Smiling woman drinking coffee in the office
07 Jun

Crowdfunding Options Broaden Horizons for Women Entrepreneurs

When you are an entrepreneur raising money is a key focus of your efforts. Once you raise that first round, there will always be a need to raise more in order to grow your business. So strap in, entrepreneurs, when you take on that CEO title realize that title means “chief fundraiser” among many other things. Many entrepreneurs start out with small business loans or do what a lot of entrepreneurs do in the early it themselves via small business loans, credit cards and personal investments. Loans and personal investments put you at further risk, but sometimes in the beginning you “gotta do what you gotta do” and you gotta be committed. As an entrepreneur you have to be all in. Once the ball is rolling you can reach out to friends and family, angel investors and ultimately VC’s. However, for women in particular, the angel investment and VC community haven’t quite gotten on board. We hear again and again from women how difficult it is for them to raise money from these sources because quite often the men at the table don’t “get” their vision or product. This is because, according to SheEO founder and CEO, Vicki Saunders, entrepreneurs often launch businesses to solve problems they have addressed in their own lives. Just look at Genneve, a feminine lubrication product, Thinx the period panty and even Spanx, personal shapers - a product that every hosiery manufacturer that Sara Blakely pitched in the early days thought would never be a hot product. Boy were they wrong. It took the daughters of Sara’s first manufacturing company to convince their father that he should make Sara’s first prototype. SheEO’s platform has helped numerous entrepreneurs reach their next fundraising goal through an initiative Vicki Saunders calls “radical generosity” gathering thousands of dollars from thousands of “Activators” (women who want to invest in women owned businesses) into one fund and redistributing it via a voting process. Its a unique formula that is gathering women together to support and nurture each other’s businesses. And its working. Companies like Abeego (natural, breathable and reusable beeswax food wrap) and Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery have been able to grow their companies and gain momentum thanks to funding and mentorship from the team at SheEO. Crowdfunding is another option. Thanks to the JOBS Act and Regulation Crowdfunding that came into effect on May 16, of 2016 your friends and family, and your established clients and fans can all invest right alongside accredited investors on one regulation crowdfunding platform. At a recent event at StartEngine, a crowd funding platform in Los Angeles, Sona Karakashian of CrowdCheck explained “The JOBS Act has made it possible for crowdfunding platforms to broaden the opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors. Regulation Crowdfunding allows both accredited and non-accredited investors to invest via one vehicle.” As a Due Diligence Analyst at CrowdCheck, Sona has a wealth of experience assisting companies that utilize various forms of online capital raising including securities crowdfunding, offerings to accredited investors, and exempt public offerings of securities under Regulation A and Regulation Crowdfunding. She assists companies through due diligence and disclosures required when listing their securities with registered broker-dealers and other online securities intermediaries. In addition, Sona helps companies identify and resolve issues related to their corporate governance matters. Mary Frances Knight, Chief Compliance Officer at StartEngine concurs. She sees more opportunity for women entrepreneurs through crowdfunding as it establishes one online destination for entrepreneurs to drive all interested parties to invest. This includes fans and established clients, people already buying your products. This way you’re raising money from people who believe in your product and have a vested interest in seeing you succeed. Graced by Grit, a women’s active wear company based in Solana, California recently launched their StartEngine crowdfunding campaign. 14 days into their 90 day campaign they had already raised $61,000 of their $107,000 goal. All thanks to an established client base and a solid (and compliant) marketing plan. Once you launch a crowdfunding campaign - marketing it is the key. Campaigns only run 60 to 90 days, so there’s a short window in which to drive investors. (According to SEC regulations you cannot announce your campaign prior to launch but you can start marketing it once its live, as long as you follow SEC regulations.) “Many entrepreneurs see a bump in sales during their crowdfunding campaign simply as a by product of the marketing campaign,” added Kinsey Cronin, Director of Business Development for StartEngine. So how do you make sure your marketing campaign is in compliance? Companies like StartEngine provide you assistance when you use their platform. Mary Frances Knight’s role at StartEngine is to make sure your campaign is in compliance. They also introduce you to resources like Sona Karakashian of CrowdCheck and Holly Horner, CEO of LemonLight, a marketing company that has produced more than 250 crowdfunding videos, and their clients have raised more than 25M dollars on crowdfunding platforms. Holly’s team can take you through a marketing campaign to support your crowdfunding campaign from end to end. This includes a video, social media copy and posting and public relations. To ensure your are fully in compliance CrowdCheck can also review your posts prior to going live. Be aware, launching a crowdfunding campaign is an investment. Your incorporation paperwork and legal documents need to be in order. You may need to hire a compliance expert and marketing firm as well. Anticipate a $15,000 - $20,000 investment. If your campaign is successful, you will recoop this in no time. But, without the investment, you are not likely to meet your goals. So pull that CEO belt a little tighter and go for it. If you’re ready for start-updom these risks are part of the ride. Work-Life wellness expert and best selling author Samantha Ettus recently ran her first fundraising campaign on iFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform that operates differently than StartEngine as it offers contributors “rewards” for supporting projects but not a true investment in a business. Samantha said “It was a very challenging experience running a crowd funding campaign, requiring a lot of effort and many asks of my community.” Thanks to that hard work she exceeded her goal of $20,000 with 232 backers within 45 days and is launching her first Pie Life Planner to accompany her recent book The Pie Life. Marketing her campaign is what helped her achieve and even exceed her goal. When thinking about raising money, don't overlook new avenues. None of them are easy, but there are options that help you utilize your natural resources, friends, community, followers and buyers for greater success.

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Stack of Books About Work and Women
08 Feb

Why the FAMILY Act Is Necessary

If this stack of books is any indication, the issue of family leave and childcare is an ongoing and challenging topic which is why the FAMILY Act is so important. Women are still by and large running the household.  Equality at home is few and far between. And families still don't get the support they need to do something as simple as care for their families.  As a nation we rank far behind other countries in putting families first, and we are behind in putting women on equal footing with men when it comes to our careers.

"It boils down to simple, basic lack of equality. If policies keep pushing men to rush back to work, how will women keep working up the ranks? Imagine a husband and wife work for the same company, and she outranks him. If she gets paid to leave and he doesn't, the company is giving her an incentive to stay home and him an incentive to stay at work. The chances are that a man will fill in for her while she's out, since in general in America far more men are in higher positions. She loses that time to advance her career; the dad loses the chance to be a caregiver in those critical initial weeks; and the child loses out on having two parents equally well equipped and experienced to handle all the caregiving tasks. The business also loses out, because it doesn't get to keep the best talent regardless of gender."  - Josh Levs, former CNN journalist, author of "All In" and the outspoken advocate for family leave

Yesterday Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led a group of 27 Senators to reintroduce the FAMILY Act, a bill that would create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program for all workers for the cost of a cup of coffee per week. Families in America are losing $21 billion in annual income, taking time off to care for their children, often never returning to work. This is detrimental to families and to our economy, as businesses also suffer from the loss of qualified employees.

What is the FAMILY Act?

The FAMILY Act creates a self-sustaining family insurance program for all workers – young and elderly, single and married, and men and women, regardless of the size of their employer. Modeled after successful state programs, and costing only as much as a cup of coffee per week, the fund would provide up to 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks in the event of a serious personal or family medical emergency.

“The vast majority of working families don’t have access to paid leave, and as a working mom, I understand the urgency of this problem,” said Senator Gillibrand (D-NY). “Every day that goes by without a national paid family leave program, workers will continue to lose income, they’ll continue to lose their jobs, and businesses will continue to lose employees. We need to pass the FAMILY Act and give every working American access to paid leave when they need it.”

The FAMILY Act will allow working people to take partially paid time off to address their own serious medical condition, including pregnancy and recovery from childbirth; the birth or adoption of a new child; the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner; and certain military caregiving and leave needs. More information is available here.

Not only does it cover all American workers, it’s affordable for businesses. It will be funded through minimal employee and employer contributions – less than $1.50 per week for a typical worker. Case studies demonstrate the policy will actually save companies money (including small and medium sized businesses!), because it will improve retention rates and spare businesses the costs of on boarding and training new employees. Some studies suggest America’s GDP would be 2-3% higher with a policy like the FAMILY Act in place.

Why is the FAMILY Act better than what Ivanka Trump is proposing?

Ivanka Trump has a plan on the table too. Her plan is strictly a six-week maternity leave plan, leaving out a significant portion of the population, men.... and domestic partners, adoptive parents or anyone who hasn't physically pushed out a baby. (Does that mean moms who have a c-section are excluded too?) The FAMILY Act would recognize the diversity of families and their needs. Couples in a “committed relationship” – including domestic partners – would have paid family leave protections. Workers who need time away from their jobs to care for a domestic partner or a partner’s child – in addition to providing care for a spouse, parent, or biological or adopted child – would be able to do so.

Why is the FAMILY Act important?

Women want and need to work. We want to have successful and fulfilling careers. And we want to raise our families too. Unfortunately for too many talented women, staying home to raise children significantly affects our career trajectory. Partially because of the stigma around maternity leave and "stay at home moms" and partially because the few weeks we planned to be home turn into months and then years. The FAMILY Act provides for a more significant window of time off, with the full support of your company and your partner gets time off too.
"The baby years are short and our lives are long. The sad statistical reality is that more than 70 percent of women who return to work after taking only two years off can't find a position comparable to what they had before." -  Samantha Ettus and author of The Pie Life

What can you do to support the FAMILY Act?

Contact your senators and representatives and tell them this issue matters to you. If you have a personal story, share it when you call. Personal stories matter. Here's a sample script:
“I’m calling [NAME] to urge you to support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which was just reintroduced in the 115th Congress. People like me have an acute need for paid family and medical leave when babies are born, children are adopted, loved ones fall seriously ill or face a serious injury, and when a personal medical issue arises. National survey data show that 71% of 2016 voters say they or their families would face financial hardship in such a circumstances. A comprehensive national approach to paid family and medical leave would help tremendously.” Or, if you’re active on social media, talk about this issue! We need to socialize the need for paid family leave (not just maternity leave). Here are some sample Tweets you can use: >It’s time for paid family and medical leave in the United States. For everyone. Period. #paidleave #FMLA24 >Only 14% of us have jobs that provide paid family leave to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. #FMLA24 >No one should have to choose btwn caring for a loved one and a job! Tell Congress to support #paidleave: #FMLA24 >In a nation that claims to value family, why don’t we provide #paidleave? Congress, listen up. #FAMILYAct #FMLA24 You can also share this video produced by the National Partnership for Women and Families, the main organization driving the FAMILY Act. Get on their email list to stay in the know and support their efforts. As a non-profit organization, they need every dollar to keep up the good work. Get more details about the FAMILY Act on their site.

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Samantha Ettus
12 Oct

Samantha Ettus Serves Us a Workable Solution, One Slice at a Time

I first heard Samantha Ettus speak at Biggest Baby Shower Ever a few years back. Samantha's personality and laughter filled the auditorium. We met on that stage as I helped her give away strollers to a handful of winners out of the thousands of attendees at the event. We felt like Oprah "You get a stroller! And you get a stroller! And you get a stroller!" We instantly clicked.

Since then I have heard Samantha speak numerous times about work life balance, planning and why careers for women matter. She has shared her message on the stage at MomFair several times, telling us not to let an opportunity pass you by. To take every meeting as an opportunity to build your network or share a tidbit about yourself as a professional that can grow your reach and build the next opportunity for yourself. After all, men do it all the time. As women we need to step up and take more opportunities for ourselves.

At our very first MomFair, Samantha shared with us her advice about Work Life balance, making little changes and planning better to make your life easier and more efficient. One of her key suggestions, that I immediately implemented, is to keep all of your errands close to work, home or your child's school. She calls this the "golden triangle." You don't need to go to a dentist or hair salon that is 10 miles out of your way. Find someone just as great within your driving range and save yourself hours a week or month that you can use for something else. Hours are precious.


You too can benefit from Samantha's advice in her newly released book The Pie Life, a Guilt Free Recipe to Success and Satisfaction where Samantha helps you "transform your life into one that is more satisfying, rich, and delicious than you ever thought possible and join the thousands of women already living The Pie Life." Samantha pulls her advice from her personal experience, her career and the many interviews she has done over the years with successful women and men. Many of these interviews appear in her book including Shonda Rhimes, news anchor Gayle King, Wall Street maven Sallie Krawcheck, entrepreneur Liz Lange and Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider.

Opinionated and fearless (two of my favorite things about her) Samantha loves to give advice. Sam has become a bestselling author of four books, a writer for Forbes, a renowned speaker and host of a nationally syndicated call-in radio show. She's been on Fox Business, ET, the Today Show and Good Morning America sharing her years of expertise with millions of viewers. She's never shy to jump in at a focus group and can't help but offer a few words of wisdom at a cocktail party. I love the story she tells about a father discussing his wife's choice to leave her career to be a stay at home mom and how Samantha turned the question back to him and asked "Do you want to be the one to give up your career to be solely responsible for the needs of your child every day? To spend every day concerned only with feeding and pooping schedules? To make that your entire focus?" The mom stayed in her job and they found a way to both be there for their child and keep their careers.

Now Samantha wasn't diminishing the importance of motherhood. As a mother of three, making time for her children is her top priority. She was simply turning the tables and asking a man to think about choices women are expected to make every day. As a society we are so quick to assume that mothers should give up their careers and stay home to raise children. When you turn the question around on a man, the answer is compelling.

There are times when Samantha's advice can seem polarizing, as she talks often about staying in the game during the "maintenance years" (those years where your kids are little and need more of your time) so that you can return to work when you are ready. Samantha is clearly not arguing against being a stay at home mom, she is simply saying that for those moms who want (or need) to work, there are strategies you can implement so that opting back in to your career when you're ready isn't as difficult. The reality is that for anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time, getting back to your career, to the level at which you were performing or earning before is exceptionally hard. Rather than give it up altogether, she advises that you stay in the game - part time work, consulting, continue to attend industry networking events and conferences, find ways to stay relevant.

Mainly Samantha wants you to know that it is possible to have a career and raise great kids. Parenting is a topic Samantha tackles regularly. She talks often about the possibilities we create for ourselves, and our children. In her recent  TedX talk  "The Secret to Unlocking a Child's Potential she said..

"The world's most extraordinary people have one thing in common....they each had an adult in their life who made them believe they could be absolutely anything."

Think about that for a minute. Having someone believe in you and teach you to believe in yourself -  that you could be absolutely anything - that is the key to success. Not just for your children, but for yourself. Remember that with the women you encounter in your life. And find that belief in yourself. You can be anything. Sam says so.

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02 Jun

Top 10 Tips to Help Working Moms Manage Their Time Better

Moms - raising a family is an all-consuming job in itself with making lunches, carpool, managing in-school and after school activities, volunteering at school, managing your social schedule (ha! we wish), the grocery shopping, making dinner, doing the laundry and getting the dogs to the vet, its just the tip of the iceberg. Adding work into all of that seems near impossible. Or doing it all seems near impossible. Here's some tips we have for making life seem more manageable.

Number 1: "Do What You Can Do" Be realistic about the goals you can accomplish in a morning, in a day, in a week. And be forgiving of yourself. As Moms we "do what we can do."

Number 2: Make lists and split up the lists into categories or days. It makes everything you have to do seem more manageable. Then dole them out throughout the week.

Number 3: Accomplish 3 things every day. It's that simple. Pulling from your To Do lists, decide on 3 things that you HAVE to complete that day. And if you have time to finish your "3 things" for the next day then kudos to you!  That's an extra accomplishment.

Number 4: Delegate. You don't have to do everything. Find ways to pass off tasks to other people. Need to clean out your garage? Post specific tasks on Task Rabbit and have someone else help you sell off things item by item or hire a personal organizer to clean out your garage and get it ready for a garage sale. Pay both people with the money you earn from selling items in your garage.

Number 5: Accept that its ok if your laundry sits in the dryer for 3 days before you have time to fold it and put it away. Laundry can be folded while watching tv. Use the time you would have spent folding laundry to check one other item off your "3 things" list.

Number 6: Get the kids to help. Feeling like you aren't spending enough quality time with your kids? You don't have to cook dinner alone. Have them help you roll meatballs, add ingredients to a salad or set the table.

Number 7: Proximity is key. We love Samantha Ettus suggestion of the "golden triangle" - run your errands in the geographical "triangle" between home, school and work.

Number 8: Take advantage of the internet. Dry cleaners deliver. So do restaurants. And guess what - so does Vons. You can place orders for almost everything in your household online. Set up an Amazon Prime account and order everything online. For $85 a year you can save yourself a lot of time and gas money by NOT running errands. And with an Amazon Prime account you also get free access to their streaming content (movies and tv shows).

Number 9: Take turns with your husband on the weekend. Finding me time is especially hard for working parents. You should both commit to taking your kids for a playdate, team sport or birthday party on the weekend while the other spouse does something for themselves. Run one errand on the way back. Then switch!

Number 10: Sleep. If you are too tired to think straight, you will not be able to implement our time-saving tips bc you'll be too foggy to think about all the things you need to do. Plus sleep helps lower stress. (PS - did you know there are sleep studies that show that getting the right amount of sleep affects belly fat...yup, higher levels of cortisol...caused by stress, leads to belly fat.)

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04 Oct

MomFair on CBS TV!

CULVER CITY ( — Mothers preparing to return to theworkforce now have a one-stop center to get them ready.

Women gathered at the inaugural “MomFair” Thursday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Culver City, where expert speakers shared tips on how to balance a nine-to-five with full-time motherhood.

Founder Laura Nix Gerson told KCAL9′s Stephanie Simmons the event was organized to help mothers deal with the sometimes overwhelming experience of finding new work or going through acareer change.

“We want to make sure moms have access to resources – whether it’s they want to work from home and build their own business from home, or they want to build an online business – if they’re interested in returning to the workplace and they’re looking to meet with recruiters…” Gerson said. Read More...


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04 Sep

8 Great Reasons to Keep Working After You Have Kids

Originally appeared on

Work and family life don’t need to conflict; they need to coexist. It is time to stop glamorizing the alternative and talk about the big bonuses of keeping up your career after you have a child.  Here are 8 great reasons to stay in the workforce after having a baby: 1. You will Enjoy a Happier Marriage Studies show that couples in which both spouses work have greater marital satisfaction. Your marriage will be more likely to thrive if you have something to focus on outside of the home and your spouse will feel less financial pressure if you bring home some of the bacon. 2. You Will Remain Financially Independent As Leslie Bennetts described in her book “The Feminine Mistake,” in more than half of traditional marriages, the male spouse will either die prematurely, lose his job or leave his wife. When this happens to a stay at home mom, there is no safety net and the entire family’s financial stability is jeopardized. Further, many women report losing financial power in their home when they leave the workforce. You never want to be pitching your spouse on a purchase. 3. You Will Raise Stronger Kids We are now aware of the deep dangers of overparenting, also known as helicopter parenting. When you stay at home, you are far more inclined to over-parent because parenting becomes your sole focus. As expert Michele Borba explains,“If we keep hovering we will rob our kids of self-reliance.” 4. You Will Secure Future Earnings A woman who leave the workforce for just three years after having kids give up 37% of her future earnings according to a study done by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. This puts your family’s financial health at risk. 5. You Will Gain Personal Fulfillment Getting personal satisfaction from something other than your children is critical to being a great parent and a happy one. As France’s most famous parenting authority Pamela Druckerman explains, “The reigning view in France is that if a child is a woman’s only goal, everyone suffers, including the child.” 6. You Will Bring Worldliness to Your Home When you stay home, your world shrinks because you are surrounded by women like you; moms of the same age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status typically cluster together. By keeping up your career, you will be a more active participant in the world and expand the perspectives you bring into your home. As former stay at home mom Lisa Heffernan explains “In the workplace my contacts and friends included both genders and people of every description, and I was better for it.” 7. You Will Serve As A Role Model There are two ways you have a greater good impact as a working mom. Firstly, the future generation of young women need working mom role models for support, inspiration and mentorship. And then of course, there is the role modeling that goes on in your own home. A Harvard educated mom who returned to life as an entrepreneur after seven years at home tells this story: When she explained to her kids that she would be starting a company, they asked how that could be since, “Daddies start businesses and mommies stay home.” She sprinted to the office and hasn’t looked back. 8. You Will be Happier A recent study showed that stay at home moms suffer from significantly greater levels of depression by age 40 than working moms. It is hard to raise a happy child if you are an unhappy mom. As the old adage goes, when mom isn’t happy, nobody is. Samantha Ettus is the leading lifestyle and parenting expert for working women. She is the founder of Working Moms Lifestyle, a bestselling author and speaker. Connect with her at @samanthaettus.

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