“So much of [the pandemic] has come down to women. Women had to leave their careers at a much higher percentage than men did during this to be home and support the children. It’s natural, ‘of course, the kids need me and that’s what I have to do,” Allie Schneider, COO and Co-Founder of the mama’hood Denver said.
Anecdotally and statistically speaking, Schneider is right. The COVID-19 virus has hit women across the country hard. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 2.2 million fewer women in the workforce in October 2020 than in October 2019. Journalists and scholars continue to stress that the pressures of COVID-19 have been especially brutal for working moms. The New York Times even released an article last month saying, “America’s mothers are in crisis.”
So what can we do to support working moms in our communities? As the co-founder of a crucial support organization for Denver families, Schneider provided us with some insight.
The pandemic has severely impacted women’s careers and their mental health — as a community for moms, you support a diverse range of families. How has the pandemic impacted your community in general?
“They’re desperate,” Schneider said. “Even us [mama’hood owners] as moms, I have to work and both of my children are at home … The moms are desperately seeking support and desperately seeking connection. They just want to hear that they’re not going crazy by themselves. Luckily we’ve had the Zoom option. They just log on and talk and talk and talk and they’re just desperate to connect with other parents.”
What are the unique challenges that you face as a mom-owned business?
“It’s so incredibly heart wrenching, it’s hard to be present equally for both,” she said. “When you’re a business owner, especially in a labor of love like our business is, it’s heartbreaking. You have to almost choose between does my business get attention or do my kids? Also the business that we have supports women who also have children. It was heartbreaking and also terrifying. I was so worried not only about my own kids, I just kept thinking about all of the other kids that don’t have enough access to the internet, or they don’t have enough access to food. So the stress of worrying about your own children and other people’s children who don’t have everything that they need to be supported at home, and the moms who don’t have everything they need to be supported at home. It became obsessively crazy in my own mind.”
“People who aren’t going through it are either like, ‘How is this affecting you and how is this difficult?’ Or they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah well well the kids will be okay.’ And you’re like, wow, you don’t get it,” Schneider continued. “You don’t get the stress of being the parent. Watching your 8th grade boy staring into a computer all day with no connection … So it’s very interesting to see how people react to working moms. We almost don’t get to get up off the mat.”
What do the mom-owned businesses in our communities need right now?
“What mom-owned businesses need is more people like [Intentionalist] who will shine a light on how difficult this has been. Sometimes numbers help and I hear them on CPR and NPR but just personalized stories from women. You know, my business thrived and we’re going to come out of this on the other side, but what about the women who lost everything? They were career women and now they’re at home and they don’t know what to do. We need the community to understand, and what most women and mom-owned businesses need is some compassion. From ourselves, we need to give ourselves a little break. But it’s kind of like in parent-teacher conferences when they’re like, ‘He’s not as focused as he was,’ and it’s like well, I’m at work. They just need a little bit of compassion and understanding. And I think to do that is to hear personal stories.”
Ultimately, Schneider says that she’s been exceptionally proud to be a non-judgemental space for diverse families to bring their children and their needs during these turbulent times. The mama’hood continues to provide limited in-person classes and Zoom classes for lactation support, grandparent support, prenatal yoga, mama groups, and more. You can view their upcoming classes on their website.
At Intentionalist, we believe that when you #SpendLikeItMatters at diverse-owned businesses in your communities, you send a message of support to the people behind them. Including the mama’hood, we’ve compiled a list of 10 mom-owned businesses in Denver that you can support this Women’s History Month and all year round.
10 Mom-Owned Businesses to Support in Denver
There’s something special about knowing your favorite piece of jewelry is one-of-a-kind. Abby Sparks opened her jewelry design studio in 2013, specializing in custom engagement rings, wedding rings, and jewelry re-purposing. From your first consultation, you’ll know you’re in great hands because Abby Sparks Jewelry aims to set the standard for the custom fine jewelry experience. All of the materials are 100% recycled and eco-friendly, so you’ll know your new piece is good for the earth, too.
Inspired by common European market-bakery-restaurant hybrids, this local artisanal food hub is both trendy and traditional. Offering a large parking lot, The Bindery can host many guests under the same roof. Whether you’re visiting to enjoy some freshly baked goods or a fine-dining meal, you’ll notice there’s care taken to improve every aspect of the experience. Owner Linda Hampsten Fox brings 25 years of culinary experience to the table, along with locally-sourced ingredients and exceptionally innovative dishes.
If you’re looking for high-quality furniture and decor with a laid-back vibe, Lulu’s Furniture is a beautifully curated shop just for you. Owned by mother-daughter duo Christy Brant and Caitlin Marsh, furniture has been the family business since Caitlin’s grandfather dropped out of school to work for Colorado Bedding. The store opened in 2007 and continues to find happy homes for their beautiful sofas, chairs, dining tables, rugs, lighting, and more! Fun fact: You can customize furniture pieces with the fabrics and finishes of your choosing!
It takes a village to raise a child, and the mama’hood is ready to be your village. In 2012, three moms combined talents to create a community that would provide an array of services catered uniquely for children and their families. This inclusive space offers yoga, retail, group meets, and classes that are available on a sliding scale for accessibility. Whether you’re ready to sign up for breastfeeding support, grandparent bootcamp, or prenatal yoga — the team at the mama’hood is ready to support you. Owners Linda Appel Lipsius, Amanda Ogden, and Allison Schneider support a “judgement-free” philosophy and encourage parents to step into what’s authentic for their families.
Fresh Argentinian empanadas await you at this popular Denver spot. When you walk into Lorena Cantarovici’s restaurant, you’ll order your choice of empanada (there are even breakfast variations!) at the counter and grab a cup of coffee. Then, you’ll have your choice of seat out on their sunny sidewalk or in the cozy cafe. There are plenty of meatless empanada choices and even some dessert options! You’ll have to taste Lorena’s recipe for yourself to see what all the hype is about. Fun fact: Maria Empanada has been featured twice on the Food Network and won numerous awards!
House-baked breads, handmade sauces, and house-smoked meats adorn the menu of this popular Denver spot. Olive & Finch evokes the essence of a beautiful, home-cooked family dinner and the service is just as comforting. In addition to a full menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner, Olive & Finch also has a wonderful to-go counter stocked with baked goods and other yummy things. Owned by Mary Nguyen, this neighborhood restaurant is best known for its brunch! Bonus: There are options for dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian dishes!
Children and kids at heart will find themselves at home in this whimsical gift boutique in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver. Owner and creative curator Robin Lohre is the imagination behind the world of color and texture within her store, Talulah Jones. Born in 2002, it’s no coincidence that the name of the store sounds like a person, because as such, Robin says that the store “has a soul.” Stop in to shop a variety of toys, clothes, home goods, and handcrafted art! Fun fact: Talulah Jones is a Certified Green Company.
#AsianOwned #FamilyOwned #WomanOwned
When Truong An Gifts and Beauty opened in 1980, it was the first Asian gift shop in Colorado! Owner Fawn Luong moved to the United States from Vietnam and wanted to offer her community a slice of Asian culture through some of her favorite things. Since it first opened, the shop has expanded from 450 square feet to over 5000 square feet. Today, Fawn’s daughter Mimi Luong also owns and runs the shop and keeps it brimming with exciting goods including dishware, teas, herbal medicine, snacks, beauty products, K-Pop fan items, and more!
Mona Dickerson and her husband Flynn moved to Colorado in the 1970’s from the U.S. Virgin Islands, but developed a deep longing for food that tasted like home. As each of their food ventures grew in popularity, the two finally opened Welton Street Cafe in 1999, the now ultra-popular soul food spot. Their Southern-style recipes have a special Caribbean twist, and locals show up in droves for the fried chicken, fried catfish, and smothered pork chops (yum!). Fun fact: You’ll find that many of the employees at Welton Street Cafe are part of the family!
Denver activists have claimed a special local spot as their meeting place for years, and that spot is Whittier Cafe. The coffeehouse opened in 2014, and hosts the local chapter of Black Lives Matter in addition to open mic nights, campaigns, student activities, and more. When the coffeehouse was under threat of closure, locals came together to save their favorite spot. Owner Millete Birhanemaskel is proud to be the owner of this popular spot for coffee, tea, and community.
Know other mom-owned businesses we should highlight? Let us know by suggesting your favorites.
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Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters