Mary Kay Ziniewicz was certain she didn’t want to be a mom. Her husband, Keith, didn’t want kids either. And then the unexpected happened—they found out they were pregnant. When they saw their baby on the ultrasound for the first time, everything changed. Mary Kay and Keith fell in love with the tiny dot on the screen, and they couldn’t wait to meet their daughter.
After Lily was born, the couple decided Keith would be a stay-at-home dad, while Mary Kay worked in marketing and business development for two Twin Cities law firms. Then, when Lily turned 10, Keith went back to work and Mary Kay worked from home on the marketing consulting company she’d launched. As she waited with other moms at the bus stop, she began to notice one question the women asked each other regularly: “What are you doing today?”
Mary Kay realized how different her situation was from the other mothers. She had a successful business and a fulfilling career. Many of the moms were skilled professionals interested in working, but there were all kinds of barriers—family responsibilities, lack of support, scheduling constraints, guilt. She learned that more than 40 percent of women don’t return to the workforce after their first child is born. Those who do face biases around availability, dependability, relevance and more. She began imagining a business model that would allow moms flexibility to work when, how and where it made the most sense for them and their families.
Mary Kay started to develop her concept in 2018 while continuing to work as a marketing consultant. This new venture pushed her outside of her comfort zone almost daily, and there were times she thought about giving up. That’s when then-12-year-old Lily stepped in and built the company website, and Bus Stop Mamas officially launched.
With Lily as her chief technology officer, and the support of a team she calls her Super Mamas, Mary Kay developed a network of thousands of moms with various skills and backgrounds. They fill a critical need for hundreds of small to midsize businesses seeking workers in all kinds of positions—temporary, part-time, full-time and more. Mary Kay calls it the #9to3movement, because she believes work needs to look different in the 21st century. The process for connecting moms and businesses is straightforward—businesses post any job opening that offers flexibility, and moms select opportunities that appeal to them. Mary Kay and her team make introductions, and the business owners and moms take it from there. The businesses pay a referral fee, while the women pay nothing to join the network.
Mary Kay now devotes 100 percent of her work time to what has become her second baby. She credits her first baby, Lily, and her husband for making the business possible. Though she may not have planned to be a mom, she now says it’s the best thing that ever happened to her.
Photo: Bus Stop Mamas
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story and Publish Her as platforms for doing so.