A new mother at the age of 17, Danielle Ford was no stranger to the social stigma that can accompany teen parenthood. But Danielle didn’t let that stop her and enrolled in beauty school during her first pregnancy (she’s now a single mother of two). Beauty school led to a career as a self-employed esthetician that Danielle ran and marketed herself.
While she loved working with her clients, the process of marketing her business, specifically through online mediums, had Danielle intrigued. So Danielle struck out in a totally new direction tackling the Internet through web design, copywriting and SEO.
But something was still missing. It was the "helping others" portion of Danielle's yardstick of success: “Doing what you love, from anywhere in the world, while creating an income for yourself and helping others.” As a result, the Young Mom’s Club was born. A community where young moms can connect free from judgment, the Young Mom’s Club is a resource designed with Danielle’s own experience in mind. “ … I wanted to create a club for girls that I would’ve wanted to have as soon as I became a young mom."
Keep taking more and more steps, following your intuition and the right people, and resources and opportunities are going to present themselves.
What inspired you to start the Young Moms Club?
The idea for Young Moms Club really came out of nowhere -- the same place most of my ideas come from. But I knew it was a really good one because I could feel excitement surge through my whole body. I sat down and started mapping it out on paper, and as I kept writing, my intuition kept telling me to go forward with it. It was easy for me to go back to the place when I became a pregnant teen and I started to relive all the obstacles I went through and feelings about the way I was judged. So I simply decided that I wanted to create an online club for girls that I would've wanted to have as soon as I became a young mom.
Can you tell us more about your mission as an entrepreneur, and how you define success?
I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur years before I started Young Moms Club. I used to be an esthetician (doing facials, waxing, etc). I worked for various spas for five years before realizing that I did not want to work for someone else my entire life. So, I decided to open my own skin care business, hired a few employees and still worked on my own clients. While learning how to market that business, I discovered the world of online marketing and once again, changed my direction. Not only did I not want to work for someone else, but I also wanted to be able to work from anywhere: home, coffee shops, tropical islands ... So I ended up closing down my skin care business altogether and began working from my computer doing web design, copywriting, video production/editing, social media and SEO.
At this point I had what I thought I wanted, to work for myself, from anywhere -- but something was still missing. I really wanted to find a way to build a business by helping people and that's around the time the Young Moms Club light bulb lit up in my head. So I guess that's how I'd define success: Doing what you love, from anywhere in the world, while creating an income for yourself and helping others.
What does your job involve on a daily basis and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
It's funny, because even though I technically don't have a "job", I actually have two jobs. I have to do the work and I have to act as manager of myself to make sure it gets done. I do a wide variety of work, like designing websites, writing web copy, newsletters and blog posts, researching for topics, specifically seeking out young moms to connect to, engaging in social media, creating information products, analyzing data holding group conference calls and creating and editing video.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love getting mail from girls who have just stumbled upon the club and signed up. They email me with their story and what challenges they're facing now and even though every story is so different, I can resonate with each one. I really like that I can be an inspiration, because it makes me want to just keep doing more and see how many girls I can reach.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I've had my fair share of sleepless nights trying to figure out technical things. One of my biggest challenges is wanting to do everything myself, but I'm learning to just admit when someone else can do it more efficiently. I'm getting better at hiring out certain things that would take too much of my time to learn, especially when there's someone out there who already knows it.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
As you can imagine, being a single mom of two and working from your home can cause quite a displacement of balance.
In the past, when my kids were younger, I did a lot of working here and there, in between tending to the kids, during naps and after they went to bed. That was really my only option at the time, but now that both my kids are in school during the day, I've been able to create a work schedule for myself that doesn't involve me working all hours of the day and night.
I get distracted really easily so working from home is difficult for me. I'll sit down to work and then think, "Oh maybe I should throw in a load of laundry." "I'm hungry, what's in the fridge?" "Guess I could take a break and watch last night's episode of 'New Girl'." So, I end up spending most of my days in coffee shops. For some reason, in crowded places, I focus better. Some days I'll even go to two or three different coffee shops for a change in scenery.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
I can't think of any point where I've felt like "I made it" and I actually don't really ever want to. I feel like once I get to the point of "I made it," then I'll be bored. I've definitely hit goals that I've created for myself and I guess I'd say one of my "I made its" could be the TEDxWomen talk I just gave two weeks ago about re-inventing teen motherhood. Being a TEDx speaker was on my long-term goal list. I have a lot of big goals and when I hit those, knowing me, I'm sure I'll just add more.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I believe in treating everyone with kindness. If there's ever someone I can't be kind to, I just separate myself from them. I work hard, but I don't let myself get run down. I know that I do my best work when it's not coming from a place of stress, so I allow myself to relax and have fun.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
I would tell my 21-year-old self not to worry that you don't have it all figured out right now, to keep taking more and more steps, following your intuition and the right people, and resources and opportunities are going to present themselves. I'd tell myself to keep an open mind because the thing you really think you want right now isn't what you're going to have later -- and what you have later is way better.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
In five years, I see Young Moms Club having 100,000 members worldwide and I'll travel the world, with my kids and boyfriend (husband?), creating meet-ups and events for these girls to come connect live. I'll also have published my second book (my first one is being written now). My plan is to keep reaching new young moms, while at the same time, remain open to any new possibilities life chooses to present me with.