Starting a business from the ground up is a lot like birthing a baby — so imagine how complicated the journey gets if you’re doing both of those demanding things at the same time.
That is exactly what Emily DiDonato and Christina Garcia did. The co-founders of Covey, a minimalist skincare line, launched their business in March 2021, and two weeks later, Emily found out she was pregnant. Then in July, Christina also saw the infamous positive sign.
When a mentor says “Just don’t get pregnant”
“Emily and I started Covey later on in life – so we always talked a lot about how being pregnant and starting a family, while starting a business, could be difficult and damaging because of the biases we would face,” Christina said.
Both Emily & Christina were aware of the ‘motherhood penalty’ in the start-up world, especially since they hadn’t done a fundraising round yet. And given that less than 3% of venture funding went to women-founded teams in 2019, they had every right to be concerned.
When speaking with a male business mentor about Covey, he joked “Your trajectory seems great & the milestones are achievable – just don’t get pregnant.” They also had been asked – multiple times – what their family timelines were.
Christina recalled, “It was absurd that we were asked this question and these side comments were consistently made. A male founder would never get asked that question. And it really gets in your head. You start to think – does being pregnant or being a mom hold me back? Will I not be able to drive the business forward?”.
Unfortunately women are much further from equality in the startup world. As Emily said, “The startup industry needs more examples of female founders being pregnant and building businesses. Even if men don’t want to admit it, they have unconscious biases against female-founded businesses.”
Emily & Christina both decided that their family & business goals didn’t have to be mutually exclusive – and they would not let the sexism of the startup industry influence them. They co-led their first fundraise in October 2021, respectively 8 months and 5 months pregnant, and they exceeded their target.
Establish boundaries & find the right partners
“We spent three years creating Covey, it finally launched — and it felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks,” Emily said. I couldn’t give as much as I wanted to every single day, and I would beat myself up over that. I wanted to give everything to Covey and also everything to my baby. But thank God Christina was there by my side.”
As a new company, Covey didn’t have the same resources as a fully-fledged brand, so taking a pregnant pause wasn’t an option. It forced these two fierce founders to seek an effective work/life balance from the beginning — a feat many entrepreneurs struggle with years into their companies.
They prioritized hiring the right employees and partners, as well as boundary-setting for meetings and deliverables. Like their skincare line that maximizes the benefits of minimalism, they realized they didn’t need a 50+ person team to make Covey a coveted brand.
And above all else, they were able to support each other and show understanding every step of the way.
Supporting the pregnancy & motherhood struggle
“It’s incredible the capacity and strength that women have,” Christina said. “It’s a delicate balance in heralding the notion of ‘she can do it all’ because it puts a lot of pressure on women. Women struggle to ask for support because we think we should be able to handle it all or we risk looking weak compared to our male counterparts. But Emily and I provide each other with non-judgemental, no holds barred support.”
Those newborn snuggles do be very good tho lol♬ original sound – Big-Reg
Emily has also been open about her postpartum struggles on social media. Emily and Christina created Covey to solve their own skincare woes as busy professionals who didn’t have time (or see the benefit) for a double-digit skincare routine. Now, as new and expecting moms, they value the simplicity and ease of a skincare routine even more.
The “Mom-Advantage” of running a company
A few weeks after Emily’s daughter was born, she started taking calls again. While it was a strange transition at first, she found that getting back to her other “baby” was refreshing.
“When I got on that first call, and I was collaborating with other people and discussing things and ideas, it provided a much-needed outlet from the grind of having a newborn,” she said. “It was vital for me to continue to be a part of Covey since I love our company, and it’s a big part of who I am. I didn’t want to give up on that as I transitioned into motherhood. Just like women deserve a paid maternity leave, they also should not be judged if they enjoy returning to work again. You can love your baby and love your career “
“Being a mom and running a business complement each other in many ways,” Emily said. “Whether it’s a baby or a business, especially if you’re passionate about it, and you love it the way Christina and I love Covey, you can make it work.”
Right now, you can get 10% off your first order, so check out Covey. Get the skincare routine that beauty editors, models and consumers say has transformed their skin.