CLEVELAND — American Express says the number of female-owned businesses grew by 114% between 1997 and 2017. Many of these women are also mothers, and we wanted to learn more about how these 'momtrepreneurs' do it. In the first part of our three part series we profile two women who are pursuing their passions, spending more time with their families and killing it as bosses.

It was a near death experience in 2014 that led Lauren Black to start her own business.

"I went into cardiac arrest," she recalls. "Paced fifty times. Shocked twenty-five times within an hour."

The mother of three was teaching in Dayton then.

And after a year at home recuperating, she decided to turn her hobby of making beef jerky into a business.

"We took it to the gym," Black says. "We took it to church and someone at church said this is the best beef jerky that I've ever had. I want to pay you for it."

That's when she and her chef husband turned a heart attack into the award winning Backattack Snacks. They've expanded into several all-natural jerky products and oven roasted almonds.

And in four years they've moved from their garage to their own facility in Brook Park, which she admits has not been easy.

"Since we're a young company, we're still learning," Black admits. She says it's a constant struggle that sometimes causes them to ask themselves why they are even doing it.

Melissa Malone has been there.

"You are managing a family," She says. "You're managing possibly a spouse, all of their schedules and then on top of that your business."

Not just one business. Malone runs four businesses while raising four girls. She left the corporate world in 2009. She opened The Book Store in Medina, which also has a publishing division, set up the Medina Tent Company, launched a chocolate boutique called Cocoa, all while helping her husband run Sweet Melissa Landscaping. Amazingly, she says all of these businesses let her spend more time with her family.

"They come to work with me," she says, "and they kind of are hands-on with each of the businesses in some way."

Not surprisingly things like housekeeping take a back seat, but she says, it was the help of mentors that helped her manage it all.

"Finding that mentor who you can go to, ask questions and cry to, sometimes to lean on, is crucial," she says.

Then of course, there's what she calls the 'fire in the belly' to plow through the hard times and keep moving forward for her and her family.

"I have four daughters so to prove to them that they can do whatever they set their minds to is important," she says. "For them, I'm a trailblazer. I don't know about everyone else. Maybe?"

Tuesday on Channel 3 News at 6, I'll introduce you to another mom who just made the leap. We'll also hear from a professional who coaches women looking to make the transition.

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