As Cyndee Mendoza can attest, sometimes the best things that happen to us are not planned for at all. Her road into entrepreneurship started as a necessity. She used to be a merchandising manager at Tilly’s, but when she got married she “stopped working for a year to take of my new grandma along with my husband.” She took the plunge into being her own boss because “I was kind of obligated,” she says. “After that year off and grandma passing, my husband went back to work but didn’t accumulate enough time off when he injured his ankle while playing soccer. He broke it and was off work for weeks. With no income coming in I had to come up with a plan, fast! So I made some bows and sold them to my friends. That snowballed and soon after all their friends wanted bows. I was able to keep us afloat until he healed.”
She was able to do much more than just temporarily keep them afloat. Her business that she started out of need, Zombie Girl Designs, turned into a full fledged business that just turned ten years old in September 2017. Her original work has even morphed into a second business, Zomby Skull Succulents, which is just over a year old. Since she started her business rather abruptly, there was no time for in depth planning, she just had to dive right in and figure it out as she went. “When issues arose like disputes or unhappy customers, I would fix it in ways I wanted them to be fixed as a consumer myself,” she says. “A lot of times I didn’t put my business first. I wanted the customer happy always. I’d say that’s what I struggled with. I didn’t always care how stressed I was, I wanted everyone happy.” Her business acumen has only grown since then, as she now balances not only one job alongside motherhood, but two.
She didn’t always need to find a balance between business and motherhood. When she first started Zombie Girl Designs in 2007, there were no kids in the picture. Her first daughter was born two years later in 2009 with the second following the next year. When she branched out and added Zomby Skull Succulents into the mix, her daughters were 5 and 6 years old. As I’m sure most of us can relate, finding a balance isn’t always easy. As Cyndee says, “It’s hard!!! It takes daily push, drive, guts, strength, patience...the list can go on and on. The struggle is keeping that balance. There’s weeks I feel unstoppable and ready to conquer all on my daily plate. There’s also days I struggle to get out of bed. Finding balance to work and break is the struggle. I can’t go, go, go all the time and I also can’t stop.”
Running multiple businesses provides additional challenges, especially in the form of time. To help with the balance of her two endeavors, Cyndee makes weekly schedules for herself so she knows what needs done each day. “On Sunday I plan out my week and give myself designated times for everything,” she says. “Two hours for ZGD, two hours for ZSS, an hour to clean, 30 minutes to walk my dogs, etc. But I do fall off schedule sometimes. Balance LOL! I love to play hookie with my girls some days and it also doesn’t help that my husband is spontaneous and loves change plans last minute.” Since her daughters were born, the balance has gotten easier to maintain. “When they were smaller I struggled a lot finding balance,” she says. “I would either neglect my kids by working ALL DAY trying to catch up on backorders or I’d neglect my work by not paying any attention to it at all. The older they got, the easier it got. I found my balance.” On particularly difficult days, her husband is what helps keep her sane. “I do have my challenging days, a lot actually,” she says. “But he’s always been there to take over my mom duties or force me to take a break to recharge.”
In addition to her kids, husband, and work, Cyndee has another great passion: fitness. Though it’s a huge part of her day to day life now, it hasn’t always been that way. “I was always anti-working out,” she says. “Before fitness I was 100 lbs. I felt I didn’t have to do any sort of fitness because I was already thin. But being thin doesn’t always mean healthy, so after about a year of my husband asking and asking, I gave in. I’ve been on this journey for a little over three years.” You can see the passion she has for it in her posts, I dare you to follow along and not be inspired!
On top of all the amazing things Cyndee does with family, work, and working out, one more thing sticks out and is one of the biggest reasons I admire her. As someone who grew up not getting a real opportunity to experiment with my appearance and make a lot of personal choices, it’s so nice to see that Cyndee and her husband give their girls autonomy to make their own decisions. A look at her page will show you she has two super cool daughters who love their blue hair and shaved head that matches mom. How did they come to this parenting choice? “I’d say it was both my husband’s and my childhood that helped with that approach,” she explains. “He was free to dress and do what he wanted with his image and I was ridiculed by my stepmother. I let them express themselves because I didn’t have that freedom and my husband did so he knows the positivity that’s behind it.” This is something I hope to embody myself in my parenting as my son and to soon arrive daughter grow older.
Looking ahead, though she is ten years into her entrepreneurship journey and has accomplished a lot, Cyndee still has business goals to accomplish. The one at the forefront now, she says, is that “I want my own space to work at. Not a place to sell my stuff, not yet anyway. But a place I can decorate and work in. I currently work off my dining room table.”
She is currently kept inspired by Gary Vee, “He’s a raw motivational speaker,” she says. “Everything he has to say hits home like no other. I also like movies like ‘Erin Brockovich,’ ‘Joy,’ and ‘North Country’ with inspiring women that fought to make a difference.” Now those are some things I think we all can be motivated by!
“I’d like to give some encouraging words to all you mamas that want to raise babies and run a business,” she says. “KEEP AT IT! Treat your business like your babies. It’s gotta thrive and make a difference in this world, too. Raise it! Don’t give up on those hard days. Ride the wave and stay afloat.” It’s also important to “BE PATIENT!,” she says. “What I’ve learned over the years is that building a brand takes time. Unless you luck out and it takes off. But I truly believe that doesn’t help either. Yeah, the money starts flowing in and that’s why we do what we do, right? But, with time and practice you learn the ins and outs before the money comes. You know what works and what doesn’t. What people want and what they don’t. You grow experience with time and THAT will bring you success. Patience and NEVER GIVE UP!”
Connect with Cyndee:
Find her fitness posts on Instagram under the tag #shewolftraining and find Zomby Skull Succulents under the same named tag #zombyskullsucculents
Thanks for reading and stay inspired!
Yours in business and motherhood,