Blessing Adesiyan (MBA ’19) works full time as a supply operations manager at BASF and is raising three young children with her husband.
And then there’s the startup that she founded and runs.
She knows about the dizzying, plate-spinning lives of working mothers.
Her experiences guided the creation of Mother Honestly, a solution-driven platform that propels women forward in work and life.
Adesiyan realized the paucity of support for ambitious moms after she gave birth to her son, Dekanmi, in 2018 while working full time, attending the online MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and caring for her older daughter, Omotayo. “I could find a lot of resources around breastfeeding, diaper changing and sleep schedules,” she says, “but what I couldn’t find was support when it came to my ambition. There was nothing that prepared me for returning to work or for my career path as a working mom.”
That’s where Mother Honestly comes in. “We want to help women thrive,” Adesiyan says. “We offer three products: a newsletter that curates actionable insights; a podcast which has thousands of listeners across the U.S. and the world; and an annual summit that brings women together physically to discuss what’s working and what’s not and how we can help one another thrive in motherhood, work and life.”
In 2018, 250 women attended Mother Honestly’s inaugural conference and in 2019, 500 women attended. She expects 1,500 women from across the U.S. in 2020.
“We are living in an unprecedented time in which more women are in the workforce than ever before,” she says. “In the U.S., 65 percent of women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners. These are women with serious careers with serious professional goals and ambitions. It’s important that as a society we take these women seriously.”
“While our society is starting to understand the need for gender equity and a more progressive workforce, we haven’t been able to support women in combining the two spheres of work and family,” says Adesiyan. “I asked myself, ‘How can women do this honestly?’”
As a chemical engineer, she is trained to solve problems, she says. “I decided to make it my mission to solve the problem of not enough support for working mothers,” says Adesiyan.
Since its launch in 2018, Mother Honestly has reached more than 300,000 mothers through its newsletter, podcast and conferences. “Motherhood matters, ambition matters and support matters,” says Adesiyan. “Support is the game changer for women because the hypothetical village doesn’t exist.”
She aims to create that village with the next phase of Mother Honestly. Now in beta testing with plans for a 2020 launch, it is a management system for both professional life and home life.
“We are looking to own that space of home management, providing resources so mom or dad doesn’t have to be the chief family organizer when they are at work,” she says. “If we can move that burden off of working moms and dads, we’ll have increased well-being of family members, more engaged employees to provide quality work, and parents who can thrive alongside their kids.”
More than 1,000 individuals are on the waiting list for beta testing this new program.
The online MBA@UNC program provided Adesiyan with the tools to develop her business and the flexibility she needed to manage her myriad responsibilities.
“I went through two pregnancies while I was in the program,” says Adesiyan, who gave birth to her younger daughter, Derin, two days after she completed her last MBA class.
“Thank goodness for the virtual nature of the class and the amazing students and professors who were instrumental in making sure I completed the program,” says Adesiyan.
She also birthed the ideas for her venture while earning her MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “I developed the business case for Mother Honestly during the Entrepreneurship Center’s New Ventures class,” she says. “Professor John Howell ensured that I did the work to carve out our addressable market, determine our strategy for acquiring these customers, create our go-to-market strategy, and develop a proforma, which helped clarify our revenue and profit model.”
“Professor Howell told me that my 15-second pitch – ‘Mother Honestly is a solution-driven platform that propels women forward in motherhood, work and life’ – was one of the most efficient descriptions he had ever heard,” she says. “He helped me understand the opportunities for this business.”
“This was a side project for me so I didn’t think of it as a business,” she says. “But through the Entrepreneurship Center’s New Ventures class, my team and I developed the core competencies, business strategy and detailed implementation plan for Mother Honestly.”
Adesiyan benefited from opportunities to use Mother Honestly in role-play discussions with classmates during in-person MBA@UNC Summits in Chapel Hill, Taiwan and South Africa.
“Having face-to-face interactions where other students gave feedback was a great way to have my idea validated,” she says.
“I chose the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program for its flexibility,” she says. “I had one child when I started and I knew I was going to have more kids. UNC Kenan-Flagler accommodated my life as a mother, as an ambitious woman and as a professional.”
Adesiyan keeps her life in balance by getting support from her husband, friends, family and her employer. “I have no shame in asking for help,” she says. “And my partner and I both have primary careers so it’s very important for us to talk about how we approach our lives, our family and our careers.”
“I don’t have all the answers and I don’t pretend to,” she says. “We are reimagining how women thrive in work and in life, and we are building a village that is committed to helping women live their best lives in and beyond motherhood.”
In the end, the satisfaction of supporting families is what drives Adesiyan. “Seeing women happy with their families and their work, and living healthy, productive and fulfilled lives brings me so much joy,” she says.