In October 2014, a group of inspired moms led by musician and budding social media entrepreneur Marci Craig circled around a table at Blacksburg’s Next Door Bake Shop. With coffee mugs in hands and big dreams in their heads, they talked about starting a ‘grassroots passion project’ that would initially build a community of business-savvy moms who would help each other pool resources and process and connect their ideas. They met several times over two years until Craig realized the group of moms – mainly parents of the students she taught music to – needed more than a space to share professional development insights, but needed to be part of a movement that motivated them to turn their gifts and passions into action. In early 2016, Craig formed an LLC and launched The Mama Movement – an online and in-person community organization where moms of any age find support in motherhood while still prioritizing themselves.
“Many moms are change-makers, business owners and creators,” says Craig. “If you are a powerhouse of ideas along with being a devoted mother and a purpose-driven woman, wouldn’t it be helpful to have encouraging support and a professional network of like-minded mothers sharing resources and keeping you accountable?”
Craig noticed that other mom’s groups tend to gravitate toward conversations about kids. “I wanted a space where I could rediscover me,” she relates. “It is important to find joy in you – to ‘pursue your passion and prioritize you’ – that is our mantra. Once you do that, you can bring that energy back to your family.”
The Mama Movement has grown to nearly 800 women online and 55 paying members. In addition to joining the Facebook page – a message board of upcoming events, resources and uplifting messages – there is a private discussion group page to address issues, ask others about parenting, and promote their businesses or interests. Previously there was a flat fee for members who desired a greater level of involvement, but The Mama Movement is transitioning to a subscription model where members receive monthly content highlighting featured experts on topics tailored to their interests. There will be more opportunities including workshops, annual picnics and in-person passion-seeker meetings.
The passion-seekers meetings are for members or guests of members only, and there is a waiting list to join. Craig explains that she wants to grow the organization but the in-person meetings benefit from an intimate size and high-quality content. “The Mama Movement has grown organically. Our leadership team is exploring how we expand and give all moms an opportunity to express themselves and step in the spotlight. We hope to grow our content nationally,” she says.
Alyssa Short joined before she gave birth to her daughter and serves on the leadership team. She shares Craig’s vision for expansion. “We want to have a strong online presence to help any mom in any place in her journey,” she says. “People join for many reasons, and the group gracefully combines a holistic picture of motherhood. There is the self-care piece, the creative piece and professional development.”
Part of the concept of The Mama Movement is to amplify each other’s accomplishments and spotlight members who have talents and expertise. For instance, Short holds a master’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in Art and Education with a certificate in Expression and Healing Arts. She has taught others to develop coping skills through art making. Craig herself is a multi-passion mama. She plays the classical guitar, piano and harp and teaches music theory and early childhood music at the Renaissance Music Academy. Her life as a musician, social entrepreneur and mother of three doesn’t look that different from moms in the New River Valley who find themselves juggling so many roles and struggling to find time for themselves. “So many of us have similar experiences, there is no reason to go it alone,” says Craig. “We each need to find joy in ourselves and help elevate one another to share our individual passions and collective message.”
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By Krisha Chachra
Krisha Chachra served eight years on the Blacksburg Town Council and has written for NRV Magazine for a decade. She is a member of The Mama Movement and a proud mom to a curious toddler. Krisha is a community advocate and connector and runs an event production organization that hosts Up on the Roof. Krisha has reported and hosted shows for public radio and television and has freelanced for USA Weekend Magazine, the Honolulu Advertiser and the Alexandria Gazette among others. Her book about returning to Blacksburg, Homecoming Journals, may be found online or in local bookstores.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org