Neferteri Plessy, mother of two and founder of nonprofit organization Single Moms Planet, knows firsthand the unique challenges that single mothers face every day. “After a five-year marriage, I found myself divorced, confused and frustrated as to how to move forward with my life,” Plessy says.
Many single mothers struggle to find balance, identity, self-fulfillment and financial security. To Plessy’s disappointment, there seemed to be no organizations that provided resources or guidance—a shocking revelation, considering the number of single mothers out there. “It’s a staggering number! There are roughly 12 million single mothers in the U.S. and growing. One in four children are raised by a single mother,” says Plessy.
Plessy saw this as an opportunity to create an organization solely dedicated to empowering, uplifting and educating single mothers, and launched Single Moms Planet in 2013. Just last month, Plessy organized the fourth annual Single Mom’s Awards to honor individuals who inspire or give support to single mothers through their work, philanthropy or volunteerism.
Mom.me talks to Plessy about her struggles and triumphs, and how she continues to maintain a fulfilling work-life balance.
As a mother as well as the founder of Single Moms Planet, how do you make it all work?
It’s a combination of organization, consistency and balance. I am very goal-oriented, so I set daily and weekly goals and try to accomplish at least one of each. If it's a good day or week I may accomplish all of them, but I don't allow myself to get so consumed with the list that it takes over my life. Having balance between work and family keeps me centered, focused and happy.
When did you first feel successful?
I knew I was doing well when I first started hearing from single moms who would tell me what a difference we were making in their lives. Many of these courageous women came to us on the verge of losing their home, not being able to pay doctors’ bills for their kids and having nowhere to go for help, so hearing how we helped them turn their lives around is very gratifying.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
My children saw how difficult the transition from a two-income household to one was after my divorce. I had to figure things out quickly, and it was a struggle at first because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I'd been producing and hosting TV shows in the entertainment industry for years, and the hours were very long. I knew that I wanted to spend more quality time with my children, so I started focusing more on event production and marketing where the hours were a little more flexible. It took time for me to build my business, but things got better and my children get see how hard their mom works to provide for them. Even though they were young children, they realized what it took to improve your life no matter who you are.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own nonprofit foundation?
Align yourself with a core team of people who share the same values, work ethic and vision. Take your time, be patient and prepare to work, work, work!
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and entrepreneur to keep everything in balance?
I make sure that I make time for my children. The weekends are family time and the boys have a great relationship with their dad, so they get a lot of quality time with him as well. My children’s father and my mother are the main reasons I am able to keep Single Moms Planet running because they support me 100 percent with the boys. I also make sure I get home at a decent time so we can have dinner together, go over homework and make sure we have a regular routine. On occasion, my mom or my close friends help with the boys when I'm out socially or work late, but my children are always No. 1.
If you could have lunch with any mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
Warren Buffett would be a great lunch partner. He has a great mind for business, investments and philanthropy, but also understands the value of working smart. His wise words have taught me how to hire the right people to get the job done, which has allowed me to expand both my events and production company and Single Moms Planet.
Are there any new initiatives on the horizon for Single Moms Planet?
We are always growing and evolving. I am blessed to have a team that is committed to empowering single moms and their children. We are continually working on initiatives within our support pillars of mentorship, financial literacy, family and individual counseling, and entrepreneurial training.