Things came to a head in December 2020 for Kristin Richardson.
That’s when the responsibilities of being a working parent, already a tall order before the pandemic, weighed on her enough that she realized she needed an extra hand as she juggled working from home and birthday planning.
“It was one of those weeks and one of those days. When you’re on back-to-back calls and, as a working parent, you’re squeezing in your personal responsibilities. You’re trying to multitask on a Zoom call while ordering a birthday cake,” Richardson said.
Inspired by that challenge, Richardson recently launched Sherah, a membership-based service aimed at working moms who want backup to take some of the pressure off of the household duties they handle alongside their full-time careers.
Members get access to Richardson’s team of contracted assistants who can help complete tasks such as signing up kids for sports teams, lining up tutors, shopping and making appointments.
“If you really pull together on one sheet of paper everything a working mom has to get done, it’s like ‘whoa.’ You’re really hit in the face with what you need to get done,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that while each client has a lead assistant, the company frequently has its assistants tag-team a client’s workload. In addition to actually running errands, the company’s contractors also help clients better plan their schedules and find local third-parties to complete clients’ tasks as needed.
“They’re all 1099’s and that’s intentional. That’s the way we’re building it as a shared workforce, Uber model where thoroughly vetted women who are stay-at-home moms are able to hop on and hop off when they’re able to,” Richardson said.
The company offers a $100 per month membership, a $1,200 annual membership and $5,520 a year premium membership, according to its website. Time spent by assistants on tasks incurs additional fees.
The company officially launched its service in September. It ran a pilot program with three clients in the summer. Richardson runs Sherah full time. Previously she was chief communications officer at PartnerMD, a locally based concierge medical service. She left that job in March to focus on Sherah.
Sherah had 33 members and four contracted assistants as of mid-November. While the majority of members were women, Richardson said that two members were divorced dads. Most members were in the Richmond area, though three were out of town.
In 2023, Sherah hopes to expand to Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
The path toward launching the company started soon after the aforementioned realization in late 2020 and when Richardson set out to look for an assistant in early 2021. She couldn’t find someone who fit her needs, but she did hear that other people were similarly interested in such a service.
“Not a single person applied. I got feedback from friends that what I wanted was impossible,” Richardson said. “People on LinkedIn said ‘I need that, too. Let me know if you’re willing to share or send your second or third candidates.’ Of course I didn’t even have a first candidate.”
Richardson then tried virtual assistants, but they didn’t cut it because she felt the setup wasn’t proactive enough. Ultimately, Sherah was born to fill the gap that Richardson found existed for the level of support she wanted and felt necessary for a woman to be able to be both a mother and a professional.
“For a lot of us, we want to work. Not only do we need to work but we enjoy working,” she said. “Society is constantly telling women to lower expectations, especially really driven women with successful careers. We’re always being told we can’t have it all and I disagree with that.”