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It Takes a Village: The Six Mothers You Need in Your Life

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Our CEO Sharon Kan shares her take on why every woman needs these six mothers in her life. 

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is absolutely true — but without a doubt, it takes a village to raise a business, too, no matter how large or how small. No woman is an island, and when you’re building a business — especially if you’re trying to raise kids at the same time — you’re going to need some help.

Many mothers learn this the hard way — I know I certainly did!  The way I used to manage my life was by endlessly-long to-do lists: one for work, one for the kids, one for just running the house (mostly fixing stuff, cooking over the weekend for the whole week, planning vacations, etc)... until I got sick in the process. I was totally exhausted and didn’t enjoy work, or even vacation time! I just wanted my to-do list to go away. That was a wake-up call!   

I eventually learned that there are many different types of people you’ll need at your side along your journey. Happily, many of these people may also turn out to be fellow women or even fellow moms. I knew I wanted to support mothers like me: trying to make money, working on their businesses. So, when I realized I needed help, that’s exactly where I turned. I’m so glad I did.

With that in mind, here are the six mothers you need in your life as you’re building your business and nurturing your family.


One of the most important mothers in my life is Amy, my fixer. She’s the Olivia Pope of my life. When I have car trouble, she fixes it. If one of my kids is sick and needs to be picked up early from school, she’s got it.

The bottom line? She makes sure that even when an ‘emergency’ situation arises in my life, I don’t have to miss work.

The type of fixing you may need may be different than what I’ve got on my plate, but it’s hard to argue that there’s anyone out there who wouldn’t be better off with an Amy in their life.


Sonya comes on Tuesdays and cooks several days worth of food for us so that even when I work late during the week, my family is well-fed. 

She’s an incredible cook and she makes sure we all eat delicious, nutritious meals that are full of love, even when we’re pressed for time.


Robin is our dog-walker. She makes sure our pup is taken care of on long days, or when we travel.


Ruth is my daughter’s tutor. She makes sure my daughter is on top of her math and literature studies and helps her keep up with this stressful time in school. She makes my daughter feel confident and prepared, which is invaluable to me.


Heather has helped me in so many ways.  My home office is in the playroom, and Heather figured out how to organize the room so we don’t step on each others’ toes and now we feel good about sharing the space.


Brenda helped us organize our holiday party for Pepperlane, and her assistance was invaluable!

We had a tight budget, and Brenda helped us get really creative, making most of our resources so that we could still make a big impact (without a lot of money). Cafe tables were topped with custom-made centerpieces featuring violet “Ps” to reinforce the Pepperlane logo design. Deep and tall windowsills were filled with natural twigs in vases and handmade twine balls were painted in our brand colors. Individual spruce saplings were wrapped with natural parchment and twine for guests to take home to grow with their businesses. SO many special touches that didn’t break the bank!

We were amazed by how Brenda quickly understood exactly what we needed and that she was able to help us create a beautiful party on a startup-friendly budget.


Juvalina is my masseuse. I always have guilty feelings about this one: do I really want to spend our savings on self-care vs. saving money for my kids’ college education?

The answer, of course, is yes and no. I finally reached the conclusion that the only way for me to save more money for my kids’ college education is to pay greater attention to my own well-being, so I can give my all at work and achieve my goals, which allows me to contribute more to that very same college fund.

Like most of us, I’ve learned that I don’t take enough ‘me’ time to relax. I book a session with Juvalina from time to time and she saves me, every single time (looking for a masseuse? Chat with Pepperlaner Myrca!).

Of course, the moms you need in your life may be different than the moms I need in mine— perhaps you need a cat sitter, not a dog sitter, or you need a babysitter, not a cook.

Even so, the bottom line is the same: it takes a village. We all need help from time to time, and we’re all lucky enough to be surrounded by talented, entrepreneurial mothers who are there to do just that.

Even if you can’t afford to outsource everything you’d like to, you can start small and, little by little, you’ll find that putting yourself first allows you to achieve your goals so that you can better support those around you. You’ll be amazed at how much your business grows because you yourself are better supported.

Don’t try to do it all yourself— because it’s not possible. Just ask your mother.

- Sharon

Written by Sharon Kan

Sharon is a mother of two daughters. She built 4 startups that were acquired by Oracle, Microsoft, Infor and Barnes & Noble. She co-founded WIN, the Women Innovating Now Lab at Babson College to help female entrepreneurs start their businesses. Over the course of her career, Sharon has mentored over 150 female CEOs and business owners. One fact about Sharon that you won't guess: she loves to skateboard when no one is watching.

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