DTI would like to introduce two doulas in Brooklyn, NY who have been inspirational to us. Cori Pleune and Sara Kaylor work as a team under the name and have a very unique business model. This model supports their life passion for doula work as well as each other. Here is our interview with them.
Please share with our readers your model and how it works on a day to day bases
We were first introduced by Terry Richmond and Jada Shapiro of Birthday Presence. When they started Birthday Presence they were working as a team, like we do. They hired Sarah as a single doula and then got Cori to be her partner. How we work is that we go to all our meet and greets together and also our prenatal visits but then when it comes to the actual labor we alternate. Cori goes to one then Sarah goes to the next, and so on. Whichever one of us was at the birth then does the postpartum visit.
Before you were working together as Dos Doulas did you each work separately?
We were really novice doulas when we started working together, we had each been to about 20-30 births. Cori was working on her own and Sarah was working for Birthday Presence.
How did the idea of Dos Doulas first come about? Were all of the pieces figured out then or did it evolve over time?
Terry and Jada had figured out a lot of the specifics of working together as a team and so we just adapted them to our personalities and preferences. Dos Doulas as a business grew out of our love of working together and a lot of trust for one another as friends as well as business partners.
If the structure of your business evolved over time could you share with us a bit of that story?
We find our way of working very easy and developed organically without much push from us. We admire and respect one another and know that we both work very hard for the positive experiences of our clients. Certain aspects of our way of dealing with situations developed over time- such as a clause in our contract about cesarean birth, but the thing that really works about our partnership has little to do with our business structure.
It is BOLD to step out and do things differently. What did that feel like? Was it an easy decision? Did you ever worry what others in your industry would think?
Well, we have this way of doing things that works for us and we feel that it is great for our clients to have the two of us for support. We actually have a hard time imagining how other doulas work alone and with unreliable backup! Sometimes, people seem to be confused about how we work but to us it makes perfect sense.
Who are your mentors for being business savvy or where did you start learning about the business side of things?
Again, Terry and Jada did a lot of the groundbreaking and taught us a lot but we fine tuned it and made it our own. Also, Debra Pascali-Bonaro and Ilana Stein were our teachers so of course they gave us a lot of great information by sharing their own experiences.
How do you figure out what fee to charge as a doula?
It can be difficult to unite the role of doula to the role of business person especially when it comes to money. However, if one sees the value of the service they are providing, and works out the limitations, boundaries, availability and devotion that one is comfortable with then the rest falls into place, or rather, sometimes you fall short and other times you exceed your expectations. We find it is best to figure out what you honestly need to get by and devote yourself to your profession and then charge accordingly.
What business advice do you have for other doulas?
Sarah's business advice is "find someone like Cori" and Cori's advice is "find someone like Sarah"!
How do you connect the success of your business with advocating normal birth? Or do you?
We think that our dedication to providing the best birth and new family experience to our clients is what makes our business a success. Of course, that goes hand in hand with our role as advocates for normal birth. We know that the best experience is one in which the family is informed and feels empowered to make their own choices.
What are the top 5 things you would say are the most important things to consider for a new doula starting a doula business?
1. Express your personality in your doula business. It is a very intimate job so let people know who you are.
2. Love what you do or it is not worth it. Doula work is hard. Being on-call is really hard. You will know if you are meant for it.
3. It is easy to get burnt out, especially if the majority of your births are hospital births. Take breaks and treat yourself right.
4. Put your family before your work.
5. Find someone to partner with. Someone you trust, who feels the same way about birth as you do and practices similarly. Together you can stand up for each other, support each other, doula one another.