“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had.” -Linda Wooten
Imagine you are a young business owner, endeavoring to make your venture most successful.
More likely than not, hiring a bunch of young women and moms part-time, rather than a few full-time workers didn’t make it into your business plan. Perhaps the cultural stigma around mothers in the workplace would give you pause; mothers require too much time off, their kids get sick, their priorities are divided, etc.
Jenna Reddish would stand to prove those beliefs false and explain to you why her business model, centered around honoring motherhood, is not only a noble ideal but a successful strategy.
With her cleaning company, J. LoRae Perfection Services, Jenna aims to primarily hire moms who are in need of higher-wage employment and a flexible schedule.
“I know a job isn’t often the primary focus of your life when you are a mom,” says Reddish, mother of four boys. “I am one. The mom-guilt is real. Saying ‘no’ to them and ‘yes’ to work too often can really shake your confidence. You wonder what vital thing your children might not be getting from you due to your absence; for many stay-at-home moms, finding that needle-in-a-haystack job that is motherhood-friendly can be a real challenge.”
Growing up in the Mott and Flasher areas in childhood, Jenna considers herself an North Dakota native, and eagerly returned to ND as an adult. She married a Belfield man and is raising her family here in Dickinson. She designed her cleaning service with more than her own livelihood in mind.
“I want to be a true advocate for motherhood,” says Reddish. “When hiring became a necessity to keep up with growth, I finally had an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is.”
Hiring moms was the goal from the beginning. Jenna strives to create positions truly curated to mom life.
“I want them to be able to be home when they need to be home, and that doesn’t necessarily mean because someone is sick or hurt, but because presence is important. At the same time, devoting yourself to your family all day, every day can lead to motherhood burnout, and mental health problems-especially if you don’t have family in the area. That adult social-cooperative piece can make a world of difference to these women. So, my ladies pick their schedules. ‘What do you need?’ is a question I ask in interviews. Sometimes it’s just one night per week. Sometimes, an upcoming family vacation means they want a few more shifts. But it’s entirely up to them,” says Reddish.
Jenna says she has not experienced the turnover other small businesses have seen, nor are her staff working short-handed. “Is it extra work to schedule 6-7 part-time staff with specific availability instead of 2 or 3 full-time with limited say in their schedule? Yes. Is it more expensive to pay them more than double minimum wage? I’d beg to differ. Turnover is expensive. Recruiting is expensive. Onboarding is expensive. Training is expensive. Mathematically, it washes out. I’m offering work that brings home a full-time minimum wage paycheck, working less than part-time hours. This is where the dignity comes in, and they work for it, cheerfully and honestly. The right strategy for the right demographic of workers is the key here and providing an independent income and/or extra contribution to the family finances can really make a difference to these women,” she says.
“These women support each other,” says Reddish. “One might assume that creating jobs where the emphasis is that the job isn’t the most important thing would be death to an organization, but really, it’s just honesty. I’m being frank with them and allowing them to be frank with me. I know they’re not going to work for me forever. I know this job is most likely a stopgap, or a personal growth move, or a stepping stone- so my job as an employer interested in also serving my employees is to make it the most effective stepping stone I possibly can. When presented this way, they’re simultaneously relieved and motivated. They’re also more understanding of each other. There’s an extra layer of understanding and team problem-solving when a child spikes a fever or an afternoon little league baseball game goes into extra innings just ahead of the start of a shift.”
“They are moms. They are the most responsible people you’ll ever hire! It’s a win–win, I’m telling you. They get acquainted with the workload, divvy out the tasks among themselves, pop on their music or audiobook, and get after it. In-between clients they celebrate (and commiserate) daily life/marriage/motherhood and congratulate each other on a job well done and the great sweat they worked up. It’s just…awesome.”
Jenna hopes her strategy will be an inspiration for other small businesses. Honoring women and motherhood as a business owner is making a difference in the lives of the women she employs and their families, building our community in the process.
Kudos is a program of the local nonprofit organization Women Empowering Women. The program recognizes the good work women do. These are women who’ve lived quietly, joyfully, or creatively to influence our lives. They are an inspiration and deserve to be recognized for their efforts and impact. Women Empowering Women is dedicated to the collaboration of women to meet needs and help women become the best versions of themselves. To learn more, see http://wewnetwork.org.