Melissa Ackerman & Brittany Dobslaf
Founders of The Chaotic Commute
Melissa: Mom to 3 boys
Brittany: Mom to 1 boy, 1 girl
Melissa Ackerman and Brittany Dobslaf are the founders of The Chaotic Commute and both work at Produce Alliance, a company that specializes in providing fresh produce category management services including procurement, national distribution, information services, and food safety assurance to food service clients across North America, Canada, the Caribbean, and beyond.
Melissa (President of Produce Alliance) is mom to three amazing boys, ages 7, 4, and 15 months. Brittany (Director of Client Services at Produce Alliance) is mom to a 4-year-old little boy and a 16-month-old girl. It’s safe to say that every day is a new and crazy adventure between working and raising their kids.
"We are so excited that The Chaotic Commute is serving as a way to empower and connect working moms around the country. The truth is that in today’s world, being a working mom is the norm. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reported in 2018 that 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with more than 75 percent employed full-time."
They continue, "we can all agree that being a working mom isn’t easy. Between carpools, sick days, work presentations, client travel, late nights, early mornings, and everything in between, the challenges that come with being a working mom can be downright overwhelming. But we know that they can be plenty rewarding, too, especially when you have the right people in your corner. Our hope is that The Chaotic Commute becomes the place for working moms to go to find those people who will be in your corner, no matter what.
Read our full interview with Melissa & Brittany below, and learn more about The Chaotic Commute at www.chaoticcommute.com.
The Returnity Project: What inspired you to start the Chaotic Commute, and what gave you the courage to start your own business
Melissa & Brittany:
The Chaotic Commute began as a simple idea between the two of us when we each started our families and were looking for others that truly understood and shared the delicate balancing act of being a working mom. Our goal is for The Chaotic Commute to support working moms through shared experiences, ups and downs, and the daily grind. We want it to be a platform and an alliance to help working moms through the tough times, to celebrate the good times, and to remind them that perseverance, determination, and grit will propel them in both their personal and professional lives. It is a place where, as a working mom, you will find that you are not alone; rather, you are surrounded by a community of strong women.
We very much believe that with big risk comes big reward. And that’s why we started The Chaotic Commute. We both work in a male-dominated industry, and we’ve been so excited to see how our colleagues and others have responded to this new adventure that we’ve started. We felt like it was our job to create this powerful community that we hope will continue to inspire working moms for years to come.
TRP: Many of the stories we've shared on The Returnity Project focus on both the challenges and beautiful moments of motherhood; specifically the return to work. What was the return to work like for both of you?
In 2018, we both returned from maternity leave. Melissa had just had her third child and Brittany had just had her second. Plus, there were five other employees at Produce Alliance who had just had babies as well – you could say there was definitely something in the water!
The transition back to work can be daunting for any mom, and we found ourselves all leaning on each other for advice, balance, and moral and emotional support. Being a working mom and balancing the juggling act is super overwhelming, and although we had so many amazing women around us, it still felt lonely. It is scary to open up and ask for help or advice, even with those people that are your closest friends and confidants.
So, when we created The Chaotic Commute, we were hoping to empower women as they returned from maternity leave. We wanted to be able to provide resources and content geared toward helping everyday working moms navigate the challenges that come with trying to balance it all. At The Chaotic Commute, you’ll find stories from other working moms around the country, as well as tips and tricks for celebrating the chaos.
TRP: What advice would you give to other working moms?
“Most of what you need to know is already inside you; follow your gut.” -Melissa
“It is ok and completely normal to cry!”- Brittany
TRP: What are you most proud of?
“I truly feel that I have been able to build a career where I am the President of a company in the male-dominated produce industry and still be a pretty good mom at the same time!” -Melissa
“It’s gratifying to have a career that makes my son and daughter proud—they get to see their mom be independent, strong, opinionated, and compassionate, and I still do my best to be there for all of their milestones along the way.” -Brittany
TRP: What are you most proud of?
We truly love and respect the work done at The Returnity Project, and we feel so excited to be featured on a site that is like-minded and committed to helping women build strength and confidence.
We’d love to have all of you be a part of our community, too! Come check out The Chaotic Commute – we promise you’ll laugh, cry and be inspired, too.
We can be found at www.chaoticcommute.com