A Business is Born: How Horizons is Supporting its Mompreneurs
When you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, ‘homeless’ is not among the list of life plans. Some aspire to be doctors, dancers, teachers, and crafters – some dream of opening their own beauty salon or becoming famous chefs. At Horizons, our programs not only foster this sense of possibility in our students but in their parents, whose dreams of building a stable, successful life for themselves are key to their family’s success.
Horizons’ Family Partnership Program is at the forefront of our multigenerational approach to ending family homelessness. As children in our care receive comprehensive early education, their parents work with Family Advocates (FAs) to build skills in financial literacy, career development, job training, and more to position themselves to achieve the future they envision for their families. Embracing the resilience and individual strengths of each parent, FAs help parents design a plan and series of goals that will help them build a sustainable and fulfilling life.
Through these relationships and achievements, a group of parents emerged with enthusiasm for pursuing career aspirations beyond traditional tracks. These self-made entrepreneurs – or Mompreneurs, as affectionally monikered by a mom in our program – have started the process of creating small businesses for themselves through creativity, gumption, and a willingness to learn.
“With young children and limited resources, our parents often look to home-grown businesses that will allow them the flexibility to work when and how will meet their families’ needs best,” noted Family Advocate Foluke Babalola.
One mother is creating soy candles in her kitchenette, while another is taking courses to become an aesthetician. One self-made mom successfully opened her own hair salon in a small, rented studio, while another is putting together holiday gift baskets from thrifted finds.
Mompreneur Angelik in her beauty salon (left) and with her husband at their daughter LeeLee’s moving-up ceremony at Horizons (right)
With each parent in different stages of their small business journey, Horizons’ family advocates coordinated with leadership to help them along their path to create programming and workshops to further develop their career goals and provide networking opportunities and mutual support.
The first workshop served as a virtual meet and greet among the parents to share their business ideas and brainstorm with each other about marketing themselves and their businesses. Marketing professionals from Horizons’ administration team led a discussion to give a general overview of the subject – from branding and grassroots/traditional marketing to building an online presence – and branched off on various tactics and suggestions for each individual parent’s product or service.
Next, the Family Partnership Program hosted an in-person workshop with local small business thought leader and partner at GoImagine, Jon Lincoln, to discuss online marketing and e-commerce opportunities. This included discussing how to offer and market products and services on Facebook marketplace, eBay, and makers’ marketplaces like Etsy and GoImagine. These workshops, open to all moms and dads in our program, attracted various business-minded parents – from one mom who was looking into the thrifting/resellers market to a crafter who makes custom wooden toys. GoImagine also offered parents a full year of waived fees to sell qualified handmade products on their website as a perk for those in attendance.
Beyond business insights, parents having the opportunity to connect with other moms and dads and engage with industry experts has been invaluable. Parents not only took part in discussions but did exercises on the financial viability of their business plans, calculating costs of goods, time, and labor into profitable and sustainable side hustles and careers. While many parents in our programs have their sights set on more traditional career paths – one mom recently completed her Associate’s degree and is pursuing a full-time career as a dental hygienist– others are finding careers through creative endeavors.
“Our parents are working hard not only to make a living but to create generational wealth for their families. They want their children to be in a better financial position and lead through example how to build savings and a legacy,” Foluke shared.
Horizons is thrilled to be a supporting element of each parent’s journey to self-sufficiency and understands that our parents establishing stable and fulfilling careers will have an impact on their children and the life they dream of achieving. Broadening horizons, both for parents and children, aims to break the cycle of family homelessness and is a vital part of the work we do at Horizons each day.
This piece was written by Andrea Drag, a regular contributor to Horizons’ blog.