Why are you considered a business savvy doula?
Honestly, one reason that I think I’m considered a business savvy doula is because I talk about the business of being a doula! I also value and love my work. So many doulas that I know shy away from this side of their work and even feel like they need to apologize for wanting to make money as a doula. I hold all doulas in high regard and think it’s really important for our business to not be afraid of marketing ourselves and putting our work out there. In order to shift the culture of birth we need to be savvy about how we’re marketing our classes and birth services. My vision is for every woman to feel supported and empowered in her birth. That’s what motivates me to devote my energy toward growing my business.
What is it that resonates with you when you hear yourself described in this way.
To me being business savvy means consciously taking ownership for the work that I love and sharing that with others. What resonates most with me is a sense of confidence and passion that I feel about my work and the joy I feel supporting families through this rite of passage.
What was a business decision you made that you are proud of?
In 2007 after traveling to East Africa, I expanded Village Birth and created Village Birth International. VBI is a collaborative partnership with Ugandan midwives and community birth advocates. We work collaboratively with midwives, doulas, and childbirth educators to raise awareness on the issues affecting women in war affected countries, as well as educate and stay committed to our mission of lowering maternal and infant morality rates. Also, I have had to move my practice several times in the last three years. With each move came new challenges and new opportunities. I had to make a conscious choice in a new city to challenge the local market status quo. Despite the fear that I wouldn’t be hired at a fee that I felt was appropriate given my experience, I stayed true to what I felt I deserved. I found that in valuing and honoring myself, the prospective clients felt confidence in me and therefore confident in their choice to hire me.
Who are your mentors for being business savvy or where did you start learning about the business side of things?
I come from a family with a very strong background in business. I was practically raised to think this way! I’m lucky though because I was always taught to stay true to my morals, ethics, and have respect for my peers and other people in my field. As a doula in NYC, Power of Birth was and still is a great mentor of mine. You, Tara Brooke, were one of the first doulas that I met who didn’t apologize for talking about making money as a doula. I found that refreshing and inspiring.
Can you describe a situation when you made a poor choice that hurt your business that you learned from?
Competition is an ongoing theme in the doula world. Just because we’re in a field that is about supporting women doesn’t mean every doula out there wants to support you! Honestly, it’s a shame. I was once wrapped up in a business relationship that was very unsupportive. Instead of trusting my instincts, I continued working with this doula. I learned a great deal about setting boundaries and moving forward with my doula relationships based on trust, clear communication, and respect. Most of all, I learned about trusting my own intuition in business.
When you trained to be a doula were you satisfied with the training piece about starting a business?
When I was trained as a doula, the marketing piece was barely mentioned. I think because many doulas feel that this work is a “calling” they neglect to include the business side of the work. For me this work is absolutely a calling but I feel passionate that I can make a living and love the work that I’m called to.
How do you figure out what fee to charge as a doula?
I have lived in many different cities as a doula and have seen a wide cross section of services from no charge to $2500 a birth! I started as a doula in NYC and the fee for an experienced doula was in the range of $1500-$1800. I now live in a small city where doulas charge a third of what I was making starting out as a novice doula. My price reflects years of experience and training. But more than that, it reflects what I personally value for myself and supports the needs of my family. Money is energy and so you need to feel good about that exchange with the couples you work for. I have a set fee for my doula services, and I always remain flexible to provide support for families that may not be able to afford my fee. I’m also active in the birth community and offer a co-mothering community meeting for women free of charge.
What business advice do you have for other doulas? Don’t be afraid to value yourself. Take into consideration what your market is and the needs of your community but never underestimate your value.
How do you connect the success of your business with advocating normal birth? Or do you?
I feel that the success of my business has a lot to do with the relationships that I build with the families that I support. I am an advocate for normal birth, but that doesn’t mean choosing normal or natural birth for my clients. As a doula, I want my clients to make birth choices that feel empowering to them. Ultimately, I want my clients to be making conscious birth choices. More than anything, I think my success as a doula is rooted in the fact that I love my clients and support them unconditionally without judgment. Time and time again the presence of Love at a birth continues to teach and inspire me.
What are the top 5 things you would say are the most important things to consider for a new doula staring a doula business.
- BE yourself! Value yourself. Don’t underestimate your worth.
- Research your market and research other doula businesses in your area.
- Market your doula services widely (midwives, obstetricians, mother networks, schools, holistic practitioners). Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there even as a beginner.
- Connect with the leading doulas in your community.
- Be transparent and stay true to the mission of “Every woman who wants a doula deserves a doula”.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I feel very grateful to have found work that I love. I hope more doulas can recognize that the business of being a doula doesn’t diminish their calling to be on this path. It actually adds value and elevates the importance of our work.