Wednesday 31 October 2012

From SAHM to WAHM!

We are one month shy away from Ally’s 1st birthday - which means, it’s been almost a year since I stopped work as an Architect and turned stay-at-home mom.  This brings to recall a recent conversation I overheard in a coffee shop between two corporate-dressed women. “Can you believe it?  She’s taking care of her baby day in and day out.  I could not imagine it!” I almost choked sipping my decaf latte.  They could be talking about me for all I know!

Stopping work may seem implausible for some career-oriented moms.  Well, it is not completely unfounded.  Giving up or putting on hold years of hard work and not to mention a big cut on household salary are not easy decisions.  When I had my first baby, I also could not bear the thought of staying home and losing the “outside” world.  Part-time work was a good compromise between a career and family life - albeit frustrations of juggling both.  But still it worked.  

Then came baby number two.  The part-time set-up would have worked too if we were not living abroad and far from family support.  With just one caretaker who doubled as household help and daycare being not a solution for us, staying at home became inevitable.  But honestly speaking, I was already looking forward to the change.  I knew deep inside that I would end up hating my profession if it takes too much of my time away from my girls.  And Architecture, fraught with impossible deadlines and endless meetings is going to do just that. 

The priority is the girls.  Once I have established that, all else revolves around it.  I guess I am lucky in a way that I have always BELIEVED that things will work out by themselves when you MAKE that important decision.  I KNEW what I wanted – to set up my own business so I can look after my girls at the same time.  Many work-at-home moms have successfully done it, so why can’t I?  Yes, I believed it when Paulo Coelho in his book, The Alchemist, said “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

I did not know when it will happen and what business it would be but I was OPEN.  I was open to ideas, to my new life as a stay-at-home mom, open to just enjoying lazy days with my girls, open to what life has in store for me and basically - open to CHANGE.  And that’s the thing that still amazes me till know.  Like finding the right person - it naturally happens.  Nothing feels contrite or forced.  A light bulb flickers, something clicks inside and you have your AHA! moment.

One serendipitous vacation back to our hometown in Davao City, Philippines, I visited my sister’s developmental toy store Oak & Acorn, and I noticed a new shop - Human Nature opened beside it.  So of course I checked it out.  I was so happy to find all natural products that were so affordable!  I was already using natural and organic products for my girls because of Ava’s sensitive skin and I was feeding them organic food since day one. Our grocery bills almost doubled but after learning about harmful chemicals found in our daily products and food, there is simply no going back.   I bought the baby and kids care line as well as shampoos to bring back to Singapore with us.

So there I was, looking at the back label while showering and giving the kids their baths every day.  Ava did not get any dry skin like she usually does from new products and her hair really shone.  Ally too smelled good and her skin soft.  My husband and I also liked how our hair felt so silky from the shampoos.  This prompted us to take a closer look and check out the website.  Knowing about the advocacy behind Human Nature – the commitment to help the poor farmers and communities together with Gawad Kalinga (a world renowned foundation on converting slums to sustainable communities) sealed the deal. This is exactly what we have been looking for.

After a month of email correspondences with Human Nature, we flew to Manila with the girls (thanks to my parents who flew from Davao to Manila to look after them in the hotel) and met with Dylan Wilk, one of Human Nature’s founders.  It’s amazing how you always believe in something and someone comes along believing the same principles and values and putting it into ACTION effortlessly.  Just look him up in Google and you will find out how inspiring and trailblazing his story is.  Anyway, we could not secure the exclusive distributorship just yet (with many others interested in getting it too) but we came out from that meeting even more charged and wanting it more.

Only with Human Nature's Dylan Wilk can you probably bring a baby to an important meeting!

We worked day in and day out, set up an online shop, designed and printed thousands of fliers and drafted a 40-page business plan when the girls were asleep at night.  On a second trip back to Manila, we got it!  And here I am – a bona fide work-at-home-mom!   Though I have dark circles around my eyes now (when sleep is the solution and Human Nature’s bestselling Sunflower Beauty Oil could not fix anymore), have lost more than 10 kilos, dropped to a 25-inch waistline (a good thing right?) and basically have lost “me” time altogether, I knew and expected it.  This is what I had envisioned – a business I can run at home, a product that I really love and most importantly, it has a purpose of helping the less fortunate.  It could not get better than that.

A friend who wanted to quit work for the longest time said to me “Now you have a business and can spend time with your girls… You are so lucky”.  Oprah Winfrey best defined luck as “preparation meets opportunity”.  I made that BIG LEAP to stop work (having no idea where to get the extra income), opened myself to CHANGE, on the LOOKOUT and sent my ENERGY to the universe, and guess what?  The right opportunity came at the right time when I was prepared =)

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