If you told me five years ago that I would be a crunchy mom and running a natural baby store I would have told you you were crazy. Sure we breastfed, co-slept and made our own baby food, but I was no hippie. I was a Luvs buying, Dreft using, stroller pushing mom of a perfect baby boy well on my way to having a Masters in Social Work. All that changed when he was diagnosed with Progressive Infantile Scoliosis. We went through over a year of body casting every month and a half then on to indefinite bracing. He had lots of MRIs x-rays, and anesthesia – each with their own side effects and risks.
We made the decision as a family to do everything in our power to ensure he was as healthy as possible. We drastically changed our lifestyle. We eliminated commercial cleaners, we swapped our Johnson’s & Johnson’s shampoos and lotions for Burts Bees, we got clean rinsing laundry detergent, we switched to cloth diapers, became vegetarian and started eating organic foods. It was a bit daunting at first, but you know what? I fell in love with our new life style. Soon we eliminated paper towels, in favor of reusable cloths, started composting, and minimizing plastic.
Then in 2010 the birth or our second son gave me a chance to take all the things I had learned and changed with my first and do them day one with baby number two. We embraced not only green but also attachment parenting and became babywearing enthusiasts.
Like our first son, our second was not without his medical challenges. He has severe food allergies. This pushed our family to a whole new level of natural. We were forced to give up processed foods, dyes, corn, potatoes, gluten, nuts and dairy in exchange for a healthier diet.
My passion for our life style started growing into more of an obsession. I became immersed in the community So with a shove from my husband I decided to make it my job. In the summer of 2010 just after my second son was born I took a semester’s tuition and opened an online natural baby store and share my new found love of raising my family as natural as possible and hopefully contribute to our families income and still stay home with my boys. It was perfect. I could have my cake and it it too. Or so I thought.
That illusion was quickly shattered as I got a dose of retail reality. It was impossible to grow the business in my “free time” – you know the hours between getting your kids to sleep and passing out from exhaustion yourself because you still need to be a full-time awesome mom! And that extra income I was envisioning was a pipe dream. Everything I made went right back into growing the business so one day it would be a viable income source.
Almost three years later, with the help of a wonderful live in part-time nanny, some part-time store staff and embracing the reinvestment part of a small start up company, I now am in a brick and mortar store in our southern Vermont community and loving it – well most of the time.
This column is going to talk about the realities, good and bad of being an entrepreneur while raising my 2 special boys as well as some great green crunchy mom info that all moms of special needs kids can benefit from – whether or not you see yourself as a crunchy mom now or not!