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Erin Thomas Walker of Let Mommy Sleep of Chicago: Let’s start a movement to improve the benefits provided to women in the workplace after they give birth

An Interview With Jilea Hemmings

I would like to improve the benefits provided to women in the workplace after they give birth. Examples include extending maternity leave, providing leave for fathers, providing night nurses, and mental health evaluations

I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Thomas Walker, who is used to doing the impossible. As a mom of a toddler and infant, Erin Thomas Walker manages the daily care of the children while her husband is on job travel for weeks at a time. That would be enough for most people, but Erin has a deep calling to help others. With a background in high finance and pure determination, Erin has added opening a business, Let Mommy Sleep of Chicago, (in the middle of a pandemic!) onto her plate.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I worked as a Banker for the first 10 years of my career. Many times I was the only woman, let alone minority in the room. My Career consisted of long hours, flights to and from, late dinners, and sporting events. I believe the stress of the job was a contributing factor to the many miscarriages my husband and I faced. My body shut down when I finally got pregnant with my son, which forced me to take an extended leave prior to maternity leave. After he was born, I decided that it was time for me to take a different path and dive head-first into motherhood.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The first day I opened LMS I received a call from an excited expecting mother. She asked all about our services, safety protocols, and how LMS would be a great way to help her manage her career and family with a baby. After a number of conversations, I stopped hearing from the young lady. It turns out that she had a miscarriage. Little did she know that I have experienced a number of miscarriages myself. Although she wasn’t able to use my services, I was glad that I was able to offer my friendship in motherhood.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started LMS Chicago during Covid19, a time when everyone was working from home and managing children at the same time. I had two babies running around, Elmo on the T.V. and a potential partner on a Zoom call. My youngest started to cry so I picked her up to show her off into the camera and inside of smiling or making a cute face, she spit up her bottle, lol! I’m glad I didn’t change out of my pajama bottoms.

Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important for a business to have a diverse executive team?

A diverse executive team is important because it will allow for various perspective, increased reach, and accountability of messaging

More broadly can you describe how this can have an effect on our culture?

There is a stigma about postpartum depression and mental health in the African American community. Let Mommy Sleep provides a service that allows new parents to sleep comfortably while their newborn is cared for. A service like Let Mommy Sleep can be the first step in parents caring for themselves while adjusting to their new normal, thus decreasing the risks of depression and other ills that come with sleep deprivation when caring for a newborn.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in executive leadership?

  • Highlight the differences among people as a positive, not a negative in the workplace.
  • Provide benefit packages that help support families and parents. Example: Provide night nurses for mothers as they transition back into the workforce after maternity leave.
  • Make leadership and members of business resource groups more visual to upper management

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

In my opinion, Leadership is one’s ability to rally people of different opinions and beliefs around the same cause. A leader is one at is charismatic yet stern knows that there is a time and place for everything, and has a strong understanding of people and psychology. A good leader probably has the skills to be a great chess player.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Sales are just as important as marketing — Marketing informs the client, but sales close the deal
  • My Personal social media presence is just as important as the business social media. I didn’t realize that people want to connect with the person behind the brand
  • Remarketing — having to ability to stay on customers top of mind
  • Managing employees is a full-time job outside of the product itself
  • Planning for the unplanned costs for starting a business

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would like to improve the benefits provided to women in the workplace after they give birth. Examples include extending maternity leave, providing leave for fathers, providing night nurses, and mental health evaluations

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Pay Me Now or Pay me Later”- I apply this lesson to raising children. It reminds me that I should put the time in and sacrifice during the children’s informative years. If I don’t, problems will persist and become bigger problems as they grow older. At that point, I will have to sacrifice even more than before to help solve the problem. I think about this every time I get tired of saying the same things over and over to my children.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Ava DuVernay, as she tells wonderful stories and captures the complexity of the characters in her shows, while drawing a direct line to their history and how it has shaped them and their decisions. I wonder if she can capture that depth of motherhood and the role African American Women have played in raising the nation’s children.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: @erinthomaswalker Instagram: @erinthomaswalker

About the Interviewer: Jilea Hemmings is a staunch believer in the power of entrepreneurship. A successful career revamping Fortune 500 companies was not enough for her entrepreneurial spirit, so Jilea began focusing her passion in startups. She has successfully built 6 startups to date. Her passion for entrepreneurship continues to flourish with the development of Stretchy Hair Care, focusing on relieving the pain associated with detangling and styling natural black hair. For far too long, people with tender heads have suffered in pain. Until now.



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