Becoming a mother for the first time is both incredibly exciting and seriously terrifying. I challenge you to find a pregnant woman who isn’t frantically searching the internet for the answer to any and every question and concern that pops into her frazzled (and oh-so-tired) mind, and you can times that by 1000000 once the baby actually arrives. If you take a moment to browse around the mom-focused blogosphere, it really doesn’t take long to realize that most of the content you come across is all the same, and almost always quite awful. The Rebel Mama is a breath of fresh air for any mom looking for a voice and opinion that breaks free from the cookie-cutter world of mom blogs. If you seek real talk, great advice and can relate more to downtown city living with children than cruising around suburbia in van, The Rebel Mama may be a source for you too.
Keep reading to meet the women behind The Rebel Mama in our latest #FounderFiles feature!
Business Name: The Rebel Mama
Name & Title: Nikita Stanley and Aleks Jassem / Co-Founders
Age: 32 and 39 respectively
Education: U of T English Lit / George Brown Business Marketing
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business and brand, what do you do?
The Rebel Mama: We started The Rebel Mama back in 2014 when we landed on the baby scene with two new spawns and no safe space that felt like our own. What began as cathartic blog journaling and a small online community of like minded moms, quickly snowballed into a rebel revolution (complete with team jerseys) where mothers were allowed to speak honestly and openly about their experience. We now write books, produce original written and visual content, curate unique events, highlight *only* brands we love, get involved in charitable initiatives in favour of helping modern moms navigate this shit storm, and challenge society’s idea of motherhood as a whole. (We’re busy, to say the least).
E7: How did you start doing what you do? What inspired you to start?
TRM: We are both of the mind frame that the most important thing to do is start. Talking and thinking about ideas is useless until you get going. Only then can you start to identify problems, create solutions and develop new concepts. We were inspired by all the trailblazing women before us who paved the way, and want to continue pushing the boundaries for future generations of mothers.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
TRM: Because it’s the most rewarding thing ever to feel like you’re actually making a positive contribution to the world, and we want to leave a legacy behind that will continue to inspire others to do the same.
E7: What makes your brand and business special?
TRM: In a world of unrealistic ideals, squeaky clean images, and (mostly) bad writing, we pride ourselves on strong written and visual content because we believe the modern mother deserves a smart, witty, and engaging experience. Not just the status quo.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business so far?
TRM: PIVOT! Sometimes (most times) things don’t work out the way you’ve planned and that’s ok. The more flexible and adaptable you become the easier it will be to manage your business. And patience… sometimes it takes a while to see the fruits of your labour, but trust us when we say it’s worth the wait. Stay on your path, don’t do anything that you’re not fully aligned with, and count each set back as a potential blessing. We’ve learned along the way that some of our biggest fails, have actually turned out to save our asses in the long run. Trust yourself.
E7: From blog, to book to Facebook group… what channels of your business do you find to be the most important and impactful? Any particular areas of focus and growth in 2020?
TRM: The most important is probably our Love Letters (aka raw storytelling) that anonymously get sent out every week and serve as a reminder that we’re in this together. Some are hilarious, some are chock full of advice, and some are downright depressing as hell, but they are honest and sometimes that’s all any mother needs to feel seen.
E7: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as small business owners?
TRM: MONEY. There’s never enough. But you learn to get used to the hustle and keep going. One day, you’ll be able to pay yourself and not just your credit card debts.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
TRM: Learn to say NO. If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no. Don’t waste your talent / energy / limited amount of time trying to do things that are mediocre. (And read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less).
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own blog and social media-focused business?
TRM: Be authentic. Only you can speak in your own authentic voice and present something different to the world. Don’t compare yourself to others or try to fit into some kind of box – do what your mama taught you to do best – BE YOURSELF.
E7: As a partnership, how do you balance work, life, friendship and ‘sharing’ (online) between the two of you?
TRM: We’re in a continuous online chat all day so the conversation never really stops. We work in increments of time depending on childcare / school / travel and other unforeseen scheduling conflicts (like kids being sick a million times). With any new content, we work via Google Docs so we can easily jump in and update projects on the go. With social media sharing – I organize our grid visually depending on on what’s coming up and Nikita writes captions. We don’t put too much thought behind stories and just post on the fly.
E7: What advice would you give to anyone starting a business with a friend?
TRM: Get it all down on paper. In the honeymoon stage when ideas are flowing and you’re excited, it’s easy to forgo a proper set up but it’s important to clearly outline roles and talk about what each partner can bring into the business so no lines are blurred later. Once you register your company, get a lawyer to draw up paperwork and set everything up proper.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
TRM: Not really… Starting and taking on each challenge at a time is a learning curve in itself. No one can really prepare you for what’s coming because everyone’s journey is different – just like motherhood.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the blog or mom world to prepare for?
TRM: Prepare to chase people for money. Larger (read: corporate) partners can sometimes take forever to get you paid and if you don’t stay on top of it, no one will. We now ask for deposits prior to starting work and include late interest fees when invoices are past due. We also have an incredible assistant who stays on top of everyone and makes sure these mamas get paid.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
TRM: We’re Virgos – it’s in our cosmic makeup. We’re constantly updating and working off lists, prioritizing tasks and updating our content calendar to make sure nothing is missed. This helps us stay focused and clear headed. We’re constantly motivated and inspired by new ideas, books we read, women in our community and the creative circles we surround ourselves with.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
TRM: Our role models are any women doing the damn thing and contributing to changing the world in their own way. This includes our own mothers, a slew of badass ladies in business, and of course, Oprah.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
TRM: After the kids go to school and the husbands have gone to work, we both clean our homes top to bottom before any work can start. A cluttered home and a sink full of dishes just becomes a distraction for us, so we make sure our physical space is clear so our mental one can be as well.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
TRM: We just pay close attention to what’s going on around us in terms of culture, world news, articles related to women / mothers / children etc. and talk often about ideas. We also love books and make the time to read no matter how busy we are. This not only opens our minds to new perspectives, but also makes our own work better. You know the saying – a well read woman is a dangerous creature. Get you some books girl.
E7: Who would you recommend to follow The Rebel Mama and everything that you do?
TRM: Any new or seasoned mother who hasn’t lost or doesn’t want to lose her identity in this shit storm called parenting, and any women / men who have mothers in their lives and want to have a better understanding of what it looks like and how they can help.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)