ESME’s Top 15 Inspiring Single Mom Business Owners
Solo Mompreneurs who prove that the seemingly impossible is possible
Have you ever fantasized about working for yourself? Maybe you dream of opening a business but think that there is no way you can do that and be a Solo Mom. Yes, you can do it, and these 15 women can serve as inspiration! In no particular order, here are ESME’s top 15 Solo Mompreneurs:
In April 2006, Heather Monahan launched her website, heathermonahan.com, a site aimed at empowering women to use their unique attributes for achieving success in life. Currently based in Miami, this business expert (aka Boss in Heels) has worked all corners of the corporate environment, giving her the creds to inform women on the best way to approach the working world with expectations of success.
Solo Mom to son Dylan (nine), Monahan’s life as a single parent only amplifies her understanding of the day-in, day-out demands women face in the workplace and in life. Her openness and honesty regarding her own struggles make her all the more accessible, inspiring women to embrace our power, celebrate our individuality, command respect . . . and run the planet.
Shäni has dedicated her life to helping others become better informed and civically engaged in their communities. She founded the OneWorld Progressive Institute, whose mission is to “educate, inform and engage viewers on a range of issues critical to their lives. . . . ” For more than 20 years, she has been inspiring those living in Danbury, Connecticut, with her self-produced television show, 21st Century Conversations, which you can watch on Comcast and YouTube. While Shäni enjoys creating the topics for her show around health care, civic engagement, and education, she mostly enjoys producing television programs with teenagers and sharing with them the importance of civic engagement.
Janice Taylor will be the first to tell you that she’s not the doe-eyed Pinterest mom who slaves over intricate cupcakes. Instead, she’s a busy, energetic Solo Mom to two girls while also running her own tech company and earning national acclaim in her native Canada.
Taylor, 42, is the founder and CEO of Mazu, a digital village where parents and kids can connect with one another in a way that’s both fun and safe. She describes the mobile messaging and content app as a “walled garden for our children to not only engage with content that’s appropriate and healthy, but to engage with us as well as parents, as a family.”
The company is also partnered with several National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and Women’s National Basketball Association teams to reach kids under the age of 13.
In 2004, Beate Chelette was a Solo Mom of a 12-year-old daughter and had hit rock bottom. Two years later, she was a multimillionaire. In the span of a few years, the German native had gone from owning a prosperous photography agency that also produced advertising photo shoots for leading international brands to fighting an ex-employee in court for misappropriation of trade secrets to losing it all in an instant on September 11, 2001, when her company was wiped out in a day. She was $135,000 in debt, but she had an idea. Within 18 months, her new company was the leading producer of celebrity home stories for publications in 79 countries, and she had sales in the millions of dollars. That’s when Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates came to call and bought Chelette’s company for multimillions in 2006.
Today, Chelette, 52, is the creator of Growth Architecture, a speaker, and the author of the book Happy Woman Happy World: The Foolproof Fix That Takes You from Overwhelmed to Awesome! (Visualist Publishing, 2013).
At age 32, Cashmere Nicole has achieved more than most people do in a lifetime, and she’s just getting started. The founder and CEO of cosmetics brand Beauty Bakerie, Nicole is a mogul, the mother of a teenage daughter, a breast-cancer survivor, and an eternal optimist.
“I launched seven years ago with maybe $500 or $1,000. I had done my research and decided what I wanted, and I went for it. I began selling on a website. I started selling in stores in 2011, when I moved to Kansas and [the products] were sold in a boutique. Now we’re sold in over 100 countries and have 12 retailers worldwide. Next . . . we’re headed into Forever 21, and we have our flagship store in San Diego. We’re a multimillion-dollar company. We have a team of 25 and will be a team of 28 soon, and possibly 42 by the end of the year.”
New York native and entrepreneur Denise Albert has been making waves in broadcasting and journalism for most of her life. Born into the Albert legacy, she is the daughter of Marv, niece of Al and Steve, and sister of Kenny Albert. (Her twin brother, Brian, is also an entrepreneur; her sister, Jackie, is a chef; and her mom, Benita, is her company’s attorney.)
Along with business partner Melissa Gerstein, the former TV producer and award-winning journalist cocreated The Moms, a multimedia lifestyle brand, delivering parental advice on TV, in print, at celebrity events, and on their website, The Moms. She and Gerstein host the podcast, also called The Moms, and have created Mamarazzi, live town-hall events that bring together celebrity moms with moms across the country to discuss all things motherhood.
Yet the most important venture for this powerhouse mama is parenting her sons, Jaron and Jaylan. She “hates the term single mom and prefers to call herself ‘happily divorced,’” which she has been for the past five years.
Yalanda P. Lattimore was working three jobs, seven days a week. She held a full-time contracting position at Hewlett-Packard, she worked at Waffle House on the weekends, and she had a third side hustle selling gift baskets online. And she was a Solo Mom to four children.
“I was just like, this can’t be my life,” she says.
So she looked inward and relit a flame that had been burning inside her from a very young age. Lattimore, now 50, wanted to write. She hunkered down in a tiny closet-turned-office and set to work.
She taught herself how to code and how to build websites in those early days of the World Wide Web. She began blogging about news and happenings around her native Atlanta. Then she combined it all, and in 2002, DryerBuzz.com was born.
The dishy, socially conscious news site aims to make readers think and debate with topics ranging from success (or lack thereof) in diversity to trying out the raw-diet fad to celebrations of black hair. The site has exploded in popularity.
Life coach, motivational speaker, and writer Noelle Federico is the ultimate Working Single Mom. It only goes to reason she would create The Working Single Mom (TWSM) brand as a reflection of her personal identity and vehicle to inspire women to overcome fears and move forward. Since its inception in 2014, she has built an online following of more than 300,000 people.
Federico also teaches branding and marketing, and is the author of several books, including Practical Change: 8 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Life (Music City News Publishing, Inc., 2005), offering encouragement and guidance on effecting change.
The owner of the consulting firm Fortunato Partners, Inc., Federico has endless experience in all aspects of business management, media relations, sales, and marketing; but she has recently stepped away from the corporate world to devote all her time to TWSM. “It was a complete leap of faith and a God prompt. It’s important to me to leave the world better than I found it.”
When Robyn Meisinger was a child, she thought she’d grow up to be an attorney. She worshipped her dad, and he was an attorney. “The plan was to go to law school. I adore my dad, and he’s a lawyer. Problem was, I didn’t want to go to law school. So my parents cut me off with a ‘Good luck!’”
So Meisinger got a roommate and a job as a temp. She “floated” on the Sony lot and ended up as the assistant to one of the hottest studio executives in Hollywood, Kevin Misher. She made her way up the ladder, ultimately partnering with Adam Kolbrenner to found Madhouse Entertainment, one of the premier literary management and production companies in the entertainment industry.
Today, the single mom to daughter Olivia, 15, is still somewhat befuddled as to how she ended up firmly rooted in one of the most elusive and competitive businesses on the planet and maintains, “Law school was always my plan B—until I was too old for plan B. So if this doesn’t work out, I will have to marry for money.”
10. Michele Ware
Three years ago, Michele Ware, 53, was a finance executive contemplating her next career move. Today, she is the creator and CEO of Hoodwinked Escape, Upper Manhattan’s first escape-room experience. The hardworking Solo Mom says that a conversation she had with herself during her morning meditation helped her decide to quit her job and open her business: “I didn’t feel the need to allow anyone to convince me otherwise. That’s how good and fearless I had become from that one conversation. I’ve never been the type of person to stay suspended. Change is scary, but the fear of change is necessary. It just so happened that my daughter was going off to college, so the timing was perfect.”
It’s no secret that kids love unicorns, and many of us Solo Moms have spent our fair share of hours pretending to be mythical creatures. But Solo Mom Elliotte Bowerman took it one step further; together with her daughter, Liliana, Bowerman launched the Unicorn Scouts, a mail-order kit that encourages parents and kids to find their own inner unicorn (while having fun doing it together!). “Being an entrepreneur can be intense. There are times when Liliana gets frustrated with the time required for me to manage all the moving parts. She’s our president of play, and she takes her role very seriously. It’s important. So we always make time to play, but it can’t always be exactly when she wants—and that’s tough sometimes.”
A visionary is described as someone who plans the future with imagination and wisdom. That word can be used to describe Rachel P. Goldstein, CEO and founder of Agent of Change, an event production and strategic marketing company dedicated to “connecting people who want to change the world to the people that do.”
When it comes to the slogan “Be the Change,” Goldstein is a Solo Mom who is taking it to heart. She has worked with forward-thinking organizations, such as MoveOn.org, Tibet House US, and Equality Now. Adding Solo Mom to her roles, she’s had to make some shifts in her life to make things work so she can spend some time giving cuddles to her son.
13. Stephani Roberts
Stephani Roberts is a Solo Mom to her two daughters, eight-year-old Sienna and three-year-old Mia. After leaving an unhappy marriage and a career as a Web accessibility specialist, Roberts is now building a business around her podcast, The Audacious Life, for women who are stuck in abusive and controlling relationships. “And I’m launching a career come hell or high water, even if it means going to bed at 1:00 a.m.! This is my chance to make a difference, and I’m going for it. I’m finally at a point where I don’t care what other people think. It feels right, and we’re thriving—that’s all that matters to me. It’s gold.”
14. Alyson Fox
Levine Fox Events was founded in 1997 by mother and daughter Diane Levine and Alyson Fox, and it has grown into one of the most highly lauded event-planning companies in the nation. Best known for their stunning design and presentation, as well as their 24/7 work ethic, they have produced events and weddings for a wide array of distinguished clientele—from Britney Spears to top industry executives and CEOs of leading corporations. Levine Fox Events has been featured in countless major publications such as Inside Weddings, InStyle, and People. Recently, Levine retired, leaving the business in the capable hands of her daughter, who just happens to be an amazing Solo Mom to her daughter, Gabriella, who is 17.
15. Sugar Jones
Sugar Jones has been blogging about life, love, and the Internet since 2007. Her tweets (about absolutely everything) soon followed. With years of marketing and sales experience, she decided to take a chance and ride the wave of social media. And in the midst of carving out this creative career, she solo parented older daughter, Jasmine, 27—yes, Jones was a teen mom—as well as Ryan, 12, and Hannah, 14, from her second marriage. Jones describes herself as a “social-media specialist and content creator. I write, do photography, create videos, whatever is coming down the pike. . . . I test everything on myself first before taking it to the client.”
So there they are, 15 examples of pure Solo Mom badassness! Read their stories and be inspired. What have you always wanted to do?
Do you know a Solo Mom who deserves to be featured in our Hall of Fame? Nominate a Solo Mom by writing to email@example.com. Also, be sure to check out ESME’s Work and Finances Resource section for more articles and tips on understanding and taking control of your finances.
Photo credits can be found in the original articles in ESME’s Hall of Fame section.
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.