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The Mompreneur Vibe

Finding Support Systems as an Expat


Desiree: Hi and welcome to another episode of The Work-Life Harmony Movement. I'm Desiree. 



Iva: And I’m Iva.



Desiree: And we are so excited to be your hosts today to talk about the importance of having a tribe. Do you think it's really important to have a tribe, Iva, or do you think while working alone, you can actually move ahead faster?



Iva: Oh well, certainly you do need a tribe. You definitely need to have a support system. And even though you might be working on your own for the most part in terms of the tasks and projects that you have at hand, you do need to have that, that buffer or that system of a network of people that can support you and mentor you and encourage you along the way. Because as you're starting out with your mompreneurship journey, you might find yourself that you still don't have all the answers or you don't really know what the journey is supposed to look like in specific areas. So, when you are surrounded by an amazing group of people that are there to help you out, and guide you, to give you feedback, they are also providing you with those markers that you can find along the way, that give you the reassurance that you're moving in the right direction. 


Even though your journey is a completely unique (one). And, you know, it's very unique to everyone because we're all doing very different things and the results are going to look very different from one person to the other. But nonetheless, the markers are there just to, just to keep you on the loop that you are going in the right direction. Or do you feel that for you this has manifested differently?



Desiree: So, that sounds exactly like a pregnancy journey you would go through, wouldn’t it? Your journey is going to be unique, it's going to be much different than anyone else's. And all of a sudden, you do not know who your support system is anymore. Either you are surrounded by friends who may be may not be moms, who do not have children, who do not relate to what you're going through right now. You might be living abroad, like we were when we were pregnant, and with families really far away. And don't you think that's a really relatable journey?



Iva: Oh yes, yes,  you can definitely make a very good comparison between being pregnant and starting your business, for sure, especially when it comes to how your tribe starts to manifest because that also changes.



Desiree: Exactly. So tell me first, what was your pregnancy journey like and how did you feel?



Iva: you know, my pregnancy journey was, for the most part, I would have to say before my first-born arrived, it was really exciting, because I was, I had already a group of friends that were very contemporary with me in terms of how recent they had gone through the experience. 


And, in fact, even my best friend was going through exactly the same experience I was at the same time so we were pregnant at the same time. And our babies were due almost about 11 days apart like two weeks apart?  So we're just going through the same journey. And I have to say that it was very comforting to have people that were already friends, to give you the reassurance, and to give you the advice and the support of what you were going through, and letting you know that everything that you were experiencing at that moment was completely normal. 


Obviously, with my best friend, we did compare notes a lot, so in that sense I felt very supported by my drive. Unfortunately, after my firstborn was, was born, I think that I, you know, everybody started to, to go back into their life, I feel, or maybe I was just going into my own shell, and trying to internalize all the changes that were going within myself and also my new family dynamic, trying to understand, trying to understand what was going on. 


One of the things that really hit hard for me was, I really, really wanted to breastfeed. And very early on, my son started to develop lots of allergy symptoms, to, to my milk. And I wasn't producing enough so I also had to supplement. And we went through this really, really difficult journey of trying to balance out his dietary needs with my food intake and how I was doing it, and the frequency. And there was a lot of stress, there was a lot of anxiety which doesn't help milk production. So, so that's when it started to feel a little bit off, because, for example, my best friend was having the best time breastfeeding, and I wasn't. 


So, in those moments when you're very raw and you're very vulnerable, it's very easy to just start comparing immediately with what other people are going through and if it's not similar, and your experience is tainted a little bit more negatively, then you feel even more isolated and you feel even more lonely because you don't understand why you're the only one _according to my perception at the moment_ why I was the only one going through it. Nobody else seemed to understand. Because nobody else had that same situation. 


So, that's where I feel that it's important to pivot, and by pivot, it's important to realize that not because you have gone through a journey with a set group of friends or people, that moving forward, they are going to continue down the same path with you because you just need to find people that are going on a more similar route to give you that sense of support and encouragement or inspiration even. People that have said, “Oh, I went through exactly the same thing but everything worked out.”


Hey Des, how was it for you, your pregnancy journey with your son?



Desiree: Well, when I was pregnant with my little one, I was already living far away from home in a foreign country, a very foreign country. And it was quite a very difficult surrounding to be in. And as I was approaching the birth as well became very clear to me that that is not the country where I want to give birth to my first child. So, we soon made the decision that I was actually going to travel to Hong Kong, which is very close to where I was living, and be giving birth there. So I was, feel all of a sudden, I was also away like physically away from my husband for a while. My mom was still due to arrive, and I was living with friends, but then moving into an apartment, you see, that so physically I feel like I didn't have a tribe. But what was amazing is that throughout this time. I never felt lonely. Never. Because even though, physically, I was quite alone, except less my friend who I was living with of course she gave me all that strength, but that's it. I didn't really have anyone else there, and however, because of my offline venture, because of my entrepreneurship, prior to this already, I feel like I had created a tribe, not necessarily of moms, not necessarily of people who were pregnant with me at the same time, but people I already had a connection with and people who I was, vibing with. 


And all of a sudden it didn't matter that whether they were sharing that that same journey with me but that support network was there. They were supporting me on health side because of course this was from my, from my essential oils journey, natural living journey, and they were supporting my health, they were with me, they were giving me strength. I was still occupied because building the business as well. And it was quite amazing that, you know, it didn't matter how dislocated I was at that point in time and such a vulnerable stage in your life. I didn't feel alone, and I thought that was extremely valuable.



Iva: That's pretty nice because if, if, when you're telling the story, I can feel how wonderfully supported you felt, and how wonderful this connection and the support from your friends was that even allow you to transcend, whatever, physical separation there was between and your close immediate family, or your own country. And despite being in a foreign land and despite not being, even with your husband at the time, you still had all this love for carrying you forward and making you feel like you really didn't need much else, right? Like you were constantly carried through with this support and this nourishing company from your tribe



Desiree: Exactly and that really showed me as well, that it doesn't even matter what part of your journey, it is on, it's imperative to have people around you that get you. That want to support you, that want to be with you, and that you can bounce ideas off of, or just like talk to. Because entrepreneurship can be such a lonely journey, because all of a sudden if you're coming from a corporate world or working with huge teams, all of a sudden, you're doing everything on your own. 


But because of that sort of network marketing side that I came from, we started off with community. Network. We started off with that already. So that for me was a very powerful basis. And no matter how much people may criticize that sort of business model, I think for me it's genius because all it is, is tapping into your own networks, and creating friends all around you from different parts of life, different parts of the world. And that alone can get so powerful.



Iva: Des, when, we're talking a little bit about the parallel between the motherhood journey of being pregnant, giving birth and also, entering the journey of mompreneurship where you're also giving birth to a new project, a new endeavor, there's obviously, there's that sense of uncertainty. Of what is going to happen. Right? Of how it’s going to turn out.


Any, it's very, very easy, as you also were mentioning just now, to find yourself in your mompreneur cave, where you're mostly starting off as a one-woman show you are trying to wear many hats, and too many things at the same time, and multitasking. And sometimes we can get so caught up in that, that we don’t make a point of going out and making sure that we are also connecting and finding those mentors, that support system that we need. And most specially, when you are starting off a new venture, in a new country, right? As an expat mompreneur, and then you have the added layer...



Desiree: That’s right



Iva: of being completely away from your home and your surroundings and your old network. How would you advise mompreneurs in this situation to go about it? When you have to start fresh and not having, let's say, the luxury in your case, with your pregnancy and your experience as a first mom of having already that support system that you have created. But as a mompreneur that is starting out, do you feel that there's any insights that you got from this experience that you can translate into this scenario? 



Desiree: Yeah, absolutely.

I think the situations are so similar, and you need to, like you said, I really do like that analogy of your it's like a pregnancy journey giving birth to your another type of baby, but you need to have that. The question really arises: how do you find that tribe? Where do you go? Where do you, how do you start if you're starting off in that sort of environment abroad, where you don't really know anybody, you are working on your own for yourself. How do you how do you start with building a tribe?



Iva: For me, I have to say, one of the things that…there were two things that actually helped me a lot to start branching out and to start making those connections and really going through the motions of getting to know people and, eventually finding the people that you resonate and connect more with. And for me, it was definitely the power of referrals. So the good thing is that we tend to live in already in such a global society. It's very easy to know someone that knows someone. That is where you're going to be based or where you're heading, right? So it's sometimes a blessing to have this sort of referral card to look someone up when you arrive and say, Hey I know so and so, or somebody that you both having common, it doesn't have to be a very close friend, but just an acquaintance, can, can give you that introductory step two, to find these new connections and these new contacts,


And also the second thing that that also has given me some some really nice surprises, I have to say, although it's more similar to blind dating is, for example, this community groups that you find on social media, where you join them and they are usually around the same sort of topic so you can start introducing yourself and asking questions about the new place that you're going to, to get insights and and people that are just arrived or that have recently moved there, they can virtually hold your hand and already give you their own lay of the land as they were starting to navigate it, so you have better markers to understand what to expect when you're in the process of moving to that new place.


So, so those are two good places that I have found that yield very surprising good results with these online communities and also these referrals. But I also think that there's this element of how you are starting to put your intention out there, as well, into what you are doing. And most specifically when it comes to mompreneurship and this particular project during this period at the beginning, and it’s how you're setting your intention out there to say, “Well, this is what I want to create, this is my vision. This is my mission.” And, you know, there's this amazing energy that surrounds a powerful and clear vision of what you want to do, that in some sort of magical way, it starts aligning situations and opportunities to present themselves with the people that are just the right fit for you at that moment in time. Have you felt that that happened? Because to me, that happened with you.



Desiree: Absolutely!



Iva: To me that happened with you. I felt that you came, you came into my life at just exactly the right moment. Where I was also, I guess we were both energetically having the same intention, to say, this is what we both want to do with someone that you end up resonating so much with, and that you click so much that it just, it just flows naturally, so there's not a lot that you have to do it just, it just clicks.



Desiree: I agree and how watching those kinds of relationships grow as well is amazing. I mean, I think we can make a whole episode about us one day, about our journey together. I love what to say about how we are really attracting like a magnet, the people that we need in our life. And even if there's people you're like: “Why are they here?”, we were meant to meet them, maybe also to learn something out of a certain situation. It can’t always be smooth sailing, but people are always put in your path for a reason. And we need to take it, we need to roll with it, we need to learn through it and grow with it, and evolve through it. 


And I also believe it's, I've met a lot of these wonderful people in my tribe, in our tribe, through online or through courses, or through…yeah, many that we haven't even met in person but you click, anyways. Which is another reason why I haven't felt so much of an impact during this whole pandemic because I'm like, a lot of my tribe is sort of an online based tribe, not everyone, but some of them are and it works well. I guess the circumstances often bring us together and last year more than ever, I think I made so many valuable connections, so many. And sometimes I wonder would I have made them, if our circumstances were different. So I don't want to say that the pandemic happened for a reason in that sense, but we got to make the best out of the situations and leverage on what's been given to us and what's in front of us and just, yeah, get the most out of it. 



Iva: Yes, and you’ve said it's so beautifully because at the end of the day, there's, yes, there's many things that we would have liked to go in a completely different direction from, from where they are at the moment. And most specially when it comes to that human connection in person trumps everything. But unfortunately that is not possible in this day and age, because of the circumstances everybody is in. 


However, though, we have to settle for the second best, which is obviously Zoom calls, Whatsapp, phone calls. But, the energy is still there, right? You still get to have that chemistry and you can still feel it. And this is something that I think for mompreneurs is something to always keep in mind is how authentic you are in your intention, in your mission, in your business project? How much authenticity there is behind it. Because people can pick up on it and they can sense it. People know when you are truly passionate about what you're doing, and how much you believe in what you're doing, and it just comes across. Regardless of whether they are sitting right in front of you, or whether they are sitting in a computer in another part of the world watching you through the screen. 


That passion and that energy of believing in what you're doing is very contagious, and people can pick up on it so so so quickly, and it's one of the things that we should understand that work in our favor, no matter what. So sometimes we can get caught saying like “Oh my god, you know, I wish I could be doing this in person with someone because then it would be easier. And, or I could be reading their facial expression better”, because probably on a call over the phone let's say, video is not working at the moment or through a WhatsApp message, and not seeing, you know those facial expressions. But, nonetheless, there has to be a conviction in what you are doing and saying that is going to translate, no matter what medium you're using at the moment, is just going to come through, I do believe in that. So, this is something that I feel that people just pick up on because it's, it's that energetic field that we have.



Desiree: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And if you are a mompreneur out there and you are looking for a tribe, I guess this is one of the reasons we want to provide one! We want to provide this platform because it's just been so invaluable in each of our journeys and both of our journeys have been different, but yet so intertwined that we recognize this value. So we want to be want to pay it forward. We want to create a platform for mompreneurs to come together, where we can learn about first of all, motherhood, because that's not an easy task, then definitely building a business with little ones around you. It's hard to do this alone, but we don't have to do this alone, we have each other. To lift each other up. So, this is, this is one of the reasons we've brought this Work-Life Harmony movement to life as well. 


Important Links:

Iva Perez - The Momergy Movement
Desiree Bonau - Oily Essentials


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