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After being laid off at 7 months pregnant in her corporate job and faced with pregnancy discrimination when job hunting, Brea Starmer was thrown into consulting. Her experience inspired her to launch her agency, Lions and Tigers, which is a marketing, operations and strategy consultancy building a bridge to the future of work.
Today, Brea has a team of nearly 100 consultants that work flexibly and part-time by bringing highly-skilled workers to organizations through her innovative and inclusive business model.
On top of scaling this business to almost 8-figures, Brea is the mama to 3 little ones and just returned from her first ever maternity leave with her baby girl.
In this episode we discuss:
The three steps you need to take before you start consulting
How to become a part-time consultant
How to price your services and find your first clients
How to sell your consultancy services (vs. filling an internal role)
Key systems to put into place when running a team and scaling while working part-time
What does flexibility look like in the future of work
Brea is an absolute powerhouse mama looking to change the future of work while helping other highly skilled women (especially moms) have flexibility and access to the workforce.
IG: @BreaStarmer and @lionstigersco
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Follow along at IG: @MommysonaCall & @StephanieUchima
Stephanie: [00:00:00] Welcome to mommy’s on a call your sacred space to laugh, learn, and feel like a real grownup human for a hot minute. I’m Stephanie Uchima-Carney, a mom of three under six serial entrepreneur business, strategist, and donut connoisseur. Just trying to get through the day one cold cup of coffee at a time. I believe that with more intention, a positive mindset and self care, it is possible to thrive in motherhood business.
My mission is to uncover the daily rituals, life lessons, real life tactics, and favorite tools to inspire and empower you mommy, to get the most out of life every single unpredictable day. So grab your headphones, tell your kids you’re on the potty and tune in weekly for some laughs knowledge bombs, and plenty of real talk with real moms and maybe a dad or two.
Welcome to the mommy pod.
Welcome back to mommy’s on a call today. I’m excited to bring to you Bria Starmer. She is the founder of lions and tigers, a marketing operations, and strategy consultancy, building a bridge to the future of work. She’s also the mama to three and just returned back to work from her first ever maternity leave with her baby girl.
Brea: [00:01:16] Thanks. Stephanie. I’m so happy to be here
Stephanie: [00:01:18] by the way. For three and a half months postpartum, you look fantastic. And I’m even surprised you’re like here. So major props to you.
Brea: [00:01:27] Thank you. I appreciate it. I will confess this is yesterday’s hair curl. Like, I mean, you just gotta like get through right now, but I appreciate it.
Stephanie: [00:01:34] Well, on that note, what is your biggest mom win of the week?
Brea: [00:01:38] Hmm, I was anticipating this question. Okay. So I was sharing with you. My youngest daughter has just hit her four months. Sleep progression. So we moved her from our bedroom into her nursery three nights ago, and I guess that’s a win, but I do also feel really sad to lose my roommate.
So I’m having some feelings about that, but we did, we successfully moved her into her own nursery and she slept through the night that night. So clearly, like she was happy to do it too. Now you sleeping
Stephanie: [00:02:06] better or do you think she’s sleeping better now that she’s out of the way?
Brea: [00:02:10] Well, I don’t think that any of us are sleeping.
Great. I think we’re still learning and she’s a little further away. So maybe that helps a little bit, like when
Stephanie: [00:02:17] they were right next to me, I would wake up to every little noise. Like it would just be like, oh, okay. But it was also really convenient when you’re nursing or when you like, don’t want to have to get out of bed and like walk down the hall or something, but it’s also
Brea: [00:02:32] nice to have your space back.
It’s true sleep. This round has been really, like, I forgot all of the ways that you need to teach a baby to sleep. And, you know, you’d think with my third kid, like, it’d be so easy, but it wasn’t this round. I forgot. So we actually took a class from taking care of babies. I did the same thing.
Stephanie: [00:02:50] I took her new horn class because with my second daughter was terrible at sleeping or my second.
And so I wanted to do it right this time. I was like, third, time’s a charm. We’re going to get it. Right. So I took taking care of babies also. Yeah, it
Brea: [00:03:04] was a big help. I was glad that we did it. I was slightly embarrassed when I put in that credit card, but I was like, we need this.
Stephanie: [00:03:10] What do you think was the biggest takeaway from you that you changed versus the
Brea: [00:03:14] first two?
Well, we were, I admittedly, I was like watching the bachelor and listening to ACDC as we were trying to put her down to sleep and that wasn’t going great. So it was just a nice reminder that Binky and white noise is probably a better solution.
Stephanie: [00:03:28] Exactly. Well, I know like me, you have three kids and so give us a little bit of background about your family structure or context about your family structure.
What does your family look like ages of your kids? And do you both work? And if so, what does that look like at this period?
Brea: [00:03:43] Sure. It’s I think all families are dynamic right now. It just feels like every season is different and that’s true of my family too. So I have three kids. I have a five-year-old boy.
I have a two-year-old boy. And I have a three month old daughter. So we believe that they’re identifying as today. And I am in a relationship with my husband, Andrew, who I met at a frat party in college. So we’ve been together since we were 19 and he has retired. So he has decided to be our stay-at-home parent.
What should we make that decision right before the pandemic that we didn’t know the pandemic was coming, but we knew that he wasn’t super happy in his job. And my work was really starting to call a lot of me. And so that was a decision we made in our family. And it’s a wonderful luxury and has been. The only way we’ve been able to survive lately.
We also have some childcare too, and I, and I should say, he’s, uh, we have an Airbnb property, so he helps manage that. So it’s not like you can see, he’s got a lot of stuff going on. And then my work, I have been Richard, I just returned from maternity leave and I’m working part time now. So I’m working three days a week and I have two days of childcare with my daughter.
So I see her, you know, some of the days and the weekend that I worked some of the days. So that weekend this’ll be for as long as I can maintain that. I dunno how long. Which
Stephanie: [00:04:57] I can’t wait to dive in because when you say part time, you own the business and you’re an entrepreneur. So saying a part-time entrepreneur, I feel like that’s kind of an oxymoron because you can never be really part-time I feel as an entrepreneur, because you’re always like, it’s your other baby?
It’s your, it might be your, I don’t know, second baby, kind of
Brea: [00:05:16] your first baby, like in this expression, where did they come? For this business as I was pregnant with my second son. So as my belly grew with him, so did this business. And so, yeah, so this is deeply rooted, rooted in my parenting journey and yeah, I mean, you never put it down ever.
I mean, of course when you’re in the shower, when you’re on walks, It’s always occupying my mind, but I only take meetings three days a week. So that’s how I have designed them. And
Stephanie: [00:05:46] are any of your kids in school or anything right now, or they, are you guys all working at home? What does that look
Brea: [00:05:51] like? Yeah, like you mentioned, we have some childcare.
So my oldest, so we, when the pandemic started, we brought everybody home. W they were home for about six hours. And then my oldest son, his Montessori school reopened and, but very limited capacity. And so that was a tough decision. Do we send it back? We didn’t, I mean, we spent weeks sort of agonizing over that decision and you were pregnant too pregnant.
Yes. So like, do we want to open that risk and what does that do for us? But we ultimately made the decision to put him back into school because we didn’t think that he was going to get a spot. If we didn’t take that spot, then. Proven to be a really good decision. His school has been super safe. I’ve been very impressed with their COVID precautions.
And then my second child, we also got him into, back into his daycare. So we’ve got like a bunch of different things, kind of all pieced together, a lot of logistics, but I’m very grateful for any sort of childcare that we can get at this time. So that’s how we’re it just every day is different. Every day.
I have a different kid in a different spot. And especially
Stephanie: [00:06:51] with a baby too. So let’s go back. You said you were writing about your bio, was that you took your first ever maternity leave. What does that mean? You have three kids. How is this
Brea: [00:07:01] your first maternity leave? Okay. So I will back up Stephanie to my first pregnancy.
Okay. So five years ago, well, five plus nine months, I was working at a startup in Seattle, big old startup well-funded I was employee number 500 or whatever, and I was part of a major layoff. They let go of 20% of the company one October day. And I agreed with the business decision because we weren’t, we didn’t have a path to profitability in the business unit I was in, but I was seven months pregnant when that happen.
And so you can imagine a first-time mom, uh, an over planner in that moment was it was the most fear I’ve ever had, especially no, like the, the Mo like mama bear inside me came out immediately. I mean, I didn’t have health benefits. I didn’t have short term disability. My husband was just transitioning into a new job.
So we, we, I didn’t even know. We got, we basically got health benefits two weeks before he was born.
Stephanie: [00:07:59] My goodness, where you like stay in state.
Brea: [00:08:04] So scared Stephanie, and then, so I did what everyone would do. I scrambled, I ran out and tried to get a job. I interviewed all over town and I had a decent network at that time, but I faced pregnancy discrimination, like very, very rampantly.
And so I couldn’t get a job. And so the only thing that I could do is I started to consult. So I said, okay, well, will you at least hire me as a freelancer? So I like set up Bria Starmer consulting, LLC at midnight one night and started billing the next day because I needed to make money. So I build 60 hours a week as a consultant, my whole third trimester to save enough money for like 10 weeks that I could be with this baby.
So that’s how I kind of pieced it together at the last minute with, from, with, with my first. Wow.
Stephanie: [00:08:48] And then from there, let’s talk about lions and tigers. How did you end up starting that? Did you always have like an entrepreneurial? Like, I want to start something on my own. Were you one of those who said like, no, I want to go back to corporate or like rise up in the ladder.
Like where did you see yourself and with kids. A lot of us would take that as a sign. Like maybe I should take a step back. Maybe I should be a mom for now or do something part time, but you launched a full-blown agency.
Brea: [00:09:17] So let’s go through your mind on this. Sure. So I was working in a corporate job, big, big enterprise tech job, and I remember.
Uh, there was a point where I said, you know, I, I’m not making the kind of impact in the world that I want to make. I there’s a very distinct moment there. So I knew I wanted to leave corporate and go try something smaller. So I went and I ran a few digital marketing agencies, staffing agencies, and then I wanted to do this startup thing.
So I felt like I had kind of done a tour of duty in my career. As I started consulting, you know, as I mentioned, I sort of did that under duress, but I came back after Cedar and I took on just a 25 hour a week consulting project and it was bomb. Like it was great. I mean, I was like making enough money. I could say yes or no, I could manage my schedule.
It was the most empowered I had ever felt as a professional. And so I started kind of picking up these part-time consulting projects and was having this great impact and a lot of fun. And my friends started asking me like, how are you doing. Like, why is this working for you? And so there was one day, Stephanie, I, I remember it very distinctly.
I was sitting with my oldest baby. He was, you know, I was pregnant with my just newly pregnant with my second and he was napping on me. So it was like one of those, like, you’re not supposed to do that. Right? Like, you’re not supposed to just sit and nap with your baby, but I just indulged for, for awhile.
And so I was sitting in this chair for a couple of hours with this baby and feeling. Overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had moved from this moment of like fear and insecurity and lack of confidence to a place where I had built this little independent thriving business that had taken me to such a place of joy.
And I felt really called that I needed to help other people do that. And so I think that I’ve developed the most obvious business of all time. I built part-time work. And so I still, I decided I wanted to start an agency that helped other, especially women and especially people of underrepresented populations come into corporate culture.
That they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access or for a workload they couldn’t otherwise sign up for. So we take those sort of full-time JD and we break them apart. We make them part time. We make them accessible. We build these hybrid teams with people’s best skills, and then we let them go to work and they go off and they are able to shine in the thing that they’re the best at, in the container and capacity that they have.
Stephanie: [00:11:39] yeah. Well, so you mentioned something and we’ll go back to the maternity leave, but I wanted to ask, you mentioned something about, you know, your friends were asking, how did you build this consultancy? How did you do that? What are some of your tips that you told them on how you were able to do that?
Because you know, a lot of people leave the workforce, especially after 2020 with we know thousands and thousands of women or laid off. And a lot of them are moms. They want to do something. Now they want to maybe take that expertise, take that experience and start something. But they have no idea how to even go about consulting.
How do you even find a client? How do you do that? What are some of your suggestions that you might’ve told your friends or that you would tell people out there?
Brea: [00:12:20] Yeah, this, I am so excited when people want to go and do this work because it has been such a wonderful experience for me. And so a few of the things that has that I’ve seen work well for me and in watching hundreds of people do this, the first thing that I really had to do was be clear about my values.
And that’s not a small exercise. Like you really have to sit with what is it that I care about? Doing in the world, like where, where am I best? Where can I best serve? And like, you know, for me, I actually love to make other people shine. That was a value that came out. Stewardship became really important to me.
Like how do I use time and resources? Effectively, community building was really important to me. So like I had to really sit and wrestle with those values. That was the very first thing that I did. And did you reach out to external sources in order to help find those values?
Stephanie: [00:13:10] Like how did you go about that process?
Brea: [00:13:12] Hi for me. I sat, I just like closed off in a room and just sat with a journal and just did that work. But there’s lots of ways to do that. I mean, there’s finders, there’s design your life. There’s lots of ways that people can go about doing purpose seeking. But for me, that value piece was first.
And then I started to think about what were the skills that were the most valued in the room.
So for me, I’m a change management consultant. I’m a marketing consultant. And like I said, I really like to come alongside leaders and help them shine. And so that can look like a chief of staff role that can look like a number, you know, sit number two roles. So I kind of had to think about what job I would have traditionally applied for in the W2 full-time world and thought about how I could apply that in the consulting.
So once I, I really spent some time with the things that I felt like I could confidently answer questions about. That’s a good test. Like what do people come to you and ask you questions about and what can you confidently talk about? Great test to know if that’s your skills that are marked.
The thing that really unlocked for me consulting was I called a bunch of folks I had worked with before and they already knew me. They already knew my skills and that’s who I went to as my first client base. And so that’s that I would highly encourage people to do some sort of like network audit or figure out, you know, kind of their top five folks they would call. And from there then it just became a referral business. That was pretty quick.
Stephanie: [00:14:32] That’s incredible.
Cause I know a lot of people also feel like, oh, well they already have that type of role at the company. Or, you know, why would they hire me part. Were there any sort of angles you use in order to convince them, like, why not hiring a full-time employee? Why hiring you as a consultant who also just had a baby?
So there could be some concerns, even though we know you can’t discriminate against that, but what were some of your ways you went into the company and approached them?
Brea: [00:14:58] It’s a great question, because a lot of consultants will go in and say, here’s why I’m great. Would you like to hire me? But the thing that I think I did a little differently is I thought a lot more specifically about the outcomes that, that business or that professional was looking to drive.
And I tried to come in answering the question of how I would provide value in that moment. So, you know, when I called my past agency that I had, I had been a leader at, I knew they were still stuck on this particular problem that hadn’t been solved since I left. And I came back and I said, you know, can I move the ball forward for you a little bit further in the next month I’ve got 30 days.
And I think I can make this kind of impact for you. And so then it becomes a very easy. Because I’ve, I’ve really rooted it in their business outcomes rather than my ability, if that makes sense. It does.
Stephanie: [00:15:42] And then how did you go about coming up with a price? Because I think that is like the big question and the elephant in the room.
I feel like as a woman, a lot of times we don’t value ourselves, especially going into consulting. When you are technically either on a hourly or a retainer fee, how did you value your time and knowledge?
Brea: [00:16:05] This is an art and it, and it’s, uh, it takes a while. So, so give yourself some grace in that process, because I was going back to people who already valued me.
It was easier. And I remember my first project, actually, I think I asked for $100 an hour and he came back and said, I’ll give you one 50. And that’s amazing. And I was like, okay, now I know that I have one rate, but what you could generally do just for like really back of napkin math, you can sit and think, think about how much you’d like to.
In a year in an annual salary. So whatever that is a hundred thousand dollars divided by the number of hours you want to work. That’s an important component because you know, there’s 2080 hours in, in a traditional full-time year, including vacations. So you want to think about if I only want to work part-time you have to have that number and you have to twice your age.
And then, so you get down to, to that rate. Now, most people under calculate. Taxes taxes costs, et cetera. So you need to factor that in whatever your effective tax rate is, you know, and I like to overestimate that, call it 40% or whatever, and then I doubled it.
Stephanie: [00:17:05] Right cause benefits. You’re not getting benefits that a company might be offering 401k matching or contributions, insurance,
Brea: [00:17:13] all of that.
That’s right. So I think what I would say is having done this quite a bit, hourly rates are the most comfortable, most ubiquitous form of currency. I challenge people to think about it. Well though in a different way, if you can, I actually love to sell either outcome-based projects or maybe like perhaps fixed bill.
And so in that actually I’m doing a project next week. We’ve fixed bill $6,000 for my time next week to do a change management project, I’ve committed to a couple of key outcomes. That will be the, you know, the result of that work. And it’s up to me how I manage my time and really at the end of the day, they’re not, they don’t care about my time.
That’s not what they’re looking for. They’re looking for change in their organization. So if I can. Well change and I can work quickly, then I can make a higher rate. So you just have to really think about the values of your client and then how you want to spend your time. Wow.
Stephanie: [00:18:05] So let’s go back. I never finished the question on, you said you took your very first maternity leave.
So let’s talk about that again. Explain to me why this was your very first maternity leave. We know like your first child, you got laid off
Brea: [00:18:20] your second one. The second, so first job laid off. So although I was off of work, I mean, I was hunting that entire maternity leave. And so that was a very scary time.
My second though, as you heard was the time when I had decided to start scaling this business. And so the test for me with that business as I grew that business and my belly grew at the same time, I basically had 900. To try to put in place a system that let the business run. Once I had the baby, that was the plan.
So I was like, okay, I need to hustle enough work here and bring in others to support that work so that I can take some time off. Well, that didn’t really happen because I was nine months into a new business. And so I was working in the hospital. I was, you know, like when I went into the hospital, Clients said they wanted to double our account, which is great news, but I’m like, you couldn’t been telling me last week.
So it was just a frantic time. But Stephanie, I was elated to do that work. I honestly, I would never felt a moment of resentment. I worked all the way through that maternity leave. Luckily at that time, my husband’s company gave him three months of paid paternity leave. So he was so fortunate and home with me.
Running nurse, the baby, I re ran back out. I work in a sheen shed on my property, so I would run out to the shisha shed. I would do like a couple of hours of work. I run back in. I would be with him. It was so exciting. I was on fire. So it just feels like a time that I didn’t worry that I wasn’t taking time off.
And so then with this last kid last and final, I swear I had another problem, which was that this business has now grown so much. We’re almost a hundred folks in size and growing quickly. I, and we have a really talented staff and executive leadership team that now have come alongside me and help have had built, built this business with me.
And so now the question was, could I take time? And the business run without me there. Like, is that something that could happen? And so we built for the, the nine months of my pregnancy so that the business would be able to sustain a founder, taking a step out for three months and it worked. And what do you think
Stephanie: [00:20:27] maybe a couple of those key things you put into place going into it, going into your maternity leave?
What do you think? Like if someone were out there and they’re like, we run a team or we have. How can they get their business in shape? I know there’s a ton of things you can do, but what do you think were like the two key
Brea: [00:20:42] components? You know, for us, it was really operations focused, the biz dev team. Like they they’re just Cowboys and I love them.
Like, I, I, they don’t need operations. Like they just go on the infrastructure side of the business though, you know, of course all of that is our legal, our tech, right. We spent nine months really building the infrastructure of the business very thoughtfully. So that looks like really rigorous, legal and security policies for the business.
Of course, we maintain these large procurement relationships with very big tech enterprises. So we have a lot of requirements there also, you know, our HR and payroll side had to really be developed. Well, a lot of this is not sexy, but like operating procedures, we don’t just get a bunch of decision trees.
If it’s this much money who can decide to say yes to that, like we have, you know, a big budgeting process. So we really built the business so that it was a real business, but it was, we had all of the kinds of operations and procedures and authority granted down the system so that everyone knew what they were authorized to say yes to.
And what needed to potentially wait and come back. And when you
Stephanie: [00:21:46] had your baby and you went on your maternity leave, how did you emotionally feel about it? Or were you like I’m so okay with shutting my computer and not reading emails and not doing anything. How did you
Brea: [00:21:59] react? Honestly, it was, it was the next, most grateful I’ve ever been.
I mean from, from this like moment in that rocking chair to the moment that I closed my computer. Like, those are the two moments when I think I have been as an entrepreneur, so humbled and so grateful that I could either be called to serve or that others would help me like that give and receive was just so overwhelming that I’ll never be able to repay my team for how they were able to step in.
It’s so deeply personal to me that they were able to do that. I certainly would like sneak onto small staff calls and listened while I was nursing a baby. So I would kind of poke around here and there, but I didn’t make any major decisions and I had no standing commitments, so well, that’s good. Okay. So
Stephanie: [00:22:42] you have three kids now and you scaled this business.
I think I heard you’re almost going to like either you did pass or you’re going to pass almost eight figures. How did you scale this business while having children? Because, and also starting off in consulting, a lot of us get very tied to like our business, you know, it’s our baby, it’s our thing we wanted to grow, but then we’re very much involved.
And you said you have a team of a hundred now in the last, only what does that three years.
So what do you think are some of the things you did to scale this successful?
Brea: [00:23:17] That’s a hard question for a founder and that’s a journey I have been on. It’s a trust journey, right? Because I have always really valued helping other people shine.
It has made it easier for me to be the one that pushes someone else to the front of the room. Although I’m very happy to take that role. I love seeing when other people can operate in their highest and best use. And so that just gives me great pride from the start. And so, you know, of course you hire great people and then you get out of their way.
Like that’s been my leadership philosophy. And so there’s a lot, there’s been a lot of testing and learning. Also, the other thing I would say, Stephanie is we’ve been really intentional with our client picks. We’ve been very clear because I did all that values work in the beginning. If a client comes through and doesn’t align, like if we, if they don’t appreciate flexibility, if they don’t think moms are awesome, if they don’t like want to look at inclusion and the BiPAP community is something that they value, like then they’re not ours.
And that’s saved a lot of headaches that I have suffered in other organizations and other consulting engagements. When I wish I would have fired a client, we just, we don’t, we haven’t had that problem. I’ve never fired a client from L and T because we’ve, we’ve been really intentional from the start.
Stephanie: [00:24:26] Who was your first or what was your first time? You know, what
Brea: [00:24:29] position payroll, the first hire we can. And when we first started, I had to write people, just checks like out of my checkbook when they first got here. I mean, that was how their first paycheck paychecks came and oh gosh, funny.
This is the most embarrassing story we took out my very first client, Melissa. I took her out to lunch and we got there, but I didn’t have a business credit card set up yet. And so I brought my checkbook and she’s like, I don’t think I’m paying a check. And I said, no, no, no. Pay for lunch in a check. And so I wrote the check and we’re walking out and the waitress like finds me in the parking lot.
And she’s like, we don’t accept checks. It was so embarrassing. So I had to like give her my other credit card or whatever, then not long ago, that was not long ago. Wow. I
Stephanie: [00:25:12] I’m actually surprised that you still use a checkbook. Like, I feel like these days, my husband’s like we have, where is, are we someone needs a check?
Like, I think we had to write something to the DMV and he’s like, do we have a check book? I’m like, yeah, we do. I never use it though. It’s like Venmo
Brea: [00:25:27] or yeah, credit card. Sure. Sure, sure. Yeah. Well, you know, okay. We’re learning, we’re catching up.
Stephanie: [00:25:34] So let’s go into your more personal life now and the day-to-day and you know, you have childcare and you have all that.
What are some of the things that you do when you have your free time and, or do you have free time or do you make free time? Like, what does that look like for you?
Brea: [00:25:50] Hmm. Okay. So then you fuel yourself. So when people say self care, I always think about like massages and bubble baths and like, that’s just not really where I’m at right now.
So for me, self care looks like home organizing. I just took all the maternity clothes out of my closet and that was like an hour of self-care. So there’s that. I don’t have a ton of space and time. If I do, I generally am like vegging out and watching bad TV and looking on the internet at Pinterest or Instagram or something.
Like, I just, I try to vege out if I can, but that time doesn’t happen very often. You know, most nights after the kids go to bed, I hop back online and I do, I do some work or I do some, like thinking bigger thinking, or try to wrap up on some deliverables. You said you
Stephanie: [00:26:35] journaled, when you were trying to figure out your values, do you have any sort of daily like journaling practice or any mindfulness?
Or morning rituals or anything you do.
Brea: [00:26:44] I’m a wannabe for sure. In that category. That’s I, I own a set of crystals. I own journals. I love to meditate, but I just am not great at the practice of it. If I’m being honest, that is definitely a goal that I’d love to, to work on. Well,
Stephanie: [00:27:01] you do. I was going to say you have a three and a half month old.
So I do say that anyone who has kids like that are that young. I mean, It’s it’s a feat in itself to wake up and to take a shower and to eat. So the daily, you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So meditation and stuff can
Brea: [00:27:18] come later. It will, it will come later for sure. And right now she’s giving me so much joy, you know, like, I mean, she just started laughing last week and we will be rolling over soon.
So that’s really where I’m drawing so much of my inspiration right now.
Stephanie: [00:27:30] And do you do anything in your relationship to keep that part? Like how do you make sure your relationship. Oh, I love
Brea: [00:27:36] that question, Andrew and I are really communicative because we’re very different. This is going to sound so unsexy, but I, we have a choice board where we ties our time and energy because having a parent with capacity is a great privilege and luxury.
And I’m again, stewardship is really important to me. How he spends his time is something that we talk a lot about, but to, to nurture our relationship. I mean, we, we have a card game that we like to play the two of us. And so if we can sneak some time after the kids go to bed and have a glass of wine and play some cards together, that’s a really special thing.
And on days that we do have childcare, we do try to block out for lunches or walks and that those are wonderful moments to catch up. But the, there it’s few and far between right now. I mean, we’re, we are care-taking for so many, uh it’s. It is difficult to find the time there, but we’re trying, I
Stephanie: [00:28:30] feel you, I, I know what it’s like to have three little ones, but I had to run this like full-time business.
Where do you see kind of your role in the business going, like, are you going to stay kind of in this part-time role, do you want to, you know, where do you see yourself
Brea: [00:28:48] going? Hm, this is a wonderful question that a lot of folks have been asking me lately, you know, as I sit and think about my highest and best use, I really think that I sit at both the position of privilege and power.
And so I have to think really judiciously about what I do with that. And so I think about this as a portfolio approach, I think we have built a really great on demand, talent economy. That’s providing jobs and money to people who need it. I also think there’s a lot more work to do in the future of work.
And there are organizations that are crying out for more diversity, equity and inclusion, more community building. More flexible workplaces. And I’d like to show up there with all that we’ve learned with lions and tigers over the last three years, and having done this for a long time and with my unique perspective, as a mother in the workplace, we’d like to make sure that people are advocated for and represented.
And so I see my role moving forward, enabling. Additional business models that come alongside this beautiful business we’ve built and try to broker even more bridges. I know you have a love for like that
Stephanie: [00:29:58] workforce innovation. What is the one thing, if you could change, you know, and you think actually companies have the ability to change right now.
I mean, there’s so many things on our wishlist that we wish companies could do. But where do you see the next place where they can really innovate and they can really actually make change. That’s doable in like the next year, because especially with all the women who left the workforce, all of these things, you know, COVID has turned the workforce upside down.
Where do you think is the place where we can make the most change?
Brea: [00:30:30] The answer for me is very clear. It is flexibility policy. It is the great unifier. It doesn’t solve all of the problems, but specifically for women who have dropped out specifically for caretakers, the thing that they need more than anything else is flexibility.
And that in that is, it takes a lot of different forms for us. We do a lot of part-time work. So, you know, this is, what’s so crazy about this thing is that, you know, I just wanted to work with 25 hours a week. And I’m, I’m a decently skilled consultant in the world, and I couldn’t find that. And that seemed crazy to me.
And so there are many very skilled professionals who could be accessible and skilled. And if you think about skilling, of course, there’s a lot that comes with up-skilling re-skilling, as we think about the tech and digital transformation underway, of course. But if, if organizations embrace flexibility policies wholeheartedly, as much as they do wellness policies, we would have a very different looking workforce.
Stephanie: [00:31:26] And for those women on the opposite side of things. So not like not already consulting or stuff. How do you think that they can find like an agency like yourself for find those opportunities? Because this is like one of the first agencies I’ve heard of. I heard of another one in Los Angeles that does this for moms, or like, there’s, I think the mom project, but there aren’t a lot out there that help you.
So what if you are a woman who lost your job and you’re looking for that flexibility? Where can you even go?
Brea: [00:31:55] Yeah. I mean, that is, that’s the tough part, right? There’s a business right there, Stephanie, but that’s the tough part, right? So very accessible is small and local businesses. So it, there is no procurement requirements.
There is, you know, you could simply set up an LLC and get a FreshBooks account and start billing to a local small business. If you start thinking about the bigger firms that have, or bigger enterprises, a fortune 100, for instance, or even a fortune 500. You’re going to have some procurement barriers. And by that, I mean that they have these standardized buying departments that have requirements for who can come in and do work and have an exchange of, of services and money within their economy.
And so then you need a brokerage firm like mine, like many others, a staffing firm, if you will, who takes on the burden of that procurement relationship. So in that case, you would look for a middleman or an engagement, like life lions and tigers, like my firm, because we’re already doing that right. And we’re out, you know, we have a business development team for instance, so you don’t have to do that quite as much.
And then there’s the idea that you would go direct perhaps as a W2, as a full-time employee, to one of these bigger organizations and advocate for a different kind of work. I don’t need people to all be consultants. Like if folks there’s so many benefits to being in-house at a brand. And so going in and saying, these are my terms, or this is how you can get me.
And here’s what I’m going to do for you. I. Well, we believe that people can go in. And if you think of all of the ways that women have been influential in the ways that our economy has changed, you know, if you think about striking on, you know, meat districts, or like all of the things where we have had major success in overcoming systemic oppression, if all of us came in and said, these are my standards.
Boy wouldn’t we have a different looking workforce, for
Stephanie: [00:33:37] sure. And for any advice for the women who are currently in the workforce, who need to advocate for more flexibility, who finished this year and like, yes, like maybe their company understands, like it’s not ideal, but they’re not really on board yet.
Any advice for them on how to really push their company to embrace
Brea: [00:33:57] flexibility. You know, now is the time, you know, one year ago, no one thought we could work remotely and then look what happened. I mean, the whole world went remote. So now is the time where organizations are. For inclusion metrics. I mean, everyone now has to meet diversity standards and inclusion standards.
So there there’s that pressure already happening and, and too like hiring there’s hiring freezes within an organization. So retaining skilled workers is of course, a lot less costly than trying to replace them. If I were mounting a campaign for myself, I would one, as I did what I was selling myself, I would root it in the business metrics.
Like what is the business impact of me leaving? And what is the business impact of me staying? How can this business move further forward with my presence? Next would be really clear about your, about the boundaries of the container that you want to build. Because if you just go in and say, you know, I need more flexibility, they’re going to say, okay, cool.
But how, if you come in and right. I really want to be able to take off at three 30 every day to go do pickup, you know, my kids coming home from, uh, from school during COVID like, I need to be there to help sanitize the kid. I don’t know whatever the situation is really clear what the boundaries that you hope to see.
And then of course you may need to get some, some alliedship in that site. So whether that, and that’s very political. So do you take your manager’s manager and try to get her on board with you? Like how can you build a, some allies. In this to try to get what you need, because I just don’t believe people should sit in a position of pain if they can ask for something else,
Stephanie: [00:35:26] especially if you actually enjoy your job and that’s something you’re passionate about and you want to stay in that.
I think this time has also opened our eyes to a lot of things. We maybe don’t want realize they weren’t aligned with us and finding our next true calling. But if you’re in there and you love it, I think that’s great. And I think it’s given us the opportunity to finally start to open our voice and advocate for what we need.
Been kind of a fo pie guests in the corporate industry for quite a while.
So well, to wrap things kind of up, I wanted to ask you my final question, which is what is your mom’s super power? So a superpower that you gained once you became a mom that makes you better and either business or life.
Brea: [00:36:07] Hmm, empathy.
I might not have been quite as empathetic as I could have been earlier in my life. And now boy, it is my life study.
Stephanie: [00:36:16] Wow. Well, thank you so much for joining today. Where can we find you online?
Brea: [00:36:22] Sure you could. Well, we can find our email@example.com. We’re really active on LinkedIn and Instagram. You can find me at Bria.
Starmer on Instagram and LinkedIn. Well,
Stephanie: [00:36:32] thank you so much for joining today. I really appreciate it. And congrats on your little baby
Brea: [00:36:36] girl. Thanks Stephanie. I will take all of your advice now. Thank you very much.
Stephanie: [00:36:41] Anytime you need anything about three kids, feel free to
Brea: [00:36:43] drop me a line. Done.
Stephanie: [00:36:46] Thank you so much for listening to this episode of mommy’s on a call.
Your support means the absolute world. To me. You can find the show notes for this episode and other goodies over at mommy’s on a call.com. And if you enjoyed this episode or have gotten value from the podcast, I would be so grateful if you could head on over to apple pie. And leave a rating and review so that we can reach and empower more moms all over the world together.
Thank you so much again, mommy pod, and I will see you here next time.