Sarah Kooiman, Owner and Co-Founder of MKE Moms Blog, Opens Up Candidly About the Struggles of Motherhood and Entrepreneurship
"I would advise female entrepreneurs to harness the power of collaboration while you grow your brand/business/platform, but know the value of your time from the very beginning and honor that.”
Each month we introduce a woman in our community who inspires us and others. This Sunday we are spotlighting the Owner and Co-Founder of MKE Moms Blog, Sarah Kooiman.
Sarah launched the MKE Moms Blog (MkeMB) in September of 2015 as an online parenting resource for the greater Milwaukee area, and she and her team have grown the blog by not only offering unique parenting perspectives from a diverse team of contributors, but also by partnering with local brands and businesses and hosting numerous events that have allowed MkeMB to get face-to-face with its readers.
We are inspired by Sarah because of all she has done to strengthen the Milwaukee community, both moms and business, and because of her honest and no BS approach to being a mom and an entrepreneur.
BTD: How did you get the idea for Mkemb and why did you start it?
SK: I spent the first several years of my motherhood journey in relative isolation and I remember feeling incredibly lonely and frustrated, which isn’t a good place to be when you are already sleep-deprived and emotionally exhausted. For a long time, the only “mom friends” I had existed online and I clung to them for dear life. When we moved to the Milwaukee area and I had three small children and no friends; I knew I needed to be intentional about forming in-person relationships with other mothers and that’s exactly what I did. When the opportunity came along to create a resource as part of the City Moms Blog Network that combined an online parenting community with in-the-flesh relationships, I knew it was something I was well-suited for and MKE Moms Blog was born.
Meet the MkeMB Team:
BTD: Why does Milwaukee (specifically) need a resource like MKE Moms Blog? And why is now the right time?
SK: I started the website because I adored writing about motherhood, making people laugh, and using the written word to bring encouragement and foster connections. What I never anticipated was that I would get to see the power of community first-hand in the ways that I have. The team of women behind this website are some of the most incredible humans I have ever met and it is an honor to lead them.
Our goal at MkeMB is to create a space that represents diversity, variety and inclusiveness which in essence means there will be topics, perspectives and opinions that are not held by everyone, but we have learned that when we see past all of that to the person who is valuable and lovely and worthy, it becomes a whole lot easier to link arms and stand side-by-side with them for what matters. If that doesn’t sound like a good fit for the Milwaukee area (and anywhere, really), I don’t know what does!
As far as timing, moms are simultaneously more connected than ever, but continue to feel isolated in their struggles. To offer a website that offers a sense of community, encouragement, and support that is accessible 24/7 from the palm of your hand is something uniquely suited to thrive right now.
BTD: What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs looking to start their own business or blog?
SK: Geez, I feel like I am the last person on earth who should be answering this question because I literally wake up every day feeling fiercely inadequate to what the day will require of me. It’s going to sound like such a predictable answer, but the best advice I have is to just START. And then start again on the days when it’s hard or you’re wondering if you’ve lost your mind. And then start again when the haters come out and make you want to quit. Whenever the to-do list is looking insurmountable or the project too overwhelming, just start.
BTD: What is your view on collaboration: women supporting women? And, how do you collaborate with other female entrepreneurs?
SK: I view collaboration as women sharing ideas, encouragement, and experience and cheering one another on in their respective pursuits. I would also be so bold as to say that I think “collaboration” can be potentially detrimental to entrepreneurs if it’s taken too far and they are offered all sorts of “collab” offers, but are struggling to get paid for their work. So, on a related note, I would advise female entrepreneurs to harness the power of collaboration while you grow your brand/business/platform, but know the value of your time from the very beginning and honor that.
It has been a distinct pleasure to network and collaborate with local female entrepreneurs over the past couple of years. I meet every couple months for coffee and business conversation with two online entrepreneurs I respect very much, we purposefully seek out small businesses owned by women to offer cost-effective advertising for their brand, and I love being part of networking events or organizations like Local First MKE.
BTD: What is the best part of your job?
SK: Hands down, the best part of my job is seeing what the MkeMB community brings to the people that become part of it. We have seen some pretty incredible things happen: dream businesses being launched, new jobs being achieved, first houses being bought, deep friendships being established, and story after story of lives being impacted by the women of this community.
BTD: What is the least glamorous or most challenging part of your job.
SK: It’s probably a tie between trying to explain what I do to people who might not understand how the Internet works and figuring out that I will never be able to please everyone, no matter how hard I try!
BTD: Where do you see MKEmb five years from now?
SK: I would love to see MkeMB continue to grow so we can reach more and more Milwaukee area moms and provide them with a community they can see themselves in. Beyond that, I would love to see us continuing to be learners and listeners. We want to be receptive and willing to hear the stories of our readers and to be willing to step into the hard conversations because I really see our role as a being like a big kitchen table where people can sit down, share their stories, and feel seen and heard. I hope to continue to make that table bigger and bigger with even more seats.
BTD: Anything else you want to share with readers?
SK: Our big holiday family event is coming up fast! On December 1st, we will welcome about 500 people to our Cookies with Santa Holiday Celebration at Wisconsin State Fair Park! We’re planning on ringing in 2019 at a fun Noon Years Eve party and launching another exciting year!
To learn more about MkeMB and their upcoming events, follow along with them on Facebook and Instagram and check out their website by clicking their logo above!
If you have a story to share, let's connect!
Photo Credits: Vanessa Wyler Photography; Melissa Morgan Photography; Hefferilt Photography