Happy November, Moms! This month we're spotlighting Silvia Cortes, self-proclaimed "chronic side hustler", and mom and stepmom to three amazing kids! Read all about Silvia in our exclusive interview below!
Please tell us your Name / Employer / Profession(s)
My name is Silvia Cortes and I am currently self employed! In addition to being a business owner, I teach yoga at Xperience Fitness and Our City Yoga.
Tell us about your kids!
Bianca is 16 years old, Noemi is 6 years old and Isaiah is 4 years old.
Tell us a little bit more about you and your family (immediate and/or extended).
I grew up in East Los Angeles, California and had an amazing childhood. My parents were constantly looking for ways to get the most out of life. We had a usual spot on Sundays at Whittier Narrows park where family and friends didn't ask if we were going, they would just show up and join us. The adults had the grill going for hours while the kids played. To my detriment, we moved north to Stockton when I was 15 years old and it completely killed my social life but I quickly recovered and made the best of it. Ten years ago, I moved to Chicago and happily adapted to Midwest living. It takes planning and preparation to go places in the winter but it does not keep us inside, we love the outdoors. My husband grew up in my same California neighborhood as me but we met in Milwaukee in 2012 when his sister came to visit and introduced us. Moved to Milwaukee in 2013 when we got married and had our daughter! It is hard to live far from our families but we have a strong network of friends that fill our hearts.
Tell us a little more about your businesses.
I am a chronic side hustler and have evolved into full time business owner! I joined platforms such as BabyQuip, Airbnb, Mercari and LaundryLadies, LLC to quickly have access to logos, insurance and marketing that the platforms offer. The business I run on the BabyQuip platform is the most expensive because the items rented are high end, almost-new condition family gear but it is my favorite because I can totally relate to my customers who are traveling families and local grandparents that host their grandkids who live outside of the Milwaukee area. Before we knew about BabyQuip, my family used to purchase new car seats, high chairs and toys for our visit and that is terrible for budgets and for the environment.
What inspired you to be your own boss?
I have held some really awesome positions at amazing companies but once I became a mother, it was impossible to keep the same motivation. My kids used to go to daycare that had excellent reviews and were learning a lot but as soon as one of them had an elevated temperature or illness, they would call us to leave work and pick up the sick child. We do not have a lot of family nearby so it was up to my husband and I to "ro sham bo" who would miss work to care for the little ones. In addition to that, my son would tell me about a boy who would push and hit him and when I would ask the teacher about it, she would tell him to tell her right away but there is only so much telling a kid can do. The straw broke when he came home with a big scratch behind his neck and said a girl in his class did it. Teachers did not mention it at all until we showed them the next day. That is when I changed my job title and searched for work I could do while taking care of my kids.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
The most recent proud mom moment was when we went upstairs to get ready for bed at 7:23pm. Some parents do that on a regular basis but I like to sleep in when I can so I don't rush my kids to bed so we can all sleep in a little longer. They still slept in even though we went to bed earlier! We were all nicely rested and in a good mood. I do not get up after they go to sleep, I sleep too and loved the rest. I'm working to make this our regular bedtime.
What's the hardest part of being a working mom and business owner?
The hardest part is keeping my kids occupied while I have work to do. I'm home so they want to talk, cuddle or play and don't know why I'm avoiding them. They are old enough that they understand that mommy is working and as soon as I'm done then I can play with them. If you were a fly on the wall you would also hear me saying that I will take them to daycare if I can't get work done so they swiftly grab markers, crayons and legos to get busy and let me work. I keep nutritious snacks at hands reach in case they get hungry and I am a batch cook so there is always something semi ready for us to eat in the refrigerator.
What is the best thing about being a stepmom?
I met Bianca when she was 8 years old and she was such a beautiful little lady. The best thing about being a step mom is that I can fill in the gaps where I feel she needs a little extra something. I can choose to be her friend, I can choose to be her parent and I can also choose to give her a little silence when I feel it is the most that should be said. It almost feels as if I am the bonus parent!
Do you have any words of advice for other working moms, especially those that are newer working moms and learning how to navigate this new world?
My advice is to just breathe. We are raising people and we need to think of what will help them be emotionally intelligent and financially independent. They will not remember the messy house or the dirty dishes but they will remember the songs you sign and the stories tell. Take the time and have fun!
What (in your opinion) is Milwaukee's biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
The biggest opportunity is increased awareness of the wonderful support that exists in our community in the Mom Force Network created by the Working Moms of Milwaukee. I found the Mom Force Network at a time when I needed it the most and found inspiration, empathy and most of all a voice that commented on my post that helped me feel hugged. Every working mom should know about us. Employers should also be informed that we exist so they can promote our network and let moms feel they have a voice and they are not alone.
Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving or Small Business Saturday (Sat, Nov 30)? If so, please tell us!
My birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year so in addition to all the yummy food, I am also looking forward to birthday cake!