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.
Christian Maxwell, 30, knew it was time to start her own marketing agency when she saw what other, less qualified agencies were charging brands for their services. “When I approved a five figure contract to hire an agency who was less qualified and talented than me at my previous job [I went for it],” the mom of three living in Dallas, Texas recently told HeyMama. “I previously worked at one of the fastest growing multicultural hair care brands as a brand manager, and loved it. However, I wanted to expand and I felt that starting my own business was the next step, personally and professionally.”
In the fall of 2018, Maxwell took that next step and co-founded Studio Maxwell, a marketing company that partners with female-targeted beauty brands. While Maxwell said she has always had a passion for marketing and advertising, there was something else — something beside her business acumen and professional enthusiasms — that pushed her towards entrepreneurship: disruption.
“I wanted to have a greater impact on the status quo,” Maxwell explained. “I’ve always wanted to create the flow for myself.”
The power to create her own work-flow, on her own schedule, has certainly aided Maxwell during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Having three children at home has been a challenge,” she said. “I have two kids in diapers and another in third grade virtual school.” To stay motivated and optimistic during this difficult time, Maxwell told HeyMama she tries to “renew my mind daily with spiritual food” and relies on her “great support system at home,” which she says keeps her encouraged. Of course, she said, “ice cream helps, too.”
Still, she’s more than happy to admit that there is no such thing as “work-life” balance these days. Then again, there never has been. “How do you balance being a mom and an entrepreneur? I dislike this question because balance doesn’t really exist,” she explained. “[Entrepreneurship] has allowed me to be present for moments I would not have had the chance to be a part of, but it also causes me to be very distracted at times. It’s a juggling act. You have to always take account of your time and adjust.”
Maxwell does admit that making those adjustments can be difficult. “Learning how to delegate work is definitely a challenge,” she said. “I haven’t mastered it, but my husband and I are currently fixing work flows so that we can delegate efficiently. “Other than my scheduled meetings, work is done all throughout the day. My schedule is not consistent right now. The best thing for my family is [for me] to be flexible.”
Business ownership has allowed Maxwell the freedom to be as flexible as her family requires — a freedom she knows many working moms are not afforded. A 2019 survey of more than 2,000 moms with children under the age of 18 living at home, conducted by FlexJobs, found that 31% of moms were forced to take a “break in their career” because “their job was too inflexible to remain in the workforce.”
“It’s always great to share what I have learned with women and moms who’re looking to grow, both personally and professionally,” Maxwell said. “It’s important because moms often get the short end of the stick in the workplace. We have to level the playing field.”
For Maxwell, part of leveling the playing field is agreeing to be one of HeyMama’s 2020 Mama Mentors. In partnership with Lincoln, HeyMama’s three-month virtual mentorship program is specifically designed for HeyMama members to get business advice, guidance, and support from women who have been there, done that, and found success along the way. Women like Maxwell.
Her advice to anyone looking to start their own business? “Make sure your business is a need or resolves a pain point,” she said. She’s also more than happy to give others the opportunity to learn from her past mistakes, one of them being, she says, starting a business without a solid business plan.
But it’s the lessons she is teaching her children, as an entrepreneurial mom, that mean the most to Maxwell. “[Business ownership] made me more focused and driven to say the course,” she explained. “I want a legacy for my children. [I want them to learn that] no dream is too big. [To] work hard and keep faith.” And, when the situation calls for it, dig into that pint of ice cream.