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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen. | Show Photo

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FoundingMoms.com pushes business women toward success

Jacqui Massaci, Jaqui’s son Bryan, and Rachel Gogos at Uptown Coffee
Jacqui Massaci, Jaqui’s son Bryan, and Rachel Gogos at Uptown Coffee

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Rachel Gogos styles herself an “online ID builder and personal brander,” thanks to her business, brand iD. But she is also a mother of two kids, ages 6 and 8, in Peters Township.
 
And that makes life as a business person a little bit different, Gogos says, for her and for others who combine being a mother and being an entrepreneur: “They’re juggling their home life and kids with starting the business. They’re setting goals that might be difficult to attain. Once you have kids you lose an element of controlling your own time.” That includes not having enough time to search out the right resources to help you.
 
Facing that dilemma in 2012, Gogos contacted FoundingMoms, the Chicago-based group that connects businesswomen-with-kids to exchange stories, advice and contacts. Last year its website was named a “Top 10 Website for Women Entrepreneurs” by Forbes magazine.
 
“A lot of my brandID work focuses on women business owners,” Gogos notes. “But I was lacking my own community of folks who had started their own businesses. I have other mother friends but they aren’t founding businesses, so their day to day looks a lot different than my day to day.”
 
The local FoundingMoms’ Meetup group decided early on to focus their meetings on setting goals and keeping each other accountable for meeting them.
 
“That accountability was super-helpful,” Gogos says. “When you work as an entrepreneur, and you don’t have that accountability, it’s very easy to slip off the [habit] of having goals and it’s easy just to concentrate on your day-to-day business.
 
“We all have very different backgrounds,” she adds, “so hearing about one another’s businesses, we were able to contribute to each other from different standpoints. Women in general are a little more open about their challenges. Having that camaraderie, empathy and other points of view is nice.”
 
Making progress
 
Says FoundingMoms member Jacqueline Massacci, mother of an 11-year-old and a two-month-old in Mt. Lebanon: “We would go around and explain what we did ... about what all our goals were and then when we met again we talked about progress, whether we could help each other and provide services for each other. I got a lot of help from Rachel ... in regards to some ideas for my business and some additional ideas for another business I’m thinking of starting.”
 
Massacci runs Impressions Style Consulting, providing wardrobe enhancements, personal shopping trips, outfit pairing and accessorizing. Since joining the group in 2012, fellow members have helped her find referrals for such business services as credit card processing systems and web design.
 
"I wanted to meet other people starting businesses just to stay fresh and keep my side business growing,” says another FoundingMoms member, Paula Adams, a single mom of two, ages 16 and 12, in North Point Breeze. She is building her own eponymous design label, PaulaAdams.com, creating hats at first but lately branching out into other accessories, mostly in leather.
 
"We kind of understand each other, being parents," Adams says. "We challenge each other, ask questions, throw some ideas around. Financing is my biggest challenge. I've learned a lot about those sorts of things I've needed to face up to and be responsible for.
 
“Pittsburgh is a great community for startups, thanks to the lower cost of living,” she adds. "There are people doing interesting things everywhere you look.” That includes her fellow Whole Foods staffers, where she works as their chalk-board artist. “Just a lot of creative people! For a slightly smaller city, there is so much going on with tech startups in this town."
 
Founding the future
 
For her part, Gogos is hoping to see the group attract new members. She is hoping to add speakers to future meetings “on topics where a majority of people might be struggling,” such as creating mobile apps. She is also handling a second business, called MyPath101.com (http://mypath101.com/), a membership site for high school and college students aimed at helping them prepare for and get through college. It offers three “paths” toward better identity and personal branding, social media strategy and career marketing.
 
Massacci is busy devising a second business as well, although it is not ready to debut, she says. Based on her experience as a personal shopper, she is designing a gifting website to help busy executives find the right presents for every social occasion.
 
For FoundingMoms’ future, she’s got some practical considerations on her mind – she hopes the group can start an internal service to make it easier for attendees to bring their kids.
           
As for Adams: “I would love to have Rachel help me, when I have enough money, to hire people to do what you have to do yourself when you’re beginning. It would be great to hire the people you know, for what you know they’re capable of.”

Photographs copyright Brian Cohen
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