Backlash brews against Mumpreneur tag gallery video

SEAN WILLIS/Stuff.co.nz

Auckland business owner and mother Anna Mahood talks about the juggling act that is being a mumpreneur.

"Mumpreneurs" - mums juggling start-ups with families - have their own magazines and online networks in Australia.

But in the United Kingdom a backlash is brewing, with entrepeneurs who also happen to be mothers rejecting the label as belittling their business skills.

In New Zealand female self-employed small business owners make up about 40 per cent of the total, and are slightly ahead of their male counterparts when it comes to creating jobs and revenue, according to a 2013 MYOB survey.

They are also slightly better than male small business owners at embracing online software, payments and networking.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment a third of small business were started primarily for lifestyle reasons. Anecdotally, many of them were started by mothers who wanted to save on childcare and see their kids more.

So do these women need a label linking their work and home lives?

Business owner Anna Mahood sees both sides of the argument. A former corporate lawyer who started her business after her son was born, she fits the mumpreneur tag in many ways.

Mahood left her high-flying corporate litigation job when she became a mum because she didn't think she would be able to switch off from the pressure enough to leave the office at a reasonable hour.

"When I had Hunter I thought I couldn't see myself balancing both roles and enjoying both, although I know other women do. I felt like I was the sort of person who would sacrifice him at home because I was used to being able to work until midnight if I needed to."

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She wanted to do something creative and positive, so she launched a small business selling luxury gift hampers, winning banks, real estate agents and others as clients.

Mahood used her maternity leave to brainstorm her branding, products and packaging. Then she sat down with banker husband to go through the figures and target markets.

She is proud that she now helps other small Kiwi companies grow by exclusively stocking her hampers with local goodies that she spots in magazines, small-town stores and farmers' markets.

She works during 18-month-old Hunter's naps and evenings and her father-in-law takes over the childcare on Monday mornings, enabling her to attend meetings. 

"It has been full-on. Last Christmas I was at capacity and I'd only launched a few weeks before," she says. "I haven't gone for daycare yet, but going into the Christmas period this year I'm going to need either childcare support or to employ somebody."

While Mahood appreciates being able to work and also care for her son almost fulltime, her business isn't a hobby or side project. 

She has mixed feelings about the mumpreneur tag.

"On one hand I've had people saying they are even more excited about doing business with me and it makes them identify with me more knowing I have a family."

"On the other hand I went to see (a business incubator) and they just could not get over the fact that, sure, I was a mum but I actually wanted to make this fulltime employment and it wasn't just a little hobby."

"As a former corporate lawyer I'm used to being taken seriously in my profession so to get that kind of response drove me nuts."

 - Stuff

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