Earn Entrepreneurship

How I Started My Business While Also Being My Family’s Caregiver 

Anita Darden Gardyne  |  December 25, 2020

Yes, you can juggle it all and still maintain your sanity. No, it’s not easy... But that whole "it takes a village" thing? Totally true.

Turning 50 was one of the happiest days of my life. Reaching a half century, I’d begun seeing every step and experience as a building block, and I accepted that I had more productive years behind me than in front… It was time to get on with checking things off my bucket list. And that meant indulging in me for a change. 

Like many women, I’d placed my career and other aspirational goals on hold to care for my family. And I was truly blessed to have had the choice to take a break from the workforce. Adding our second child at age 41 was important to me. It completed my family. But juggling everyday life as a wife and a mother to a young daughter and a teenage son was a lot… A lot. 

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Yet even though my days were filled (and fulfilled) by my family, I still found myself writing “start a company” at the top of my bucket list, just above “donate more time to great causes.” Creating and building a business just felt right — like it was something I was meant to do. 

I knew I was ready to live my dreams, and I knew I wanted to help other women and men live theirs, too. Like most women, I had to turn to my village in order to successfully grow a business and care for my family. It was this recognition that ultimately led me to create a technology company, Onēva, focused on family care. Building a care business while living life as a working mom certainly blurred the preconceived notions I had of work/life lines. At times it seemed my life came in waves — the needs of my own growing children, concerns with my aging parents and the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. The overlap and tumult served as constant confirmation that it really does take a village.

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At the same time that Onēva was growing and changing (we pivoted from a consumer-focused platform to one that could meet the security and privacy standards of companies like Microsoft) care for my aging mother and children was an ongoing part of my daily routine — one that did not fit into a pre-planned schedule. As my business grew, so did my own increased care needs at home, and I found myself learning the ever-evolving steps to the delicate dance between work and family. I found that the two superpowers I began relying on most were patience and tenacity. Even when life got hard, I kept pedaling, and I was blessed to be able to have caregivers from my very own Onēva platform come into my Mama’s home. In so many ways, my mother inspired me to ensure every family gets access to the crucial in-home care they need to live life to the fullest. 

At my core, tenacity and a clear focus on my goals have fueled my growth both personally and professionally, and I’ve been able to reimagine life to meet the ever-changing needs of my family. At the same time, I’ve been able to work toward my mission and achieve important milestones including getting a certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise Council-owned business. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve worked hard, stayed true to our vision and created a user experience we can be proud of. 

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I can honestly say I never imagined the climb to get to this point would be so simultaneously challenging and rewarding. Looking back, I can see just how important asking for help has been to all of my successes, which is why I encourage all female entrepreneurs to reach out to their communities whenever they’re in need. Your village has your back in more ways than you can imagine. 

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