When her 2-year-old son Asher was born, Texas mom Alex Winkelman Zeplain says she "experienced a roller coaster of emotions."
"I quickly realized that motherhood is more than a full-time gig, and generally, we respond to it by putting ourselves last," Zeplain tells Mom.me via email.
That's why the Austin-based mom decided to create Tribe, a community that strives to help the whole family make healthy choices, whether that means exercising, eating better or simply engaging with other moms.
"I started Tribe with the hope of creating comfort and community for women going through similar life experiences," Zeplain says. "I believe putting yourself first and focusing, at least sometimes, on self-care are essential in order to be the best mom, wife and partner possible."
Zeplain talks to Mom.me about what sets Tribe apart from other parenting groups, what moms need to know before starting their own communities and the sacrifices she's had to make to keep everything moving forward.
What sets Tribe apart from other "mommy and me" groups?
Our No. 1 focus at Tribe is community, which really differentiates us from other "mommy and me" activities. Tribe is also a lifestyle rooted in deep values, therefore our activities are wide-ranging: fitness, baby-friendly classes, boutique child care, wellness services, pop-up retail, healthy eating, happy hours, family outings and advocacy.
Describe the moment you first felt successful with Tribe.
The response to Tribe was overwhelming from the start. We had hundreds of women attend in our first few weeks. Immediately, we hit a major need in the lives of women. In our first four months, we have had nearly 500 women come through our doors. Add in the multiple visits, the babies and toddlers—we have seen a lot of action!
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
There is often discussion about if women can really have it all. It truly is difficult to balance life being a girl, woman or mother. We are definitely our own breed. But women are superstars. Yes, we can have it all—we just have to determine what "having it all" means to us. I believe that women are the rock of families, of society. We are capable, we are powerful. And when we come together as a tribe, that's major girl power.
Yes, we can have it all—we just have to determine what 'having it all' means to us.
Has there been anything about building Tribe that has surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
Our pilot studio in Austin has majorly changed the trajectory of Tribe's future. Building this community and its programming has opened our eyes to the needs of women in general and, in some ways, validated exactly what we had set out to do. Tribe is reinventing how women live, work and mother.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business or community?
When wanting to start your own business or community, tell as many trustworthy people about your idea as possible. You will learn more than you can ever imagine by listening to what others think and feel. And when that time comes for you to launch, your new business is just like a new baby. It will take a lot of TLC from you, therefore it is vital to give yourself that much more TLC in return.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and a community builder to keep everything in balance?
Saying no is huge for me. And I am still learning. It's hard! For the most part, I have had to decline many invitations for volunteer roles, fundraisers and meetings due to utilizing that time for self-care, efficiency and SLEEP. This has definitely sacrificed many relationships with both people and organizations. But all of these opportunities will still be there when I'm ready to come back, and I need to remember that.
What would you say are the most important skills and experiences you've brought from previous positions to being the leader of Tribe?
As Tribe is centered around community, community-building is my bread and butter. This is not a skill set that can be learned. It stems from passion and experience. And out of community comes amazing relationships. Knowing how to turn those relationships into strong partnerships are vital to any lifestyle and community-based business.
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
Hands down, Hayden Panettiere. She is a hero of mine, and a hero to many, many mothers around the world. I was not prepared for life as a mom. Then again, who is, really? I felt it all—the unexplainable joy mixed with the overwhelming “What did we do?!” sentiment. I know I’m not alone, yet I often feel as though I am. Most moms go through some form of baby blues: anxiety, loneliness, depression, sleep deprivation, stress, fear and loss of identity, and then a huge percentage continue on to experience postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD. There is no shame in this, yet most of us don’t talk about it due to how society views mental illness.
It’s our tendency and society's expectation to share only the happy moments—the picture-perfect moments. Hayden has struggled as a new mother—we ALL do. But she has been open and honest about the struggles, helping all of us feel as though we aren't alone in these feelings, and that it is OK to seek help. I have huge respect and admiration for her.
Images via Tara Marolda Photography