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From manager to ‘MOMtrepreneur’

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Inspiration can come in many forms, and there might be none greater than a mother being motivated by her daughter. That is the business tale of Shanoy Coombs and her daughter, Kailee.

Coombs had it all, inclusive of a fancy job boasting a sea of benefits. But for some reason, she felt a professional void. “I had been feeling for a little while that I wasn’t as fulfilled as I should be. It was always a dream to ascend to a certain international organisation and go up the ranks there. And I finally got a job with all the staff benefits, child allowance, spouse allowance, language allowance, every allowance you could think of. There was, however, this turmoil, this discontent. It just started to feel like this wasn’t the right fit.”

Of course, she had her doubts. She began questioning if she should take that leap of faith to go out on her own and give up all the security that she has had. Compound that with the long commute from the humble abode uptown to the office downtown, accompanied by roadwork and traffic, she grew weary and frustrated before the workday had even started. What made matters worse for this businesswoman was the fact that she saw her daily schedule as duties that she could handle from the comfort of her home. Pretty soon, she dreaded going to work.

The Road to ‘MOMtrepreneurship’

Regular conversations with her daughter revealed a wish of hers to start her own business and create a kit to keep children clean and healthy. She found the idea innovative and set her sights on making her bundle of joy’s dream a beautiful reality. Kailee has eczema, so Coombs sent her to school with a cleaning kit. Her friends saw it and wanted one for themselves, so, motivated by their interest, she decided to create the kit for others. “I saw that lots of children weren’t keeping themselves clean, and they have to go far to get some soap. I just use my kit, and want other kids to have a kit to use as well,” the young Kailee shared. The kits are made by Kailee’s grandmothers and uncle. Coombs wanted the products to be local, and that was one of her biggest hurdles, finding those that are child-friendly and free of irritants. But they are making strides in that department. Kai Kits will include mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand soap, wipes, lotion, and more. It will officially be launched in June of this year. The kit, which comes with a reorder system, can be placed and purchased via their website, and retrieved via delivery, either to a central location, or at the schools.

At first, it seemed like it would be an easy task, but the more they dove in, because it is for children, they needed to be minded of all the products, so it was way more than they had anticipated. “The more I tried to focus on that for her and the more I tried to balance a job I did not want to go to. I started leaning more towards doing her stuff and doing things on my own. And that’s when I decided to call it quits on the job. When Kailee decided that she really wanted to do this, I decided to give it my all, and could not manage that with my job.”

She continued: “Another standout for me was I remember one day, I picked her up at school almost 7 p.m. She was the only child left there at that time and I said to myself ‘No, Shanoy, this is not it. I have to do better.’ She is 10 years old now, she is almost at the point where I’m no longer her friend, and she is more in tuned with stuff. I don’t want her best years to go and all her memories of me included me working, working, working.”

She also engaged in public-relation consulting, and decided that if she got two solid clients who were consistent, she would make the jump. So said, so done. She now has the flexibility she requires and doesn’t need to be location-specific unless she is travelling. It does, however, come with its challenges. Taking the step is very unpredictable. Working for others, she says, brings with it the predictability of a steady pay cheque. But on your own, there will be months when you will have plenty, and others when you will have none. A single job can garner a large sum, but budgeting is extremely important to the allotment of funds for a team. A ‘false sense of security’ always comes with a nine to five. The employer essentially are the ones who hold the handle while employees hold the blade. For Coombs, it was about creating your own opportunities. “I’m not going to fail. I’m going to give it my best shot. My livelihood depends on this. I depend on this. I’m going to make it work and I’m going for it,” she added. All of her previous jobs created the resilience within her and prepared her for this new pursuit. Kailee is supportive of this, helping out at home to be independent. But her ideas bore fruit from start to finish with Kai Kits.