Parents TV talks to Jennifer Strom Simonte, founder of Belly Dance Maternity, about her business and how she combines motherhood with her job.
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Anne Ebeling: Jennifer Strom Simonte is doing it all. Owner of maternity many-chain Belly Dance Maternity, Jennifer is also a wife and mother to twin girls. Jennifer Strom Simonte: I think the biggest secret is you just have to be comfortable not doing anything a 100% because if you are balancing too many things at once, then some things are gonna fall through that crack, so that takes a little bit of getting used to. You always have multiple things in your mind and I think that's something you have to learn how to do. At the same time, I'm worried about what color of lollipops to bring my kids when I pick them up in school. I'm worried about the stock market crashing and what's going to happen in my business or reordering the new hot item into the store. So, you always have 4 or 5 things in your mind and they're all different types of things and you just figure out how to balance them in, focus on 1 get it done and keep going. Anne Ebeling: Jennifer opened the first Belly Dance Maternity Store in Chicago in 2002, a second Chicago area location and a web site in 2003, and in 2005, she brought her business to New York City. Jennifer Strom Simonte: Starting Belly Dance Maternity was for me just about starting a business, and I was starting to see a trend of celebrities in the media who are pregnant. Demi Moore was on the cover of Vanity Fair and at the same time designers were starting to introduce maternity clothing line, which is something that hadn't been in the market so much before. So, I had been in a corporate world and I've been in an internet startup world and I was looking start something on my own. So, it's seems like a place in retail, which is what I knew that made such to focus on and that's how it started. Jennifer Strom Simonte: Jen didn't have any kids when she first started Belly Dance Maternity, but by the time she opened this New York City location, she was pregnant with twins. Jennifer Strom Simonte: I actually had kids the same year that I opened the New York store. So, I was pregnant before the New York store opened and I went onto bed rest shortly thereafter because I was pregnant with twins. So, I was working from a hospital bed. Anne Ebeling: But the bedrest paid off and Jennifer gave birth to 2 healthy baby girls. Jennifer Strom Simonte: Balancing life with the twins was definitely I'm able to getting used to, but it's like anything else, you learn it and you figure out how to do it and make it and for me being with the kids was as much of a priority at working, so find times in your day to do both at a shift. You know, they were obviously at home a lot as babies and now they are at school, so you find different ways to prioritize your day, but it's just a balancing act like anything else. Anne Ebeling: She says becoming a mother has given her a better understanding of her business and inspired her to begin carrying baby products under the name Belly Dance Baby. Jennifer Strom Simonte: I obviously understand a pregnant woman's body more and wiser and things wouldn't be practical or wouldn't fit right and expanding the business into the baby category is obviously really relevant because there are things that I love that I wanted to bring to the market. It also helps me understand just kind of how people need, just from going not being a mom to being a mom would start throughout pregnancy, not after have baby, really during pregnancy how you meet kind of shift and your focus shifts away from you into having little baby or baby going inside of you. Anne Ebeling: And Jennifer says her little ones are still making a big impact on her life. Jennifer Strom Simonte: They influenced me everyday. I think the best way in which my kids influenced is just they are so fun and funny and it allows me to take a focus away from everyday stress of work. So, you know when you're so frustrated that in order to shift that you really needed to get or something is going wrong with the computer or the phone lines then everyth