If there’s one battle military spouses are losing, it’s the struggle to find a community of like-minded business owners. That’s one reason why co-founders Flossie Hall and Moni Jefferson hatched the idea for the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE) in summer 2019.
“It’s about a need for that one-on-one,” says Hall, a Navy spouse herself. “I’m always hearing, I don't want to Google it, I don't want to find it, I don't want to read it, I just want to ask someone my questions. For us, we would love for AMSE to be a community hub for all the things that military spouses need, period.”
Both co-founders recognized the profound need for such a hub after witnessing a familiar cycle in the military spouse community: As families rotate to a new duty station every few years, spouses accrue dreaded resume gaps that make it difficult to land a job at all, much less one that matches their qualifications. It’s not long before they’re contributing to military spouses’s reputation as a group with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation – roughly 24 percent.
Jefferson, an active duty Air Force spouse, says she found herself in this situation about five years ago when she had trouble getting the type of work she wanted as she moved around. “I just decided to start my own business,” she says, going on to launch her own virtual PR agency. After a similar experience, Hall started a meal delivery service called Healthy Momma. But that independence only solved one problem for each spouse as they quickly discovered how the military lifestyle compounds many already difficult tasks of starting a business.
“We're not always plugged into our community, we don't know what resources are out in town, we don't know the CEOs or business owners down the street, we don't know that there's a startup week that goes on every year in October,” Hall explains. “We don't know all of those things, and when things go wrong in our business, we don't have a grandma nearby who can come take care of the kids while our spouse is deployed.”
These are the situations AMSE is designed to address. After meeting via social media, the duo developed the concept for an online community where fellow military spouses could connect with the education, networking, mentorship opportunities, and other resources they require. Perhaps more importantly, Hall and Jefferson want military spouses to lean on one another’s expertise to help start successful, independent businesses.
“We're saying there's another option for you: Work for yourself – here's how you do it,” Jefferson says. “Let's find your skills, let's teach you how to do it. We're just getting really loud that this is an option.”
So far, both founders say the response has been overwhelming, with more than a thousand military spouses expressing interest pre-launch – a huge number given the hyper-specific demographic they’re targeting. With a launch targeted for November, they’re focused on getting AMSE off the ground, connecting spouses with resources, and creating a community for their peers.
“Whether it's moving, your child going through adjustment issues, or you aren't sure about your taxes for your new business, we know your lifestyle inside and out,” Hall says. “We're going to help you as a community and point you to the best things.”