Qualifying as a CoVa Mom Role Model candidate takes hard work, a challenge Theresa Ceniccola accepts every single day. She is a marketing strategist and writer, president and founder of the International Christian Mompreneur Network, vice president/chief operating officer at Red Orange Studio and a wife and mom. Is she superhuman? Her family, friends, associates and clients may think so. But to Ceniccola, balancing home and work life is simply a matter of setting priorities, being passionate about what you do and getting the job done.
“Women who are running a business or working from home and have kids are not necessarily doing it all,” she says. “It might look like we are, but there are other things in your life that give when you decide that you’re going to run a business and raise a family at the same time. I’ve got dirty dishes in the sink and laundry that’s not done as opposed to a stay-at-home mom’s house that’s going to be spectacularly clean, and I might not have the social life like a working mom because I choose to be a little bit isolated. So, I would encourage women to not look at me or anyone else as supermom or doing it all because we’re not. We’re making choices just like everybody else. They just look a little different. You have to have your priorities. I’m sure there are people who might look at my life and think that I’m missing out on certain things. Sure, I’d like to go off at 10 in the morning and have coffee with the ladies in the neighborhood, take off and go to the beach with my kids and other things, but I generally don’t. I don’t want to say I can’t, but I don’t do that because I do have different priorities.”
For Ceniccola, it all started with a blog. Originally from Pennsylvania, she followed her future husband down to Virginia Beach four years after graduating from college. She initially looked for full-time work in an office setting but ended up gaining a steady roster of freelance work instead. “Most of my friends and family were not even on the Internet or had email or personal computers at the time, so working from home was really isolating,” she explains.“I had clients where I would work on their site for the day or something like that, but I was home-based, and it got to be a little bit lonely. So I started writing about it and blogging about it and connected with other women who were doing the same thing. And it was really validating for me because all of a sudden, I was meeting women in Minnesota, South Carolina, California and New York who were doing the same thing and feeling the same way. At that point, my personal blog took on a new direction and became this network or community for women who were predominantly working from home and were raising a family at the same time to share business tips and talk different issues. We were a community of women who value faith, family and business, in that order. That’s kind of how we got started.” That blog can be found at ICMNetwork.com—“I” for International, “C” for Christian, “M” for Mompreneur.
Joining Red Orange Studio was just a natural progression from her freelance work, merging her marketing consulting company with them in January of this year. “Susie Fife, who is the owner of Red Orange Studio, was a colleague and friend of mine, and we had a lot of shared clients,” says Ceniccola.“Her team does marketing design, and I did marketing strategy and copywriting, so we both fit together really nicely. Officially I’m the COO, which means I get to make sure everybody is organized, and I pay attention to processes and numbers and things like that. I also work in account management, working directly with our retainer clients and a lot of our larger clients, including those in Coastal Virginia. It was really a way to better serve our clients here since Red Orange in based in Richmond.”
Photo by Amy Sandoval Photography
She offers sage advice for others seeking to balance a career with family. “Women looking for balance need to decide what that looks like for ourselves and not to conform to anyone else’s idea of it,“ she says. “Some people feel that working from home is working 40–60 hours a week, and others feel like it’s squeezing in a sales call, a meeting or whatever while the kids are napping. But whatever your definition of it is, it’s fine. If it works for you and your family, go for it. Working from home looks very different for every person, and that’s the great thing about it.”