Serious Entrepreneur: Doula
Ankhi-Krol Law (www.ankhikrollaw.com) features various successful entrepreneurs in its series "Serious Entrepreneur."
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Stephanie Heintzeler, Owner of The New York Baby
What is a Doula?
"A doula, also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth supporter, is a non-medical companion who supports a birthing person by providing continuous care before, during, or after childbirth in the form of information, physical support, and emotional support." - Wikipedia
Name and description of your business.
The New York Baby. We offer birth and postpartum doula services, childbirth and newborn care, breastfeeding classes, and lactation consultation.
How long has your business been in existence?
Why did you start your own business?
Doulas are always self-employed so I sort of had to start my own business. I was a partially self-employed midwife in Germany before so I knew what I was getting myself into. I like being my own boss and working on my own timeline.
If this is not your first career, please explain why you switched.
I sort of switched. I was a midwife in Germany and wanted to continue working with my patients the way I did in Germany. Becoming a doula and lactation consultant made more sense than becoming a midwife in the United States.
What was/is your biggest challenge?
Keeping work/life balance. I am always on call and it’s difficult to leave the city unless I plan it 9 months ahead of time. The biggest challenge is having to plan everything so much in advance and having to stay “on” day and night.
What sets you apart from your competition?
I have a medical background. Having been a midwife is a huge advantage for my clients since I know where the OB/midwife is coming from when they suggest an intervention. Also it’s helpful during emergencies since I can see them coming or deliver the baby when needed and nobody is around (which happens about twice a year).
Who’s your target clientele?
1) Expats. I work with many German speaking families who are unaware of the fact that the medical system is very different here. I host workshops called “Schwanger in New York” (meaning, Pregnant in New York) and it’s very well-visited and received.
2) Successful professionals who are busy and want excellent care during their pregnancy and postpartum period.
One overall business advice for other small business owners.
Join BNI. It has helped me a lot on how to grow my business, develop my “elevator pitch,” and hire the right people who coach me through the various aspects of my business (website, marketing, legal advice, business coaching, etc...).
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? What’s the worst thing about being an entrepreneur?
Best and worst: I am my own boss and make my own decisions.
One fun fact about you.
I am a licensed NYC tour guide and used to guide hundreds of Germans through the canyons of NYC. I published a book called “New York Stories” in 2003 (it’s in German only).
Where do you see yourself/your business in the next 5 years?
I see myself being one of the go-to companies expecting parents contact when they are looking for a doula or baby nurse (I might already be there, not sure!).
What type of legal help does your industry usually need?
Contracts between clients who hire a doula and the doula and referral agreements. Boundaries must be set about what the doula can and cannot do.
What’s your advice for others in your industry who are in need of legal help?
Get legal help! I think many doulas just write their own agreement or pick stuff they find online to create their own contract. Over the years, so many unexpected things happened with our clients that our contract got longer and longer. Many clients tell us “oh, I didn’t even think of all these eventualities!” I think it comes across as being very professional when I, as the agency, think of all those possibilities.
What service(s) did you use Ankhi-Krol Law for? What was your overall professional experience?
Doula-agreements, referral agreements for doulas and baby specialists, agreements for lactation consultations. It was wonderful!
Why is that service(s) necessary/important in your industry?
Because we deal with pregnancy, birth, babies and postpartum. Things can be very unexpected and clients are very very emotional during that time. They might think it was the doula’s fault when birth didn’t go their way so it is important to protect ourselves and set expectations ahead of time.
Advice for others who are just starting their business in your field.
Spend some more money at the beginning of your business by setting yourself up properly. It will save you money down the road and success will come faster!
About Ankhi-Krol Law
Ankhi-Krol Law is a boutique law firm located in the heart of Midtown, New York City. The firm takes pride in working with ALL types of businesses in the areas of:
Business Law; Contract Law; Trademark Law; and Copyright Law
Niche focus in the following industries: Fashion, Creatives, Pet Industry
Shahrina Ankhi-Krol is the founder of Ankhi-Krol Law.
She started the law firm with the goal of providing accessible and transparent legal representation to small business owners after noticing that small business owners are often uninformed or ill-informed of the law. As a result, they either attempt to solve legal problems on their own or do nothing at all. Both courses of action are dangerous as “un-doing” a legal mistake – either through misfeasance or non-feasance – costs more money and time than would have been spent if the business owners obtained legal counsel from the start. Ms. Ankhi-Krol not only provides legal representation, but also provides business counseling to her clients in order to identify and address small problems before they become unmanageable.
Shahrina has been elected a Rising Star Super Lawyer FIVE (5) YEARS IN A ROW! It's a recognition given to no more than 2.5% of attorneys in each state, each year.
Admitted in: NY, NJ, EDNY, SDNY
Small Business & Intellectual Property Lawyer
54 W. 40 Street
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 729-6153