Maria Locker, Founder and CEO of The Monpreneur spoke to CanadianSME about the mission of what Mompreneurs is about, what she hopes to accomplish through her company and the challenges that mothers face when starting a business of their own.
Maria grew up in the world of retail business, as one of four children to her entrepreneurial parents; her family has owned and operated La Rose Bakery in her hometown of Milton, Ontario since she was 2 years old. Maria earned her BA from The University of Guelph in 2002 with a focus on Languages and International Business, and her B.Ed. from Lake head University in 2004.
Mompreneur® Showcase Group Inc. (aka Mompreneurs®), is here to support, educate, and empower moms in business. We are dedicated to bringing the businesses and talents of moms in business and female entrepreneurs into recognition for our collective community. Our network encourages and facilitates:
- Connecting members to other women and businesses across Canada
- Providing affordable ways for female entrepreneurs to promote their businesses
- Advocating for female entrepreneurs and women in business both locally and nationally
- Creating an online presence for female entrepreneurs in one centralized location
Our Core Values
At the heart of our Mompreneurs® organization, we believe in:
COMMUNITY OF TRUST
These core values are what drive us to work hard and dedicate our efforts for the support and advancement of Canada’s women entrepreneurs!
To support women who want to run a business and a family without sacrificing one for the other, and to help them discover it is possible to live a happy, successful life on their own terms. There are an estimated 1 million women entrepreneurs in Canada, each of which faces unique struggles, from finding the right support, time management, marketing, and running a household. We understand that struggle and want to show women that they can have a successful business and family life at the same time. It is a fact that 90% of businesses fail in the first 5 years but we believe with proper support, tools, mentorship and a supportive community around them, we can have a positive impact and help women succeed towards a life that is determined by their unique passions, talents, and needs.
To be a Canada-wide ‘movement’ and chosen resource for women in business bringing like-minded women together in order to support, empower, and promote them throughout their journey in entrepreneurship. Our vision includes a desire to provide education and tools for success through our dedicated resources and events, in order to touch the lives of over 250,000 women in business across Canada and help them reach their true potential in their business and personal lives. Our vision includes spreading our community across Canada, strengthening the heart-focused sense of community and belonging, and offering the following to women entrepreneurs everywhere in the country:
To offer opportunities for connection, growth, and promotion in order to help women entrepreneurs and hold them accountable through our events, conferences, workshops and online opportunities. To provide exposure using a National presence along with ongoing education, for dedicated women wanting to expand their network and business. To create a safe environment to empower, educate, support, connect and communicate with female entrepreneurs, to enhance personal and professional growth with those who want more out of life.
What was the inspiration behind Mompreneurs? What inspired you to launch this business?
I used to be an elementary school teacher. My kids were 18 months apart. I realized it didn’t make sense to go back to school and help thirty Grade 3 kids, when I had my own children at home. I was doing some freelance marketing work and I was also helping on the administration side of my family’s business.
I established a relationship with the mothers at the park where I would go to with my kids and I realized that even though most of them happened to be entrepreneurs, nobody mentioned it. Mompreneurs was all about getting like-minded women together. That’s where it all started. It was a lot of word of mouth and snowballed to where it is now.
What are you hoping to accomplish through Mompreneurs? What is the main goal?
Our mission and purpose is to support and connect women with each other and help them feel that their business is viable. We want women entrepreneurs, no matter where there are in Canada, for them to understand there is support and guidance out there. I’m hoping to accomplish that goal in Canada and then expand internationally. We currently have members in Australia, in Europe, and women reaching out to us from all corners of the world. I’d like to get to the point where we can support women internationally.
How is Mompreneurs helping women across Canada start and grow their business?
We have 3 areas that we focus on:
Community, promotion and education.
These 3 pillars hold up everything that we do.
We feel the power of word of mouth and the power of women so the community is number one for us. If they have a question about their business, the support of the community around them helps them solve their business questions.
The women that I met in the park held back sharing what they do and held back that they were business owners. We give women a platform to share their story and business success to help them with promotion so they don’t feel that pressure.
Especially in the startup stage, education is extremely important. Our members range from their early 20’s to their late 70’s. We have women that have been in business for 20-30 years and things have really changed since the day they started their business so we might help them navigate social media, and provide assistance in various other areas.
The name “Mompreneurs” suggests that you only provide services to mothers who are entrepreneurs. Do you also provide resources and services to women entrepreneurs who are not mothers or do you solely put your focus on mom entrepreneurs?
The word Mompreneurs is where we started. The first thing that I often tell women that are interested in joining is that you do not have to be a mom. That specific message is something we’re looking to develop within our marketing plan. There is a big demographic of women that when they hear the word Mompreneurs, they feel it doesn’t apply to them. This whole community is about understanding entrepreneurship and family and how the two interact.
Some women in their teens have come from high school and are already taking advantage of the resources we offer. I think there is a mystery about how women do this while having a family. There’s the whole idea of gender norms and we’re seeing a shift but we’re not fully quite away from that. Women often feel the guilt that if they focus on business, they’ll leave the family behind. Our goal is telling women that whatever works for you, works for you. Every single person is different and we are all individuals. We are taking the stance as an organization that the two elements in our lives that are most important, entrepreneurship and family, work together. We also have an incredibly diverse community that we’re extremely proud of.
Being a mom has its challenges. It’s even more challenging when you’re running a business. How do you help mothers find that balance between motherhood and business owner?
We talk about this question all the time within our forum. Balance is an illusion. You take a picture of two things being weighed equally on both sides. We try to help other women understand it’s not a balance but an “ebb and flow”. Sometimes a family will be the majority of your time, and sometimes you’ll shift to your business. It’s about figuring out that cohesiveness on your journey as an entrepreneur. Parenting, in general, is a really difficult and overwhelming and often a daunting challenge. When you add entrepreneurship in there, it’s a lot to take in. It’s the understanding that you can’t do all things all the time. When you’re focused on your family, be 100% in. When you’re focused on your business, be 100% in.
What would you say is the biggest challenge that women face when they are taking the path of entrepreneurship? How can Mompreneurs help them overcome this challenge?
The biggest challenge I would say is that women don’t tend to ask for help. Women are getting better at it but they don’t necessarily want to show that they don’t know the answers to their questions. Moms are used to handling everything all the time so that mentality is shifted towards their business. That is when things spiral out of control. We try to help with those 3 pillars discussed earlier to make sure they’re comfortable talking about things. We are a collective and take their advice as much as they rely on us.
The second biggest challenge is the “mom guilt”- the feeling of shame if they are really focused on their business and if they’re late picking up their kids or forgot to make their lunches. We continue to work with women on helping them get rid of that entire “mom guilt” concept.
What’s the biggest accomplishment that Mompreneurs has had so far? What are you most proud of?
Every year we have our conference and seeing 300 women in one room that come together is incredible. It’s a very powerful and emotional experience. Especially because we’re from all across the country, and some are international members who are a part of our community and it’s really cool to see these women who have never met in real life come together. It becomes almost like a high school reunion and we see women coming out of their comfort zone and bonding over their shared values. We see women reach out to us from all over the world and it’s truly inspiring and amazing to see that happen.
If you could give advice to a woman who has just taken the path of entrepreneurship, what would it be?
Number one would be to make sure to have support around you and to talk to your inner circle – your spouse, children, friends – you’re going to need people behind you who believe in you and will help you along the way. I would also stress to any woman just starting entrepreneurship, the importance of flexibility. Set out limitations for yourself. Sometimes the stress that can happen with entrepreneurship on its own will take you out of being able to do your job and nobody will be able to fill in for you. I’ve started to teach myself that it’s important to put things in place right from the beginning to take care of yourself, take care of your family, and keep them in the loop.
In your opinion, what is the number one mistake that an entrepreneur makes when it comes to starting/managing their business and how can they avoid that?
It’s all about insurance protection and financial, is where I’ve seen women really struggle.
We work with a business insurance provider, especially when women work from home. They don’t really think about their picture in the bigger sense that it truly is.
And number two is the finances. If you don’t know your numbers, you’ll be driving blindly behind the wheel. If it’s not your strong suit, hand it off to someone else. The numbers can be really fun to look at if you know what you’re looking at so you can be successful.
Mompreneur® Showcase Group Inc. (Mompreneurs®) is dedicated to supporting, educating, and empowering women in business.