Meet five moms who founded leading franchise brands while raising their families

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Franchising has opened many doors for women who have been torn between the demands of work and family. In fact, the founders of some of today’s leading franchise brands are moms who initially launched their businesses to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Here, we talk to five amazing female franchisors who grew their franchise systems while raising their children. Not only have these entrepreneurs created an ideal lifestyle for themselves, but they have empowered countless women (and men!) with an opportunity to have it all.

We start with Clean Juice co-founder Kat Eckles, who, along with her husband Landon, raised five children (above) while growing an award-winning franchise system. Like all of the women featured here, Kat created a business that would benefit her family and others and grew it with passion and purpose.

Kat Eckles

Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer, Clean Juice

Family has always come first for Clean Juice co-founder Kat Eckles.

Including our kids in every aspect of our business has helped them feel connected to the brand. 

Kat Eckles

What has your experience as a franchise founder meant to you as a mom?

It’s been an exciting journey because I went from being a full-time, stay-at-home mom to a full-on, start-up founder and executive. Building this brand while raising our children has been so fun for my husband (Landon) and me. Having our children participate and be a part of every step of the process has been fulfilling. We love that our kids (and their friends) get to see all of the good and bad that comes with business ownership. They’ve witnessed the hard days where we were wiped out and emotional, and saw the difficult hurdles we have faced. But, they have also witnessed the excitement and benefits of our successes!

What have you taught your children about entrepreneurship? 

Our children have learned that being an entrepreneur is a truly full-time job. They’ve watched us take phone calls while standing in line for attractions at Disney — but have enjoyed the flexibility to take extra vacation days! There are pros and cons to everything in life. We know our kids might not end up as entrepreneurs, but we are happy that we’ve modeled having a passion for your work. Our kids know that we have worked hard and loved our work, but never at their expense. Family has always come first for us and has always been our priority. 

What is your advice to mothers who want to start businesses? 

Make sure you have a great support system! As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a tribe. The saying also applies to running a business. We have been blessed with a great extended family, plus friends and child care to help us pull it all together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and cut yourself some slack. Be in tune with how your child is feeling. When your kids need some extra mom time, give it to them. Take the day off, pull them out of school, and do a special activity together, or even bring them to your office! Including our kids in every aspect of our business has helped them feel connected to the brand. 


Sharon Duke Estroff

CEO/Founder, Challenge Island

Sharon Duke Estroff raised her kids as she was growing Challenge Island, a STEM-based enrichment program franchise. She has grown the brand to more than 125 locations.

Success is the result of very, very hard work. Nothing in life comes easily, but the hard work is well worth it!

Sharon Duke Estroff

What has your experience as a franchise founder meant to you as a mom?

Challenge Island has allowed me to be the best mom I can be. I started Challenge Island after the birth of my fourth child during what I call my Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde phase. By day, I was a cool-as-a-cucumber teacher. I was even voted “Best Teacher in Atlanta” by a major Atlanta publication. But by night, I was a maternal tossed salad, too exhausted to help my own kids with their homework! I knew it was time for a career change, so I launched Challenge Island, finally achieving work-life balance and effectively reducing Mrs. Hyde’s nightly appearances to brief cameo status! I had a hunch other moms (and dads) could also benefit from the Challenge Island business model, and I was right! Today we have 125 locations and have been recognized as a leader in the industry. We have received many accolades through the years, including Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 every year from 2018 to 2021, as well as all of Entrepreneur Magazine’s other prestigious lists including Fastest Growing, Top Low Cost, and Top Global franchises.

Challenge Island founder Sharon Estroff launched the business after the birth of her fourth child.


What do you want to teach your children about entrepreneurship?

I want to teach my children that you are in control of your own destiny and when life throws you curve balls (i.e., 2020), be a Challenge Island palm tree — bending your trunk in the storm rather than breaking. I also want them to recognize that success is the result of very, very hard work.  Nothing in life comes easily, but the hard work is well worth it!


What is your advice to mothers who want to start businesses?

You absolutely can have it all! And my words to live by: Never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides. Even though other moms might appear to have it all together, we are all Mrs. Hyde some days, and our kids will love us anyway!

Ruth Agbaji

CEO & Nerd In Chief, Code Wiz Franchising

Launching Code Wiz gave Ruth Agbaji the flexibility she wanted in her schedule.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, I want my children to believe that they can do anything they set their minds to, not to be afraid of hard work, and to understand that it’s OK to fail.

Ruth Agbaji

What has your experience as a franchise founder meant to you as a mom?

It means I get to set a foundation that my children can build on. I get to show them that women can be just as accomplished as men. I get to inspire other moms to pursue their dreams and be the best versions of themselves. Even though I am incredibly busy, I get to set my schedule and be present with my kids. One of my biggest reasons for going into business was flexibility for my family. My son was always in and out of the doctor’s office, and I wanted to be there for him but, at the same time, hit goals that I had set for myself. Going into business was the solution for me. We all hang out and cuddle while mom replies to email number 200, but we’re together, and that makes me feel fulfilled! Through the height of COVID during remote school, it was an incredibly stressful time for the business and the kids. Still, the flexibility of owning my own business allowed me to be able to handle both with as much grace as I could muster.  

What do you want to teach your children about entrepreneurship?

When it comes to entrepreneurship, I want my children to believe that they can do anything they set their minds to, not be afraid of hard work, and understand that it’s OK to fail. The most important thing is that they tried, learned something from their failure, and improved. In my daughter’s class, her teacher asked her to list three things about herself. The first thing she wrote down was, “I never give up,” and to me, that’s the essence of entrepreneurship — grit and perseverance. She has learned that lesson by watching her mom try and never give up. Whether she chooses to be an entrepreneur or not, that grit and perseverance will serve her all through life!

What is your advice to mothers who want to start businesses?

Don’t go into business thinking it’s going to be easy. It’s hard, and it’s a lot of work, even more so because you have kids! But hard is not impossible, hard is doable, hard is “figureoutable”! You will often question your decision to go into business, so you must dig deep and figure out your WHY before you jump in. Why do you want to go into business? Why would this business satisfy your needs? Why do you think you’d be happier if you pursue this business? Your why becomes your northern star, the thing that keeps you going when you don’t feel like going anymore. You will inevitably get discouraged, flat-out exhausted, and feel a lot of mom guilt, but keeping your why front and center will help you stay focused on achieving your goals! You got this, mama!

Laura Coe

CEO and Founder, Snapology LLC

Laura Coe founded Snapology out of love for her children and a desire to get them involved in enrichment activities.

My best advice is to do what you love. A happy mom is a good mom.

Laura Coe
What has your experience as a franchise founder meant to you as a mom?
Everything! My sister and I started Snapology because we found a lack of non-athletic activities in our area, particularly for elementary-aged boys. My boys were 5 and 6 when we founded Snapology, and I was really struggling to find fun, social programs for them. Given my oldest’s son’s love of LEGO bricks and building toys, Snapology was born truly out of love for my children and a desire to get them involved in enrichment activities that they would enjoy. Snapology has not only provided this academic and social outlet for my children, but it also has allowed me to have a flexible schedule to be fully engaged in raising them. Snapology has allowed me to be a better mom and has strengthened my relationship with my boys.

What have you taught your children about entrepreneurship? 
Both of my boys have helped with the business since its beginning and really seem to have a knack for entrepreneurship. It’s amazing how much my children have learned about all aspects of business ownership over the years. My oldest son will be off to Kent State’s Business Entrepreneurial program this coming fall. I couldn’t be prouder of both of my boys.

What is your advice to mothers who want to start businesses? 
My best advice is to do what you love. A happy mom is a good mom. I love what I do, and my children see that. My excitement about owning my own business shines through to them and, although it does require long hours, I love what I’m doing, and it never feels like work. When you start a business, you want to start an adventure you are passionate about — you don’t want to buy yourself a new job. Your kids will see your passion and emulate it. 

Susan Caldwell

Franchisor and CEO, Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios

Flour Power founder Susan Caldwell has taught her children that being your own boss comes with many rewards.

With determination, organization skills, and the drive to be successful, the sky truly is the limit!

Susan Caldwell

What has your experience as a franchise founder meant to you as a mom?

Being a company founder or “Mompreneur” as we call it in our house, has allowed me the freedom to be a mom and a successful business leader at the same time. It also has allowed me to set the right example for my children to follow as they grow and make life choices. You can truly accomplish anything you wish for, with hard work and vision.

What have you taught your children about entrepreneurship? 

Both of my children grew up with a third sibling named “Flour Power.” It has always been part of their lives as long as they can remember. They’ve learned that “being your own boss” comes with many rewards which have been a result of a lot of hard work.

What is your advice to mothers who want to start businesses? 

I work with moms every day who own Flour Power franchises and they have one trait in common… determination! They are determined to make their studio and small business a success while still being a dedicated mom. With determination, organization skills, and the drive to be successful, the sky truly is the limit!

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