In this Behind the Business post, Elvira Helena Brock Mendoza, owner of Mariposa Vlinder, shares what it’s like to start a business while juggling life and family.  

Tell us a little about your business.

Mariposa Vlinder is an event and party planning service for low budget party options. We organize activities and games for children’s parties in order to allow the parents to relax. We promote integration, values, and fun. We believe in ‘Empowering Through Fun’. The business started as an idea with my husband as a challenge and a way to focus my knowledge and abilities in spite of the constant rejections of job hunting. The idea was built around the time of our marriage in 2009, but it came true in 2013 when we registered it with the KVK.

Describe a typical working day.

My working day is divided in two. I wake up one hour earlier than my son and have a look at Facebook and mail. During the day I prepare a party, an activity or start noting ideas for future products. I sit down when my son is taking his nap to do some marketing, management etc. In the evenings, I also work a couple of hours usually when my husband is away. Parties are usually during the weekend, and they usually last two to three hours.

How do you manage childcare?

My husband takes care of my son or, in extreme situations when there is a party in the week, I ask a friend to take care of him.

How do you balance work commitments with family time?

I am a full-time mom, so I am with my son all of the time. I always try to save time for my husband and keep one of the weekends free in the month to actually be with my family all weekend. I also respect our holidays. Sometimes if we have to travel to my in-laws and I am working, I travel late in the night to be part of the family gatherings.

What do you like best about running your own business?

I love every inch of it. I enjoy being the general manager, financial manager, webmaster and the one who delivers the product. I feel I am applying everything I have learned and learning every day.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced?

The biggest challenge has been time. I would like to dedicate more time to it but being a full-time mom for now doesn’t let me do it. I find myself feeling frustrated because I want to do more. I just have to accept I can’t.

How do you find time for yourself and what do you like to do with that time?

I always try to have some time for myself in the day. I usually read a novel or watch a favorite comedy. I also love watching movies and going out for dinner. At least once a month, I try to do these things with friends or my husband.

Where does your support come from? Do you have a business mamas network?

My support comes from my husband, my friends here, Amsterdam Mamas and the Spanish Speaking Moms Group. Also my mom and family back home as well as friends from around the world. My mentor, who is a previous boss, also supports me incredibly. I belong to Amsterdam Business Mamas and Amsterdam Small Business.

What is the most important piece of advice you would pass on to a parent planning to start their own business?

I would say just start. I think the scary part is doing just that. But once you do, it is so surprising how things work. A lot of confidence in your abilities and qualities help as well. Good knowledge of what are you good at and what you love to do will guide you in the right path. And finally, I think everyone should have good insight in the market financial tendencies through social networks, twitter etc.

Elvira Mendoza is a Colombian full-time working mom of a four-year-old, and is married to a Dutch citizen. She loves writing and reading and is a member of the Amsterdam Mamas Book and Film Club.

Photo credit: Tasneem Mohamedbhai