When Esther uprooted her life to move her son to Bali, “a very healing place,” she found solace within a community of entrepreneurs and expats.
“To have to leave my husband was really, really horrible. To have to leave America was really, really scary,” she says, describing the moment she distanced herself and her son from her husband’s dangerous mental breakdown, which was triggered by multiple head traumas in the military.
“Even when my personal life was totally falling apart, even when emotionally I was a complete wreck, you just keep going anyway,” she says. “You just get up the next day and do it again.”
The village of support that surrounds her in Bali has simultaneously allowed Esther’s virtual assistant business to flourish, while changing her perspective towards moments of fear and self-doubt.
Esther recognizes that “when you do the stuff that’s hard and scary, that’s what takes you to the next level.”
“If I’m feeling like ‘I can’t do this, I don’t know what I’m doing’…I now know I’m going through something,” she says.
In four years, she’s helped 100 women do the same through Virtual Assistant Internship, which gives them the tools to start their own lucrative businesses from anywhere in the world.
“It’s a very tangible way of changing someone’s life,” she says.
Women Helping Women Succeed
Esther’s journey began as a working mom and military wife whose husband worked night shifts and could be deployed within a moment’s notice, leaving her feeling “depressed and sad and stressed” she says.
“It was so hard because I loved my job,” she says, describing her corporate role in software product management that required her to travel frequently.
“But I also love my family and my son, and I was watching him having to be taken care of by all these relatives all the time, and neither of us were ever around,” she says.
“I was crying in my hotel room one night and I was like ‘that’s it’,” says Esther. “I felt like God was saying ‘trust me, I have something better for you — this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.’ ”
“Women aren’t supposed to be stressed out all the time and not see their kids,” she added.
The next day she quit her job and began scouting out a virtual assistant gig that would give her the flexibility to work from home and set her own hours.
After six months on the job, Esther kept getting asked about how it works, so she began mentoring others around top tasks for online business owners, like content repurposing, light email, and calendar management.
“I don’t understand why no military wives, none of my friends, nobody knows about this. This is insane,” she recalls feeling at the time.
Fast forward six years and her community of graduates ranges from women in the military to local moms in Bali who’ve started their own virtual assistant businesses and agencies.
“It’s really like this tribe we’ve created of women that are all hiring, helping, and mentoring with each other,” she says.
“I literally save messages from them telling me ‘Thank you so much, you changed my life.'”
When self-doubt creeps back in, she reads the notes, stored in her phone, to remind her why she should keep going.
“I really feel like it’s my purpose.”
It Takes a Village
Bali makes it easy for Esther to create the kind of village that every working mom needs in order to thrive.
“It’s much more community oriented than in the States and I think that surprises people,” says Esther.
She lives in a shared villa and has staff that helps with her son, delivers freshly prepared meals, and drives him to school.
Between her neighbors and other Balinese women she’s be-friended, Esther says she has plenty of people she can call in a moment’s notice to help with her son.
“He goes to this amazing ex-pat school, Montessori style, so they do an international curriculum in English until about noon, and then in the afternoon they go on field trips,” she says. “They go to the beach, They go on hikes through the rice fields.”
While her son’s at school, Esther works side-by-side with fellow female business owners who run agencies or are influencers in their own right.
They all “meet up and co-work together” in one of their villas, a cafe or a co-working space.
Even in such a gorgeous setting, Esther says it’s very tempting to work around the clock, so they’ll bring in a massage therapist or taking a painting class to get the creative juices flowing.
They often finish the day together at the beach or watching the sunset.
And while she and her husband are working on their marriage and figuring out living arrangements, the supportive community in Bali is hard to beat.
“It just feels like home now.”
Whether Esther is teaching the next batch of virtual assistants how to grow their business or helping entrepreneurs create online course content that sells itself, she believes in the legacy that comes with building community.
“Nobody knows what they’re doing,” she says. “You think all your other mom friends have it together or that person on YouTube. Nope. We’re all just making it up as we go.”
“It’s not about you. It’s about the tribe you’re creating.”