This Entrepreneur Built a Social Network for Moms and Has Great Advice to Help Working Mothers Thrive
When Katya Libin found out she was pregnant at 25, she was at the top of her career. But when she became a mom she struggled to find a community, so she decided to do something about it and launched Hey Mama, a social network for entrepreneurial moms.
Katya Libin was 3 years old when her family immigrated to the U.S. from Russia. Her family settled in Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1980s. As a child, Libin absorbed her parents' work ethic to provide opportunities for both her and her sister. That drive and motivation she observed—and internalized—early in life carried her through a successful career in tech sales, and ultimately instilled a sense of confidence to co-found a social networking platform for fellow working moms: HeyMama.
Back when she was a kid, she had just one career goal in mind: to achieve financial freedom. It ran in the family—both she and her sister got jobs at 13 years old and never looked back. "I loved the feeling of being financially independent and not having to ask my mom for money," Libin says. "And also being able to help out where I could, and that feeling really stayed with me as I continued to try to find more interesting and challenging jobs."
This led Libin to landing a job at a tech company after college. One of two women on the team, Libin brought in half the company's revenue within her first year, earning her a high salary. Suddenly, she had more financial freedom than she ever imagined. "It definitely impacted me in a big way," Libin says. She was able to buy her first home and got a taste of what it was like to be fully financially independent for the first time. "Financial security gave me a level of confidence that I never had before," she explains.
It was around this time that Libin found out she was pregnant with her daughter. "At the time, I was 25 years old," she says. "Because I had so much independence, I felt really confident in the decision to stay in New York and bring a beautiful baby girl into the world."
Becoming a mother wasn't without its challenges. "Being a working mom when you're 26 years old with no 'mom friends' is incredibly isolating and overwhelming," she explains. "I was the only woman who had a child at my company, and that led me to really feel hungry for a larger community that could support me as a mother, as a business woman."
It was this desire for community that led Libin and co-founder, Amri Kibbler, to start HeyMama, a social network for aspiring entrepreneurs. "It's meant to propel mothers forward in work and in life. We hope to advance a global collective of mothers who are not only building the careers of their dreams, but setting an example for the next generation on what it looks like to have a career and family life simultaneously," she explains.
With its flagship chapter in New York, HeyMama has expanded to have locations in 10 cities including Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago. Throughout it all, Libin's mission has been to help moms see they really can have it all, especially with the right support. Here, she shares her top advice for working moms.
Don't Be Afraid to Accept Help
"A phrase that is helpful for me to keep in mind is: 'You can do anything, but not everything,'" Libin says. "This holds space for my ambition, but also the reality that it is impossible to do everything alone. We will need to accept help, support, and set boundaries in all areas of life to stay afloat. Like all mothers who have worked throughout human history, we will need a village."
Lean Into the Similarities Between Work and Motherhood
Growing a family and a career are often painted as two things at odds, but Libin points out that motherhood can teach you critical work skills. "It teaches us to multitask more effectively, negotiate more creatively, communicate more clearly, perform more efficiently, and perhaps above all, manage more empathetically," she says. "As mothers we should own this with pride and lay aside any lingering guilt or fear that motherhood is a hindrance. Let's see it as a strength." And that shift in mindset? It can raise other mothers up, too.
"You can't fail unless you stop trying," Libin says. Her advice? Don't stick with a job just because it's "good" if you really want to do something else. "Don't settle for 'OK' when incredible is around the corner."
Be Open and Honest About Money
In particular, hold conversations about money with your partner, if you have one. "If you find yourself defaulting to spending when you're in a funk, evaluate your feelings around spending and saving money," says Libin. And don't be afraid to invest in yourself. "I see women triple-think on whether to do something that moves them along in their career, but not bat an eye when it is for their kids or others. Sometimes we are so used to putting others first that we put ourselves last. If Mama is not in a great place, no one is!"
There's Power in the Collective
Community is more important than ever. "Right now is the time to really find a community of people who share in your values and who you can work together with to solve problems, to help each other, and to give advice," says Libin.
This story originally appeared on Parents.