Doula finds permanent home as vision becomes reality

Bellies-2- Babies of Polk County

Bellies-2- Babies of Polk CountyFor the past 25 years, Janet Farmer has seen her passion for helping pregnant women grow as she went from a midwife’s assistant to becoming a doula, to now owning her own business.

“I started working for a midwife as an office assistant,” Farmer said. “One day she called me back to help with the birth because the birth assistant was not going to make it in time because the baby was coming too fast. So, I had to go in and assist the midwife. After that day, I was like, ‘You need to find a new office assistant. This is what I want to do; I want to be hands-on.’ And it just blossomed from there.”

Today Farmer owns Bellies-2-Babies, a unique business located in historic downtown Lake Wales that has expanded past the scope of everyday doula services. Though she has more than two decades of doula experience under her belt, she had a vision of something bigger and she realized that she needed a storefront for that vision to become a reality.

“When I was considering that, it just kind of brought things to another level for me,” she said. “I really kind of became afraid of what that’s going to look like and I had no idea even how to do it. So, I contacted the Florida SBDC at USF to pick the brain of the experts and make sure I got started off on the right track.”

Certified business consultant, Michael Noel, helped Farmer turn her vision into a reality. Noel sees clients at the City of Lake Wales Administration Building. Now Bellies-2-Babies is a one-stop-shop for expectant mothers. In addition to standard doula services and prenatal classes, they also offer prenatal yoga, mommy meetups and a baby boutique.

“It’s a beautiful space; people love to be here,” she said. “We have grown a lot. I’m actually full right now for doula clients so, I had to add a couple of other doulas to my practice in order to handle the client load for doula services.”

Though her business is flourishing, she said there is still a lot of work that she wants to continue doing with the help of Noel. “I need a lot of help with like SEO and just marketing in general. I already have an appointment set up with the SBDC to talk about SEO and I know that they’re going to be able to help me grow the business.”

Farmer encourages other business owners to seek out help from the experts at Florida SBDC at University of South Florida.

“We’re so fortunate to have them right here in Lake Wales. Every business owner, either before they start the business or even if they’re already in business, should definitely make an appointment and go and meet with the experts and find out how you can grow your business. They’re there to help,” she said.

“I’m just thankful,” she added. “I wasn’t sure about making that phone call to see Michael, but I’m really glad I did. I definitely don’t think I would be in this beautiful location today and serving the families that I’m serving if it hadn’t been for meeting with Michael at SBDC.”