Dreaming of starting your own business? Tips for the ‘mompreneur’ path

Whether it’s a side hustle or a full-time business, entrepreneurial moms are doing it all so they can have it all. Here’s one mom’s small business journey and what she’s learned along the way. 

In February 2020 Kate Gaffney was having a universal mom experience: her hands were full – literally.

“Picking up my kids from preschool was a handful,” Gaffney said. “I would be carrying their art projects, having to hold my oldest daughter’s hand, carrying my youngest daughter by her armpits because she refused to put her legs on my hip and all the while, I’m trying not to drop anything as I find the keys to unlock the car.”

At lunch with her husband, Sean, Gaffney described her predicament and what she thought would solve it: a sleek, leather wristlet that was stylish, practical and made carrying everything in one trip easier. 

“Sean just looked at me and said, ‘You should make it,’” Gaffney recalled. “I went home, ordered everything I thought I would need, made a wristlet, took photos and launched an Etsy shop six days later.”

Just four years later, Gaffney’s leather goods company, Avryn Co., is thriving. Her wristlets adorn the arms of busy women locally, across the country and all over Instagram (even @BusyToddler carries one). From college kids to moms to business execs, people love joining Avryn Co’s One Trip Club. 

Here is Gaffney’s advice for new entrepreneurial moms

Time Management

  • “Be realistic about the amount of time you have,” Gaffney said. “I purposely didn’t have a retail location in the beginning because I didn’t want to commit to those hours. I focused on the online shop so people could browse when they wanted to and I could make and ship products in the margins of my day.”

  • Set boundaries on your time. “I don’t love the super-hustle culture,” she said. “In the beginning you do have to hustle, but I was careful to not let the business completely take over my life.”
  • Gaffney urges new mom entrepreneurs to use your child-free time wisely! Especially when kids are younger, their time at preschool or mother’s morning out or even naptime can feel like a blink of an eye, so make sure you know what you need to get done each day and plan accordingly. 


  • Obviously during school is a great time to get things done, but if you are lucky enough to have additional support, Gaffney suggests setting up a routine so everyone knows what to expect. “In order to avoid those tricky last-minute requests for childcare, I worked with my support network to create rhythms I could depend on. For instance, I know grandparents pick the kids up from school on Wednesdays, so that can be my late day at work.”

  • When your kids are at home, setting expectations around playtime can help them learn to play independently. Gaffney said, “I always found it helpful to intentionally say something like, ‘Mommy is going to come to your play restaurant for 20 minutes and then I’m going to go cook dinner or work on my computer.’”
  • If it is time to play, Gaffney believes being present is really important so your kids can “soak up that time with you. If I was on my phone or distracted the entire time I told my kids I would play, they wouldn’t feel like that time counted.”

Mental Load

  • “Please know so many things get easier,” Gaffney said. “The first couple of years it just feels like you are just drinking from a fire hose. It felt like I was having to start from scratch and learn something new on a daily basis. Of course, I still learn new things today, but it is a lot less overwhelming.” 
  • Gaffney says your children getting older makes things easier too. “When you aren’t having to squeeze work into morning preschool hours or naptime, your work begins to feel less scattered and you feel like you are getting more done.”
  • In hard moments, Gaffney says she takes the time to stop and read good reviews of her business or fun messages from customers. “Even just noticing that someone is a repeat customer can make you feel better,” she said. “Celebrating these small things can remind you that what you are doing is worth it and it can stop you from feeling so overwhelmed.”
  • “When all else fails, take a nap,” she said. “If I’m getting completely overwhelmed, I take a nap. When I wake up, usually things are a lot better and I have the mental capacity to tackle whatever I was doing.”

Business Investment

  • In the beginning Gaffney believes you should be very thoughtful about business expenditures. “I was so frugal when we first started, that I refused to buy QuickBooks,” laughed Gaffney. “I did everything in an Excel spreadsheet.” Gaffney suggests doing things as cheaply as you can and as nicely as you can when just starting so you can test things out and see if your business is going to work.
  • Once you are bringing some money in, Gaffney recommends investing some money back into your business. “I’m still frugal about what I spend on the business,” she admitted, “but I will purchase things that help us run smoothly, save us time and make our products better. I also try to anticipate where the growth is going so I can have the right tools and the right help.”
  • Two larger business expenses that Gaffney says really improved her work-life balance are a dedicated business space and hiring additional help. “I started by just making everything on our dining room table,” she said. “It got to the point the business was taking over our entire home. It felt like a big step to move the business from our home to a studio space and it is really helpful to have another full-time staff member there with me so everything doesn’t depend on me.”
  • The presentation of your product is what gets it noticed. “We tried to present ourselves well from the beginning,” she said. “All those little details matter, especially in the branding, the packaging and the photography. You can have a really solid product, but [if you have] terrible branding no one will buy it.”

Small Business to Business Advice

  • Good customer service is never a bad idea. “Err on the side of making people happy,” Gaffney said. “Even if it doesn’t make sense financially, if we can make a customer happy, it goes a long way toward building your business and creating repeat customers.”
  • Develop small business buddies. “Having a few other small business friends definitely helped in the beginning,” she said. “Being able to say, ‘has anyone figured out Facebook marketing?’ Or ‘does anyone understand how to do sales tax?’ It is helpful to have a few friends that are in the same boat.” According to Gaffney, Instagram is a great place to start to connect to other small businesses. 
  • Perfect what you are offering. “There’s always an external pull to do more, but it is important to me to focus on our core product and do it really well,” she said. “I would rather do that than be spread too thin and offer something subpar that I’m not proud of.”  
  • While Gaffney has literally and figuratively developed a way to carry the loads of work and motherhood, it is and always will be a balancing act for her, along with every other mom. Case in point: During our interview she had to take a quick pause to sort out a car seat situation before seamlessly continuing our conversation. 
  • To herself four years ago or anyone starting out now, Gaffney offered words of validation: “You’re right. It is overwhelming and it is hard, but if you believe in what you are doing, it’s worth it and you will figure it out.”

Learn more about Gaffney’s business at avrynco.com

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Dreaming of starting your own business? Tips for the ‘mompreneur’ path:

Whether it’s a side hustle or a full-time business, entrepreneurial moms are doing it all so they ca…