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Behind Mama's Happy: A conversation with Amanda Ficek (Part 2)

As Amanda tells me her story, my fingers flick against the laptop keys. I can’t help but think her story foreshadows my own. My husband and I have been talking about moving out of the city. I’ve been dreaming about quitting my job and committing fully to my business. Was this a fluke that we are meeting? Today?

As she goes on, I think: This was no coincidence.

The Ficeks continued renting their hobby farm for another year, while they remodeled the upper level of the store to fit their family.

“Every kid has their own bedroom. We even have three bathrooms,” Amanda says. “We have everything we need.”

In the meantime, Mama’s Happy – which functions like a co-op – opened its doors in its new location. As Amanda talks, goose bumps prick up and down my arms.

“It was a Wednesday night, the opening night in our new space,” she says. “I bought a ton of wine and food. I was so hopeful that our store would be full, but in reality, I wondered if anyone would come.”

She says she prepped her saleswomen for the worst.

“I told the girls, ‘If nobody shows up, we’ll just drink all the wine and have a big ol’ sleepover!’”

Amanda ran home – to her rented hobby farm – to shower. On her way back to the store, she noticed the neighbors were having a party.

“I was so annoyed,” she says. “I told the neighbors there might be extra cars around the shop. Couldn’t they have asked their guests to park somewhere else?”

But, as she got closer to the shop, she realized the cars didn’t belong to neighbors having a party. They were customers, anxious to see – and support – the new Mama’s Happy.

“I sat right down on the floor in the middle of the store and cried,” she says, getting teary-eyed, even now, a few years later.

She’s gotten the same overwhelming support and excitement from her three other shops she’s opened since – these are open all week – in Stillwater, St. Louis Park and on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

And as a mom? She says she’s still figuring out a balance. But, working and living in the same building helps. So does limiting your standards.

“I hardly ever make dinners. I don’t enjoy cooking, so I let go of that,” she says. “My kids will turn out okay. You can still be a really good mom, even if most of the meals you serve are frozen.”

As for me and my husband? We decided to follow Amanda’s advice and stop being afraid. We are moving to a small town where Eric can work as a principal of a small school – his dream. And in the meantime, I’m working on my own dream. Building Mill City Creative and being the best momma and wife I can be.

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