Alicia Mariel Frazee, Raleigh Small Business Women

Illuminate: A Moms Story On Childcare

Raleigh Small Business Women ConferenceLet’s take a little trip back in time to the summer of 2013, shall we? 

Back then, I was a mom of a 3 ½-year-old boy and a 10-month-old baby girl. I hadn’t slept more than three hours or so at a time in well over a year, I was exhausted and really didn’t think I could handle more on my plate. Despite all that, something was telling me that I needed to revitalize my small sewing business. I had started it right before I found out I was pregnant with our second baby, but The Teal Magnolia sat dead in the water with the occasional blog post and custom order as I took time to focus on our family. But I wanted to make it grow. I wanted to be me again, to come out of that post-baby fog and create again. 

I kept hearing about Illuminate. I knew it would be good. I knew Vend Raleigh was good – I’d been a fan since it was Raleigh Mompreneurs. I knew I’d get a lot out of it, but could I do it?   

Nope. No way.  Absolutely not. I had no childcare for the baby, no clothes that I could be seen wearing in public and not even a real business. I was insane to even think about it, so I shoved those thoughts to the back of my mind, telling myself that ‘someday’ I’d go. 

But the urge kept simmering inside. Finally, at the last minute – the very last minute – I did it. I bought my ticket and set the wheels in motion for revitalizing my business and revitalizing ME. 

But the issues were still there. Mainly childcare. What a nightmare. Before I hit that ‘buy’ button for my ticket, I had to virtually move mountains. Seriously, if someone did a video reel of what had to happen for me to get to Illuminate (which was only a mile from my house), it would have one of those zany, silent-movie soundtracks or that annoying circus clown music. 

The day before Illuminate, I uninstalled our extra car seat base from my husband’s truck and  installed it in my neighbor’s (neighbor 1) car while our kids ran amuk in the driveway. Just the act of walking three doors down with a 3 year old on a bike, a baby in a stroller and balancing the car seat base was a sight to see. 

My husband took vacation time the morning of Illuminate so he could take our daughter to our other neighbor’s house (neighbor 2) after she got home from dropping off her kids at preschool. Neighbor 1 then picked up the baby from Neighbor 2’s house, took her to pick up her own kids at preschool and then watched her until I got back. Why the switcharoo? Neighbor 1 had an appointment that morning, and neighbor 2 didn’t have enough car seat space to pick up her kids from preschool with my baby in tow so they split the time. I have amazing neighbors, by the way. 

My son was another story. I had to arrange for extra hours at his preschool so I could take him early and pick him up late. I gave him an applesauce packet as a quickie breakfast in the car (he was getting more breakfast at school, I promise), which he then managed to fling, getting applesauce all the way on my rearview mirror, and yes, on me. So now, on my one day of suspended mommy-dom, where I’ve actually taken the time to blow-dry my hair, I found myself with a glob of applesauce in my shiny tresses. After a quickie baby-wipe-and-random-hair-clip hair job in the parking lot, I dropped him off, and rushed back towards town. 

 

Upon seeing my coffee cuff the barista said “That is the coolest thing ever. You should sell these!” I smiled, said
“I’m working on it!” and handed over my business card.
This was going to work out. 

 

Somehow I managed to still have time to swing by the coffee drive-through. Of course I did. I mean, I wasn’t not about to show up de-caffed to this thing!  Upon seeing my coffee cuff the barista said “That is the coolest thing ever. You should sell these!” I smiled, said “I’m working on it!” and handed over my business card. This was going to work out. 

And on that note, off to Illuminate I went. And it was amazing and very much worth the effort. I walked away inspired and informed. This is huge for me. Other conferences, seminars, etc. that I’ve been to are one or the other. Have you noticed that? The conference is either inspiring and you leave thinking you can rule the world but soon find you don’t know how to do so, or you’re full of knowledge but so overwhelmed that you can’t do even the tiniest step to get started. 

Illuminate gave me tools, resources, and connections as well as inspiration, support, and confidence. It’s the only business event where I’ve left thinking “I DON’T WANT THIS TO END YET!”  The cool thing is that it doesn’t end when with the final session. Vend Raleigh offers ongoing support long after the discount codes in the swag bag have expired. Illuminate is great as a stand-alone event, but it’s even better as a beginning.

It’s crazy to me that within just a few months, I went from reluctant attendee to committee member, but that’s just how good this conference is and I simply couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be part of something like this.
 
And to think, childcare issues almost stopped me from going. At the risk of sounding like an after-school special, please don’t let this happen to you. We all have something that keeps us from going. Is it taking time off from your day job? Is it a scheduling conflict? Is it finding childcare? Whatever your challenge is, start brainstorming solutions now and get your ducks in a row now so you don’t miss out on Illuminate.  It’s #WORTHIT.
 
 
 
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Alicia Frazee

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