Cecilie Hammelev-Wethje: Mompreneurship & Oko Boks
Mompreneurship & Oko Boks!
Moms in Denmark prefer a full-time job over launching their own business while moms in the U.S. dream of launching their own business to leave their full-time job. These contrasting preferences were part of the findings Cecilie Hammelev-Wethje made while working on her Master's thesis.
The 25-year old mom and owner of Oko Boks, an online baby gift shop based out of Glendale, CA, was living in Denmark and working on her thesis on Mompreneurship while raising her daughter.
She was also preparing for a permanent move to the United States that would happen upon completion of her post-graduate degree.
“I was looking into what I wanted to do here,” recalls Cecilie. “I found it really tough for me coming from a completely different corporate culture and social culture, where moms are treated a little bit different.”
Cecilie had interviewed moms in both countries and learned women tend to gravitate toward a placement in society that will yield the most benefit to their children, she says.
In Denmark, that means keeping a corporate job, where salaries are generous and Maternity Leave is a 12-month paid benefit. Additionally, moms in Denmark receive other incentives after returning to work, like a quarterly income in addition to their regular pay, for expenses related to raising a child, says Cecilie.
In the United States, on the other hand, she learned a mom is usually pressured to return to work after only 3-months of guaranteed protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Childcare expenses usually take up a large portion of salaries. In many cases, the commute to work, the cost of living and the stress involved with balancing a nine-to-five and motherhood, motivates women to leave the workforce in hopes of spending more time with their kids and creating a business that will turn profitable.
“Here, it’s actually more appealing to become an entrepreneur even though its tougher, and you have no benefits,“ she concluded.
Her findings and her desire to promote the simple and minimalist style of Scandinavia, influenced Cecilie to create Oko Boks upon moving to the U.S.
Oko Boks which means “Organic Box,” is an online store that offers carefully curated baby gifts and gift boxes. If you visit her shop, you will be greeted by a charming and gender-neutral assortment of goods for baby and even a few items for new moms. Each item has been carefully selected and is organic, natural and non-toxic.
“This is really my own sensibility. It’s stuff that I adore and love. It’s about finding nice textures and colors. I didn’t grow up with a lot…but I took that sensibility with style and my mom showed me it was better to have one good thing than thirty bad things.”
One of the offerings on Oko Boks is a perfectly crafted light yellow rubber duck. It’s a soft and malleable toy, hand-painted with natural plant pigments. The design prevents mold and bacteria from accumulating in cracks and holes making it very hygienic.
“We’re getting a lot of great feedback. I think people really like calming colors. I want it to be a happy, calm universe,“ says Cecilie.
As Cecilie demonstrates the numerous items she sells online, she smiles as she describes each one. The young mom, whose daughter just started preschool, also projects a type of contentment that comes when a person is doing something they love.
“I want my products to be part of your happiness and experience as a mother,” she says.
Her husband has supported her entrepreneurial initiative and even if business didn’t turn out as planned, Cecilie isn’t concerned.
“Sometimes it’s more about the process than the result. Even if you fail, you still learned a lot and you’re going to use that lesson the rest of your life,” she says. Any lesson, is a lesson learned.”
Connect With Cecilie & her company!
Mommy In Los Angeles® spent some time visiting with Cecilie and learning about her business and featured products. Her graduate studies in Mompreneurship and her outlook on business as a life lesson made the interview inspiring and encouraging. We wish Cecilie the very best and look forward to continue seeing her business grow!