By her own words, Amber Michels is no perfect mom. But, then again, she doesn’t set out to be, which is a main tenet of her 1-year-old business.
More than two years ago after giving birth to her now nearly 3-year-old daughter, Michels found herself in a bit of a rut, no different than what many new moms go through.
“I’ve heard myself, I’ve heard a few fellow moms say this, ‘I never thought it would happen to me. Not in a million years,’ ” Michels said of having postpartum depression. “I have always prided myself on having it together, staying ahead of the curve.”
Michels said she didn’t sleep for the first few months after she gave birth, and at times was unwilling to leave home.
“For me, it started with just being really emotional, crying everyday. It’s called the baby blues, it’s very common. … The worst part of it for me was the anxiety,” Michels said, detailing the irrational and almost obsessive thoughts she would have.
“I was constantly worried about my baby. It totally spiraled out of control,” she said. “I got to this place, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I was not the person I was before baby, and I think for many women, if they aren’t able to work through that, that can be a very scary, detrimental thing.”
Your Milk Shoppe
Sitting last week in what used to be an old Greenville textile mill turned apartment complex, Michel detailed how she went from corporate life to creating a startup business with a simple thought in mind — it needs to be all about the moms.
Roughly one year ago, Michels founded Your Milk Shoppe, a networking organization just for moms.
The business model, she said, was organic, created through the process of journaling and working through her own issues.
“It was just out of sheer need that I experienced and wanting to help my fellow mom, rather than just judge,” she said.
Michels, mostly working through referrals, offers new moms, moms going back to work or moms just needing a break, a free 30 minute to an hour consultation centered around the mom and her needs.
Then, Michels said she drafts an outline of the conversation and a quote, which enables the mom to become a full part of the networking organization.
Your Milk Shoppe offers moms maternity services, baby planning, all while referring moms to a slew of resources along the way.
“If they are a working mom and they simply don’t have time, they are relying a lot on us with research as to what goes into the baby’s room. That’s for two reasons," she said. “That’s for the obvious. We know the information because we’re very current and we know what’s out there that day. But also to save them money, because what new moms find is that they can over buy. … But my job is to come in and kind of have a “come to Jesus” moment and say, ‘You don’t need three of those. You need one. You don’t need that, even though it was written up in that baby magazine.’”
Another part of Michels’ business, which she said has exploded within the past several months, is nanny placement.
“That has been a huge part of our business,” she said. They (moms) call us and it takes about two to eight weeks to find a nanny. We are extremely thorough. We run a background check, we run a home check of the nanny’s home, we do five reference checks. No one else out in this area is doing it.”
Your Milk Shoppe also offers “milk boxes,” small “curated boxes of love,” that include all mom-made, local items from body butter, to oats, to candles.
Strong bones leads to growth
Since the founding of Your Milk Shoppe one year ago, the company has already spread its roots in two other major cities — Chicago and Atlanta.
Michels’ sister-in-law, Kimmie Johnson, is the co-founder of the company in Chicago. And most recently, the company has branched out into Atlanta, after Michels hired a new mom to create the networking experience just two hours away from Greenville.
Michels’ startup has also grown in popularity. Next month, Your Milk Shoppe will launch several child prep classes in a bit of a “pop-up style-environment” in Greenville and in Chicago, she said. Later, those classes will also be offered online.
“I’ve now had 13 people, women, moms, reach out to me, all throughout the county to work for Your Milk Shoppe. Thirteen, which is pretty great, right?” Michels said. “… I would love to give other mothers that are in the same position as me, where they want to work but they want to still have their baby on their hip, because that’s me."
Ten years from now, Michels would love to start a maternity line, just called “Milk,” that includes versatile pieces for everyday moms who want and need to feel comfortable.
“Your Milk Shoppe is not just a business. The intention is to very much be a mission, a faith-based business that is literally intentionally helping moms,” Michels said. “What we say Your Milk Shoppe is, is your little momatribe.”
'I love every mom'
As a full-time mom and now a business owner, Michels said she's had to reset her time, intentionally creating space to spend time with family.
"It's challenged me to step up and be a more present wife," she said. "It's also made me more compassionate toward other moms. I love every mom. I truly, I feel like I am going to cry, but I do. I really love every mom more and better now than I did when I started this business."
And that passion, she said, is what can jumpstart any successful business, for anyone.
"If you can find something that you’re completely passionate about and it happens as organic as this has happened, you're going to be successful at it," she said. "I’m not trying to sell anyone anything. This is just me. It resonates with people and I enjoy it. I’m very fulfilled."
Learn more about Your Milk Shoppe at www.YourMilkShoppe.com. This month, Your Milk Shoppe is offering 40 percent off its services.