"Motherhood Made Me Boss" | Cara Delzer

Amidst phones buzzing, keyboards clicking, and prototypes printing, sits Cara Delzer, calmly poised at her desk, sipping iced coffee and orchestrating the daily happenings at her office in San Francisco. Seated in a studio, surrounded by a tight-knit team, Cara’s workplace resembles your typical startup scene. But a quick peek in her bag will unveil the many roles she holds. Amidst the laptop tucked in her bag’s sleeve, there’s also 3 broken crayons and an empty Paw Patrol Pez dispenser-- all tools of the trade for Moxxly's CEO & Co-Founder and mother of two.

 Cara Delzer, Moxxly's CEO & Co-Founder + Sullivan & Magdalena's mama

Cara Delzer, Moxxly's CEO & Co-Founder + Sullivan & Magdalena's mama

Why did you co-found Moxxly?

I was working at eBay when I had my first baby. I returned after maternity leave and found the mode switching between working and pumping to be utterly demoralizing. I’d leave meetings on a high, knowing I’d nailed a presentation and then just thirty seconds later, I was in dimly-lit mothers room, hunched over, shirt off, and feeling like a cow. I wanted to change that feeling -- for myself and others.

Did you ever think about scaling back or quitting your work when you became a mom?

Quite the opposite! I made a huge career change during my firstborn's first year when I realized the time was now to pursue my dreams of being an entrepreneur. It suddenly became super important that I was trading time with my family for work I’m truly passionate about. It was a more difficult path to take, but I felt driven to create meaning in my career in a whole new way.

What was the best advice you were given about motherhood?

My aunt reminded me to trust myself: “You’re the expert of this baby. You know him better than anyone else.” That moment crystalized for me how boss motherhood is. 

Name a woman you admire.

My mother is my hero. She harmonized her career with motherhood so beautifully. And she’s so tough-- this is a woman who worked every day through months of daily breast cancer treatments. “It’s only cancer,” she’d say, with a dismissive wave of her hand. Her perseverance, optimism, and casserole recipes now fuel me, too.

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How has motherhood influenced the way you lead?

Motherhood has given me both confidence and urgency -- critical traits for leaders. I’ve been entrusted to raise humans -- what could be scarier than that? This gave me confidence to see that suddenly my other life goals didn’t seem so intimidating. The sense of urgency came from the visible passage of time on an infant. Forget the “someday, I want to start a company…” -- I realized I had to make my entrepreneurial dream a reality now.

How has leadership changed the way you parent?

Leadership helps me bring more empathy and creativity to my parenting. Just as my colleagues possess unique talents, perspectives, and motivations, so do my kids. What makes them light up? 

What is your support system?

It takes a village to support a working mother! At home, I’ve got my husband who is a wonderful partner and co-parent and my nanny who is amazing with the kids. At work, I’ve got colleagues who are understanding when I have to accommodate my kids’ schedules. In life, more generally, I feel so lucky to have a diverse group of friends, advisors, family, and mentors who cheer me on… or push me forward, depending on what I need. 

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What’s a proud mom moment?

Recently my son said to the Amazon Echo: “Alexa, please play The Gambler… Thank you.” I’ve been drilling the importance of manners (and good music!) into my children since birth, so when they're kind to others -- even inanimate objects!-- I start to see the payoff of years of repetition and coaching. 

What makes you boss?

Motherhood has made me unflappable as a leader. Case in point -- last December, four days before Christmas, I was leading a board conference call when I got a text from the nanny saying my daughter had lice. Over the course of the board call, I realized, with mounting panic, that I also had lice -- but had to keep leading the discussion! You all know what the last working week of the year looks like already and to add being a public health pariah to the top of the list -- ugh. But if I’ve learned one thing from my dual roles as CEO and mother, it’s to expect the unexpected. With a deep breath (and a head scratch!), I booked a lice removal service, moved some meetings around, and just dealt with the new obstacle. We were critter free by Christmas and my work and sleep schedule was only slightly worse for the wear.  I think this story -- though admittedly disgusting -- is a good example of what working motherhood looks like. Work and life are so intertwined; you’ve just got to be creative in the ways you fit all the priorities into a day.

 

Beyond the daily to-do list, Cara has her sights set on her long-term vision: to grow the Moxxly brand with a suite of products for modern women and to raise children who chase their dreams with tenacity -- and kindness, of course. But, for now, as the interview ends, she makes another iced coffee and dives back into her email.