Brittany Valdes' voice cracks with emotion when she talks about We Are Boss Mom.
She takes a deep breath and, holding back tears, describes the impact the community of working mothers has had on her and her creative partner Ashley Sixto-Artidiello. She says most women who are part of We Are Boss Mom have shared similar sentiments.
"They say that sometimes they feel like they're on an island. Being a mom and owning a business and trying to juggle everything at one time is hard, and they don't really have someone to talk to," Valdes says. "Most of them just want support and to meet other moms that are going through the same thing."
Valdes started the movement We Are Boss Mom after becoming pregnant with her first son. She had recently completed the interview process with Microsoft, and before signing her offer, she felt guilty knowing she'd soon leave her new job to care for her baby. The company's response left her speechless.
"I felt really bad signing all the paperwork before telling the hiring manager I was pregnant because I knew in six months I was going to have to take maternity leave and that wasn't fair," Valdes says. "I ended up calling the hiring manager and telling him I was pregnant. He said, 'Oh my God, that's amazing. We're so happy to have you, this is the perfect role for you, and we wouldn't pick anyone else — maternity leave or not.'"
That reaction was refreshing; knowing her new team had her back ultimately helped her excel in her new role at the company. Valdes acknowledges, however, that many moms face negative responses and tough choices when it comes to their careers. She decided she wanted to replicate her positive experience and support network and extend it to the women in her own backyard.
We Are Boss Mom is a creative incubator for working mothers, entrepreneurs, business owners, and corporate employees, all coming together for the workforce development of mothers. The nonprofit hosts quarterly events that range from the basics of trademarking to business boot camps and Instagram strategy workshops, and they're all free and open to the public. All of their activities are kid-friendly, and they have childcare onsite to ensure that moms can attend. They also encourage moms to get involved with the organization through committees, production, and marketing.
The model is self-sustainable through partnerships, sponsorships, and donations. Valdes also encourages anyone to get involved — being a mom is not a requirement, she says. The most important part for her is helping women celebrate their passions. Since We Are Boss Mom began, she says, she's witnessed three successful partnerships take shape through its committee meetings.
"Eighty percent of our moms have a side hustle. A lot of the moms work 40 hours or more or have part-time jobs aside from the full-time job it takes to be a mom, but then they also sell products on Etsy or they're looking to do community engagement. They're badass moms that wear many hats," Valdes says. "We also have 'mompreneurs' and a lot of women who own their businesses. We even have a mom that owns her own roofing company."
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On Saturday, September 8, We Are Boss Mom is partnering with Shopify and Dadeland Mall to presents Boss Mom Mercado, a mom merchant market combined with a "mompreneur" competition. The top mother-owned retailer will receive a pop-up shop kiosk at Dadeland Mall throughout October and a complete point-of-sale system by Shopify.
Though the event includes a little friendly rivalry among Boss Mom businesses, Valdes says the organization is more about collaboration than competition.
"In the past, you would see women competing against each other. We wanted to break those boundaries and collaborate — to lift those moms up and showcase all of the amazing things they are doing."
Boss Mom Mercado. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, September 8, at Dadeland Mall, 7535 N. Kendall Dr., Miami; wearebossmom.com. Admission is free.