Each week, our Friday Feature will celebrate powerful women from our sisterhood who share their magic with the world in unique and inspiring ways. This week, we chatted with Emily Cretella, the founder of MotherHustle, an online publication + community featuring unpolished personal essays, inspiration-fueling advice and no-nonsense resources for creative mompreneurs, from creative mompreneurs.
When you were a child, what made you the happiest?
I was one of those kids who lived mostly in my imagination. I was happiest when I was curled up in this worn, upholstered chair that we had in our house -- it spun around; so I would turn it to face the wall, grab a book and a blanket, and settle in with my bare feet on the heating duct. My parents say that I could sit there for hours, completely lost in The Neverending Story, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, or The Three Musketeers. When I think of being perfectly content and happy, I think of that chair.
How do you spend a typical day?
I am deep in the #MotherHustle right now. I usually get up by 5 a.m. to get some work done before my two girls wake up for school around 7 a.m. (I run Cursive Content Marketing (www.cursivecontent.com), a copywriting and marketing consulting company, and MotherHustle (motherhustle.com), an online community for moms who own creative businesses.) Once they’re awake, it’s rush-rush-yell-rush-rush until they get on the bus. Then I’ll either go to the gym or continue working from my home office until 2:50 p.m., when I have to go pick them up from school. I’ll take them to soccer or gymnastics or piano, help them with their homework, and put together the dinner that my husband would have completely prepped for me (he’s the chef in the family!). We eat together when he gets home around 5:30 p.m., and then the nighttime routine starts! Reading, showers, bed. Maybe my husband and I will watch Stranger Things or John Oliver when the kids go to bed … or we just fall asleep reading ourselves.
Tell us about MotherHustle. What inspired you to start it?
I was working as the director of a marketing agency when I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter. I already felt horribly weighed down with the stress and guilt of working crazy hours away from my first daughter (who was only 1 year old when I got pregnant with #2!) and I just broke down. I knew I was on the wrong path -- but I didn’t know how to get off of it. So, I quit. With no backup plan. Looking back, it seems insane. But now I completely believe that I had found a new path without realizing it. I never even considered starting my own business before I had my girls and was forced to take a harder look at the life and career I was crafting. But once I made the decision to leave agency life in order to freelance, I realized how amazing entrepreneurship could be for women who are trying to fit their passions and their families together.
I started MotherHustle as a weekly newsletter, really meant for the women whom I used to work with at the agency -- and women like them, working until burnout in creative fields -- sharing my stories and tips for starting my business. It caught on, and I realized that in order to be really inclusive, MotherHustle couldn’t just be my story. So I brought on a panel of amazing mom bosses and turned it into an online publication and community. We now publish five times a week and share stories from guest experts and moms who are just starting out, in business and with their families.
Can you give us a story that exemplifies why you get fulfillment out of the work you do?
Every single little comment, every single short email, that I receive from other moms who are like, “Hell yes! This is EXACTLY it! This is what I’m dealing with!” just lights me up. Motherhood can be really isolating -- and when you add in business ownership or solopreneurship on top of that, you can feel like no one understands what you’re juggling. To be that link between mom bosses is by far my most fulfilling work.
Is there a roadblock you had to overcome to get where you are today? How did you do it?
The ongoing burden of imposter syndrome tends to rear up in odd places. It can really cause some speed bumps if you let it. When I started by copywriting business, I would ask myself, “Who am I to say I’m an expert in this? What right do I have?” And then when I launched MotherHustle, I would ask myself, “Who I am to be a voice for this topic? What right do I have?” It takes some time to feel comfortable voicing what you believe in. It takes practice, and confidence. And those are things you have to continue to work through, as you begin to accept ownership of the topics you care about.
What does choosing yourself mean to you?
When I first became a mom, I wore self-sacrifice like a badge of honor. It was almost like, “Look at me! I’m tired and burnt out and a mess and I’m giving my ALL to my daughter. It’s not about ME, it’s about HER!” And it took me a long time to realize that that’s not what it’s all about. If I want my daughter to grow up into a strong, bold and brave woman, I have to treat myself like a strong, bold and brave woman. And strong, bold and brave women take action for themselves. They care about themselves AND they care about others.
How do you practice self love and care on a daily/weekly basis?
I go to the gym -- it’s in my calendar, just like any other appointment. I work around that time and treat that appointment seriously. I also take time to read the books I like, watch trashy television and drink wine. And I make plans with friends! When I first became a mom, I would rarely get together with girlfriends without our kids in tow. Now, I schedule it. I make it happen.
What is your advice to your 10 year old, 18 year old, and 25 year old self?
Oh, wow. This is a great question…
10-year-old Emily: Don’t try so hard to be like them. Be proud of your odd little sparkle.
18-year-old Emily: Be brave. You have a voice. You have your own opinions. Share them loudly.
25-year-old Emily: Uncertainty is OK. Embrace it. Have fun with it. Don’t try to button up every loose end.
What is your message for our tribe?
When you choose yourself, you choose all parts. Don’t dull any of them for anyone else. As I just told my 10-year-old self, “Be proud of your odd little sparkle.” Your weird quirks make you YOU, not the carbon-copied pieces.
Also: quit the job you hate. Seriously.
Finish these sentences:
Women should: be in charge.
Women can: change the American story.
Women will: shape the future.
I am: woman, hear me fucking roar.