- Name: Sara Shields
- Age: 41
- Location: Chandler, AZ
- Children: We have two boys; Asher, 5, and Koa, 3.
You founded a business! Tell us about your company.
Modern Allo is a fun, modern space with a coffee bar and coffee lounge, nail salon, treatment & massage rooms, work space, and on-site childcare. Eventually we plan on adding in some fun workshops and group events.
The name for Modern Allo came about while researching the best animal mothers. Elephants were at the top of the list, in part because they are what are known as “allo-mothers,” which refers to an individual other than the biological mother of an offspring that helps care for the young. As I continued reading about allo-mothering, which is common amongst most intelligent mammals, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of jealousy and longing for that type of maternal support. Motherhood for me has felt lonely and isolating at times, especially without the support of any nearby family.
Why did you want to start your own business?
The idea to start this business happened after a long, stressful week of solo-parenting my two year old, and six-week-old baby while my husband was on a business trip. It was rough week alone, and by the time he arrived home, I was desperate for a break. It was during one of those long, challenging nights that the idea for the business was hatched!
I really struggled to find/create any time for myself, and didn’t have the support of family nearby to help. I also didn’t have friends with children when I had my first child, which meant I had to go search out some new “mom friends.” Finding new friends as an adult is stressful! Being a mother can feel lonely and isolating at times, and I longed for that sense of community, and for people who would understand the motherhood journey; the messy bun, the yoga pants, the spit up on the shirt, the boob leaks. It felt like there was a void in the market for places where busy parents could just take a break, meet up, make friends, nurture existing friendships, find a village, and get a moment of respite.
Modern Allo isn’t exclusive of parents, it’s simply inclusive! Anyone can use the space, from high schoolers, to college students, young professionals, creatives, stay-at-home parents, working parents, grandparents. Anyone, and everyone, is welcome at Modern Allo.
Tell us a little bit about your family!
My husband and I met a little over ten years ago, shortly after I moved to Arizona from Oregon. He was in Arizona for a temporary work stay, but we fell in love with each other, and the desert, and now can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have two wonderful boys, Asher and Koa, who keep us constantly entertained, and exhausted.
What was your motivation to pivot your career to being an mompreneur?
The motivation for starting this business was definitely sparked by my own struggles with finding balance with parenting, and finding time for nurture myself. I went to school to be a computer programmer, and then went back and got my Master’s in Education, but neither of those, or any of the various jobs inbetween, ever felt like what I was meant to be doing. My husband was also hugely influential in pushing me to create this business, and make it a reality. I am sure that it would not have happened without his support and encouragement.
Were you able to take maternity leave? Tell us about that experience.
With both children, I took about six months off to be home with baby, and then worked very part-time after that. I found that I needed that part-time work to get out of the house, and to get a little grown-up time away from my children. SAH parents are seriously the hardest working people out there. Going to work sometimes felt like a break, and I think it was important for my overall health and wellness to work outside of the home a couple days a week, and to nurture those relationships with friends/coworkers.
As a business owner, were you able to take maternity leave at all? What was that experience like for you and your family?
I had already had both children before deciding to start this business. Starting a new business with two young children has not been easy though, and my time with them has become limited since opening Modern Allo. I am definitely grateful that I can bring them to work with me!
How do you make time for self-care in between all that you have going on? What do you do to unwind after a long day or week?
That is work-in-progress for me. I’ve definitely struggled with balancing work/motherhood/self-care, and often find that self-care is what I most often push to the backburner. This has been a struggle for years, and is a large part of what has inspired the dream and vision of Modern Allo. I know that my situation isn’t unique, and as much as I know my self-care is important, I rarely find (or carve out) the time necessary for it. I am definitely trying to do better, but I’m not where I need to be. I do squeeze in massage as often as possible, I love relaxing with a nice manicure and pedicure, and I’ve been trying to be more intentional in taking time daily for calming breath work and meditation. They can make a world of difference for me, but I haven’t quite mastered a routine yet to incorporate them consistently.
What lessons have you learned in your career that you apply to parenting?
I would say that it’s the oppositie for me. Parenting has influenced me professionally on a profound level. Parenting has been more challenging than any degree, or career, that I have had before Modern Allo. Parenting has forced me to get more creative, to adapt, to give up on perfect expectations, and has definitely pushed the limits of what I thought I was capable of, or was capable of handling. Being a mother has honestly made me feel more accomplished, more confident, and more authentic in the leadership roles I now have.
I think having a business where I can employ mothers, and allow for scheduling breaks to pick up their children, and to be able to offer on-site childcare for their children, has been one of the unique blessings and challenges to this business model, and it’s definitely largely inspired by my experience as a mother.
What do you teach your children about success and failure?
Anything is possible if you’re willing to REALLY work for it. Nothing in life comes easy, and how much we are willing to put into something, is directly related to what we will get out of it.
I’m also a firm believer that failures are an important part of finding, and creating, success. It’s sometimes through failures that we learn what doesn’t work, what we can change to make it better the next time, and it often offers sparks new ideas and creativity.
How has motherhood impacted you personally and professionally?
Motherhood has pushed me to do more, fear less, and has really made me more confident in who I am, and what I’m capable of. I almost feel like being a mother is kind of like being a superhero. We are somehow able to juggle so many things, with so many daily challenges, so many little emotions, and still somehow wake up and do it all again the next day, often with far too little sleep. And our children absolutely adore us, in all of our messy glory. It’s amazing, really.
You founded your business with your spouse. How did you start the company together?
My husband has been the most supportive person in making this business come to life. He has been an entrepreneur for many years, and has always encouraged me to do more, take chances, and to not be afraid of the unknown (I’m not quite there yet, but working on it). This idea came to life in a frustrated parenting moment, where I had been feeling like I had very little support, and no where to turn. With a very busy schedule of his own, his response would often be, “so what’s the solution,” and in that exhausted, frustrated search for a solution, the idea for this business came to mind. And while he is not directly involved in most of the day-to-day, on-site operations of the business, he is most certainly involved in overall vision and performance of Modern Allo.
How has your marriage been impacted by your joint career-life?
Starting a new business is stressful, but starting a new business during a pandemic has been extremely difficult, to say the least. Fortunately we both have immense love and respect for each other, and know that we can weather any storm that comes our wa
Is there a promo code or discount code you can offer readers?
Enjoy a 20% discount on any single purchase, in-store or online, at Modern Allo using the code EVMOMS. We will have massage starting up in January, so there will be even more ways to practice self-care at Modern Allo now!
For some fun chit-chat, now!
- Favorite East Valley date night activity: Definitely eating out! Our perfect date night would be dinner and a movie.
- Coffee order: I’m pretty basic when it comes to coffee. If it’s a dine-in coffee order, then a classic cappuccino is my go to, but if it’s a to-go cup, I typically order a plain oat milk latte, or an Americano with cream. Something about being able to taste the quality of the coffee, without a flavor getting in the way, is so satisfying to me. I love that we use Peixoto coffee beans at Modern Allo, so I know I’m always getting a quality, fresh-roasted coffee drink.
- Favorite restaurant in the East Valley: Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse.
- Greatest challenge in your career thus far: Opening a business during COVID-19 madness.
- Most embarrassing mom moment: Oh man. I’m sure it involves a blow-out diaper, but I feel like I’ve probably suppressed most of those memories.
- Best mom advice you’ve been given: My aunt told me that breastfeeding was going to be excruciatingly awful, but if I could just make it to six weeks, it would be smooth sailing. She was right. And I reminded myself of that every excruciating day until it got better around the six week mark. I think the brutal honesty was helpful. Also, to give yourself some grace. Motherhood can be super hard.
- Last Netflix show you binged: Unfortunately, I haven’t had time!
- Favorite family tradition?: Summer trip to Oregon! Camping, beach, seafood, family. It is so great for us to have a cool-weather, summer break from the desert for a co uple weeks.
Be sure to stay in the loop and follow Modern Allo on Instagram!