MOB Nation arrives in Columbia County
Running your own business is already challenging. Doing it when you're a mom adds a whole new level of complexity.
Members of the Columbia County MOB Nation get it, and are now offering a new professional networking group in the county as a resource.
Jessica Hansen, who runs her own consulting business working with small business owners and also opened the Scappoose co-working space, Jubilee Collective, recently started a Columbia County chapter of the MOB National Alliance earlier this year.
MOB, which stands for "Mom Owned Business," represents an alliance of women supporting one another through public meetups, networking events and online resources. The national MOB Nation, which started as a Facebook group in 2012, now has 23 alliance chapters in seven different states and was a 2018 Oregon Entrepreneur Network Game Changer Award finalist, according to the organization's website.
"It's all about supporting moms who have businesses, because it's different. When you're a mom, it's not the same as just plain entrepreneurship because you have so much responsibility elsewhere and there's not always a place
to drop your kids," Hansen said.
Over the summer, Hansen held several meetups to test the waters and to gauge community interest.
Christine Smith-Reed, a Columbia City mom who runs her own hair salon in St. Helens and a children's clothing consignment business, said she was interested in joining because of the positive connections she could make with other like-minded women. She sees the need for women to support other women in all endeavors.
"It sounds so lame and corny, but I really just want to see women succeed. I've been to two meetings that have been pretty informal, but at the end you walk away with this feeling of empowerment," Smith-Reed said.
Additionally, she knows the challenges that can come with being a parent and business owner, and although it's not her main drive for joining, she sees how membership can help women.
"This allows you be a mom and provide nature and nurture for your kids, and it also allows you to nurture something that feeds your soul, which is your business," Smith-Reed said.
Erica Sherlock, a real estate agent in Scappoose, said she joined the group recently as a new parent. Although she's not new to her business, she's a new mom and said finding a balance can be tough. Having a place where she can bring her 9-month-old son with her and continue networking is also a major benefit.
"Feeling comfortable being able to bring my son to different networking opportunities and not feeling judged is awesome," Sherlock explained.
Hansen said she is looking forward to the opportunities the new chapter presents for Columbia County women, especially those with their own businesses who want to network.
"I'm excited because it builds more community in Columbia County and in a different way than we currently have," Hansen said. "This is just another opportunity for the moms to connect, but specifically to focus on their business."
Sherlock said the new group really fills a need in the community, too.
"It is new and I think there's a lot of potential and a lot of need for it, really," Sherlock said. "There are so many moms doing business — small business stuff out of their homes while also watching their kids — and this great."
Next Tuesday, Oct. 16, the Columbia County group will be hosting a meetup at 6 p.m. at the Jubilee Collective office. The founder of MOB Nation, Aria Leighty, is planning to attend the event.
Tickets for the meetups are $10 for nonmembers and free for MOB Nation members. An event page is available on Facebook, as well as at www.themobnation.com.