You know you need a brand story. If you want to create and grow your personal brand, which is an absolute requirement if you want to grow and scale a successful business today, you need to articulate your WHY. Who the heck are you, and why should we all care? It’s not an easy question to answer.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been majorly struggling these past 6 months. After having my best year ever in 2017, I was ALL over the place at the beginning of 2018. I was buzzing from an insanely successful year, but also totally burnt out. I knew I needed to change something, but I wasn’t sure what. I wasn’t sure what I wanted my business to be, or what exactly I needed to feel fulfilled.
This confusion started me down a path of trying a bunch of new things and having some massive failures. It damaged my confidence, not to mention my pocketbook. But I have learned something major. When you forget who you are, and why you’re here, you don’t make the right decisions.
I am doing some deep digging with myself to get real on my WHY and get crystal clear on what I want and need out of my business.
I’ve wanted to tell my real and raw brand story for years, but I’ve never had the guts to say it aloud. Until now.
MY BRAND STORY: Raw, Real & Unfiltered
I should probably start at the very beginning. The beginning of motherhood, I mean, because that’s when this all really started for me. I was a career salesperson. I was motivated by money and I loved the thrill of closing deals. I worked long, hard hours but I loved it. I got a taste of commission sales during my first job selling newspaper subscriptions when I was 15, and never looked back.
But when I became a mother, everything changed. I mean everything. I married at 22 and gave birth to my first son when I was 24. Suddenly, nothing mattered to me except for that baby. I had no desire to work or earn money. All I wanted was to keep that baby in my arms and make him smile.
I am grateful to live in Canada where we have a paid maternity leave. It’s just a fraction of your earnings, but enough to get by for that first year. I had a really rough pregnancy and wound up going off very early, so my maternity benefits were only stretched until my little guy was 10 months old.
I had this ridiculous fantasy that somehow, we would just figure it out. My now ex-husband would earn more, we would live off less, or maybe I could just work part-time. But when that last maternity cheque came in, I was in panic mode. There was no way we could survive without my income, and my child would be going without basic necessities if we tried. I immediately started job hunting, as there was no way I was going back to my old job. I made good money, but I had to start at 7 am and work rotating Saturdays.
Immediately I landed a new sales job, which started the day my baby would turn 11 months old. We spent the last two weeks of freedom breaking him in at a private home daycare. I cut him off from nursing and tried to have a good attitude. I knew I had no choice and it was my responsibility to bring in enough money to give this kid what he needed.
Those two weeks were beyond hard, but it was nothing compared to what was coming. Leaving him for an hour or two, and eventually leading up to half a day, was gut-wrenching. He cried, I cried, but the babysitter assured me he was fine within ten minutes every single time.
Then, reality kicks in. I start my new job, and we have a routine from hell.
It went something like this:
6 am: wake up, after being up all night anyway, get ready for work
7 am: Leave house
7:30 am: Drop baby off at babysitter’s
7:30 am to 7:50 am: sob my entire drive
8 am: Arrive at work
12 pm: Call babysitter to check on the baby and hide in my car to cry
5 pm: Leave work
5:30 pm: Pick up the baby
6 pm: Get home, make dinner, clean, do bath
7 pm: Baby falls asleep rocking in my arms
7 pm to 8 pm: Hold sleeping baby in my arms while I sob
Even as I’m typing this, nearly 9 years later, it still brings tears to my eyes. I felt so robbed from being a mother. The emotional pain of being separated from my baby was so intense and overwhelming. And it just went on, and on. For months.
The worst part about this was that I was completely alone in this invisible crisis. No one saw it, understood it, or appreciated what I was going through. I think it’s a lot like childbirth. People expect women to just go through this immensely traumatic experience, and then jump back into being themselves again. No one talks about it, but there are women every single day suffering from PTSD due to the trauma they experienced during childbirth. But no one sees it, or talks about it.
Being torn away from my baby was the worst possible thing I could have imagined. To suddenly have just two hours a day with him seemed like a jail sentence. Having to leave him with a complete stranger I found on the internet was even worse. I worried, all the time. I had this overwhelming sense of grief. Every piece of my heart ached when I had to leave him. No one prepared me for this. No one ever talked about how hard it was going to be, or let me know that I wasn’t completely alone in my pain.
After about 3 months, the constant crying (from both of us) finally stopped. Once he stopped, so did I. It was like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. He was finally okay and having fun days without me.
A mere month later, the rug was pulled out from under me when my babysitter announced she was going back to work fulltime herself, and would be closing her doors.
Back to the drawing board, I had to find a new place for my baby who was now just 14 months old. I found a spot that seemed wonderful. It was closer to home, and was run by two ladies. His first day there sent us both back into crisis mode. He was a mess, and so was I.
The third day in, they call me at work, and say they can’t keep him. He cries every time someone puts him down, and they just don’t think it’s the right environment for him. I jumped up from my desk and bolted out the back door of the office. I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. I was still at a brand new job and I couldn’t leave. I was absolutely SICK knowing my baby was with people who didn’t want him. I called my mom to see if she could go save him, and thankfully she was able to.
Then, an angel from heaven arrived. Her name was Jen. I will be forever thankful for this woman. She kept my darling happy, safe and healthy for 2 years before closing her doors. But, by that time, we were into toddler years so it wasn’t the end of the world to move him to a pre-school.
But those first few years of having an infant in daycare scarred me. They really did. It was the absolute worst time in my life, and I’ve been through some shit. But nothing compared to the grief and desperation I felt during that time. It was my burden to bear as a mother who needed to earn money.
It took me 4 long years to get over this and be willing to do it again. There are 5 years between my kids. Everyone thought I was nuts for waiting so long; they just couldn’t understand how scared I was to be back in that deep, dark place. I thought I was ready to take on the challenge, that it would somehow be easier the second time around, but I was dead wrong.
Within weeks of learning I was pregnant, I was in panic mode. There was no way in hell I could do it. I couldn’t even sleep at night, I was so stressed about the idea of having to leave my baby again. I hated how much time I was gone from my 4-year old, too. It seemed crazy to me that I had to work so many hours to make decent money. I didn’t have children so I could pay someone else to raise them. I absolutely hated this way of life and it was time to take back control and start making my own decisions.
I started researching businesses to buy. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I would get a loan from the bank, and buy a business I could run while taking care of my kids. I thought doing something that involved kids, like a daycare or indoor playground, would be ideal for me. But, I just didn’t have the financial resources. Doing something that required me to borrow huge sums of cash wasn’t going to result in the income I needed to continue to support my family.
One day, my ex-husband said something major to me in passing that changed everything. He was like, “Why are you trying to buy a business you know nothing about? You’re good at marketing, why don’t you just do that?”
I dove head first into creating a digital marketing business. I spent my maternity leave building a website and creating an online presence. I saved every penny I could, to give myself some funds to compensate for those early days.
My business has changed dramatically since then, but my motivation has not. For me, it’s always been about my kids. It’s been about taking control of my life, and finding a way to earn money around being a mother first.
I took my skills and my passions and I used them to create a business around my kids. I created something out of nothing that paid the bills out of sheer perseverance and drive. Every single has been hard, but beyond worth it.
Aren't they adorable? This is us out for breakfast on a Monday morning.
My business exists today to help other entrepreneurs, primarily mompreneurs, use their skills and passions to build sustainable businesses that meet their lifestyle needs. Everyone wants something different in this life, and my goal is to help you achieve whatever that is.
Content is the key to creating the business you desire, and content is what lights me up inside.
So that’s my brand story. What’s yours?
Founder of Malamax Content Marketing