“What I found really difficult about a traditional mother’s group was that it was this hardcore focus on baby development. It became a bit of a competition, we forgot ourselves and focused solely on our babies. I knew there had to be another way! I wondered whether we could get together and connect on a personal level. At first sight, we’re crafting something educational for our baby but it’s so much more than that! When we busy our hands, we free our minds.
The transition from highly educated career woman to mom is a tough one.
For my first Mumma Got Skills workshop, I invited my mothers group to craft with me. I asked for $10 for materials and we made a butterfly learning mobile. But what really happened was that we opened up about our world. We started talking about the things we found hard about being women and mothers. These are career women who are highly educated and who put their professional trajectory on hold. And let me tell you, they all know that their peers are continuing to climb the ladder while they’re taking “time off” – some moms are naturally more comfortable with that than others. But the truth is, it’s a really tough transition and it’s made even harder by the isolation that many first-time moms experience with a newborn.”
I felt a little confronted at being called a social entrepreneur because I was really just doing it to help mothers.
Meet Carlie Dole, founder of Mumma Got Skills, mother of a vivacious three year old (at the time of writing, March 2021), advocate for maternal mental health and host of Impact GatHering, a conversation series of and for women in the social enterprise space.
“The concept of Mumma Got Skills caught on and I was able to run more and more workshops to meet demand. I would have never called myself a business-woman and quite frankly, I felt a little confronted at first being called a social entrepreneur because I was really just doing it to help mothers and I knew I had a concept that worked. I remember laying on the couch feeding my baby and stumbling across the Elevate+ program hosted by Impact Boom here in Brisbane. I didn’t identify as a social entrepreneur then but I was able to answer all the questions in the application so I figured this might help me move forward. I got into the program and the rest is history.
The social entrepreneurs I was in the Elevate+ program with were all doing profoundly different things but we just had each other’s back.
Elevate+ was a catalyst for Mumma Got Skills. For the first time, I felt like I had the space to step back and really take a high-level view at what I was doing. But the biggest take-away from the program for me was the cohort: I don’t believe anything happens by chance; the social entrepreneurs I was with were all doing profoundly different things but we just had each other’s back and even to this day, especially the women in that group are really good friends of mine. Looking back, that was the thing that I was really struggling with: feeling very alone in this world. I’d started this business, not really knowing yet what I’m doing, yet it seems to be working, and all of a sudden I’m segregated from my friends and family because they don’t understand it or they don’t want to know about it. My world changed so much and I somehow felt like I wasn’t relatable anymore.
Clearly, I was changing into more of an entrepreneur and the other women in my cohort started to become my comrades-in-arms. There were some men in the group who were talking about millions of dollars of investment and I was playing kind of small, with love, but small nonetheless. They questioned whether my business was scalable or even viable. But having other women in the group and going through the Elevate+ program got me closer to figuring out the business model.
I was fortunate to attend the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in 2019 and that changed my entire outlook. I met so many incredible people doing good in the world in so many different ways. None of them was talking about making millions of dollars in the stock market. Talking to these impact makers who were going their own way cemented the idea for me that there are many different ways of making a difference. My impact can be local and I’m ok with that.
When you grow up in a patriarchal system and you think there’s only one way of doing things, it’s really hard to change that mindset.
When I returned from Ethiopia, I found myself wondering how other women in the social impact space were managing their lives, businesses and careers. That’s where Impact GatHering was born: It was a six-part conversation series with women who work in social impact, innovation and enterprise. Because when you grow up in a patriarchal system and you think there’s only one way of doing things, it’s really hard to change that mindset!
If we honor the fact that women lead and succeed differently, then business as unusual can reign and that’s what I’m all about!
To be honest, hosting these panels coincided with a really dark time for me personally. I would show up for some of the events on the verge of a panic attack and it was all I could do to hang on and guide the conversation. The big takeaway from that series was ‘Here are women owning themselves in all of their glory and all of their faults.’ We had common themes like imposter syndrome and hiding behind a mask to try to fit into this masculine world. But we realized that that is not our role because it forces us to distort ourselves. Instead, I want us to own womanhood and lead with that. If we honor the fact that women lead and succeed differently, then business as unusual can reign and that’s what I’m all about!”
Who is in your corner?
“I’m a bit of a lone ranger and I’m still finding my way out of this mindset that I have to do everything by myself and shouldn’t have to ask for help etc. I’ve just teamed up with an intuitive business coach/friend to work through my blocks around teamwork. There probably are a lot of other people ready to jump in and support me but to even let them know that I need help would mean opening up and being vulnerable – and that’s something I’m still working on. Get back to me on that!”
Who should we know about?
- Sarah Ripper, founder of Myoni menstrual cups, trained Pranic healer and intuitive business coach.
- Marion Glover, founder at Vessel Nundah – a refill shop for eco-friendly skincare and cleaning products.
Impact GatHering: A 6-part series
- Why Female-Led is Different
- What Is Your Purpose?
- Supporting Women In Impact-Led Business
- Authentic Marketing For Stronger Impact
- Funding & Growing Your Impact Business
- Business Models For Impact-Led Business
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Art specialist and mental health advocate. Social entrepreneur and host of Impact Gathering. Mom.