My peers are often surprised when I say I want kids. But I’ve always known I wanted a family. I’ve also always had dreams of starting my own business. People don’t always associate being a high functioning business owner with driving a minivan to soccer games. Before this summer I didn’t either. Moreover, as a young queer person, my path to motherhood has never been clearly mapped out. A white picket fence definitely isn’t part of my dream. Working as an intern at Pepperlane this summer has changed my thinking. The experience has demonstrated that I can balance entrepreneurial aspirations with parenthood.
Pepperlane is doing something I have never seen a business attempt. They have created family structures that extend beyond business networks and in doing so have fostered a community. The women at Pepperlane have a crew to fall back on when life gets gritty and they need extra support. This support system actualizes the principle that a family is more than blood.
This June I attended my first Boost, a meeting Pepperlane orchestrates where women gather to offer guidance and seek advice about their businesses. I listened to women swap recommendations about accountants and trade graphic design tips. As the hour went on they also made plans to retreat to one participant’s beach house for a summer respite and talked about how being moms and business owners during COVID-19 affected their mental health and family dynamics. As women shared their stories it was easy to forget we were all still on Zoom. A steady stream of praise and commiseration filled the chat feature.
Behind the scenes at Pepperlane, staff meetings are sometimes pushed back for carpools or baseball practice, but I have never heard anyone express frustration about the ever-changing schedules. Instead, when we do meet, the entire staff can come together and stay engaged despite the constant juggling of work and family.
The women behind Pepperlane realize that motherhood is empowering and not transgressive. Women have woven community for millenia and I find it encouraging to see these powerful skills being translated into the business sphere.
When I leave Pepperlane this fall I will be continuing to seek out support networks in my own communities. Pepperlane has shown me that any group of driven and compassionate people can become a family.
If, by the time I am a mother and a business owner, and I have a support network like Pepperlane, I will count myself lucky.