Every time a mother is born, the balancing game begins. The nurturing drive to soak up every minute of the fleeting baby snuggles and stay present is juxtaposed with the need to make something that adds up to more than a few dozen Cheerios in the couch cushions and soiled diapers in the pail at the end of the day. Some moms find their balance by following a passion or interest; most moms find their way to equilibrium with the help of a support system that understands them.
Anastacia Monto is one of those mothers, and an entrepreneurial one to boot. Owner of AM Design Firm of Tunis Mills and single mother to six-year-old Andrew, Anastacia is no stranger to the struggle between wanting to be at home with her baby and developing a passion that also makes ends meet. Three years ago, when her son decided sleeping was an acceptable pastime, Anastacia spent Andrew’s sleepy afternoons pursuing her newfound interest—homes staging and interior design—and started her own design firm.
Being the new girl in town after moving to Easton from Philadelphia and finding herself in the midst of a disintegrating marriage, Anastacia reached out to the few friends she had at the time. Giving her positive feedback, bouncing around ideas, meeting childcare needs, and lending an ear or shoulder, those friends have since become her biggest supporters.
“I had lost a lot of my self-confidence as a working woman because I had spent years running a house focused on diapers, toys, and food…but I have learned that asking for help doesn't make me less of a mother. Instead it empowers me to reach my fullest potential,” she says.
Nowadays Anastacia is still able to put her son first while connecting with her clients to design spaces “based on the best parts of them,” to help them discover their inspiring sides, and transform rooms into meaningful spaces.
Like Anastacia, Jen Hunter is a portrait photographer who started her own business, Jennifer Hunter Photography, while caring for a young family. She spent her family’s snoozing hours researching and making a business plan to satisfy the urge to preserve every moment of her son Eli’s life. She participated in online classes and forums and found inspiration from other photographers with laptop in hand while her husband, her biggest cheerleader during waking hours, slept next to her.
When her business plan came to fruition, editing photos during nap times became the new juggling act, and she soon sought out the help of supportive family and friends for a hand with childcare and other needs. With a six-month-old at home and a six-year-old in kindergarten, Jen now spends what free time she can doing what she finds most rewarding about photography: helping families to preserve their history in the form of quality photographs.
“You have to be passionate about what you want to pursue; otherwise, I don't think it can work. Also, have a support system in place because it's impossible to go it alone,” Jen offers to other moms looking to strike a similar balance.
Anastacia’s advice echoes Jen’s: “Listen to your heart and start small. I looked at my world and tried to envision myself in a fulfilling place. Each day I took one step towards that place. It took small steps to make big things come into my life. I am living a life that I love.”
Know other entrepreneurial moms in our town? Give them a shout out in the comments below.