Having a successful career or owning a business is hard for anyone, but a big challenge that many women face in their career/entrepreneurial path is factoring in having children. Because women are the only ones who can physically give birth to children – and that doing so requires an interruption in their professional lives – women naturally face more obstacles when it comes to balancing family and work. So, can women have a successful career and a family? While the answer is yes – thankfully – it isn’t easy. I recently had the opportunity to talk to four entrepreneurs and c-suite professionals in the Lansing area who have successfully achieved it all; here’s how they did it.
For Kate Snyder, Owner and Principal Strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations, motherhood and entrepreneurship both came in a five-year span of time.
Snyder, 36, opened Piper & Gold in 2012 after working for more than 10 years as a communications professional for Capital Area Michigan Works! It was only five years later that her now seven-month-old son, Wilson Patrick Snyder, was born as well.
“Choosing to welcome Wilson into our lives was really about an intentional, purposeful choice, at this point in my life to become a parent,” says Snyder. She says that one of the most surprising aspects of parenthood, in her experience, is that not much has changed, other than the addition of what she calls, “her little monster,” Wilson.
“My experience is my experience, it’s no one else’s but mine, so I know that I may have a fundamentally different experience than others, or very similar…,” she says. Balance, for her, means carving out time to do things she enjoys, enriching her life as a friend, a wife, and a mom.
Like Snyder, Katie Lynwood also started a family around the same time as starting her own business. A little more than a year ago, Lynwood, with her partners, opened Buhl, Little, Lynwood & Harris PLC, her own law practice, while she was on maternity leave to give birth to her now fourteen-month-old daughter, Genevieve.
“It was a learning curve,” says Lynwood in regard to opening her own law practice. “I had to learn everything about starting a business from scratch.”
Lynwood had a busy career prior to opening her own practice, working as an attorney in addition to work that she did in the community. Lynwood credits her business partner, Rosemary Buhl, as a great role model for her as she entered into motherhood, as she has five children herself.
“I sat down with her and asked how she does it all,” she says. “She said she takes everything one day at a time.” Lynwood adds that she loves being a business owner, but motherhood is an experience she wouldn’t trade for anything.
“I love my career and I really like what I do. I like to work hard and I really want to be good at it and I think I’ve taken the time to keep working at it, but there’s just nothing like being a mother. It’s made it totally worth it.”
While Snyder and Lynwood tackled motherhood and entrepreneurship at a similar point in their lives, Tricia Foster, Senior Manager and COO for CBRE/Martin had a very successful 24-year run at CBRE, and recently decided to retire to take care of her mother, subsequently becoming a stay at home mom.
“I feel, that if you wait to start your career, you can be compromised in your overall earning potential and ability to move up the ladder. I didn’t want to do that,” says Foster.
Foster says that being home, now that her two teenage children are older, allows her to be more of a hands-on mom, given that teenage life is much more challenging than the children’s younger years.
“The homework is more challenging, the social life, the sports, everything is more intense. I feel like it was a good time to take a step back,” says Foster, noting that she won’t be off work for long.
Her advice for working moms is to not feel guilty. “Women feel like they have to be around their kids all the time and I am a testament to the fact that that is not true. You can have it all, you just have to prioritize and organize.”
Foster, Snyder and Lynwood, all credit their success in family and work to their supportive husbands, each who help in parenting and career success. Not every woman out there needs that partner though. Evemarie Eyde, principal/part owner of the Eyde Company, is doing family and career success on her own, and thriving.
Eyde has a long career working for highly successful luxury brands like Tiffany & Co., Carrera Y Carrera and Baccarat, allowing her to travel across the globe. Her impressive career propelled her to various degrees of financial and professional success, but at age 42, she found herself in the unique position where she wanted to have children, but didn’t have a husband.
“I was perfectly happy not being married, which I didn’t think would happen,” says Eyde. As Eyde explored her options in pursuing independent motherhood, her doctors informed her that there was no chance of her becoming pregnant with her own eggs, and that in order to become pregnant she would have to have donor eggs and sperm in order to move forward.
“It’s just a darn shame that you have this timeframe where you have to have kids, unlike a man,” says Eyde.
Now, at age 46, Eyde has two sons, genetic siblings, and is happily raising her family while working at the Eyde Company. It seems to her that it’s actually easier to have had her career first and the family later.
“Work is still a focus. I want to be very good at what I do, so I don’t want to put that aside … but being older is just easier, you have this peace of mind and this self-esteem and confidence that you didn’t have when you’re younger because I think you have to earn that a little bit.”
Megan Westers is a freelance writer for Capital Gains.
Photos © Dave Trumpie
Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography