There are many professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping pregnant and post-partum women. I like to highlight them here in my Woman Business Owner post. I look for someone who is passionate about what they do and they make a difference in the lives of their clients. Please meet Jessica!
1) Tell me more about you, where are you from, Important life philosophies & values:
I was raised in Oakland California & born in Van Nuys, Ca, so I am a California girl at heart. As a young child then again when I moved here in my late teens, I was enchanted at first sight by the lush green of Washington, it’s clean, clear water, the fresh air and different quality of life. In 1996, I moved here to go to The Evergreen State College, back when it was a no-no to be Californian transplant. Since then I moved away for one year to San Francisco and Israel. I may never fully embrace the cold, wet & dark winters of the NW so I aspire to be a West Coast snow bird.
My life philosophy is summed up by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem that I keep above my desk:
“To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived… this is to have succeeded.”
I believe in being good and doing good. We have one life to live. I believe in being the change you want to see in the world. Another quote above my desk is: “to be honest in business fulfills the entire Torah.” Although my family’s businesses were not passed down, the recycle scrap metal business in Steubenville OH, Marathon Messengers, Boston’s first bike messenger & currier company, the Flax Mill in Lithuania, the mom and pop grocery store in Patterson NJ, or the plant business of my mother’s in LA, the traits of a business owner were, the love for people, charisma, the memory for numbers and details about people and the sense of fairness, the purpose and the offering of service for the greater good. I’d like to think – do what you love and the money fill will follow. Well, I am not becoming rich woman from this occupation, so far, but I’m not quitting either.
I believe we were all born with a talent and it’s our life’s work to hone it and offer it to our community and society at large. I live a pretty simple life, filled with people and activities that bring me joy and make a point to focus on what I am grateful for verses on what is lacking from my life. I think that is the secret to being happy.
2) Tell me more about your business how you got started and why you are drawn to this profession?
Mama Doula LLC was an innovation that began the year after my daughter turned one. I quickly recognized in the birth world, childbirth gets all the glory but the real work begins once the baby is born. In college I studied Social Work and Psychology and was impressed by the work of Stephanie Cootnz. After getting my BA, I got a culinary degree from Seattle Culinary Academy. Throughout my career I’ve worked food service jobs and done work in various social service capacities.
Before becoming a parent, I did not have experience with babies but when a girlfriend decided to become a parent at age 19, I insisted on being at her birth. When her son was born it was her boyfriend, mother and me in the room in a doula-like roll, decades before I knew what that was. While our peers felt strongly she was too young to become a mother I supported her choice, like a doula.
During my pregnancy I was fortunate to have nurturing relationships with my birth doula and midwife. Retrospectively these two women mentored me into this new profession. The food service industry is a heavily male dominated profession, so when I discovered a career filled with matriarchs, it such a haven. I did not grow up close to my own mother and had step mother turn over, so becoming a doula was aligning myself with what I needed in this major life transition of becoming a mother.
Being a postpartum doula was finding a profession where I could combine my skill set of nurturing through food and applying direct social services. As Mama Doula, I provide emotional, physical and practical support during the transition of people becoming first time parents or bringing a new baby into their family. Recently I became a Certified Nursing Assistant and although being a doula non-medical, I like having this basis of medical knowledge.
Seattle Family Chef, under the umbrella of Mama Doula, is the personal chef service I offer to all populations of people. As of 2016, I joined the United States Personal Chef’s Association, which made me have insurance for personal chef services and once again affiliate with food professionals after an 8 year hiatus. As Seattle Family Chef, I cook meals in people’s homes specific to their food regimens, preferences or allergies. My clientele are busy working people, people who don’t want to cook or cannot cook but want to eat healthfully and lack the time or ability to make healthy home cooked meals. Once I have completed a food questionnaire, I can then meal plan with consideration to their specifics and that is the beauty of having a personal chef! I also cook for special occasion dinners, brunches and small parties 10 and under, ok so I just cooked for a party of 30 and called on the help of another personal chef and friend!
3) What do you feel passionate about?
People getting what they need in the postpartum period! Good beginnings and endings are important to me. For parents of newborns there is such a rabbit hole of sleep deprivation that’s easy to fall in, leading to a range of mental, physical & emotional health conditions. In addition, society today is transient. We move around for school and jobs and start families away from our original support networks. This creates unique challenges in child rearing and a demand for postpartum doula services, child and infant care. At a PEPS luncheon 2-3 years ago the mayor spoke, saying Seattle is the #1 US City for nuclear families.
Postpartum mood disorder is the #1 complication of pregnancy and child birth; however it is 100% treatable. I feel strongly about decreasing stigma around mental illness generally and especially in the postpartum period so that people get the help they need. I am working for the day when insurance companies and our government recognize and subsidize postpartum care services, like in Denmark and other European countries with socialized health care. I feel strongly that postpartum care is a basic need, just like end of life care and hospice.
I heal with food. I am a good listener and support person in a transitional period. I love all my affectionate non- verbal relationships with babies and witnessing families grow over the years!
4) Please feel free to add anything here which could include something that has influenced you in your life any wisdom that you wish to impart that wasn’t included in the other questions.
I just had the honor of working with a family for the first 3 months of their second child’s life. This family unit included one set of grandparents, 2 parents, an active toddler and the baby. The grandparents both had careers in education, one in kindergarten and the other in special education. On my last day, the grandfather summed up why I do what I do, while explaining why they’ve dedicated their retirement to helping their children rear their grandchildren. He said, if children get the attention they need in their first few years, they are set for life and we wouldn’t have all the problems we have in our society. I agree with him 100%.
For now, Mama Doula is my life’s work. It is my way of creating a ripple effect in making the world a better place, for mothers’ and fathers’ who are the backbone of families, who rear children, who become our society.
Mama Doula LLC & Seattle Family Chef