Mother Run: Mala Bernard of Little Ocean's Fluff
When Mala Bernard left Indonesia, she left behind a background in sales, marketing, and law school that she hated. Due to the dangerous Indonesian law system that would have caused her to have to turn to bribery and possibly even risk her life, she decided that she didn’t want to become a lawyer. Coming to the United States was something she never thought she would do, but now here she is--running her own business and raising her 11 month son.
Mala started her cloth diaper business when her son was eight months old. She named it Little Ocean’s Fluff, after her son’s middle name, Samudra, which means ocean. “I use it to remind me to never give up,” she says. In her Etsy shop, she sells beautiful cloth pocket diapers, covered in gorgeous watercolor unicorns or an “I Pump Love” breast pumping theme dedicated to all the mothers who have to pump due to work, supply issues, or whatever other reason. She also recently added some cute Cloth Diapering Mama stickers and pins to help you share your love of cloth. She hopes that her entrepreneurial journey will allow her son learn about business from a young age. With just a little bit of research, she dove right in with her business ambitions, never worrying about how the balance of business and motherhood would play out. She doesn’t stress out about finding the perfect balance, “one day I can do my business,” she says, “another day I can’t. So I just try to be gentle to myself and admit that I’m not super-human.” We should all take this insightful advice from Mala, I know I have a hard time trying to find that balance each day and when I don’t it’s so hard to not feel down on yourself. If we could all take this more forgiving attitude towards it like she does, I’m sure we would all feel better.
Like many of us, she decided to start her own business for many reasons, not just as a way to money but also as a way to keep her sanity while adjusting to raising a baby and to tell herself that “I’m not just a mom.” This is something we can probably all relate to, personally my business was a huge life line in the months following the birth of my own son, the purpose it gave me helped me feel like myself again. So often, mothers are told that they have to be there 100% for the children and that can get misinterpreted as never doing anything for ourselves. Like Mala, many of us know the healing power of having something outside of being a mother that we have all to ourselves. We are not just moms. We are also businesswomen, partners, friends, and so much more.
The most challenging part of running her business so far has been the sales side of it, she says the “marketing job is no joke,” which I think all small business owners struggle with as they get started and begin to learn the ins and out of being the only person in charge of every aspect of their business. It can be overwhelming, but with a great support system of mothers like Mala, we can all help each other and succeed.
When asked what the best piece of advice she could give to other business owning moms, Mala had this to pass along--”Never give up. Never questions your own ability to make money. You are the best teacher for your kid, so they will see you are struggling and how you overcome it! Don’t let people tell you you can’t.”
I hope that you all can find inspiration and insight from Mala’s story. She has dealt with the challenges of moving to a new country, becoming a mother, and starting a business and she is doing so great, be sure to check her out and connect!
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