Are you preparing for maternity leave and wondering who will take over your job duties in your absence?  Do you have colleagues who are preparing for parental leave, and you are looking for top-talent to fill in gaps while they are out?  If you or your company is looking to hire a parental leave fill-in, Emissaries may just be the answer you are looking for.

Today, I’m delighted to bring you an interview with Emissaries founder, the amazing entrepreneur and mama, Michelle Feiner.

Mindful Return:  Michelle, it’s so great to have you with us today!  Tell us a little about yourself – where you live, about your family, your career path…

Michelle: I live in Los Angeles with my husband, two “bonus” (a.k.a. step) sons who are 7 and 10 years old, and our newborn baby girl!

Prior to founding Emissaries, I had the privilege to work for some of the most innovative and iconic companies in the media, tech and entertainment industries. I worked for NBC Entertainment, Pandora, Tastemade, Condé Nast, Time Inc., Hearst, WSJ., Cablevision, YuMe, MWW Group, 20th Century Fox, Sony Music Entertainment and Virgin Records.

I spent nearly half of those 15 years freelancing, mainly filling maternity leaves in NYC, Silicon Valley and LA.  Maternity leave fill-ins were always my favorite type of freelance project. Not only were the expectant/new moms incredibly appreciative, so were their co-workers to not have to take on that added workload. I’ve never felt more valued in my career.

Supporting and thereby normalizing improved parental leave policies was the catalyst for me to create Emissaries in 2015.

Mindful Return:  Congrats on the arrival of your little one!  Now, tell us more about your company, Emissaries.

Emissaries is a talent-matching company specializing in seasoned freelancers, supertemps and parental leave fill-ins.  We’re the first U.S. recruiting agency and freelance marketplace to service the niche of parental leave coverage.

The very definition of “emissary” is a person who is sent on a special mission to represent another person. Filling in for new parents on maternity or paternity leave so they can foster bonds with their families is meaningful work.

Mindful Return:  How does Emissaries work exactly? Can you spell out some of the logistics? 

Michelle: Emissaries offers companies two distinct services.  First, our self-service, online freelance marketplace.  And second, our full-service contract recruiting.

Our clients get access to a curated roster of the best U.S.-based freelance talent for contract work, family leave covers and other projects. Additionally, many of our freelancers have won awards, worked at Fortune 500 companies, and are not signed up with traditional staffing agencies.

With the launch of our new marketplace, companies can now access Emissaries’ network of elite talent on one turnkey and transparent platform. Features include the ability to search our live database with advanced search fields.  To view profiles and freelancer availability.  Also, to message and mark as “favorite” the freelancers in the marketplace.

For clients looking for more of a hands-on concierge service, Emissaries offers full-service contract recruiting.

Mindful Return:  Do you focus on specific industries?

Michelle:  Emissaries has top talent across 40+ industries.  We have a focus on Advertising, CPG, e-Commerce, Entertainment, Fashion, Luxury, Media, Startups and Tech.

Mindful Return:  What’s the cost? 

Michelle:  The experience is 100% free for freelancers – this helps us to attract the very best freelance talent.

The cost is incredibly transparent for companies – $300/month, $800/quarter, or $3,000/year to access our marketplace – with no additional or hiring fees.

Mindful Return: I’m trying to convince my company to hire a fill-in for my parental leave. Any advice?

Michelle:  Yes! Here are some key points you can communicate to your management:

  1. Leaves don’t have be disruptive for teams. One point of contact makes the transition less disjointed.
  2. Colleagues will be less likely (even subconsciously) to resent the individual on leave.
  3. Opportunity to glean expertise and insights from a reputable source in your industry.
  4. An excellent gesture for companies to demonstrate that they support working parents and an overall wellness-based, balanced culture.
  5. Your company will attract and maintain top talent. If employees feel valued, they are more likely to reciprocate with their loyalty and hard work.
Mindful Return:  What should I do if I think my employer would benefit from using Emissaries’ services?

Michelle:  Refer them to to learn more about our services. Use the code “MindfulReturn10” for 10% off any subscription!

Mindful Return:  What if I’m a freelancer, and I want to get involved with your work – what do I do?

Michelle:  Yay! You should visit to learn more, read about our talent requirements and apply to the marketplace.

Mindful Return:  Aren’t you the same person who started the Pregnant Bosses website?  (SO cool, by the way!)  Tell us about it. Is it too late to get involved?

Michelle:  Sure am. I started (and, on Instagram as @PregnantBosses), because I was pregnant myself and was helping women secure freelance fill-ins for their own roles. We’d get to talking about navigating careers and workplaces while pregnant.

A common thread to these conversations was that everyone was busting their butts to prep for their leave.  Meanwhile there’s a misconception around the world that pregnant women or new moms aren’t committed long-term to their careers.  I wanted to dispel that myth.

Pregnancy doesn’t have to derail your professional goals.  Most importantly, pregnant women should not be seen as less valuable than their counterparts. Quite the opposite. These women are powerful forces!

If you’re interested in telling your story (either as a pregnant women or as a new mom) and being featured, we welcome new submissions at Finally, I applaud women who are pregnant, on maternity leave, or are raising their babies while balancing a career, who have taken initiatives such as signing up for the Mindful Return e-course to learn new skills!

Mindful Return:  Anything else you’d like to share?

Michelle: has a ton of great info for working parents and those prepping for their parental leave, including special offers from our partners and industry news (in case you need a lil ammo to persuade the powers that be at work)!

As Michelle mentioned above, employers can use the code MindfulReturn10 for a 10% discount off any Emissaries subscription.

Looking for more support for your own return to work after maternity leave?  Check out the next session of Mindful Return.

Our Gift To You

At Mindful Return, we know that calm, thoughtful planning, and time for reflection, are keys to success in working parent life. Our FREE guide, 99 Questions to Ask Yourself Before, During, and After Maternity Leave, is our gift to you and your new bundle of joy.

Thanks! Check your e-mail for more information.