Emily McKhann, The Motherhood, Woman Entrepreneur
I met Emily a few years back and every time I see her, we seem to talk forever. She is charming, engaging, interesting and super smart. I wanted to piece together how she got to the launching of the Motherhood. We finally got together this past week for breakfast. Definitely not enough time to talk but that always seems the case when we get going.
Emily grew up in Baltimore. A middle child between two older brothers and two younger brothers. An interesting spot as someone pointed out to her once that she is actually a single child because being the only girl in the family is an interesting dynamic when there are four other boys. She grew up traveling. Her family eked out every day they could to explore and live in different places. They would leave the minute school ended and return the day before. Her Grandparents were in the foreign service and so that desire to see the world continued for her parents. That exploration definitely made an impact on Emily.
Emily went to Kenyon College. She spent ther junior year in Tel Aviv working for the embassy where she arrived about a week before the 1982 Lebanon war. Bombs were literally bursting in the air but she stayed put and finished her year making it an incredible experience to say the least.
After graduating from college, she moved to Japan for a year. Her honors professor told her about a program that had just been launched called the Mombusho fellows, now called the Jet Program. You are hired by the Japanese Department of Education which is located in Tokyo. Taking English for eight years was part of the Japanese curriculum and although the kids could read and write English beautifully they couldn't speak it. This program was designed to bring in American college graduates for a year to help pivot the program so that the Japanese students would be able to converse in English. Emily was sent to islands in Japan that had never seen an American before or anyone outside their community. The program has changed over the years but this was the original one and she was there in 1983/1984.
She returned to the states and was hired by a PR firm located in DC. She lived there a few years and then was moved to Dallas where she opened up their offices. Eight years of corporate PR. What came out of this job were a variety of relationships. She struck up a friendship with the CEO of Frito Lay who was involved in the Dallas International Group. The idea was to make Dallas a more international city. This was in the early 90's. Emily became part of that group which was an entrepreneurial experience. She was involved by being the executive director of this economic development platform.
Dinkins was made the mayor of NYC and they were looking for someone to head up the International initiative in NYC too. Her name came up as the perfect person to becoming the acting Commissioner for the United Nations and Consulate Corp.
All interesting jobs but it was time to go out on her own. Emily launched the McKhann Group and many of her past clients came to her. Her first hire was Cooper Munroe who eventually becomes her partners in The Motherhood.
Emily's best friend was a woman name Erin Kramp. Erin introduced Emily to her husband Andy. Such a good friend that both of them were dating someone else and she told each of them that they should not be dating those people but should meet each other. Emily gets married and is going through infertility hell and then Erin gets cancer. She took a step back as life had just changed. She and Erin wrote a book together called Living with the End in Mind. They were on Oprah and the book was a huge success but in the end she lost her best friend. She realized that life is too short and she needed to do something meaningful. To start, she decided to start focusing on herself by taking half an hour a day just to do her own thing guilt free It wasn't easy but it was very instructive. Losing her friend was life changing. Her thoughts were as a woman we take care of everyone else and it was time to take a step back and look at the bigger scheme.
Cooper and Emily started a blog called Been There. They were one of the first women bloggers. It was 2004. Funny enough Emily remembers reading my blog and finding me because I was one of the only women blogging too. They were loving Been There and then in 2005 their platform became something else because of Katrina. They were both so upset about what was happening in New Orleans they reached out to their readers and asked them to help people by sending packages to temporary addresses, speaking to other women on the ground who needed certain things. Their site became viral. Mothers connecting to Mothers around an epic tragedy. A group in Chicago contacted them and had so many items show up in their front lawn to bring down to Louisiana that they had to hire an 18-wheeler to bring the goods down and FEMA actually gave them a special compensation for their costs. Beauty salons that were destroyed were sent old equipment from beauty salons that had just renovated, hundreds of Macs were sent and more. Bush got on air and said that efforts were stalled but they weren't in Emily's world.
What they were seeing is that the Internet was changing the way that people connect to each other. The web creates a one on one connection with individuals around niche events or even large events. Originally Emily and Cooper wanted to write an interactive book to be the platform launching a chapter a month and they still might but it was the Motherhood where they then channeled their energies. The Motherhood is where community comes first and this particular community is around women.
Emily has a serious amount of energy and bravado. She has found a place where she can seriously make a difference. Emily has shown us that one of the beautiful things about being an entrepreneur, a mother and woman is that life is ever evolving and keep your eyes open to that evolution. She took lemons and made lemonade. The Motherhood is a place where life chats happen around serious conversations that women want to dive into and share with others from kids with allergies to recipes to jobs to ideas. Look for the Motherhood to be bigger and bolder in the months go come.