Owning a business is all about the success, the failures, all of it, but nobody seems to talk about the struggles that we have. Today, I want to talk about the real things that business owners struggle with, and then how they get success after that.
"Business. Mom. Cancer. Pregnant. Pandemic. How did she do it? Join me as I talk with Christine Boye CEO & Founder of Breathe. Mama. on today's Struggles to Success episode! "
If you would like to listen to the live show you can do so here!
Christine Boye: Hello.
Karen Holcomb: Good Morning! I know you're a busy mama. I'm sure those kids will be running in there soon. Let's introduce you and tell everybody what you do.
Christine Boye: My name is Christine Boye, and I am a Chicago native. I've lived here my whole life. I am married to my college sweetheart. We'll have been married 10 years this year, together for 16. We have three girls, six and a half, four and a half, and 11 months. We just bought our first home last year, and have obviously been spending lots of time together during the pandemic. In 2015, I started my own business as a doula, a birth doula. I support moms and their partners in preparing for labor and delivery, and postpartum, preparing to become parents, or to grow their family, again. Just in the last year I transitioned. I'm still doing virtual childbirth education, but I'm also doing soul care coaching, focusing on mamas and the mama hearted, and leading six-week group coaching circles, as well as many opportunities to connect with caring for our deepest parts.
Karen Holcomb: I love that. I wish, and I'm sure they did have this out when I was a new mom at 18. I really wish I had that mentor, because I knew nothing going into it. They did have the classes that you take, but I don't feel I could have got all of what I could have got out of it, because even going through those classes I did with my first one, the second one I didn't, I still felt I was still learning as I go. I think it is a good thing, and I think mothers need that, especially first time mothers. I love it. I absolutely love it.
Christine Boye: It's really fun.
Karen Holcomb: When did you open up your business? Tell us some of your struggles with that.
Christine Boye: I started in 2015, and one of the biggest struggles was I had a one-year-old, and at the time my husband traveled a lot for work. It was tricky to figure out how I would make time for my business, while also wanting to be present with my child, and needing to do that, basically, on my own during the week. That was a huge struggle, and making that leap to actually delegating and getting help. A lot of times, as women, as women business owners, if we have kiddos we think we're supposed to be able to do it all. I don't think that that's possible. I don't think that it's healthy. It's not sustainable long-term. That was a big struggle in the beginning.
Then, in June of 2019, we had two girls at the time, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That happened the same week that I found out we were pregnant with our third. It was a really challenging time to engage with the work that I really loved to do. I had already had contracts for births that same month, that I had to give up because I had to have surgery and move into a time of healing, and a time of resting. That was really difficult to make that choice. It was made for me, but ultimately I feel I needed to surrender, and to give that up. That was really challenging.
Then, five months after that, the cancer came back. I had to start full chemotherapy and radiation, and basically had to put my business on hold for nearly 18 months. All of that changed this fall, after I completed all of my treatment and was finally healthy, and without cancer. I started a podcast. I wanted to have a way to reach more people, especially after such a long period of not getting to do what I love, and allowing that time for healing. It's called breathe, mama. That has been a really fun way for me to connect with, and encourage other women and other moms. From there, has launched my soul care coaching, and that has been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this time, I think one of the big losses that we're experiencing is true community, and authentic connection. My heart was just to create safe, sacred spaces for that.
Christine Boye: It's been really encouraging to see women show up, not just for themselves, I think that's a very courageous step in and of itself, but also for one another. I think when we show up, we give permission for other people to take that time to care for themselves, from the inside out. In a lot of ways, that's what I'm doing. I'm showing up for everybody else, but also for myself to remind myself to prioritize that, and to model the way for my girls, and for the women that I serve. The last 18 months have been the hardest, in a lot of ways, but it also allowed me to give birth to this new idea, this new business.
Karen Holcomb: Yes. You went through all that chemo and everything while being pregnant then?
" I come here today sharing this story, not from an I'm all better place, but to share that even in the midst of some of our darkest and most challenging struggles, we can choose to show up for ourselves, and for the people that we want to impact"
Christine Boye: Yeah. I did start chemotherapy for the cancer recurrence while I was pregnant. I was about 30 weeks. I had chemo up until the day I gave birth. I actually had chemo three days after I gave birth. I got a small break of a few weeks, and then started again. She'll be a year in February. All of this really was happening at the start of the pandemic, too. That affected my treatment schedule. My husband wasn't able to come with me for my radiation appointments, which was daily for 30 consecutive weekdays. In a lot of ways, it was way more challenging emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, than it was physically. I'm really glad that that season is behind me, but it's also really fresh. I come here today sharing this story, not from an I'm all better place, but to share that even in the midst of some of our darkest and most challenging struggles, we can choose to show up for ourselves, and for the people that we want to impact. I think people want that authenticity. They want that in-process humility that comes from someone who's doing it right alongside them.
Karen Holcomb: Yes, absolutely. I think people want to see that human. We're all human, but a lot of times being on the Internet, people don't show the struggles and things they went through. I can't imagine the journey that you've been on. I lost my father to a brain tumor when I was 12 years old. I know he went a year before even saying anything, that he was having all these headaches. By the time we got to it, it was a little too late. I can't even imagine, I lived through it, but I didn't live through his shoes. I can't imagine what he went through for a year before even speaking up and saying, "Hey, I can't do it anymore." Going to work is a struggle, but yet, he did it. Just like you, your story is amazing because here you are, not only are you pregnant, but you are battling cancer, and in the middle of a pandemic. Girl, you need a cape because you're like Superwoman.
Christine Boye: Thank you.
Karen Holcomb: It's amazing. I talk to a lot of business owners daily and here a lot of, "I can't do this. This is in the way." It's like, "Girl, somebody, somewhere, is worse off than you are. They're still kicking ass everyday." You're amazing. Again, you need that super cape, for sure.
Christine Boye: Thank you.
Karen Holcomb: With your biggest struggle, battling with the breast cancer, and being pregnant, and in the middle of the pandemic, how did you find the strength to keep going, girl?
"There is a time to say I need to slow down, I need to rest, and not ask permission for that. "
Christine Boye: Yeah. I think what really allowed me to... After all was said and done, I finished treatment officially, toward the end of August. I think what really allowed me to come into this new iteration of my calling and what I want to do, was that I did rest before. I think a lot of times we want to push through the hard stuff, and I think there's a season for everything. It allowed me, this cancer allowed me to learn that there is a time to say no to things. There is a time to say I need to slow down, I need to rest, and not ask permission for that. I know that not everybody has the luxury of doing that. I had a very supportive husband who I also have a direct sales business that allowed us to have that residual income. I recognize that not everyone can just stop working. It was a choice, too. I'm lit up by my work, I wanted to work. It was hard to make that choice. I think that really was what allowed me to then have the energy, and the creativity, to move into something else. It's not terribly different from the things that I was doing before, it feels super related. It was a response to, obviously, our new reality with just about everything being digital.
For a while, when I was immunocompromised, or in active treatment, I couldn't attend births. Allowing myself to get creative, how can I still show up for parents, how can I still show up for moms, and to switch to a new iteration. I think those are some of the things. My faith is a really big part of my life. I think staying connected to hope that it was going to get better, staying connected to people who wanted to help, who I trusted, and who were safe. I think lots of people are well-meaning, and in those moments where we're really struggling, it might not feel safe to let everyone in on all of the details, but to have that posture to receive the love and the support that people wanted to give, I think also strengthened me to return in a bigger and better way to what it is that I want to do with my business.
Karen Holcomb: Absolutely. That is amazing. I absolutely agree with you especially about self-care, I think that's huge for a lot of people. Like you said, some people aren't fortunate enough to be able to say, "These are going to be the hours that I work. This is it." I struggled a lot in the beginning. I've owned two other businesses, and when I first started my first one, it was eat, breathe, and sleep. I was all invested into the business. We don't realize it, but it affects our entire families. When my husband said, "I don't want to get to the point where it's going to be me or the business, but we need boundaries." We weren't seeing each other. There were weeks I would realize, "Oh, I am married. I guess I better see him." I feel like I lost out on a lot of things with my children. I feel they were going through things, personal things, maybe at school and things like that, and I feel like I got disconnected from that somewhere along the line.
Now, I'm very adamant that I work between these hours and these hours only. It's not because I don't want to work, it's the fact that I still have other people to give attention to. I have my personal health that I need to take care of. I think that once you find that boundary, that line, I think that's when you show up more, that's when you're more creative. I feel everybody needs to find that line, eventually, or they're going to drown. I think it's even more important for other women who are going through struggles like you, and facing all those battles at once. It's even more so important for them, for sure.
Karen Holcomb: A few of my clients are pregnant right now, so tell us how you could, if somebody signed up with you today, how would you help them and how do they go about that process in working with you?
Christine Boye: I love childbirth education. I could talk about birth, and breastfeeding, and the postpartum experience forever. I do offer a complimentary 20 minute consult for anyone who's interested in either talking through. I have a freebie, that's a birth plan builder. That's a great entry point if people are feeling overwhelmed with what do I need to know, or where do I start. Downloading that document, looking through it, and then booking the 20 minute consultation with me can be a great place to just get to know one another, and also start that conversation, what classes do I need, or not need, what am I looking for. I do also offer prenatal coaching. That is really customizable. It looks like whatever the mom, or the family needs. Sometimes it is more focused on childbirth, but other times it's talking about what happens after we bring the baby home and making a plan, a postpartum plan, that will set them up for the healing that they need, the rest of that they need, but also to maintain and strengthen their marriage, to their partnership, whatever situation that they're in.
Christine Boye: All of that is, obviously, available virtual. If you are local to Chicago, I do offer birth support. I am attending births now, again, and loving that. Obviously, there's some limitations on what that looks like, depending on what hospital or birth center you're at. A lot of moms just want that additional support, that someone who knows what birth looks like. I am providing that in person, and because of the pandemic, I've also expanded to virtual support. Obviously, that looks a little bit different, but some places still are not allowing doulas, or are making moms choose between their partner and their doula. In that case, I can provide virtual support via video and phone, and that sort of thing, for the family. I am actually, right now, running my first mini soul care circle. I'm going to offer it again in February. This is just a bite-size approach to soul care. What does it look like to invest in ourselves from the inside out, and really pay attention to those things? You mentioned boundaries, but also engage in breath and mindfulness, and movement, in a way to take care of ourselves so that we can show up for our business, and we can show up for our families for the long haul.
Like you said, there was a season where you ate, slept, and breathed your business, and it had a cost. There are seasons when we're getting things started, where we need to push a little bit harder, but long term, if we want to stay in business, if we want to stay married, if we want to stay healthy, that's not something that we can maintain. My five day soul care care circle is running, right now. It started yesterday, but I'll be running another iteration of it. That's self-paced, so you're able to log in and do the five modules with a short video, and reflection questions, and a private Facebook group to engage with other women around the world, which is really fun.
Karen Holcomb: Yes, this is amazing. Especially aftercare. I read all the mommy manuals, if that's what you want to call them. I tell you what, I swear, none of them prepared you for after you leave that hospital. It's all about the before. I think having a one-on-one coach would have been amazing for me, 18 years ago. Being a first-time mom, and being a teenager at that, I want to say was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. I felt like I had nobody. Yes, I had my family, I had my mother, but when you come home, it's not the same. Your entire life has changed, and what you were yesterday, you are no longer that. You are now a mother to this human, this teeny human that you have to keep alive, or craps really going to hit the fan. I think that aftercare is so important. I know a lot of women suffer with the postpartum afterwards. I'm blessed, I never had to experience that, but I know people who did. I can't imagine experiencing that, and then on top of it, being alone, when you're going through that. I think what you're doing is amazing!
What is the best way for somebody who is interested in your circles, and your services, what is the best way to connect with you?
Christine Boye: You can go to my website, I'm also breathed, mama collective on Instagram and Facebook. You can just search, breathe, mama collective and find me there. In my Instagram bio, the link has my podcast. If you're interested in listening to the podcast, the link is there. You can also just search on Apple podcasts for breathe, mama, and find me there.
Karen Holcomb: I want to thank you so much for your time, and seriously, your husband needs to go buy you a cape, because you need it.
Christine Boye: Thank you so much!
Karen Holcomb: If you have any questions for Christine or would like to reach out to her. Please visit her links!
Thank you for joining our podcast about Struggles to Success. If you would like to be a guest speaker please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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