INDIANAPOLIS — Isolation and social distancing in the COVID-19 pandemic can make many people feel more alone, especially if they are faced with tough decisions. But there is support all around you if you know where to look for it.
WRTV spoke with three female business owners in the Indianapolis area who cater to a female audience. All three acknowledge that plans and business had to change and adapt to meet their consumers where they are at in this pandemic.
All three women are also mothers and want fellow moms to know they are not alone.
"The City Moms is a membership collective or we like to call it a sisterhood for the modern mom," Jeanine Bobenmoyer said. "I know a lot of our moms have talked quite a bit at length about needing just someone that can listen to them, someone that can be in the same boat as them."
The City Moms bring together mothers in our area for events and support but in this pandemic, they had to cancel a number of weekly events and move their business to a mostly virtual space.
"We had up to 10 events weekly," Bobenmoyer said. "And that's been a lot for our team to really wade through, like go through in those first few months of Covid. "I think now we've really hit kind of a good stride, but its definitely been a huge change."
The City Moms boast a robust online community for mothers in the Indianapolis and Muncie areas.
Founded in 2013, the organization had been in a pattern for quite some time with their events-focused strategy of bringing women together. COVID-19 changed that and forced the moms to be flexible.
But Bobenmoyer says she knows how important this support is during these challenging times for women and mothers.
According to the National Womens Law Center, 2.2 million women left the workforce between the start of the pandemic and early December.
Another study showed that at least 1-in-4 women are considering downsizing their careers or leaving the workforce altogether due to challenges brought on by this pandemic.
Also, women aged 25-44 are three times as likely as men of the same age group to not be working due to child care demands according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Those statistics are real women. And many of those women and mothers may not know where to turn for a community of support, but The City Moms is one place to find community.
Someone else who knows the challenges of owning a business in the pandemic and being a mom is Leslie Bailey. Bailey, formerly a reporter with the Indianapolis Star, is the co-founder of Indy Maven, which is a lifestyle media company for women in central Indiana.
She founded the media company in October 2019 and months later the pandemic struck, and shortly after that Bailey gave birth and took a maternity leave.
Her first year in operation has been successful thanks to her business operating well in the virtual space, but it has been unlike anything she planned.
"There have been a number of like very major themes that have emerged this year that have really driven not just the content we are putting out, but the entire direction of our business," Bailey said.
She said part of what Indy Maven does is create content that is driven by what their members want and need to know in their community. Oftentimes, members give feedback about different topics and that helps drive the content for Indy Maven.
While Indy Maven had a successful first year in business, she says they too need continued support to survive.
"We're not exactly in a very apparent industry," Bailey said. "Making sure that people know that there's a sense of community because whether you are a business owner, an entrepreneur or you are a mom or you are single or ... it's just like a lonely time in a lot of ways and I think that I just would encourage people who are feeling that sense of isolation to look."
One women who is working to bring entrepreneurs in the Hoosier state together is Mel McMahon Stone. She is what is called the CEO or "Chief Everything Officer" for Indiana Originals.
"Indiana Originals is a search engine to help people find and support local businesses," McMahon Stone said. "Entrepreneurship and being a business owner can be a very lonely place and something that the three of our organizations bring is really that community."
Indiana Originals helps connect consumers with local artisans to make it easier to support local, a movement that has picked up steam in this pandemic as small businesses struggle to stay afloat.
"And so I think this year has really kind of been a reckoning as to what makes a good business owner, what makes a good parent, how do we do it all? Well we do it all together," McMahon Stone said. "Giving ourselves grace, giving ourselves flexibility, and understanding that ya know, we've just had to make adjustments."
Indiana Originals launched a university which ended up being completely virtual in the pandemic. She also launched Indiana.gifts which is a virtual marketplace where you can by locally-produced goods.
"So even though we don't necessarily have like a brick and mortar we are still in the same boat as a lot of our businesses where every plan we had had to get adjusted and had to be different. And so, moving things online was definitely a challenge in a way of how do you have that same engagement," McMahon Stone said. "I did not think i would be launching a new business in a pandemic but there's a demand for it, right? A lot of our members lost their retail outlets. How can we help you? How can we shine a spotlight on these great businesses that still exist and are still here."
To support Indiana Originals and its member businesses, you can visit IndianaOriginals.com or download their app. You can also purchase local goods online at their new site Indiana.gifts
To join The City Moms, you can connect with them on social media or by visiting CityMoms.org.
And to check out content created by Indy Maven, you can visit IndyMaven.com.
These three businesses also support one another and often share perks for becoming a member.