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Where It All Began: 4 Years of Incredible Moments

Today marks 4 amazing years since the very first “Mompreneur Showcase” in Milton, on October 16, 2010 – where have 4 years gone?! In true celebration style during our 4th Anniversary Party, we reminisced while looking at old photos, we laughed, we cried, and we indulged in some pretty amazing dessert in the process!

Many have asked how this whole ‘Mompreneur thing’ began – truly, I call it a journey, and one that I am so proud and fortunate to have been on for 4 years now. Here’s how it all began, and how this crazy journey has led Milton Mompreneurs and our entire Mompreneur network to where we are today:


July 2010: We’d just moved into our new house; the kids were 2 and 3.5 years old, and we were just starting our summer holidays. On our second day in new surroundings, I turned to my husband David and asked him what he thought of an idea I had: to put together a group for women who were in business but who were also mothers. His response: “what’s the worst that could happen?!”. So I put the word out via an online mom’s forum: any women who were moms and also business owners were invited to meet at Starbucks and chat about business casually over a grande latte. 12 women came out to that first event, and it was the start of something new and exciting and full of prospect.

October 16, 2010: Word began to spread of  our group – the “Milton Mompreneurs”.  The women who were initially taking part in our networking chats expressed an interest in showcasing their products and services – and so was born the first “Milton Mompreneur Showcase”. It was a whirlwind of activity and women and community members – 40 exhibitors, 400 visitors, and amazing excitement all around. For many of the women who exhibited that day, it was the first time they had told the world that they ran a business, and they first time they took part in exhibiting to the public!

February 2011: Milton Mompreneurs connected with another local women’s networking group called Milton Area Female Entrepreneurs (MAFE), organized by Sandy Hatzis. The thought was that by putting our two groups together for networking events, we would be covering all our bases: women in business and women in business who are mothers! On a random Monday morning in February, we had 80 women attend our first joint meetup, and the energy was incredible. Both Sandy and I knew that we were onto something pretty amazing!  In that same month, on February 14th to be exact, I filed incorporation papers for what is now our “Mompreneur HQ” – Mompreneur Showcase Group Inc. Though it was initially my ‘5 year plan’ to open up other Mompreneur chapters, so many women were approaching me and asking how they too could start a group in their community – so I made it happen! It was a learning curve for sure, but in the end, by the end of February, we had 3 new Mompreneur chapters in other communities around the GTA.

April 2011: The 2nd Annual Milton Mompreneur Showcase took place – we upgraded to an Arena floor, went from 40 exhibitors to 120 exhibitors, and went from 400 visitors to just over 1,000 visitors. In just 6 months time, things were really picking up speed! Over the next year, we continued to host monthly events in the Milton community, while also opening new Mompreneur chapters and continuing to develop the Mompreneur brand and business platform.

September 2012: Another big stepping stone came into play, via the purchase of the Canadian trademarked word “mompreneur” – this now positioned our ‘little’ Mompreneur company as THE Mompreneur company for all of Canada! By the end of 2012, we had developed 15 Mompreneur chapters in various communities, all formed using the same model of our very first group in Milton.

March 2013: In 2013 we hosted the “Mompreneurs Conference” with CityLine‘s Tracey Moore, a national event that welcomed 200 business women from across Canada! At this event, we crowned our first winner of the “Mompreneur Award of Excellence” – a $30,000 prize awarded to one talented mom in business. I was also honoured in Milton by being named “Entrepreneur of the Year” through the Milton Chamber of Commerce – an honour that I continue to hold near and dear to my heart!

March 2014: The 2014 Mompreneurs Conference took place, with keynote speaker Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den. To say that this accomplishment was huge for me is an understatement, as Arlene is, in my books (and the books of most women in business!), the quintessential “mompreneur” – it was a weekend that I truly will never forget.

That Brings Us to TODAY: Over the last 4 years, so much has been accomplished since that very first meeting at Starbucks, and that very first “Mompreneur Showcase” in the little banquet room of our local sports centre. As a collective community between the whole Mompreneur Organization, here is a look at our ‘numbers’:

  • We now have 18 active Mompreneur Chapters, all supporting business women in their unique communities
  • Our collective online community consists of over 14,000 amazing women in business across the country
  • Social media is HUGE for us, with over 40,000 collective followers on Twitter, and over 33,000 fans collectively on Facebook
  • There have been over 500 hosted “Mompreneur” events, both online and in-person, since 2010.
  • Collectively, Mompreneurs and its chapters have raised close to $100,000 in charitable donations for our communities
  • Milton Mompreneurs has raised over $30,000 through various events both independent and partnered, funding of which has stayed in full within the Milton community. We have been proud to support organizations such as Halton Women’s Place, Milton United Way, and The Sunta Caruana Music Scholarship Fund.



To the early supporters: David, Emily, Patsy, Mom, Kristi and Jonathan Budworth, Kyla Holt, Sheri Medina, Andrea Sadgrove, Lena White, Anna Maria Di Nicolantonio, Tammy Fitzgerald, Adina Ingram, Ilona Di Caro, Patricia Curto, Natasha Pearcy, Piri Darabont

To our collaborators:  Sandy Hatzis – MAFE,  Sam Kassam Macfie – Milton Momstown, Piri Darabont – Intact Marketing, Bridget & Shawn Saulnier – The Mohawk Inn, and the team at HalTech

To our consistent supporters of Milton Mompreneurs:

Bridget & Shawn Sauliner – The Mohawk Inn

Hedi Nowak – Harrop Restaurant & Gallery Upstairs

Theresa Brereton – Theresa Brereton Photography

Amy Leask – Enable Training

Deborah Hilton – Health Matters Home Care

Allycia Uccello – Art Camp

Julie & Shawn Creighton – Academy of Martial Arts

Michelle Hawco – The House Mom

Angie Wagenaar – Isagenix

Carolina Rey – Toys Trunk

The Lizzi Family – La Rose Bakery

The Town of Milton, Mayor Gord Krantz

Athena & David O’Connell – BANG! Creative Communications

Grace Moores, Jennifer Williamson, Suzanne Culley, Pat Cluett

Nicole Horn – Old Europe Duvet Co.

Dean & Allison De Fazio – SNAP’D Milton

The Teams at Milton Canadian Champion, Hawthorne Villager, and Discover Milton


Truly, I would not be the person I am today, as a mother or as an entrepreneur, if it wasn’t for the incredible support and network of powerful women I have been blessed to surround myself with – for everyone who has supported Mompreneurs past and present, and for those who continue to support us in future, I truly appreciate all that you have brought into my life. The many many ways in which you have shaped our group has changed the lives of many women across this country, and I’m not sure I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude.

While some businesses have come and gone over the last 4 years, others have flourished and taken off just the same. I have seen members go through so many life-moments: pregnancies, weddings, divorces, first-days of school, going ‘back to work” – through it all, I have found that the support we are able to give each other, no matter which life-moment we happen to be in at any particular time, THAT is what drives us all to success.

Here’s to many more years to come – truly, thank you to everyone!

xo Maria



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Do You Say Thank You to Your Network?

givebackThanksgiving is the time of year when we show appreciation for everything that we’ve been given.  Entrepreneurs are very focused on showing gratitude to their customers, but may not pay as much attention to the other people who support them.  Consider all the help that you have received from your network.  They are the ones who send you referrals, sing your praises, let you know about opportunities, and support you in the difficult days.  Let’s take this Thanksgiving to say thank you to all the amazing people in our networks.

Here are some ways that you can show your gratitude:

Say it.

People are so touched when we take the time to say thank you.  It doesn’t cost anything, so it makes you wonder why we don’t do it more.  You can do it in person, by email or even send a handwritten card.  The key is to clearly communicate how they helped and what it meant to you.

Give Them a Shout Out.

Most people appreciate public recognition, particularly other entrepreneurs.  It makes them look and feel good and it can even serve as free advertising for them.  Social media and your online newsletter are both great tools for showing your appreciation publicly.  Keep it short and sweet and emphasize how amazing they are.

Find Ways to Assist Them.

Networking is a two-way street.  If you find ways to help the people in your network, they will return the favour.  Keep your eyes open for any opportunities that you can send their way.

Take a Personal Interest.

The best networks are not limited to business transactions.  If you want to build strong relationships, you need to stop looking at people as contacts and make an effort to get to know them.  When you build friendships with the people in your network, you benefit both personally and professionally.  Ask your contacts about their family and their interests.  You may even want to invite them out for a coffee just to chat.  Most people will be flattered that you are trying to get to know them better.

Everyone loves to be appreciated, so taking some time to say thank you is good for both you and your business.  However, it’s not just about what you get from it,  it’s about the kind of person you want to be.  Don’t spend so much time complaining about the rain that you don’t even notice the person who’s holding an umbrella over your head.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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What Are You Thankful For?

thankfulWe’re always so busy rushing from one place to the next that we rarely stop to think about how lucky we are.  Take some time this weekend to reflect on all that you have.

Here are five things that every mompreneur should be grateful for:

Your Family

Even though you’ve had your ups and downs, your family has supported you in your decision to forgo a ‘regular’ job and start this adventure.

Yesterday’s Mompreneurs

These amazing women forged the path that we walk today.

Your Customers

They believe in what you’re doing and they keep your doors open.

Your Courage

Not everyone is brave enough to go it alone and start their own business.  Something within you made this option possible.

The Long Weekend

Time to relax and hang out with your family; isn’t that what it’s all about?!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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Great Business Reads

As entrepreneurs, there is no end to how much you can learn and apply to your own business. With ever-evolving trends in technology, customer relations, human resources, and just about every other aspect of business, it’s important to stay on your game, think of new ways to serve your clientele, and keep your company at the top of the food chain.

We’ve put together our latest list of Great Business Reads – we hope you will find it useful! If we’ve missed a book that you have found to be absolutely integral to your journey as an entrepreneur, we’d love for you to share it with us!

PS: all work and no play makes for a very long day no matter what business you are running – have fun with whatever reading time you are afforded!


what i know for sure - oprah, inspiring book, great read for entrepreneursWhat I Know For Sure  by Oprah Winfrey

At first glance, this doesn’t strike as your typical ‘business read’ – and it’s not. But what Oprah manages to put together in 240 pages of eloquently written thoughts and life lessons will leave any entrepreneur feeling empowered and inspired.

We all know Oprah Winfrey is a powerhouse of inspiration and motivation for millions of women around the world – this book is a testament of why so many take her words to heart and aspire to greatness because of them.


daniel j. levitin, business read, think straight

The Organized Mind  by Daniel J. Levitin

The information age is drowning us in an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we’re expected to make more-and faster-decisions about our lives than ever before. No wonder, then, that the average person reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing appointments, and feeling worn out by the effort required just to keep up.

But somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. In The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel-and how readers can use these methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and lives.
book creativity inc

Creativity, Inc.: overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration  by Ed Catmull

This book hit home on so many levels for me – both as an entrepreneur, a mother, and someone who appreciates great storytelling and the art of risk-taking. I originally borrowed this book from the library for my husband; we’re both big Pixar fans, and I thought he’d get a kick out of reading the processes behind some of our favourite family movies. What I didn’t know was how inspiring the countless tales of uncertainty, being told ‘no’, and the empowerment of going with your ‘gut instinct’ would be for me as an entrepreneur. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, and for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the possibilities that having a great imagination can lead to.


book zero to one

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future  by Peter Thiel

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

I’ll be honest – I’m not even halfway through this one… but it’s got me deep in thought and eager to finish quickly so I can start implementing in my own business. That is usually a great sign of a read that is worthwhile.





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Small Business Week for Mompreneurs

small business week mompreneurs, business women, with telus and

Join Mompreneurs® and TELUS as we present Small Business Week for Mompreneurs! 

Enjoy an early afternoon of learning, networking, and business building as we explore the theme of “The Mobile WorkPlace”. Attendees will enjoy a catered luncheon while connecting with other women and business and learning from our guest speakers!

All attendees will receive a special gift bag courtesy of TELUS, as well as a chance to win amazing prizes, including an iPad Mini!*

*There is limited seating for this event – attendees must PRE-REGISTER in order to reserve a seat and qualify for prizes.


WHEN:  Thursday October 23, 2014  |  10:30am to 1:30pm

WHERE:  The TELUS House  |   25 York St., Toronto

COST:    Members   $10.00  |   Non-Members   $25.00


There is limited seating for this event – RSVP NOW!

Attendees will enjoy a catered luncheon as well as structured and open networking opportunities, while hearing from our featured speakers:



Senior Social Media Manager, TELUS

With over 15 years’ experience in B2B marketing, her passion lies in connecting businesses with the TELUS brand through engaging and relevant content. In her current role, Tasha leads the B2B social media team and focuses on developing social media strategies aligned to business objectives that generate conversations, engagement, leads and credibility, while driving measurable results. In her spare time, Tasha is an active hockey mom to her oldest son 7, and twins, 5. 

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is Canada’s fastest-growing national telecommunications company, with $11.7 billion of annual revenue and 13.4 million customer connections, including 7.9 million wireless subscribers, 3.2 million wireline network access lines, 1.4 million Internet subscribers and 865,000 TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video, and is Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider. Learn more at


gotomeetingThe #FutureOfWork Team from CITRIX

Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is a leader in mobile workspaces, providing virtualization, mobility management, networking and cloud services to enable new ways to work better. Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, personal workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. This year Citrix is celebrating 25 years of innovation, making IT simpler and people more productive. With annual revenue in 2013 of $2.9 billion, Citrix solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organizations and by over 100 million users globally. Learn more at


There is limited seating for this event – RSVP NOW!



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Take the SAGE #SmallBusiness Pledge for $16,000!

SAGE small business month contest $16,000 mompreneursOctober is Small Business Month. What better way to mark this event than by announcing that you believe in your business? At Sage, we celebrate Canadian small businesses all year round, but we’re going all out for the month of October.

Enter for a chance to win a $16,000 prize package

When you take the pledge to grow your small business in 2015, we’ll do our part to help. Just by taking the pledge to show that you believe in your business, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win over $16K in prizes, including:


  • Sage One or Sage 50 accounting solution.
  • Online training from Sage University.
  • Business consultation from a Sage Accountants Network member.
  • Direct marketing campaign with Snap Admail, Canada Post’s new online direct mail tool.
  • Yellow Pages Booster Pack.
  • One year of membership in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
  • A Toshiba Excite Pure tablet.
  • A Health & Wealth package from Manulife.
  • Business consultation from SOHO Business Group.
  • Communications package from Pierce Content Marketing.
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Gear Fit from TELUS.

Just imagine what this prize could do to help you grow your business even faster.

Enter today!


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5 Ways to Be More Likeable

ID-100171690For entrepreneurs, getting people to like you isn’t just about being popular; it’s your bread and butter.

Here are five proven strategies that will help you make the right impression when making new contacts:



Be Yourself.

You are the most comfortable when you are being exactly who you are.  Be true to yourself and people will be drawn to you.

Be Confident.

Look someone in the eye, say hello and introduce yourself.  Your confidence will put others at ease.


It’s the same advice your mom gave you when you were a kid and it still holds true today.

Be Interested in Others.

Ask people questions about themselves.  Everyone likes to connect to people who take an interest in them.

Be Positive.

Make a conscious effort to have a positive outlook and people will want to be around you.



(Written by: Karen Bivand, image courtesy of ‘stockimages’ via



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I Gained a Voice

pink quotation mark for mompreneursWhen I took a gigantic risk by leaving an established insurance-based career to pursue writing for a living, I would’ve imagined feeling very alone and disconnected. Early on in my new career however, I was fortunate enough to discover the power of solidarity: I became a member with Mompreneurs®.

Through this formidable group, I gained a voice. I met other mompreneurs and we all had an instant and meaningful connection: women; mothers; business owners; dreamers making it happen.

If you are looking for a way to feel like you’re a part of something big, and to get support as a mompreneur, then becoming a member will be one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make to up level your business. The members of Mompreneurs® care about you as a person as much as they care about seeing your business succeed.  Don’t go it alone. Reach out for the Mompreneur® helping hand.


Elizabeth Kogan
Freelance Writer – Orchida Words at Work


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How to Make Telecommuting Work for Your Business

ID-100112917Employees love to work from home.  It eliminates the dreaded commute and it allows for a healthier work-life balance.  From the company perspective, it reduces the need for office space, provides flexibility, and makes you a competitive employer.  However, since telecommuting employees are vastly different from employees working in the office, you need to manage them differently.  With more distractions around and less supervision, there is the potential for telecommuting employees to be less productive.  Here are some strategies to help you make telecommuting work for your business:

Determine if it’s the right fit.

Does telecommuting make sense for the jobs at your company?  Can the tasks adequately be completed remotely and without oversight?  Would telecommuting work for your employees?  Are they trustworthy, independent and sufficiently motivated?  Keep in mind that many excellent employees are not capable of effectively working from home.

Outline parameters.

What are your expectations of telecommuting employees?  Should they be online and working at specific times?  Should they always be available during office hours to accept phone calls?  If they have children at home, should they have another person there to care for them?  Or are you only interested in whether or not the employees complete their work on time?  It is essential that you are clear about your expectations of your employees.

Have regular meetings. 

Accountability is key with telecommuting employees.  With so many distractions around, even the most motivated employee can get off track.  When you have regular check-ins, your employees know that they will have to take responsibility for their progress (or lack of) and that alone can be a strong motivator.  Additionally, regular meetings allows you to better keep on top of what is happening in your company and make changes as needed.

Utilize instant messaging.

Even if you are taking a hands-off approach with your telecommuting employees, you may it helpful to encourage the use of instant messaging.  When you have all of your employees plugged in at the same time, for at least part of the day, issues can be addressed immediately and you can make sure that everyone is on the same page.

When considering telecommuting, your first reaction might be that it’s not worth the trouble.  However, while there may be a bit of a learning curve, most employers have found that their telecommuting employees are actually more productive.  The reality is that telecommuting is the way of the future.  Providing employees with a flexible work environment will make you a more attractive employer, which will benefit your business.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, photo courtesy of “Marin” via

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Amazing Support

pink quotation mark for mompreneursThank you for the amazing support you provide to us moms that work so tirelessly. Your website is easy to use, newsletters helpful, useful and inspiring. I think my favourite part of being a member is being able to go to the informative meetups. Teaching us how to use different types of social media to work to our advantage is really awesome. The entrepreneurial women that are brought together can network, have a laugh or two, exchange ideas and business cards. We can see that we are not alone when we are working for ourselves. Thanks again for everything! I appreciate all of the help and support you have personally provided for me and my business.

Christine Heit