Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sus Jones, Founder of Companion Midwifery & Fertility Services, located in Lawrence, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a homebirth midwife, I offer prenatal and postpartum care, labor and birth support, and I also do fertility/preconception counseling and at-home intrauterine insemination. I offer individualized care that centers queer and trans folks and supports people seeking embodied and authentic connection while trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy.
My clients lean toward a natural/alternative lifestyle and value trust and connection with their bodies. Some folks choose to work with me because they do not feel safe or validated in a clinic or doctor's office due to their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, body size, or ability. They come to my practice for affirming, trauma-informed, and client-centered care.
Tell us about yourself
I am a queer, trans/non-binary, divorced, single parent. I have two kids that I birthed at home with the support and care of midwives. Though I believe that I have always been queer and trans, it wasn't quite in my awareness through most of my adulthood. I believe that embodied work and somatic healing that I did throughout both my pregnancies and early parenting helped me to start exploring my queerness and gender identity further.
Birthwork is an incredibly gendered field, and I am slowly trying to take up space and help build a representation of the beautiful expansiveness of gender in birthing people and midwives. As I started my own practice, it was important for me to be a safe and affirming place for people who tend to fall through the cracks, not only in the western medical system but also in midwifery care. I see a huge hole in my community, where queer and trans folks don't have many options for affirming family building or birthing options. It's the knowledge that not everyone is safer in a hospital or clinical setting, that depending on a multitude of factors, a person may have to put themselves in harm's way to walk into an institution. They may not be treated with respect and given the quality of care we all deserve. And it's not just "prenatal care" or "fertility work," but it's being seen and heard; it is about walking out of an appointment and feeling more in tune with your body, more empowered and autonomous, and more supported than you did walking in.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I actually forget most of the time that I am a business owner. The work that I do is such a way of life for me. I am very proud of the way my practice reflects my values and feels very authentic to who I am. I'd say my biggest accomplishment has been letting my midwifery practice almost lead the way for my own queerness and gender transition. I was afraid at first to put myself out there so vulnerably and so distinctly, but doing so has definitely laid a solid foundation of openness and trust with my clients.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
By far, the hardest thing for me is being a solo practitioner/business owner and a solo parent. The weight of my responsibility towards my kids and clients can sometimes feel like too much. I pour so much of myself into my practice, and it really feels like an extension of myself. It's difficult to keep the boundaries between work and life, so they regularly leak into each other. Being a midwife is definitely a lifestyle that affects my family. My kids know that every plan I make is usually followed by "if I'm not at a birth." I've had to miss important things and be gone from them for days before, but I think the most difficult part is the stress of managing it all as just one person.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a community or support system. It's so easy to feel like you are in it alone, but chances are that there are folks out there doing something similar. Being able to call on fellow midwives or meet with other trans birth workers has saved me so much stress and heartache!
- Let the work come from your heart. This advice might not be for everyone, but it has been crucial for me to identify my own values and then align my practice with them. I spent too long trying to be the person or midwife for everyone instead of seeing the value in the person and midwife I authentically am. There is so much more richness and depth in my practice from following my heart.
- Nothing has to be perfect or complete! All of life is a work in progress and is constantly changing. I like to permit myself to show up fully, whether in my personal life or practice, knowing that each iteration is an important part of the journey. I wish it were possible to have a perfect final product to put out there and move on, but when your business is centered around people and relationships, it's important to build the space to grow and integrate change. I try to be transparent about my journey and process. I hope that it gives others permission to let go of perfectionism.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I just would like to acknowledge that even though I am a solo business owner, I would not be here without the support of so many folks in my community. Having a web of love and support has made it possible for me to pour my heart into this work of helping families grow in an empowered and interconnected way.