It Takes a Village: How Tribe Alive’s Founder Balances Motherhood and Social Entrepreneurship
You’ve probably heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a fairly new mother and even newer business owner, I can confirm that this statement speaks to both experiences.
My life, like that of most women, is a balancing act: As I find myself in and out of far-flung countries, I feel torn between my passion for my child and my desire to spend time with the women Tribe Alive seeks to empower. Instead of worrying about which school my daughter will attend in the fall or how many servings of vegetables she’s had that day, I worry about whether the country I’m visiting next month is safe enough for her to visit with me. More often than not, my daughter stays at home with her superhero dad and our tribe of friends and family who make our life work. There is always someone stepping up to help us choreograph our way through both parenthood and the brand-building dance.
The village method has not failed me yet, and it’s that model I followed when launching my business. It is also the inspiration behind the name Tribe Alive, and I have no doubt that I would never have gotten to the place I am today without the help of those around me.
For any mothers or fathers out there who are balancing running a business with the challenges and joys of being a parent, know that you’re not alone. To help you succeed as both a parent and a business owner, here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Do your Research
You’re not the first to go down this path, so why not learn from those who have gone before you? In Blake Mycoskie’s book “Start Something That Matters,” he tells us that “A leader can create a company, but a community creates a movement.”
The lessons I took from Blake’s book have shaped my approach. Most people are surprised to learn that Tribe Alive has not yet celebrated its first anniversary. We’ve grown quickly, which would not have happened without the efforts of so many who have offered their skills and time, all because they believe in our mission.
Find your Tribe
From the beginning, I viewed Tribe Alive as so much more than just a company. I went into this hoping to utilize my years of experience in the fashion industry to make a larger difference in this world.
What I lacked in experience, I hoped to make up for in passion. It was 2014, and I had never used Twitter or Instagram, but I recognized that social media was a powerful selling tool. However, I despised the very thought of self-promotion and needed the support of my community to truly get things off the ground.
Within a couple months of our launch, the growth trajectory of this brand exceeded my personal capacities, and without the support of my community, we would not be where we are today. From the beginning it took a village, or better yet, a tribe. I want other aspiring entrepreneurs to know that they are not meant to go it alone. Find your tribe and grow your movement from there.
Crowdfund as Needed
This focus on community extends to our initial financing efforts. We launched our first collection after a month-long crowdfunding campaign. In 30 days we raised over $20,000, and more importantly, reached over 500 contributors who engaged at all levels to be a part of building our brand.
Crowdfunding worked for us because it gave us the opportunity to tell our story and get people excited about supporting a company that wanted to make a difference. This tribe took pride in the fact that they had all played a part in our success. Early on, we recognized that customers are different from supporters. The former come and go based on trends and whims, while supporters will continue to engage with and promote the brand long term. Crowdfunding allowed us to build an energized and supportive community, and that was where the tribe was truly born.
Ask for help
No business owner — or parent — can be all things at all times and still maintain credibility, integrity and, crucially, sanity.
I knew that I couldn’t build this brand alone, and so I reached out to the friends and family who could offer the expertise I lacked. I quickly found that people were not only interested in giving advice, but were also willing to give of their time and talent because they believed in my dream, and wanted to be a part of making it a reality.
When you incorporate “doing good” into your business plan, you receive more in return than you can imagine. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and not all careers bring fulfillment in this way. It can be hard to ask for help, but when you start something that matters, you have something to offer people — something much more valuable than money.
Engaging with other social entrepreneurs who are on a mission to make this world a better place is the most stimulating part of my work. I truly believe that the most successful companies are those that foster creative cooperation instead of competition. At Tribe Alive, we strive to create a collaborative environment that promotes the ideas and validates the dreams of the other brands and business owners with whom we partner. The social enterprise community welcomed us from the beginning. We want to pay that forward and let other brands know that what they are doing matters; that we admire them; that we’re here to support them.
As business owners, if we are going to make it, we must realize that we are not capable of going it alone. Everything done well is done in community — in an environment where success and failure are shared. We all need to find our tribe and focus on building the movement and not the company, accepting that “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”