Co-founders Elena Rue and Catherine Orr on being pregnant at the same time
The two co-founders were both already parents. They’d done the pregnancy thing before. Then they found out they both were pregnant again, and at the same time.
Elena Rue and Catherine Orr are co-founders of StoryMine Media, a company that creates documentary videos for mission-driven organizations. They’d been in business together for years, and were both already parents to young children. Yet they’d been able to balance being co-founders because one was always able to cover for the other one if a pregnancy came up.
This time, however, they were due within weeks of each other!
Both co-founders pregnant? Use it as a kick in the pants
Yet instead of panic and think that the business was over, they decided to talk about how to go about planning for pregnancies as entrepreneurs in a different way. They decided to use their joint pregnancies as a kick in the pants to implement changes that they’d been wanting to make as a business for years.
The intersection of entrepreneurship and pregnancy is a place I’m fascinated with at Startup Pregnant, and every interview we do shares another story of how to tackle this life design challenge in new and interesting ways. How can we make business better because of pregnancy? What if we looked at our bodies slowing down or our need for rest not as a curse on business, but as a fascinating opportunity for renovation and re-design?
Not that we’re saying this is easy
None of us are saying that this is easy or wonderful to go through—change sometimes feels like it comes through with a sledgehammer—but it is, in some cases, an opportunity for growth and leveling up.
IN THIS EPISODE WE TALK ABOUT:
- How to unroll your pregnancies and announce them strategically (and where the balance is between being authentic and also being strategic).
- Using pregnancy as a leverage point and changing project timelines, expectations, and deliverables accordingly.
- How to build a better team, and get better at building teams overall.
- Why they finally took advice they’d been hearing over and over again and actually implemented it (pregnancy was the thing that made them take the advice to heart, and take action).
Today you’ll get to hear not just from two pregnant women, but from three pregnant women, all in their third trimesters! Why? I recorded this interview back when I was also 38 weeks pregnant, so you’ll get to hear it all from all of us. Yes, we’ll tell it like it is. Listen in to this joint conversation as we talk about what to do when you find out your co-founder is pregnant at the same time as you.
The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #109
SOME QUOTES FROM THE EPISODE
- We really love getting deep into a story and looking at all the angles. That’s how our business has developed and how we work with organizations.
- Documentary videos marry strategy and creativity. We don’t want to just make something beautiful for you that in the end, you’re like, ‘Great, I’m not sure that actually told anybody anything.’ It’s about education as much as storytelling.
- I was the first one that got pregnant and I approached it from a place of fear. I think I was afraid of the person that I would be on the other end and I thought I would not be as focused, people would forget about me and I would somehow overnight lose all my skills. I just had all these fears about all these potential disasters that could happen and none of them did.
- I came back just as I was before, a little bit more tired but just as enthusiastic and ready to work. I’m still going to be me and I’m still going to be able to do all the things that I want to do, they’ll just be a little bit of time in between.
- It’s always easy to keep doing things the same way–until something crazy happens like you both are having babies and running a business and you need to find new ways of working.
- There are things that we’ve been wanting to do [as business owners] but we have always kind of been able to make it work the old way. Then, getting pregnant at the same time as co-founders has been kind of an opportunity for us to say, well, things are going to have to dramatically change for this particular period of time. And this might be an opportunity for us to finally do the things we’ve been talking about doing.
- As far as both of us being pregnant at the same time and running a business, we brought on more support, we’re better about structuring things with our clients, we’re not taking on new work, and we’re being way more strategic. We also used it as an urgency tool–if you want to work with us, you better get on board now because we’re going to be gone for a while.
- All of those things specific things that we’ve wanted to do we’ve been able to actually get done because we’ve had this real sense of urgency around it. Because we’re both pregnant. So we’re finally doing the things we’ve been talking about doing.
- The hardest part for me (other than the physical stuff in the really early time with a newborn) was the identity crisis piece. I won’t say that this happens to everybody. All I can say is what happened to me was this definite feeling that the person I was for 32 years was now gone and she has turned into this sleep-deprived, milk production thing responding to this beautiful miracle who also is kind of an alien being.
- I was 38 weeks pregnant, and my toddler tries to sit in my lap and there’s no room and he gets so frustrated. He’s like, “Make room.” I’m like, “Sorry bug, your brother’s in the way.”
- It’s not just telling the same story over and over again but telling the adjacent story. And the story behind the story.
- Here’s a fascinating question: how do you tell the story of being pregnant business owners? How do you communicate it to your clients, and is it a good thing or a bad thing for your business? What are the stories we tell ourselves, as well as each other?
- There’s that unknown space when you are pregnant for the first time and you wonder, who will I be on the other side? The whole kind of mythology that we’re swimming in our culture that says that women don’t want to return to work, they drop out, they’re destined to become mothers. I think it’s actually that there’s zero support, no social structures, and a ton of shame around working that dampens your creativity. It’s not your creativity that gets lost.
LEARN MORE ABOUT STORYMINE MEDIA AND THE CO-FOUNDERS ELENA AND CATHERINE
StoryMine creates documentary videos for mission-driven organizations. They capture real stories and human moments, that connect people to a cause. The greatest thing you can do to serve a mission, grow awareness, and inspire action, is to find the real people, specific moments and authentic stories behind every issue.
Catherine and Elena founded StoryMine in 2011 after working side-by-side for two years and realizing the tremendous value of collaborative work. They discovered that they not only work well together as a creative team, but that they both prioritize organization and preparation. This is reflected in their process, and in how it feels to work with them.
EPISODE SPONSOR & SPECIAL OFFER
This episode is sponsored by Splendid Spoon, a meal delivery service that creates whole, healthy, plant-based soups and smoothies that can be a great fit for busy parents and new moms. Get $50 off your first order with the link splendid.to/startuppregnant
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