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Md. nonprofit aims to be ‘marketplace’ for entrepreneurial moms

Andrea Oliver and her son, Lewis, pose on Andrea Oliver’s 32nd birthday last year. (Courtesy of Andrea Oliver)

Andrea Oliver has always taken issue with how society perceives stay-at-home moms. 

“The misconception of stay-at-home moms is, you’re very free. You’re only running errands and taking care of your child,” she said. “Some people are thinking that if you’re stay-at-home, you don’t have a skill to contribute to society or make money.” 

That’s why Oliver, a resident of Bel Air in Harford County, launched a nonprofit aimed at helping single and stay-at-home moms use their parenting skills, from cooking to crafts, to start a business or side hustle. 

The nonprofit, Remember Rubies Inc., which was first launched in April, aims to help mothers understand how their homemaking skills can be monetized through a questionnaire and, if needed, an additional phone consultation. The nonprofit maintains a directory of businesses owned by stay-at-home or single moms to help potential clients find their services. 

Oliver, who has a 7-year-old son and was previously a single mother herself, wanted to start the nonprofit in order to help moms understand that their parenting and household skills are more valuable than they might expect.

She also wanted to help single and stay-at-home mothers find ways to make money; she had seen other moms posting in the parenting social media groups about needing an additional source of income, inspiring her to start brainstorming solutions.

That’s when she realized that mothers could monetize the household skills they already have, from cooking to gift wrapping to crafting, rather than be forced to pick up a whole new vocation just to pay the bills. 

Oliver recalled that one mom, who already sells jewelry, had questioned how she could translate her mothering skills into a business venture. 

“I said, ‘Hey, can you match jewelry and clothes and accessories? Just grooming, giving people advice?’” she said. “She said, ‘Yeah, I do that.’ I said, ‘That’s a skill.’” 

Only a small number of moms — eight — are currently listed on the site, but they offer a range of services, from dog-sitting to home décor. 

Teaching and motivating others is nothing new for Oliver. She’s previously worked in a corporate environment as a training manager, where much of her job involved brainstorming ways to keep the company’s trainings informative and engaging. 

It was also that experience that encouraged her to launch Remember Rubies, even though she was unsure the model would be successful. 

“When I first thought of this idea, there were some doubts, as well, whether it would work or not. But if you don’t try, you never know, and there’s no harm in trying,” she said. 

For the time being, Oliver, who is working on the project alongside two fellow moms, is working to feature more mothers on the site, increase the site’s traffic and promote the mothers’ businesses on Remember Rubies’s social media pages.

Ultimately, her goal is to expand the directory into more of an online marketplace — closer to something like Fiverr, where customers can hire freelancers, or Etsy, which is a marketplace for crafts and other goods.  

“That would be a marketplace for mothers to start their businesses,” she said.