One of the biggest lessons I am learning, is you simply can’t plan for everything. Sometimes things just happen, and you have to adjust and adopt. These “things” that happen may be hard. Really, really, hard. However, how you react in those moments, and your actions that immediately follow will determine your future. As difficult as it may seem in those moments, we have the ability to shape that future. What do we want it to look like? How do we want to build during the most difficult times? Your ability to grow in difficult times, is a direct correlation to your strength and power.
When I heard from Nicole, and she shared her story, I was speechless. Not because of what happened to her and her family, but her sheer grit and determination, It is so easy to sit back, play the victim, and remain in your immediate situation. Nicole however, chose to create her new future. And she was able to do it with 4 kids! It gives me great pleasure to introduce this next Warrior Mama, Nicole.
1- Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, how many children do you have, and how old are they?
I am from Pretoria, South Africa. I have 4 kids… Joshua 11, Eli 8, Emma 7, and Ayva 4.
2- What happened in 2016 that affected your family business?
Being a specialty business, the main competition got the upper hand in signing major contracts with suppliers on critical items and we just couldn’t compete with prices anymore, so we had to shut down one big part of the business (the wholesale side). We were trying to keep our retail chains of small specialty stores afloat. However the damage was done, and it was hard to pull them back up so slowly. We sold off 1 after the other store. We were actively seeking investment but the economy just didn’t allow it, and we had to close the last store in 2016.
3- What was the biggest thing you learned from losing your family business?
You shouldn’t have all your eggs in one basket, family means EVERYTHING, and love covers a multitude of sins.
4- How has this affected your family and relationship with your husband?
This brought us closer together, we had to stay strong for our kids’ sake and try to act like normal. When one was down, the other held him/her up and vice versa. It deepened our bond, and we know we can conquer anything together now
5- What was the hardest part of this experience?
Trying to “pretend” that everything was normal for our kids’s sake – like eating bread for most meals were fun and yummy… and the sense of failure.
6- After you moved in with your in-laws, what was the hardest part! Of course you must have been so grateful, but with 4 kids in one home, how did you cope?
We were very grateful YES!! But man it was hard, trying to parent with 2 sets of “parents” with totally different parenting styles, brought up it’s fair share of conflicts. There were days where we tried keeping all the kids busy in our room, just to avoid the feeling that we were invading their space. Even though they opened up their home for us, it was still their space. During the school term it was easier. Being busy after school with sports, helped a lot. But all in all even though it was very hard, there were much more better times than bad times.
7- At what point did you start your own business? How did you grow in difficult times?
For a year, both my husband and I were actively searching for jobs but just didn’t find anything. The South African unemployment rate is 27%, so we ventured out to start our own careers. I started my own business as a real estate agent in February 2018. This was easy for me because my mom has been a real estate agent for 32 years! I quickly jumped in and did everything myself from marketing to admin to sale. However, I get bored quickly (oops) and soon I started seeking something more to keep my mind going. It was then I started working as an affiliate marketer as a side hustle.
8- Tell us a bit about your business and journey, and what was the motivation with each experience?
I can still remember sitting in the car with my mom who came through to help me learn the ropes a little bit. I said to her “if I can only get that first listing, then everything will start to fall into place”. We knocked on doors that day until we found that one! I was elated but this now meant I needed to sell it… eek! I was scared and needed to quickly learn new skills of calling, chatting to doing marketing, become a photographer, and a sales person (I was previously in an office job). But I knew I had to get the sale so that we can eat, and start building up to move out back into our own space.
During this time my husband was doing a course to get qualified for his new venture, and not earning yet. After the first sale it got easier talking to new people, and I felt a lot more confident. Property as any realtor will tell you, is rarely the same with each sale, so the learning never stops. And now when I look back the 2 years have flown by. I know there is still a lot to learn in real estate, but I felt like I have grown as a person and as a professional.
During this time my favorite experience gained was in marketing, and hence my venture into affiliate marketing. The online marketing world amazes me, and I am working toward building a business where I can help other moms who have small businesses to get better at online marketing and to grow their businesses. So my current side business is working to build up moms, and help them understand some deeper marketing principles. This can help them get to a place where they can spend more time with their kids while their businesses run at and optimal level.
9- How have your challenges affected motherhood for you?
Losing the business has deepened the connection I have with my kids. We had to improvise to have fun because we didn’t have the money to take them places. We played nerf wars, and hide and go seek most nights before bed time (and still do to this day). When we had bad days where we were just sad and couldn’t hide it from them, they were there crying with us (even when they didn’t understand why).
Working in real estate has been challenging as a mom, most buyers want to view properties after work which means I need to have dinner ready by 17:00. When my hubby stops in the driveway, I jump in my car and go out with clients, some nights only returning when the kids are in bed already. In return I get to spend afternoons next to the soccer field or watch the ballet practice, which I love!! I want to be one of those moms I am trying to help, and get to that place where my business is running almost on autopilot, and I get to spend more time with them (especially evenings).
10- What was the biggest lesson you hope your children learned?
I hope they learned that family is way more important than things. That we need to be thankful for full stomachs, even when it’s not the food of choice. And that we need to ALWAYS be a helping hand to those in need!
11- How do you find time to manage motherhood, run your business, and continue to grow in difficult times?
This is a hard one. To be very honest, I am still trying to figure that one out. Some days it runs smoothly, and others it just doesn’t. What I have learned is that I need to give myself grace, and realize that I am not Wonder Woman, and that is okay. I try to work on a system of big must do items first, and then batch smaller not so important items when I get the gap to do them. Being a mom will always come first to me, so when I have to choose, I choose being a mom!
12- What advice would you give to other Moms encountering challenges?
Don’t give up – like Anna says in Frozen 2 – just take the next best step, that’s all. We can plan, and schedule as much as we can. When those challenges come, just take the next best step. Don’t freeze or become idle, be active, and be patient with yourself and the situation you are facing. Then take the next best step for you, your family, and your business.
13-What is your favorite thing about motherhood?
Mmmm just 1? HAHA I must say watching how their personalities develop, and differ from each other. And knowing that I am helping shape that person into hopefully an awesome adult that will change lives and touch people’s hearts!
You Create Your Opportunities.
Wow. I think I have read Nicole’s story at least 10 times. It truly inspires me. There is so much emotion and power with her drive and dedication. From being hungry, living with family, trying to being normal for her children, and pushing herself to build their new life. Every Mama and family experiences their fair shares of difficulties. I think Nicole said it best “Don’t freeze or become idle, be active, and be patient with yourself and the situation you are facing.” We must take action in order to grow in difficult times.
We have to take the actions we deem necessary to adjust our realities. If we stay stagnant, and “wait” for things to come to us, we will never grow and become the best versions of ourselves. Nicole and her family learned so much through these difficult times. She is a true entrepreneur, mother, and wife. We are so inspired by her, and are so thankful to have learned so much from her and her story!
Learn more about Nicole!
Follow her on Instagram @digitalmomsmovement