"Getting laid off was a huge blow to my confidence. I’ve always had pride in my career, and no longer being wanted by my employer made me question my value. As I was processing what this meant for my career, I took the leap to start my own business, which helped me regain my sense of self and get my professional mojo back. By sharing this story, my hope is that other moms who have been laid off will explore self-employment as a way to get back on track—professionally and emotionally."
- Anna Ballard, Director of Marketing at Pepperlane
In October 2019, I was laid off from my position as Senior Director of Marketing from a company I had been with for four years. My immediate response was shock. Then Anxiety booked an all-day meeting with my brain and repeated on loop why I should be freaking out:
- The holidays are coming and the job market will dry up for months.
- Your family relies on your income.
- You were clearly terrible at your job, have no talent and no employer will ever want you again. You will die cold and alone.
Despite this destructive inner monologue, I started my job search the next day. It was the pits. I applied for jobs that looked interesting. I reached out to my network. And this all just made me feel worse—my sense of being alone and not valuable intensified.
Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning: I needed to start my own business! It was something I had always wanted to do but never had the time or guts because I was employed. My dream had been to start a gift wrapping service (don’t laugh) and suddenly I found myself without a job right before the holidays, peak wrapping season. The universe was giving me a hard push in this direction.
The reality was that I wouldn’t be able to support my family with this new business venture. But in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. So I dedicated myself to continuing my job search AND starting my own business.
It is hard to describe how much my mental state changed once I started working on my business. I was energized and inspired in a way that I hadn’t felt at my last job. I was able to reconnect to the part of marketing that attracted me to the field so many years ago—creativity. I was also learning new skills like bookkeeping and material sourcing. They weren't easy to learn, but it still felt good because I was doing it for myself.
The most important thing about this mental shift was that my kids noticed. My young children had been startled by the sudden change in my schedule and my blue mood when I got laid off. Then I changed again into a mom they hadn’t seen before. One that was creative and inspired, and with time for them that they had never experienced.
The thing that surprised me the most about being laid off was how alone I felt. I was abruptly disconnected from colleagues who I had seen almost every day for four years. Jumping into my new business helped with this too. I was meeting a new group of women and mothers who had their own businesses. They were brave and generous. They wanted to help me and connect me to others. I was (and still am today) astounded by how they welcomed me into their community. Honorable mention to these incredible women who supported and inspired me: Kate Anderson of IFundWomen, Liza Huber of Sage Spoonfuls, and Christina Ciampa of All She Wrote Books.
With this new-found energy and friendships, my sense of self returned. I felt pride in my skills and what I was building. I had a new identity as a mom who ran her own business and I was back to feeling confident about my skills and abilities.
It is because of this new identity that the role of Director of Marketing at Pepperlane came on to my radar. Four friends sent it to me saying “You HAVE to apply for this.” It was a dream opportunity. Using my skills as a marketer to support a mission I believe in so deeply—supporting mothers who wanted to build a business on their terms. I applied immediately.
Spoiler alert: I got the job! But I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t started my own business. My resume had been good, yes, but I had changed as a person since getting laid off. Sharon, Pepperlane’s CEO and Co-Founder, later told me that she reviewed hundreds of applicants but I stood out because of my deep connection with Pepperlane’s audience. And because of my confidence!
Here is what I know for sure: If I hadn’t gotten laid off, I wouldn’t have started my own business. And if I hadn’t started my own business, I wouldn’t have strongly resonated with moms who were doing the same thing. And THAT is what landed me back in the corporate world at my dream job. (For those of you deeply invested in my career as a gift wrapper, I’m still doing it on the side).
Director of Marketing
Anna is a mom and a marketer (that's about all she has time for). She's enjoyed working for some of the country's largest media brands and start-ups. Becoming a mother opened her eyes to how hard it is for working moms. At Pepperlane, she is committed to building campaigns and content that empower mothers to follow their business dreams.