Being a wife, mom and entrepreneur is no easy task. Each individual role demands so much, and trying to manage all three often leaves little time for other interests. I’ve often found myself doing really well in one area and feeling like I was failing miserably in others. Looking for inspiration, I am drawn to the stories of other women juggling similar roles, so catching up with Melanie Wolff and Darien Williams was inspiring and informative.
Wolff and Williams are co-founders and co-CEOs of Brella, a new and innovative, on-demand child care center located in Playa Vista. These two Ivy League-educated professionals left successful careers in marketing and architecture, respectively, to embark on their entre-preneurial path. At first glance, they seem to have it all: supportive partners, beautiful families, exceptional professional accomplishments and a new and promising endeavor in entrepreneurship. But I was pleasantly surprised by their candor in expressing the difficulty (and sometimes unrealistic expectation) of finding balance, and what they suggest moms seek as an alternative.
How did you meet?
Williams: We were set up on a “friend blind date.” I had been working on the idea of a child care center and wanted a partner. A mutual friend had worked with Melanie in the past and thought my architectural background and Melanie’s business/marketing background would be a great match. We were introduced, and then we met and talked about work and child care, etc. Despite our different back-grounds, we have a mutual passion for creating a beautiful design experience.
What were obstacles in becoming entrepreneurs when you were already busy moms?
Wolff: It took three years to actually open the doors [of Brella]. Over that time, we had so much work to do, all while raising young children. There would be times when we’d have to pull over to take conference calls with kids in the car, or taking calls while breast-feeding or just working on plans while simultaneously juggling the demands of our kids. So much of the inspiration for Brella came from our own experiences as moms.
How do you find balance?
(Both laugh hysterically and begin chattering and joking with each other right away).
Williams: We’re laughing at the idea that we’ve found “balance.” Balance is such a challenge and can be unrealistic. We both have husbands, kids, our extended families and our business. It’s a lot! We believe the conversation should shift from balance to support. Support is what we want for ourselves and what we want to provide for families.
Where do you find support?
Williams: Parents face so many challenges because so many of us don’t live near extended family. I moved back to California from New York because I didn’t have any family there and finding support was so hard. For most of us, family support is so important because they’re our main source of support.
Wolff: I have a nanny because my family is on the East Coast. There truly isn’t just one solution that works for everyone. It’s just like Brella — it’s one option for [child care] support, but not the only option. You have to have multiple options for support. These days, families are having to pick up the slack with raising kids by coming up with ways to fulfill their child care needs. Parenting can feel so overwhelming. We just want parents to know that they’re not alone.
Describe some unique ways your business provides support to parents.
Wolff: Everything is designed to offer more support than a traditional model child care center. From drop-in options that allow families to use our flexible services and extended hours at their convenience, whether they visit once per week or once per year, booking on the app for convenience and ease, on-site co-working spaces and four-person conference rooms available for caregivers to rent and a family lounge where families can spend time together if they arrive early or after care. We believe in the power of environment and space. Space is a learning instrument that we’ve extended to the whole family. Brella is designed so that you enter the space and feel the stress dissolve based on the design aesthetics like the lighting, paint selections and archways for openings. The space was planned very intentionally.
For more information, visit hellobrella.com.