MommyCon 2016 is off to a running start and the first VIP of the weekend was the Cotton Babies VIP with Jenn Labit, CEO Mom and Founder of Cotton Babies, Bumgenius, Flip and Econobum. I signed up for this event after reading the introduction:
“This new session will help you create and better run a business as a woman entrepreneur with children.”
As a working woman with the goal of becoming a working mom, this seemed like a great session where I could learn from someone who is successfully running her own company, and a large one at that. I dedicate my life to my work, and I have sacrificed having a personal life along the way because of it. As I learn from past mistakes and learn how to balance between career and personal life, I figured an hour with the founder of one of the most well known mainstream cloth diaper brands would probably teach me a lot. Included in the $50 price of the VIP session ticket would be a gift bag filled with some of Jenn Labit’s favorite brands.
The group gathered together was a mix of women wanting to launch a business, grow their current business, or find balance between working and being a mother. It was a diverse mix, and everyone had the chance to open up about themselves a bit in the introduction of the event with Jenn Labit. There seemed to be a nice mix of fans of Cotton Babies or retailers of Cotton Babies products in the group, which was an interesting perspective to who chooses to do a VIP with Jenn Labit.
Jenn spent the majority of the hour sharing about herself and her story and the sacrifices she made to get to where she is now. She spoke of the trials and how 1 snappi inspired her to launch what is now Cotton Babies. She spoke of the woes of hiring her first employee, to letting her go, and the chaos that has been growing Cotton Babies to where it is now. I learned of her struggles that inspired an economical line of cloth diapering supplies known as Econobum. She also spoke candidly about her experience being a public figure within social media and how women tear each other down in forums on the internet, and how hurtful words and memes broke her down but also made her stronger.
I did not expect her to be as soft spoken as she was, but maybe that is because in my head, she is a figurehead, a CEO Mom as she likes to use as a reference to her role and life struggle. What was nice to hear from CEO Mom Jenn Labit, was the honest confession of the guilt she felt putting her children into daycare. Each one going into daycare earlier than the last. She was honest about her feelings, and was honest about the fact that she knew it was what was right for her child and her business. Success should not be measured in accomplishments, but instead in how you overcome trials.
The only disappointing thing that I felt came from the VIP session was the lack of interaction on Jenn’s part with the crowd. There were only 3 questions answered from the crowd due to time constraints. There was a lot of focus on her story and her overcoming battles, but I felt there was not enough time to highlight how to learn from her mistakes, or the best way to help grow a business. I can understand that Cotton Babies came to be by accident, but there had to be some true building blocks that could have been passed on.
I think the hardest lesson learned from the VIP session was the piece where Jenn said “you can’t have it all”. In a world where women strive to have it all, it was interesting to hear her honest opinion on the reality that many of us don’t want to face. She spoke of the sacrifice and choosing between business, children, relationship, and you. Four key pillars of the life every woman was in that room wanted, but truth and honesty was shared in that something always suffers in order for another to succeed.
I would not recommend this session if you are looking on tips and tricks to growing a business or a consultation on how to make your business run smoother or opening a business. I think this session is really to learn from someone who has been in the trenches and be faced with the reality of what might become your life as your business grows. It is very entrepreneur focused, where your business becomes your baby and you have no time to shut down your brain. As someone who doesn’t plan on opening my own business, it was more of a reality check from someone who does, to really solidify for me why I would not be happy owning my own business. It was hard to hear that successful women can’t always have it all, but it was probably something that I needed to hear as I plan my life and career choices.
The VIP bag from this session was not really discussed or broken down as to why these were some of Jenn Labit’s favorite things, but if they are, I am impressed. The swag bag was definitely my favorite of all the bags I received over the weekend. The tote that it came in is also a favorite of mine and ended up being the bag I used for the rest of the weekend. The ticket price is definitely worth the VIP swag bag.