I would love to say that I always planned to build my company with a team of part-time moms, but that wouldn’t be true. After leaving my corporate job in 2010, I started Monica + Andy while staying home with my newborn daughter. I had no idea what I was doing. Taking care of a new baby was already challenging, but when I added in the complexities of launching a business my life became full blown chaos. I worked in the snippets of time I could steal between feedings, naps and diaper changes. Having worked in a job where I interacted with adults on a daily basis, I found these first few months to be both amazing and isolating at the same time.
By the time my child was four months old, spring had arrived and we were ready to head out into the world. I signed up for every Mom and Me class that worked with her nap schedule. Little did I know that while I was enriching her development, I was also setting the groundwork for my company’s team. I discovered pretty quickly that these classes were filled with accomplished women who, like me, were in transition. They were all looking for new opportunities that would allow them to spend time with their children and utilize their skills. Essentially, they were all striving for a work-life balance, and eventually, some of these women became Monica + Andy’s first employees.
My company’s team eventually consisted of a photographer, a visual merchandiser, a sales leader and talented retail experts. Most of our early meetings took place at Whole Foods and on walks through Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. As the brand has grown so has our team. We now employ an incredible full-time team, but we still have a lot of part-time moms. When looking to fill a position, I always look for the best candidate, but when the role doesn’t call for a full-time employee I have found great success hiring part-time moms. By hiring women who have leaned back into more flexible, freelance careers, I have been able to bring years of expertise to our team, but within a startup budget.
Managing this kind of team, however, comes with its challenges. Balancing multiple part-time schedules is difficult. Some team members are only available on Mondays and Wednesdays; others are only available Tuesdays and Thursdays. At one point last year, we had key team members that had never met face-to-face. Eventually, I decided that once a week we needed everyone to be in the same room. It not only fostered stronger relationships, but it gave my team a global view of what was happening with the brand and has lead to more comprehensive strategies and long-term planning.
I feel as passionate about the team we have built as the products we make. To me, the people are a part of the package. As we grow, not every job at Monica + Andy will be flexible, but I’m incredibly proud of the strides we’ve made to accommodate mothers who want to work.
Monica Royer is the founder of Monica + Andy, a clothing store that specializes in quality, organic baby apparel. This is part three in a four-part series about how she started her company. Part four will focus on scaling and expanding your brand. Read part one, on how Monica quit her job to start her own business, and part two, on fundraising as a first-time entrepreneur.