By Selena Conmackie
Welcome to the first article of a year-long series discussing the life of not only being an entrepreneur but also being a military spouse entrepreneur.
Raise your hand if you’ve packed your household goods while holding your laptop and responding to a client, or holding the phone and handling business while crossing over state lines to get to your next duty station and praying the Uhaul trailer doesn’t unhook. (Just me?)
Circumstance allowed the entrepreneur in me to come out that I didn’t know even existed.
With every military love story, there is a spouse and a servicemember that meet, fall in love, and then a big, fast decision needs to be made when that servicemember will move on to their next duty station assignment.
A spouse gives up their home, career and says goodbye to family and friends where you’ll catch them on FaceTime, or Facebook, or on Instagram (the Gram for you cool cats).
My story is I left a 20+-year career in restaurant management working for a couple multi million-dollar restaurants with one of them being the #1 of 75 locations. This translates to that I handled a lot of revenue, staff, labor, inventory and guests. I lived in Honolulu and, even though we were an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it was modern and trended in technology and business with its mainland counterparts.
At 40 years old, I found myself in the middle of Louisiana on my first PCS (Permanent Change of Station) in a town that hadn’t aged past 1985. It definitely wasn’t a place to find something even remotely close to the career I had just left behind
My spouse and I originally decided I would stay home, get settled in the new life off-island, and help my daughter settle into a robust neighborhood of kids waiting to play once they bounded off the school bus.
Six months in, I felt the pull to being in charge of something/-one I wasn’t related to. I started back with my mommy blog and got back into writing. Being a couple of years out of the game, I realized I needed to market myself when I published a new post. I got all the social media platforms needed and started learning so others would read my stuff.
I was IN my phone or my computer constantly. Engaging with others, linking up on other blogs and making blog pals who I never knew what they looked like.
I eventually updated my mommy blog which was my first real website build. When I say build, I mean: I bought a template and took 83,759,768,745,930 hours to get it just right with my content, colors and fonts.
I say all this because it will make sense soon.
A colleague back home in Hawai’i presented an idea about me taking over their digital marketing and website needs and I thought, “Easy, I’m doing this for myself.”
I suddenly became a freelancer/entrepreneur when I sent my first invoice over.
And it really fit the lifestyle we were now leading as a military family.
I soon went from asking my boss for time off to spend with my family to being my own boss and enjoying my family more when the special things came up.
When my husband was deployed for a year to Korea and my daughter spent a year back home in Hawai’i with her father, I traveled to see my daughter often, family in California, Pennsylvania & South Carolina.
And my work went with me in airports, hotel rooms, Starbucks next to Niagara Falls, in a clientʻs restaurant overlooking Waikiki Beach or while seeing the volcano erupting on Hawaiʻi Island (The Big Island).
It also traveled with me during our PCS to our second duty station as a family once my husband returned from Korea.
Today, six years later from the start, I run a successful marketing business that supports clients nationwide in many industries.
Let Me Be Your Resource
I want to share a stat with you. And I share this because you, military spouse, are not alone if you find yourself seeking employment.
MILITARY SPOUSE UNEMPLOYMENT—> 38%
2021 Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate was at 8.1% in 2020 and was 5.1% as of August 2021.
Entrepreneurship/freelance work may be an answer to help close that gap.
Becoming an “Accidental Entrepreneur” is what has given the professional in me back some of the identity I had lost when I entered the military life, and added income to our family finances and our retirement.
If you need an entrepreneur friend, Iʻm here. Let me be your resource.
Some other favorite places that support military spouse entrepreneurs include:
Or connect with me on LinkedIn and letʻs get to networking together!
Just me and some military spouse entrepreneur pals.
About Selena Conmackie
Some call Selena their Social Media Gal, Website Designer Extraordinaire Guru, Genius (their words, not hers). But she’s also a Military Spouse following her husband with her kid and dog in tow to wherever the Army sends them. So, just add Rockstar Mom and Ah-mazing Wife to her list. H A U O L I is the name of her small boutique business. It means Happy in Hawaiian and has a special meaning that became the inspiration for her new journey. Her goal is to help your business to succeed — and social media plays a part in that. She enjoys the game of hashtags and algorithms and helping her clients optimize their online presence.