A Day in the Life of…Kelley S. and Femworking
10 02 by Stephanie Gibney
(Photo credit: Julie McCarter owner of www.shootphotoinc.com)
I’m just going to start right in with the disappointing here…when talking with Kelley Sanabria, founder of Femworking, about possibly doing “A Day in the Life” with her, the first thing she mentions is that her day is broken up kind of weird because her daughter still takes two naps. OMG I think that is perfect, cause honestly I’m a little tired by Friday and it had been a hard week so two naps sounded like a great idea to me.
We should put all this in context I guess…Kelley is a stay at home mom AND founder of Femworking, a DC based organization that started really just to create a place where woman similar to Kelley could go and share what they were going through. Being mothers, bloggers and entrepreneurs was hard and Kelley wanted someone to swap experiences with….and if that could happen on a Saturday morning that would be great. In January 2013 Femworking was born in a coffee shop with Kelley really just satisfied with the thought of creating a community where people like herself could go and share their successes and failures with each other.
I know what you’re thinking….all this sounds calm….that’s what I thought too. So I had followed Kelley’s story because previously I was on the original board of Ladies DC and thought her group seemed similar. In December my two year board appointment was over and, while I liked Ladies, I felt was itching to work with a group that was similar while also being something much smaller. I looked at Femworking but mistakenly had assumed it was a place for mommy bloggers to go. At the time I didn’t blog and I couldn’t find anyone willing to lend me a child so I abandoned the group.
Around March my interest peaked again because both Kelley and Femworking kept coming up in conversation and social media. The most interesting thing was that Femworking had started charging for membership and events. Wow! I thought, that was fast. Ladies DC did not even entertain that discussion until they were pretty established, even when they had reached 1600 members the group decided against membership charging. So I thought this was a pretty ballsy move…this girl has some guts…and some smarts.
Fast forward to August 2013 and Femworking announces that they are having their first conference in October 2013, which coincided with the time Accounting 4 DC will be selecting our fall sponsorship events. Upon hearing about the conference, I thought I must have missed something….and we all know how I hate to miss things!
Turns out what I missed was the fact that Femworking had nothing to do with mommy bloggers. Kelley did happen to be a mother who had a blog but Femworking was nothing about that. The group is made up of women, primarily in their 30s and many have children but that was just a coincidence. Femworking has grown rapidly, with members insisting on paying membership dues as a way of ensuring that members are motivated to be active participants who take charge of their experience and give back. A demand for an educational speaking series within the group quickly morphed into an annual conference. Within weeks of announcing the conference, over 50% of the tickets available have sold, all with very little “advertising”. The group and the conference are primarily promoted through members tweeting out to their followers using the hashtag #femcon13 and promoting through blogs.
Now this is where the wakeup call of what nap time really means for a day in the life of Kelley. What was once a calm, quite time for mother and daughter to recharge after a day of play is now two hours where the baby sleeps and Kelley works to answer all the emails and calls related to the upcoming conference. Kelley contributes much of her group’s success with being responsive. She aims to answer every email, tweet, and blog comment herself within hours of receiving them.
In 2012 when Femworking started Kelley’s mini-me would have been around six months old. I don’t have children of my own but I do know at six months babies really just kick it beside you, sleeping, eating, doing baby stuff that all appear to be something you can handle while sitting on the couch answering emails. I came to find out that those days were long over, as a fifteen month old is a whole different ball game. I had assumed we would be calmly sitting answering emails and calls all day, which for me a would be a nice day of catch up since I was going on vacation the following week, while Kelley’s daughter entertained herself by playing with toys or watching TV. I had envisioned when that two hour nap time came around the first time I would have continued working, reviewing a tax return or two, catching up on my tweets and then by the time the second nap time came around I too may have a nice mid-day nap, since you know…I HAD to really immerse myself into being Kelley, naps included! I’m also going to be honest and say that although I have friends with kids and have seen the reality of motherhood I am still one of those people (having not done it myself) who does slightly romanticize it. When Kelley mentioned having a fifteen month old I immediately assumed it meant pleasant mornings picking out cute outfits and getting her daughter some matching hair bows.
One of the reasons I chose Kelley was in my mind I envisioned someone who had the best of both worlds. She was a stay a home mom who had decided to start a group that due to demand had really grown and developed on its own, kind of a right place at the right time thing. Boy did I get a reality check. Apparently, a conference really does not put itself together, which was an answer to my first question. My second question was to ask who all was on the team to help you put this together, and when does someone come to help with the baby so you can catch up?
Kelley found all this amusing; first alerting me to the fact that no one comes to help with the baby. There is no nanny share, half-day daycare or retired mother in law down the street…it’s all her.
Learning I had been part of Ladies DC’s founding board and hearing about what was a much larger group of board members and volunteers behind that first conference made her laugh. Femworking is small and they just do not have that level of volunteers yet which means Kelley and another member Nicole do most of the conference planning, calls, and emails while maintaining their businesses and blogs plus raising children. When I asked how she managed it all she just smiled and laughed, pointing to the painters tape in the bathroom (she had intended on painting it before the photographer and I showed up) and said “I don’t manage it ALL”. Kelley prioritized, which is something her and I talked about being fundamental in being a successful businesswoman. Reaching the point where you understand what must be done versus what can wait. It’s hard to let go of the guilt of not getting the bathroom painted, but knowing that you are doing what you can, versus what you want to do and being comfortable with that is ok. Or as Kelley put it “You know I’m really glad you’re a cool girl. I thought about it after answering emails until 11 pm last night. It was either kill myself painting that bathroom or gamble that you weren’t really going to be offended that the painters tape was still up”.
Kelley’s gamble paid off because I couldn’t possibly have cared. To summarize living as Kelley: Our day started with us tweeting at about 6:45 in the morning; by 8 am we were up and having breakfast (we started at different locations because unless I wanted to spend the night it was not going to be possible to have the exact same day). 9 am was more tweeting, running an errand (I picked up the donuts), calling a potential client of mine that went 45 minutes when I thought it would be 15 which caused me to be late. By the time I arrived the first nap had already started. In my rush to get inside so we could set up and meet before the photographer arrived I left my charger somewhere. At 10:30 I had another call, which I did in the lobby so as not to wake the baby. Meanwhile, Kelley was working and tweeting during the two hour nap. Once the nap was over Kelley and I talked conference, Femworking and all things business while tweeting and trying to keep up on emails via phone so that we were still engaged with her daughter. Around lunch I realized I had no phone charger which caused us to search around to see if we could find one that was compatible. No dice; and it was time to feed the baby before her next nap. Since I had completely lost power on my phone during the second nap, and OH BOY COULD I HAVE USED A NAP at this point, I had to jump on the computer and play catch up before Kelley’s husband came home at 5 pm. I’m not going to lie, at 5 pm I tapped out. I was exhausted and honestly could not do dinner and then pop back on the computer. I needed to go home and rest…because you know I never got that nap….
Would I do it again? Yes…but unlike Kelley I think I would need to get some help