorced dad of two and it has been a joyride to have a second chance at a relationship. Having both been through challenging divorces with difficult exes, we come to the table with strong intentions and an element of gratitude of the value of life and time.” Love after divorce is possible.
“My ex and I have moved to a place where we can co-parent. Literally: he lives just three blocks away and has always been there for our kids. Are he and I best friends? No. Do I want to hang out with him? No. Is he an amazing dad? Yes.
I couldn’t have been a single mom and entrepreneur without help from hired caregivers. During the divorce, we first had a nanny then transitioned to an au pair to handle pick-ups and drop-offs. It was such a fog but we got through it. I currently have a babysitter, Jarelle, for after school. She’s like my wife. She does so much to help my life from running errands to getting dinner started and helping my boys with their schoolwork
ON FACING STARTUP CHALLENGES
“We want to continue to serve parents of this generation to provide easy, healthy solutions for their children. The key here is listening to our community and what they need and not trying to create in a vacuum. With their input, we realized the need for clean vitamins and set to work to ultimately launch our line of powerful all-natural powdered vitamins and remedies.”
ON ADVICE FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURS
“Starting a business is going to be hard. About 85% of businesses fail in the first year. One common thread I’ve seen among entrepreneurs is many of them are individuals who’ve had a struggle in the past, whether it was in their childhood or another phase of adversity. But they overcame it. They don’t give up, they keep driving when everyone else gives up. This grit and resilience is critical to building a company.”
ON ADVICE FOR MOMS GOING THROUGH OR CONTEMPLATING DIVORCE
“A divorce can be a devastating experience. It’s always hard emotionally and financially, especially when kids are involved. Those in the thick of the process may feel like everything is dark and heavy. Don’t get bogged down in the negative. Trust the process and trust yourself. I promise it will get better.”
ON BEING A #BOYMOM
“Luckily I am close with my sons. We are our own unit, and it’s awesome. My goal is to raise them to be aware of how lucky they are, to look for the good in everyone and to be globally conscious citizens.”