Some years ago we interviewed Candice (*original interview to follow), a US-citizen who was living in Munich at the time, where she had founded Munich Mommies, a space where children of all nationalities meet and play in English. Candice went back to the States, but Munich Mommies is healthy and sound thanks to Zoe Kostaver, a British-French lady who took over the association. We thank her for talking to us about this beautiful project.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what took you to Munich, what is your professional background…
I grew up in the UK in a bilingual family – French Mother, English father – and studied at university in Wales. After graduation, I worked in sales in London and then joined a multi-lingual recruitment consultancy. I worked as a consultant in London, recruiting staff for international companies and then was chosen as part of the start up team to launch the company in Paris. I worked in Paris for 8 years, eventually becoming the manager of the Paris office which was an amazing experience and I enjoyed it very much. During this time I met my Russian husband and he was given the opportunity of moving to Germany so we decided to move to Munich. I gave up my job to look after our baby boy and have since had 2 other children. I now run Munich Mommies and am doing an MBA on-line as I hope to return to management one day.
How did you get in touch with Munich Mommies?
When we moved to Munich, I was looking for mother and baby groups to join as we knew very few people and I wanted to get out and about. My German language was non-existent (although I did start taking lessons) so it was important for me to find an English group. I found a Munich Mommies advert in an expat magazine and decided to give them a try. From the very beginning, my son and I enjoyed the group very much and met loads of great people. In 2011, Candice, the owner and founder of MM, decided to sell it. She had moved back to the States and her friend Georgia who was running it for her in Munich was going back to full time employment. I really wanted MM to carry on and thought it would also be a great project for me to do alongside (and combining with) the MBA, so my husband and I invested in it!
How is the project doing today?
Munhckins is doing great. We have very good regular attendance and new members joining all the time. It is important that I keep advertising and making people aware of our existence because the expat community changes all the time. I have made a few small changes since taking over but generally the format remains the same as it seems to work. I enjoy running the group very much, I can take my kids along and I get to meet lots of wonderful families from all over the world. We currently have members from the UK, France, US, Japan, Australia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, India, Pakistan, Germany, Italy and Spain to name but a few! I would like to expand and develop Munich Mommies if possible (when I get the time) and hope that I will be able to include this as part of my MBA project.
Good luck Zoe!
*Original Interview with Candice
Candice is a North American lady married to a German. She travelled in many countries,and was pregnant when arrived in Germany. Since, as she says, “no one wants to hire a pregnant lady”, she decided to start her own organization. This is how Munich Mommies was born. Candice tells us more about it in this interview by Claudiaexpat.
Tell us a bit about you
I am an American, but my husband is German. Over the course of my life, I’ve lived in Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ecuador, England, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, and now Germany. I think you could say that I like to travel (or move a lot). I do
enjoy learning new cultures and languages. It provides a challenge like no other.
I have a BS in Business Administration and an IMBA (International Masters of Business Administration) and have worked previously in Category Management for BI-LO, a grocery retail chain. After having my two children, I did not want to go back to the “rat race” of the business world and started teaching instead.
My son was born in Prague, Czech Republic and I started teaching Marketing and Managerial Accounting to students at the university level. After one year of teaching, we moved to Munich, where my daughter was born. They are now 4 and 2 years old.
I am now planning to return to the US on a permanent basis. I would like to restart my career in Category Management/Grocery Marketing. I’ve spent more money than I have earned. 🙂 Now, I need to go back to work and earn a proper salary.
How did you get the idea of funding Munich Mommies?
To be completely honest, I was bored. I am a career-oriented sort of person. I never imagined staying home and being a full-time mother/housewife. I tried to find outside employment, but nothing ever worked out. I was also not interested in working full-time as I have two
small children and did not want to be away all day, everyday. Therefore, I decided to start my own business since there was such a need for expat, family type of services.
For the last two years, I have been running Mother & Child classes (in English) and have worked with many, many families. One need that families kept asking me for help with was finding good childcare/pre-schools here in
Munich. So, in May, I opened my own daycare/pre-school for children aged 1-3 years old.
Tell us a bit more about Munich Mommies…
It is an organization for Mothers living in Munich, Germany and the surrounding areas. Our primary language is English, however, we are comprised of many different Nationalities (Americans, British, Italians, Greeks, to name a few..) We meet for playtime, family get togethers and parents evenings.
When founding it, have you received financial help or other kind of support from institutions like embassies, trade chambers, etc. ?
A. I fund the organization myself. I do charge small fees for the playgroups and for joining the organization (ie. 15EUR to join – one-time fee). My husband has treated this as one of my “hobbies” since it does cost a considerable amount of time and money to keep it going. Fortunately, he believes in me and what I am doing.
What have been or are the difficulties and the joys of this adventure?
Joys : seeing the children grow and learn, knowing that I make a difference in the lives of so many children and mothers, running my own business, being my own boss, working the hours that I choose.
Difficulties : never enough money to do what I want to do with the organization, never actually earning much money, understanding Germany’s legal and tax laws, the work seems never-ending, parents can be difficult and often want help for free (which I do provide up to a limit).
What will happen to Munich Mommies now that you leave ?
Munich Mommies will continue even after I leave. Several mothers have offered to take over where I have left off. I would like to see it become an official play center with our own building or facility. I tried to also open a kinderkrippe (daycare/crèche), but there are many obstacles and I do not have the funds to continue.
Thank you very much Candice, and we wish you and Munich Mommies the best for the future!!!
Interview by Claudiaexpat