As a busy working mum, Carlene Cardona-Elvy knows how difficult it is to juggle a career and motherhood.
The Kearns mum has two children under five – Sophia and Jack – and runs her own business, South West Sydney Virtual Assistant.
She has also just launched the local chapter of Start Up Mums, a networking initiative providing advice, support and understanding to mothers running their own businesses.
Ms Cardona-Elvy first discovered Start Up Mums – created by Michelle Smith – on Facebook.
She saw that there were chapters in Gosford, on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne, but nothing close to home.
So she got in touch with Ms Smith and launched a community for the south-west which has already garnered great interest.
“We had 50-odd people registering interest in the first meeting,” Ms Cardona-Elvy said.
“Our next meeting is on May 27 and already 40 people have put their names down.”
The meetings provide an opportunity for mothers to bring their children along without judgement and network with other business-owners in the area.
Ms Cardona-Elvy has found the community beneficial for her own business – which is little more than a year old – as she has been able to connect with other businesses that could utilise her services.
“The meetings give everybody a chance to bring along information about their businesses, samples of products they’re selling, every opportunity to promote their business and introduce themselves to others,” she said.
“My office is my home, so I don’t get people stopping by and learning about what I do.
“I don’t have to worry about looking for baby-sitters with Start Up Mums, no one cares if I’m not dressed up or look tired because of sleep deprivation.
“It’s a safe community for mums, encouraging them to take the leap and start their own business or continue their business.”
Ms Cardona-Elvy said Start Up Mums provides its members with opportunities to learn about marketing, social media, taxation and other important aspects of running their business.
She said a lot of mums can feel silly or overwhelmed when they first launch their own business and she hopes Start Up Mums can break down their fears.
“It’s so important to for mothers to have a career and feel supported,” she said.
“Running your own business is hard, it’s long hours and lack of sleep, but you get to be with your kids and see them grow up. It’s worth it.”
For more information visit startupmum.com.au or search Business Mums Australia on Facebook.