People often ask me what it’s like to start a company and have two tiny humans under the age of 3. The simple answer… it’s a roller coaster! Some days I feel like a superhero who’s somehow managed to keep the kids alive, move the business forward and maybe even sneak in some time with my husband or myself but other days I think to myself- ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ The reality is it’s crazy hard. I say that not for pity or because I’m a martyr but because being a working mom is really hard- and hard is worth talking about. As a mom, an entrepreneur, an advocate, and a trailblazer, Danielle totally gets just how hard the juggle really is. Our chat reminded me how we’re all just putting one foot in front of the other trying to make it through or as she shared… we just keep swimming like Dory. She’s got a ton on her plate right now but her humor and positive attitude got me fired up and ready for another day.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
Want to know the hardest way to host a radio show? Launch a new station from scratch. Sound crazy? No, what’s really crazy is that in 2019 there wasn’t a single female Black-owned radio station in greater Boston. Ownership matters, airtime matters. And it matters to Danielle Johnson. During Covid, this single mom launched into entrepreneurship with Spark FM, a digital radio station bringing Urban and Caribbean music to residents of New England. At home she’s mom to an 8-year old with ADHD navigating remote learning, and somehow she still manages to carve out time for Girls Radio, a non-profit dedicated to mentoring and empowering young women in Dorchester through radio and other media.
What inspired you to start Spark FM?
Spark FM is my love project. I’ve been working in media broadcasting for the last decade and after my last stint on radio ended pretty badly, I wondered- what would happen if I started my own radio station? We see that there are very few women in ownership. There are also very few minorities in ownership and I wanted to fix that. Especially in Boston- where we have heard time and time again that it’s one of the most racist cities in the country. So, creating black owned media that was directly targeting and marketed to serve the the Black community was a goal of mine. So far, it’s been quite the journey, but we are getting there and we’re making some really great headway. Spark FM is an independently owned digital radio station that serves the urban and Caribbean communities in the New England area.
Tell me about your son!
I have an eight-year-old boy. His name is Cornell and he is both the love of my life and my greatest struggle. Any mom can tell you that parenting is such a rewarding experience, but I don’t think that we talk enough about the challenges that we go through each day. In entrepreneurship the day to day is a lot, but then you’re also responsible for nurturing a child. My son has ADHD and he is on the scale of super energetic. It takes a lot to just get through day-to-day while I’m making sure that that I am carrying out my life goals.
So how do you make the juggle work?
One of the most frequent questions I get is- how do you balance it all? There is no balance. Some days your business falls by the wayside and other days, you’re like damn it- I didn’t feed the child yet. Breakfast is in the toaster oven and he still hasn’t eaten it. As if it weren’t hard enough to be juggling all of those pieces, now I have the added responsibility of wearing the hat of teacher. As parents, we often have to adjust. It’s not like you can just decide to quit. I mean you can quit your job and try to figure out how to survive but you can’t really quit your kids.
What do you do for self-care?
I allocate Saturday to self-care Saturdays. It’s usually when CK sees his dad because he takes him on the weekends. So during that time, to be honest with you, I binge watch TV and take naps. I sit on the couch. I put on Netflix, find something to eat, and I don’t move for very many hours. I try not to schedule anything for those days. I also like to hang out with my friends and drink copious amounts of wine.
What advice do you have for your pre-mom self?
Your kids are literally going to be your greatest learning experience. At my baby shower someone told me, ‘God writes your babies handbook in your heart’. At the time I didn’t know what they meant, but now I totally get it. You always are going to learn so much from your child. And also- just keep swimming. I’m a huge Finding Nemo fan. You will get through any challenge that you face taking one day at a time.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.
Read more from Bridget, follow her on IG, and check out her new series, Work Like a Mother.