It’s been too long. Too long since I’ve woken up and got dressed in a business-friendly attire. Too long since I’ve put decent makeup on and the FIRST time I’ve ever worn fire engine red lipstick… This is how the day started for me who jumped at an opportunity to attend, “Mompreneurs: Growing Business & Raising Families”, an initiative by Detroit Startup Week.
The truth is, my mom (an amazing textile designer) told me about this just the day before. She always seems to know all the insight into the new programs and business opportunities in the “upcoming” Detroit. But I somehow got the kids dressed, made lunches and raced my ass out the door leaving 1 hour early, because you just never know what will happen with a 1 and 4 year old.
Upon arriving I found an amazing free park literally right in front of the building, and I was super geeked I was on time! Once I met up with my mom, she took the kids, and I made my way inside, feeling ready and refreshed.
Once I was registered I was handed this lanyard. “OUUUU” I thought, super professional, but soon found myself confused on where the hell to go, so I felt like an idiot 5 seconds later. No signs anywhere just a old elevator with an actual elevator operator (the Masonic temple is a older building.) Once on the 3rd floor I spotted the signs on where to go, but went in mommy mode and went looking for a potty. As soon as I found it, there was a line of ladies waiting Of course I went into double mommy mode and asked if there was another one – and indeed it was, just around the corner. What’s important about this part is that the ladies standing in line heard it too but just waited. So I just proceeded and there it was are less than 30 feet away – an empty bathroom. After the pee, I whipped around the
corner and yelled “hey there’s an empty bathroom and it’s super close”. They just smiled and no one moved. Immediately I thought — ok clearly they have no kids and a life lol.
When the discussion started, it was truly inspiring, I heard stories about one who had a kid at 14, some who started businesses later as a moms, single moms all successful, amazing mompreneurs. It included Dr. Nicole Farmer, Sylvia Crawford, Rian Barnhill, Cheryl Johnson, Sarah Swanson. It was all sounding good, I was getting excited – until question time. Now I have to admit I get a bit nervous talking in front of people, but this anxiety was different. I started to sweat, my heart was racing, and I kept going over and over what I wanted to ask. My questions were legit, sensible and do I dare say creative, but here was I was, going over and over about how to ask. My thoughts were racing fast and it felt like I was having a panic attack.
Finally at the end when a dad just started blurring out questions, I slowly raised my hand – not really high. OK, OK, I lied. It was actually just an “usher finger” type of raised arm.
While everyone was asking about time management and how to get things done. I had hardline questions like making money online, ROI, ROS, google or balancing of power and money between your mate – deep practical business questions. But by the time I had organized my thoughts to make sure the questions made sense, it was too late. Time’s up. No time for questions, no time for this socially awkward mom with amazing questions.
I have to admit, I got really emotional – the crying type. My nose turned red and one tiny tear started. At the moment, I almost decided to get up and leave. Only to feel regretful and find that same bathroom, the empty one, no one wanted to go to, crying because of a missed opportunity. It was a very sad, depressing moment.
But something happened. The moderater said she wanted to end early so we had a chance to talk, in-person, to the panel. FINALLY I had a second chance and I took it. Business cards in hand, sweating underarm stained shirt, I conjured up the strength and introduced myself TO EACH SPEAKER. I started by explaining I’m an awkward mom and here some questions I had. Almost of all them told me the questions were amazing and it should have been talked about. They assured me that they’ve been where I was, nervous and all. And I’m proud to say a few inquired about my graphic design services too.
The lesson here is this. Don’t be afraid of what people think. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions, seriously. It’s hard I know. I remember how it used to be working corporate and feeling on top of the world; but it’s different now. As moms we’re making and molding the future world. If you feel you missed an opportunity, if it’s really meant to be, it will open itself up again. I promise.
As for me? I’ll still be that socially awkward mom at first. Probably because I’ve been out of the business/corporate loop for a while, but I learned how to network better that day and now feel like if I can yell to a line of ladies there is a bathroom with no waiting, in a crowd – I can do anything lol!
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