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Part 3 of a 3-part series:

Something shifted for Clare Bean when she met her fellow single mom, Morgan Siler. There were the obvious parallels in their lives. Both were late 20-something single moms. Both had a son around a year old. Both lived in suburban Portland in neighboring Westside communities.

There was the electric boost of connecting with a like-minded soul.

A year later the women are partners in the upstart networking website

“You can do what you love to do,” Bean says. “You just have to figure out what it is, plan it out and go for it.”

She and Siler share office space in Portland’s trendy Pearl District, from which they manage the site and their individual pursuits. Bean is a graphic and web designer; Siler is a photographer.

“There’s nothing like doing your passion for a living,” Bean says. “Even though we’re not really making a living yet.

“Coming from the corporate world, I was just dead.”

Working for herself provides Bean with the flexibility to spend time with her son, Colby, who is now 2. She is Colby’s custodial parent. He lives full time with her, but spends a few days a week with his dad. Bean separated from her son’s father during her pregnancy. The spilt forced Bean to redefine herself and her expectations, which ultimately led her to ditch her dreaded 9-to-5 routine.

“I always saw myself in that perfect family, but now I don’t have to define happiness as living in a two-parent home,” she says.

What Bean and Siler hope I Heart members gain is the same sense of community. The community (like FWW) will help them endure single parenting and give them the courage to make giant leaps of faith.

“The quality of life is so much better when you have that feeling of community and family,” Siler says. “When you have the feeling that it’s not you against the world.”

That sense of support is invaluable. With it comes the self-esteem integral to starting a business, which is not unlike raising a child.

“It’s about trusting that the passion you have will sustain you,” Siler says.

“When you are exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally drained you’re going to keep going and trust that it’s going to get easier.”

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