One of the most important things I’m learning in this phase of my life is that motherhood doesn’t have to be an EITHER/OR decision. It doesn’t have to be all diapers and sacrifice forever and ever amen. Being a mother can — and should — include ampersands. Meaning: we can raise tiny humans AND embrace our unique callings as women AND pursue our individual career goals. We can embrace the &s.
Crystalee Beck is master of the ampersand. As a mom of three and co-founder of revolutionary mama mentoring company The Mama Ladder, she’s redefining entrepreneurship for women who want to raise kids and run a business. The Mama Ladder offers one-of-a-kind empowerment, community, and mentoring opportunities to help women thrive at the intersection of mamahood and entrepreneurship — to passionately and confidently embrace their and with freedom and joy.
On today’s Talking Shop, Crystalee shares why she’s ditched the “corporate ladder” for a more mama-fit approach, what resources The Mama Ladder offers women, and what she wished mothers knew about the business/parenting balance.
Everyone, meet Crystalee!
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Crystalee Beck. I see myself as a wife, mama of three cute messmakers, mountain climber, and two-time entrepreneur. I’m super passionate about the intersection of motherhood and entrepreneurship and believe you can be YOU while being the mom you want to be.
Tell us about your journey to The Mama Ladder. How did it get its start?
The Mama Ladder launched in summer 2017 to meet the needs of a movement of women who are “creating their own ladder” to fit their family, instead of climbing a complicated corporate ladder. I used to work full-time, and when my first baby was born, I felt really torn. I loved my job, but loved my baby more. I wanted time with her and didn’t want to give up using my master’s degree. Then I got laid off, which was my answer. It was time to “create my own ladder,” and I launched it in February 2016. Eighteen months later I co-founded The Mama Ladder to support the many, many mamas I kept finding who needed a hub of support in their entrepreneur journey.
Why is the image of the ladder significant to your mission?
The “corporate ladder” never fit me and I don’t think it fits what a lot of moms need. Instead, I see being as business owner as a way to “create your own ladder” that fits your family and aligns with your highest ambitions. Instead of fighting a glass ceiling, I see the option of skipping it entirely. Create and climb as high as you want, on your OWN ladder, I say!
How have you been able to find the freedom to enjoy family and your business?
I feel really strongly that time is our most valuable asset. You cannot buy it. You cannot make more of it. You have to protect it for what matters to you. For me, TIME freedom is really important. I structure both of my businesses so that I can be there for my kids, my husband, and myself. There’s a lot of freedom in setting your own schedule. I planned out my entire 2020 and I have nine vacations and more than 31 days off — to me, that is freedom!
What are some of the biggest challenges that mom entrepreneurs face?
As caretakers in our homes, mom entrepreneurs have less time and energy than other entrepreneurs. We have to be really smart and efficient with how we work. This also becomes our greatest strength because we’re motivated to use our time well so we can be there for our families.
What kind of support and resources does The Mama Ladder offer for moms?
The Mama Ladder co-hosts a grant program with Belly Bandit, a women-owned company that believes in supporting mompreneurs. It’s called the High Five Grant for Moms and we provide a $5,000 grant twice a year to promising mompreneurs. Any mom who owns a business is welcome to apply in the winter and summer. See more at www.highfivegrant.com.
The Mama Ladder also has a program called MAMA POWER™, where we help women with business services (like getting their taxes done, SEO for their website, etc.), monthly trainings, power hours, and members-only discounts with our partners. Most of all, our members attend our powerful three-day retreat, #MamaSpringBreak Business & Adventure Retreat, where they unite with other mothers in real life and focus on growing their business. There’s nothing else in the world quite like it!
How have you been able to grow a supportive and empowering community of women?
We really believe in real relationships and pour a whole lot of love into The Mama Ladder, — one mama at a time — and they can feel that we really support them.
How did you develop your six “Mamapreneur Mantras?”
These are mantras I’ve said over and over to myself and realized they would be helpful for other mom entrepreneurs. There are so many steps and lessons to take on the entrepreneur journey and our goal at The Mama Ladder is to help women get where they want, faster (while being the mom they want to be!)
What first-step advice would you give to a mama looking to pursue a business passion?
Make sure you understand who you want to serve. Without a “who,” what you sell doesn’t really matter. There has to be a market for it, so do your research. This can look like hosting a focus group, sending out a survey, having interviews. You need to talk to real people and understand what they want.
What have been some of the most rewarding experiences of running The Mama Ladder?
Oh my goodness, there have been so many! I feel a divine thrill of joy when I bring good women together in person. I’m thinking of our mama who came from the United Kingdom for #MamaSpringBreak and all the friendships she made with Americans. I loved knowing that I had a hand in those connections for her. It’s also really satisfying to see all of the entries for our grant program. I love helping women understand and OWN their why. (Check out the #highfivegrant on Insta! So powerful)
What do you wish women knew about the mothering/business balance?
Both are absolutely possible, at the same time, and they actually enhance each other. Building a business is great training for leading at home. Being a mother helps you know how to manage people, processes, and expectations in your company.
What is your ultimate vision for The Mama Ladder?
We aim to help thousands of women around the world at the intersection of motherhood and entrepreneurship each year to have more financial and time freedom. I also envision #MamaSpringBreak having sessions around the world as THE RETREAT for mompreneurs. Little by little, we’ll get there.
The Fun Qs:
What is your favorite out-of-office activity?
I love mountains and my favorite thing to do is hike. I intend to climb the big peaks of the world in the coming decades, but for now, I mostly hike near my home in beautiful northern Utah.
What is a book you always recommend to mom friends?
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. It’s so crazy powerful and I wish it was required reading for everyone because it redefines work and money and changed the way I see them.
What is your favorite treat?
Watermelon, berries, and mangoes (I like fruit best.)
What makes you laugh?
When my kids say funny things. For example: “Does Ironman have underwear?”