Jennifer Lynne Walker is part of the Counting Butterflies Wellness Tribe, offering her services as a Child and Family Therapist based out of Milton, Ontario. We are thrilled to be sharing Jennifer’s entrepreneurial journey and Success Story!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
That’s a tough question, and one that I can’t narrow down into a simple one-word answer. Inspired is a beautiful word. Many things; experiences, friendships, opportunities, successes and struggles were woven together to inspire this new possibility. The thought of change, the desire for flexibility, and the cheers of a supportive family inspired the courage to go back to school, to pursue my passion, and to put it into practice.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
- I work with a partner I chose!
- I am more flexible and available as a mom.
- I wake up excited ‘to grow my hearts work’ – rather than just, ‘go to work.’
Can you describe a typical day?
No – no one day is like the next, and I LOVE that. Some days I meet clients in our beautiful downtown Milton office space. My clients are typically children, and our work is rooted in interactive play and conversation – that’s a pretty fun way to spend my day. Sometimes, I sit with parents over coffee and we navigate their stories and experiences of parenting together – that’s a true joy and a privilege for me. I might walk around te pond with a young client, or attend a meeting at their school, or treat a teen to Dairy Queen in an effort to meet clients where they are most comfortable.
If I’m being honest, there are also days that I stay home and write, read, email, post and dream – all from the comfort of my own home. Other times it might be time to walk around Milton dropping off new business cards, thank you notes or seasonal wishes to community partners. I love that I work around my own children’s activities while remaining accessible to the busy families I support with flexible ‘office hours.’ A session can take place over the phone, in the community, at a school or workplace or in our beautiful office. I love that I can meet my own families needs first, almost every day, while extending that same level of support and flexibility to the families in our community.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
We all need a network to make this work! My family, and extended family are an integral part of our ‘service delivery model’ – it takes a village to raise a child. We believe that, because we live that in our own family lives. There are often mornings when grandma pops over so that I can meet a teen before school. There are neighbours who ensure my children are safely home after school so that I can support a teacher or school team at the end of their busy day. There are aunts, uncles, and teammates who carpool to practices, games and tournaments so that I can see clients on a Saturday morning. There’s a husband who’s supportive, encouraging and patient. There are colleagues who challenge and inspire, who listen over coffee and who inform my hearts work with their wisdom and their experience. There are girlfriends who plan weekend getaways and weeknight wine-nights where I can just be a mom who’s had a hard day. I am so very grateful for my network, and I am grateful that my children are being raised, loved, and supported by a community of people.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
Absolutely! I’ve missed hockey games and driving to dance. We’ve missed date nights and weekends away while growing this business. I’ve ‘sacrificed’ a steady income for flexible hours, walking my kids to school, being able to pick them up if it’s raining or making them a hot chocolate after a wintery walk home. I’ve ‘sacrificed’ stress for gratitude!
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
I do try – and I think it’s important to have days / times when you are off; unplugged, entrepreneur hat off and marketing mind off. It’s important to step away, to breathe deeply and to experience what you are building. It’s important to be completely accessible to your family, present as a mom and active in caring for yourself, your whole self. Being an entrepreneur is only one part of who I am, and that one part requires that all of me be rested, well-fed and rooted in all that this opportunity provides for me, and for my family.
Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
I am growing roots in our community. This is a goal area for me as a new, local business woman. I am slowly reaching out to community partners that I can support, where I can offer something that grows their heart’s work. Initially, “business” being new to me, I thought I needed only to solicit and advertise. I’m learning, and I’m being active by giving rather than looking to receive. I’m sharing, I’m offering and I’m connecting with women and families. I’m building relationships and growing humility as I embed myself in a network of mompreneurs who share the same goals. I want to be accessible within our community, and I want our community to raise children who are happy and healthy. I want to be part of our community village where we work to support each other, rather than compete with one another.
Name another entrepreneur who inspires you.
… but there are so many!! Maria Locker and I have been friends for almost 10 years. We met as moms – we’ve raised our families together and I watched her follow her dream and grow her hearts work. I watched her ‘give up’ that steady income and reliable job to follow her dream. Michelle Brans attracted me to her business with her marketing. Her hearts work was embedded in the images, wording and location of her business, now our business. Counting Butterflies Family Wellness is Michelle’s passion, it’s her heart, and it’s my privilege to grow it alongside her. Julie Boyer I met only a few weeks ago, and I was inspired. I was encouraged, motivated and challenged by her approach to business. I am excited to weave these examples into my practice and my hearts work.
(and there are so many more, and many I’ve yet to meet!)
What does the future look like for you and your business?
It’s exciting!! We are constantly working to creatively reach out to parents and families in our community. We want wellness and community to be synonymous with our hearts work at Counting Butterflies. We are raising our children alongside the families we support, and we are living and working in our shared community. As we deepen our roots in Milton, we hope to grow and reach more children and families, schools and communities.
Any tips for other women thinking of starting a business?
- Know your heart, set your intentions, ask for help and buckle up!!
- You can’t do this alone. We need each other. When we work from a place of honesty, gratitude and love – when we are open to learning – we can succeed. Honour your hearts work, that’s success.