I got to know Jen when she and I began working together on behalf of my company Victory Public Relations. I learned firsthand that she is a shining example of a woman who manages to juggle motherhood (two young sons and another baby on the way!) with a killer career, somehow maintaining a great attitude and air of kindness despite the challenges she faces. I thought it made perfect sense to tap into Jen’s wisdom during our extended Mother’s Day celebration – especially given that the term “mommy wars” defines so many of the conversations being had about women in the workplace.
Even if you aren’t a mom and don’t plan to become one anytime soon (or ever!), the “mommy wars” is a thorn in the side of every Career Girl. The simple reason is that the term inherently pits women against one another in both personal and professional settings – when what we should do is support one another regardless of whether or not we are parents.
Jen DeMarco has stayed above the fray of the mommy wars here in Hoboken with Local Barre, a barre-based fitness studio with two locations and a third opening this summer. Since opening in 2010, Local Barre has become one of the city’s most well known brands, employing more than 40 people, and successfully creating an environment that accommodates both the needs of Hoboken’s parents and those who do not have children.
Blurred Lines: Jen DeMarco’s professional and personal life
Jen is first and foremost a mom. She says she always wanted to be a mother when she grew up and even goes so far as to say she thought she didn’t actually have career aspirations. But, looking back on her first job out of college as the executive assistant to the entrepreneur behind one of the INC 500’s Fastest Growing Companies, Jen acknowledges that her skillset equips her to juggle the many demands of motherhood and creating a business.
“To a fault, I have an ‘I can do it all’ personality, and admittedly, I do manage to pull it all off one way or another, most of the time. I have a strong desire to succeed and I’m often told that I am too hard on myself. It’s important or me to succeed and perhaps even as important for me to make it look effortless,” a trait she gets from her own mother, Jen explains, adding that she doesn’t do it alone. “So now you know my (our) secret. It’s a constant challenge for me to do what I do, but thankfully, I have a lot of support. It takes a village! I’m learning that phrase isn’t only about raising children. It takes a village everyday – to run our family, our household, and our business.” Jen’s village includes a supportive husband, family and friends here in Hoboken and the 43 members of the Local Barre staff.
Local Barre came to life after Jen moved to Hoboken and found no place that offered the intense, but fun barre-based classes she took to prepare for her wedding. It wasn’t until after she and her husband made the commitment to open Local Barre that Jen found out she was pregnant with their first child. They opened their first studio when that baby was just five weeks old. According to Jen, the success they’ve had balancing the needs of the moms and child-free clientele evolved organically through her own experience.
“Some might say we took on too much! When we learned we were expecting our first child, I had already resigned from my job, we had taken our life savings (I even cashed out my 401K plan!), a small business loan, and some personal loans from family and friends. When we opened, I had a five week old and it wasn’t uncommon to find me sitting at the front desk greeting clients while nursing my newborn undercover.
I was self conscious as the face of our business with my postpartum figure. My Barretenders would joke that I should just park the baby carrier in the back of the studio during class – and so we birthed together the unique concept of BYOBaby! All too soon, Joey was on the move and I feared he would be distracting to class – and so followed Monkey Barre! I am aware that not all clients are moms and I like to maintain an environment that is as welcoming to those women. For example, when we added Monkey Barre to our popular 9:45am class time, we added an 8:45am so there is still a midmorning option for those who prefer to preserve an adult experience.”
Sharing the wealth
Although she considers herself an “accidental” CEO, Jen De Marco has built a successful brand that reaches countless Hoboken residents (and continues to grow) and simultaneously enjoys a happy home life. When asked to share some words of wisdom with Career Girl readers, she doesn’t hesitate.
“You can’t do it all. Sorry, but you can’t. No, you can’t do it all, not everyday, not all of the time. But you CAN have it all. You can be a Career Girl and an amazing mama if that’s what you want. Do whatever makes you happy. The best mommy is a happy mommy and you are the only one who knows what truly makes you happy. It may be something different tomorrow or next week or next year. So take it day-by-day, make adjustments, and you will find the balance that is right for you,” Jen explains. “Be realistic, it doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself, be forgiving with yourself. You are rocking it, girl.”
This Mother’s Day, Jen and her family enjoyed a well-deserved Disney vacation. Now that she’s back, you can find her gearing up to enjoy her favorite season in Hoboken, summer, with her kids, as well as preparing for the launch of Wheelhaus Bikegarten, Local Barre’s newest spinning studio.
Career Girl is written by Andrea Samacicia Mullan, President of Victory PR in Hoboken, NJ. Career Girl is a regular column that includes everything from interviews with inspiring Hoboken Career Girls, career advice, and lots more. We are so excited to be partnering up with Andrea to bring some new and noteworthy ladies to HG.