Main Line Parent: Our Story of Building Community
Main Line Parent Founder and CEO of Family Focus Media, Sarah Bond shares how her passion for building a village resulted in running a company of creative women who publish two local family lifestyle magazines.
I was eight months pregnant with my first baby, thinking to myself, “It’s OK! I’m OK. Just think, this will be like a paid maternity leave with the severance package. I can even extend it a little longer if I want. I can get organized and be super-ready for the baby… take time to take care of myself, draw, paint… and maybe I’ll pick up some freelance marketing clients. I will be okay. Everything is fine.”
I’d just been informed that my company was merging with a competitor who had Marketing Directors in New York, London, and Australia. I was pretty sure that they were not going to have room for the Bala Cynwyd Senior Marketing Manager. This was not the “working mom” roadmap I had laid out with my boss months ago.
Fast-forward five months.
I was looking for my village, but hadn’t found it. One example: I went to one of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s “Going Gaga” movies and was the only one there with a baby! I had met a couple moms in my neighborhood, and a couple more at a Mommy-and-Me class at the Yoga Garden in Narberth, but we hadn’t really connected beyond our polite greeting/farewells in passing. But our yoga teacher, Gina Ferragame, had created this little Facebook Group for our class, which I LOVED because it helped me connect names with faces when I saw them in person. So, as I sipped my tea, I decided to make my own group, which I called “Main Line Moms with Little Ones.”
I added the four moms I knew — and within minutes, there were a dozen requests to join. Friends of friends must have seen notifications of this new group and soon I had approved 50. And then 100. And more kept coming!
I sat back and said to my husband that night, “This is it! Everyone feels like I do – we’re all looking to connect, find friends, and build a village around us. No one is connecting us with the resources, events, and each other. I bet I can build a business around this! This is going to be my THING!”
So the group kept growing, and I was thinking big: I started planning events to bring the group members together in person. We had an afternoon social at Barnes and Noble, then our first Mom’s Night Out, where 20 strangers showed up, bonded, and left with some GREAT new friends. I hosted coffees and lunches and recruited strangers with babies and young children to join us at every turn. Every connection I made felt like a deep breath of fresh air. (I hadn’t realized how much the loneliness of being a new mom felt like I was drowning.)
Next, I taught myself to build a WordPress website and started publishing articles, based on my experiences, and those of group members. I positioned the site as a digital magazine, thinking in a far-off way that it would be a dream to eventually publish a printed magazine. I developed a weekly newsletter, covering local family-friendly events and a roundup of the recent articles I had published as well as interesting conversations from the Facebook group.
I secured my first partners and sponsors, was planning small events, and publishing fresh content each week when I got the itch to do something BIG to give back to the community. I decided to build a benefit for The Birth Center (now Lifecycle WomanCare) to raise money for their Breastfeeding Support Group to replace a grant that hadn’t been renewed. I called it “Mom’s Night Out for Mother’s Day.”
My ambitious entrepreneurial spirit took the reins as I told my friends, “We’re going to need to have a printed program anyway! Why not make a MAGAZINE in PRINT for the event?!” I researched and brainstormed and planned to my heart’s content. I rebranded “Main Line Moms with Little Ones” as “Main Line Parent.” I made a plan to find enough sponsors to pay for the first print bill and tapped my network to interview and photograph compelling stories about local resources for families. (I met my best friend Pamela Badolato, around this time: she wrote an article on the best summer camps and activities for the first issue and then helped me with every aspect of growing our brand, connecting with our community, and achieving our goals.)
Somehow, we got it all together in the event, which became the Main Line Parent magazine launch party!
We entertained over 100 women with a fashion show and silent auction, raised $5,000 for the Birth Center, and successfully launched our magazine at this event. It was a great night — and attendees kept asking, “When’s the next issue?!” I knew it was time for more of a team.
We pulled off issue after issue, event after event, we raised awareness about local charities and non-profit organizations in need with food drives for the local pantry and sock drives for the homeless. We connected parents with birthday party resources, hosted the ultimate birthday cake bakeoff, and our first Early Childhood Education Fair. I had my son within the next month.
As my network grew, I started to hear from more families in the city who loved what we were doing and saw a need for a separate publication to serve parents in Philly. The first issue of Philadelphia Family debuted in September 2013.
Our events, magazines, website, guides, and email newsletters have evolved with time, and our team has evolved too, as my friends and colleagues “went back” to work or found new ventures to pursue. Today we have an amazing team of eight creative local women who pool their talents to do amazing things! Our Facebook groups now connect over 26,000 local families every day. My kids are now 7 and 9 years old — in first and third grades.
My favorite part of my job is working with the talented women on my team to create informative art that connects moms and dads to their community. I love helping my clients grow and each success story fuels my drive to raise the bar on our products and services. I love the roots that my business has given my family to our area. I love celebrating the BEST local businesses dedicated to making raising kids around the Main Line easier and more fun with our LOVE Awards.
I would like to invite YOU to join our team May 2nd for our Community Party and LOVE Awards Celebration!
You nominated, you voted, now come out to celebrate with your winners! Join Main Line Parent and Philadelphia Family Magazines’ team for our annual Community Party and LOVE Awards Celebration in recognition of the best local resources for raising a family in Philly and around the Main Line. This year we will also recognize nine outstanding Parents of the Year to honor some very special individuals who exemplify the village and community spirit we work to celebrate.
This evening of networking, mingling, and awards will also raise money to benefit Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia, the local non-profit organization dedicated to make life better for 300,000 children in Greater Philadelphia who live in poverty. Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia was selected by our readers as the sole beneficiary of our event raffle. If you would like to donate goods or services for our raffle to support Cradles to Crayons, please complete this Donation form!
Lead photography by Abbe Foreman Photography.