As the senior marketing manager for Omega Watches, Melissa DeSanti loved her career. She enjoyed being the liaison between her company and local jewelers, working with them to find ways to connect with their communities and boost sales.
But then, in one whirlwind weekend, life as she knew it came to a grinding halt. It was on a Friday in April 2015 when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. On Monday, she was diagnosed with a tumor. On Tuesday, she was laid off from Omega due to restructuring.
“I was stunned and heartbroken. I loved my job,” DeSanti says. “But I was pregnant with health issues and needed to focus on that.”
Today, DeSanti is a healthy mother of three children—Georgia, 6, Freddie, 4, and Paige, 2—who fills her days with another job she loves: Being the force behind the Morris Bernards Moms Network. “I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a friend’s post about a website called ‘Hamptons Moms.’ I learned that it was part of an organization called the Local Moms Network, which was started by two moms in Greenwich, Connecticut, who wanted to provide a hyper-local resource for other mothers and fathers,” she says.
DeSanti, who lives in Mendham, launched Mendham Moms in 2018. Then, seeing the interconnectivity of the towns in the area, expanded the scope to become Morris Bernards Moms, focusing on southern Morris County and the Somerset Hills. “These are towns that feed into each other, with their own unique qualities. They mesh,” she says. “The site’s main goal is to be the go-to resource for area parents who want recommendations on all things local—from birthday party ideas to summer camps, contractors, fitness spots, doctors, weekend activities and beyond.”
Morris Bernards Moms, like the other 130-plus websites connected to the Local Moms Network, prides itself on connecting local business owners to their network of parents through their website and social media platforms. DeSanti’s most sought-after feature is its “Meet a Mom” series, which highlights local moms and their businesses each month.
“When you become a mom, that becomes your title—who you are—but there’s so much more to be recognized. You see these moms at school drop-off and pick-up or cheering on the sidelines at sports games, but what you don’t realize is that they are entrepreneurs who have exciting lives beyond being the homework-helpers, dinner-makers and bath-givers,” she says. “They have thriving businesses that provide jobs in the community and bring visitors to town to stimulate the economy.”
DeSanti, who was raised in Westfield and whose husband, Fred, grew up in Mendham, delights in how her resource page has provided an opportunity for her to learn more about the area she now calls home. “That’s my favorite part: People tell me about businesses to check out, and I’m constantly learning something new,” she says.
She encourages women who are interested in starting a business to take the leap. “If you think it’s going to be too hard, do it anyway. You’ll balance it out,” she says. “The busier you are, the more you are able prioritize. You’ll find the way to achieve that dream.”
Connect with DeSanti and share your favorite area businesses at morrisbernardsmoms.com.