photo credit Michelle Haurilak Photography
Jennifer is another mom that I have met through my “mom” small business networking group Mamas & Co. I had, however, heard of Jennifer before! A close friend of mine received some Hypnobirthing support from Jennifer which she really enjoyed and which helped her through the birth of her two children. So what does Jennifer do? She is mom, a birth and postpartum doula, a postpartum placenta specialist a certified yoga teacher, holistic practitioner. Amazing right? Looking for a crush? Meet Jennifer!
Your Name: Jennifer Henderson
Kids Names: Renee, and Chester (the cat)
Company Name: Doula Care Journey
What is the Story behind your business?
After the birth of my daughter, I was profoundly changed. I went back to my financial services career when my maternity leave ended, but I had lost the passion for what I did. I felt empty every day in a job that had no meaning to me. Having had a rocky start to motherhood myself, I wanted to make a difference for growing families. After a transformative yoga teacher training at Yogaspace Toronto, I quit my job and took birth doula training. This started me down a path towards meaningful, flexible work that also allowed me to spend more time with my family, which was very important to me. In 2014 I started working with another established doula and together we worked to build the business and increase the number of families we were serving. But a few years later, her journey took a different turn and the business was no more. I was left with a choice: stop doing this work and go back to the corporate world (which is always tempting for a steady paycheque versus the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur) or pick up the pieces and rebuild. I chose to rebuild with an amazing business partner, and Doula Care Journey was born. The services we offer are the things we are most passionate about, namely, yoga, labour support, day and night postpartum support, placenta encapsulation, and Hypnobirthing classes.
How did the idea for the business come about?
I was completely down in the dumps about what had happened with the fact that my old business has shut down. I was even contemplating not working as doula anymore. I was having coffee with Amy, another doula that I had worked with, and she totally surprised me when she asked if I wanted to rebuild a new business with her. I was thrilled and said yes! We are both yoga teachers and her passion on the birth side of things matches my interest in all things postpartum, so we are great compliments to each other. The name Doula Care Journey came about because of the journey that we are lucky enough to accompany families on as they grow. And because we care so much about them, we knew that “care” had to be a part of our name.
What motivates you?
When I work with a mom and I see her gaining confidence in her parenting ability, or the fact that she got a full nights sleep, or that look on her face when she meets her baby for the first time – it’s an honour and a privilege to work with growing families at a critical transition time in their lives. And my own family is a huge motivator for me. We’ve endured a lot of curveballs, from illness to job loss, and my husband and I are always saying “Who Moved my Cheese?” (a reference to a book of the same name about being able to adapt. I feel like our cheese gets moved quite a bit). I now am working in a job I love, with flexibility. It’s really important to me to be able to do things like volunteer on school field trips and be able to spend PA days with my daughter. Being able to have a better lifestyle overall is a big motivator – and working in a team in my business, I know Amy has my back if I have a family commitment, and our clients are still going to get amazing support.
What is the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur / working mom?
Time management! Because I am committed to dropping off and picking up my daughter from school, and being there for her until my husband gets home from work, my workday is condensed from 9:30am to 3pm, with some evenings and weekends thrown in. And it gets challenging to keep up with the administrative stuff like finances and social media when I’m working with clients. There’s also the temptation that when I’m home I can do things in the home – and while sometimes that’s reasonable (like putting a casserole in the oven for dinner or picking up groceries), I always feel like either my house or business is getting neglected. But I try to stay focussed on working during work hours (even when I’m not with a client) so that when I am busy with a client, things are happening in a somewhat automated fashion. I still am learning every day how to be a better business owner and stay balanced.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned about being an entrepreneur / working mom?
Have a great support network! My husband is fantastic. Just yesterday he did school drop off and pick up (and worked in between) because I was giving birth support to a mom with a long labour at the hospital. He shares the load of parenting and home chores and was 100% on board when I left my corporate job as well. He and I are a team and we are always working towards our shared goals and each of us does what it takes to make things run. I am the luckiest wife in the world. I am also member of Mamas and Co, which support mom entrepreneurs. its a great resource for education, networking, and support from people who know what it’s like to balance family and career.
What is the Next Step for you and this Business?
We just finished building our new website with a rebrand, and we are putting the final touches on our SEO, as well as shutting down the old company website. So our next step is to start focussing on expansion – we want to take it to the next level. We are going to start a YouTube channel as well as start networking more with local professionals as we build a good resource network for our clients. Having been serving the Toronto community for the last 3 years now, we have a lot of connections but haven’t started collaborating as much as we would like to. And I’d love to add professional Babymoon travel services to our offering. Travel and travel planning is my other passion!
What would you tell your “starting-out” self?
Stop panicking over money. It was so difficult when that generous corporate paycheque no longer arrived every two weeks. I had horrible visions of my family being destitute and living on the street. It takes a bit of time to get a business up and running. The clients will come. They are out there. Breathe.
What is your super power?
That’s a tough one. I think my flexibility in terms of rolling with what life throws at me – I can adapt quickly and think on my feet. It’s helpful in the job I do because things can change so quickly in birth, and goals for postpartum often change once baby arrives. Being able to change things up as needed is essential to what I do, and dealing with life in general.
What is something that you think people should know about you?
My favourite thing to do in my free time is to research new places around the world to visit. I can get lost for hours on travel websites and in books. I love learning about new cultures and experiencing new places. I have a serious case of wanderlust but it’s been on hold a bit until my daughter gets a bit older, so I like to daydream about the places we’ll see together one day as a family.
Who is your supporting cast of characters? (who needs a shout out)
My husband, daughter, and cat (the therapeutic act of stroking a cat cannot be understated) are awesome. My doula trainer has also built a great community full of brilliant doulas who bounce ideas and stories about our work around – it’s great to be able to speak to others who know what you’re going through! And all my friends who supported my transition to entrepreneurship. And my amazing partner, Amy, who works with me to keep everything running smoothly.