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Feel Like Firing Your Kid Today?

Written by Jody Swain

As parents we all love our kids, but let’s be honest – parenting can be difficult, especially during the busy summer months when patience is tested! To help with everyday parenting challenges, I created a tool to help families raise more successful, well-rounded kids who are ready for the real world. It combines motivation, competition, teamwork, recognition/reward, consequences/discipline and teaching kids the value of a dollar.

I looked for other programs out there, but many were quite junior, or they had too many gizmos and gadgets, or they needed screen time which I was trying to steer away from. I needed something super easy, engaging and fun… and since I couldn’t find it, I created it!

After launching Hire and Fire Your Kids in our home, we were amazed by the results! We couldn’t believe how it helped and made an immediate impact on our household. The kids were engaged, having fun, they were self-aware, and they were actively participating as household members. Hire and Fire Your Kids became more like a game in our home than a “program”. While its beginning wasn’t perfect, tweaks along the way adjusted it, and it became more suitable for our family. Like many blended families, we found that there was one particular tweak that was crucial and that was to stop enabling our kids and giving them money at whim (lunch money, chocolate bars at the store, souvenirs, etc.) We found our children were getting spoiled, and didn’t have a reason to complete additional chores. Before we instituted Hire and Fire Your Kids, we gave them fair warning, and then cut them off. We instilled a 3 month probationary period, with training and establishment of routines. The result was that additional chores began to happen way more frequently, and the kids began to understand the value of a dollar. Their hard-earned dollar, not ours!

A year later, I went back to work, resumed my role as a Retail Executive, and our family stopped playing Hire and Fire Your Kids. It wasn’t until I lost my job last year that it came back into my life in a big way. Once again I was home full time with my kids, and I rediscovered everything that was no longer being done. So, I brought back Hire and Fire Your Kids. At this point, our kids were 18, 13, 10, and 3 – that’s a lot of different age groups to deal with! However, after we rolled it out it again, it worked brilliantly, so I thought what if this works in other people’s homes? Could this be something I should be sharing with others?

I decided to reach out to family and friends to see if they would be open to trying Hire and Fire Your Kids. Everyone loved the concept and we had 100% participation. Not even a week later, the feedback was coming in and other families were having the same explosive results as we did. I knew the way of the world was digital (even though I was not ready to get on board). I had friends with kids as young as 3 who had their own tablets and I began to research. As I continued, I saw a gap in the market for a tool such as ours. The feedback continued to be positive and strong from our “test” families after month 1 and month 2, so I jumped in with both feet and hired a company to build our parenting and household management app.

And the rest – as they say – is history!

Check out our program this summer, it just may save your sanity!



mompreneur Jody Swain - founder of Hire and Fire Your Kids APP

Jody Swain is an Elite+ member based out of Whitby, Ontario. She is the founder of Hire & Fire Your Kids, an App for the “Future of Parenting in a Digital Age” which is a game-like system combining chores, hygiene, manners and behavioural expectations all in one! Jody’s philosophy behind the App is to give kids the opportunity to be contributing members of a team, establishing strong family bonds, and teaching them to respect family values. Helping kids be independent, responsible and accountable are critical success outcomes, in addition to keeping a peaceful, tidy home. Practical skills are developed and rewarded, giving kids a sense of pride and capability to function well in the “Real World”.


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Mieka Forte – Author of The Many Sides of Happy

Mieka Forte is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Milton, Ontario, and is the CEO of Mieka Forte Inc. She uses a strength based approach to mental health, well being and success, including teaching others how to foster more happiness in their daily lives at work and home. Happiness is a strategy that can be used in multiple aspects of our lives as a success tool. It can be success in terms of career aspirations, healing and recovery, overcoming trauma and adversity as well as, as an additional tool to managing mental health issues. Mieka is the author of the book, The Many Sides of Happy. She also provides keynote presentations in corporate as well as educational settings including elementary and high schools, and teaches workshops in corporate and private group settings, as well as offering one on one coaching. We are thrilled to share Mieka’s Success Story!

mompreneur Mieka Forte, author of The Many Sides of Happiness

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
My why behind my business is to remind myself and others that we do not have to be a victim of our circumstances. A life filled with dreams come true, connection, love and happiness is possible even if life has thrown some really difficult situations your way. It takes hard work, commitment, intention and passion but happiness is possible even for those who have suffered trauma and adversity and who may be struggling with mental health issues. My why is about the reminder that there is always hope, when someone feels hopeless or that all may be lost, I want to be that tiny spark of light that allows them to know all is not lost and if they let it, that spark can ignite a massive fire and explosion within. There are few people in my life who have been that for me and I hope to offer the same for others. Life has not been the easiest for me and if I didn’t have a perspective that hope exists and happiness is still possible in spite of hard times my will continue on would be very limited. I love life and want to share with others that they can too, even when things are really tough.

mompreneur Mieka Forte, author of The Many Sides of HappinessWhat inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I was an entrepreneur at a very young age when I began teaching fitness classes and personal training. I had only worked part-time for other companies prior to getting into my fitness career so it almost felt like the only direction I would talk. I liked the flexibility and that if I worked more I made more money. For a few years I worked for another company and I did love it; however, after having my children I knew I wanted the flexibility and also felt I had a lot I wanted to share with the world and I didn’t want someone else telling me how I could do that. Truthfully, I am also too much of a rebel personality type to follow the rules of someone else’s schedule so it’s the entrepreneur life for me. Although, every so often I get challenged and will ask myself if I am sure that the life of an entrepreneur is the direction I want to take and the answer is yes every time.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The best part is the limitless opportunities and the flexibility. There really is no limit to who you can connect with, what you will learn (regardless if you want to learn or not), the different directions you may take, there is never a dull moment. I also like the constant evolution, it’s an adventure. I like adventure.

What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
I have to admit I get a little emotional thinking of the people and the experiences as I can not begin to express my gratitude to and for them all. There have been many, but if I had to pick a few, one would be my sister- her strength and perseverance is a force to be reckoned with, seeing that especially in a female role has been incredibly inspiring. My husband (gah tearing up as I write this) he has taught me that despite excruciating loss and pain, if we let it in, love still exists. He taught me to let down my guard and allow myself to see all the possibilities that life can offer. Ed also offers the most genuine, unwavering support and will call me out on my BS on a regular basis. Finally, going through cancer and seeing just how short life really can be, offered me clarity on how I want to show up in life. Through my business, I have the privilege of practicing the way I want to live my life both in career and with my family each and everyday.

mompreneur Mieka Forte, author of The Many Sides of Happiness

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
I believe in possibility, not taking life for granted and in helping others. I also believe in constantly challenging myself and authentically showing up as the best version of myself I can everyday. I realize though, this may look like me lying on the couch all day or rocking out my to-do list. By best version, I mean honouring the most real version of who I am that day. And of course I believe in and live by the fact that living a happy life is possible. These values shine through by how I show up to others and myself on a day basis in terms of showing gratitude, creative a positive environment and operating from a place of integrity . My values also show up by me doing something that scares me or challenges me to grow on daily basis. They also show up by me prioritizing my family and ensuring that we share laughter, love, and conscious, deliberate connections everyday.

mompreneur Mieka Forte, author of The Many Sides of HappinessWhat are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
This is an interesting question. Right now I am most proud of launching my book and following through even when things felt hopeless, pointless and some days too hard. I am also proud not losing sight of the message and the possibility when let’s face it we live in a pretty negative world and life can be tough. Finally, I am proud of the relationship I have with my kids and husband. I believe that being an entrepreneur has helped allow this to be possible.

What does the future look like for you and your business?
The future looks like more speaking engagements, the launch of #choosinghappy merchandise, with a portion of profits going to charity, group workshops, online coaching, graduating with my masters and getting registered as a psychotherapist. Creating a team and hopefully branching into more business opportunities.

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
Know thyself… meaning, ask for help in the areas where you struggle or your talent doesn’t exist. Takes breaks when you need them and push relentlessly towards your dreams. As someone who when she makes up her mind wants it done yesterday- I hate this tip but it’s so true, be consistent in the small daily tasks and accomplishments. They really DO add up. Finally, get out of your own way. We can be really mean to ourselves, don’t let your thoughts sabotage what you know to be true for what you need to do and where you are going.

mompreneur Mieka Forte, author of The Many Sides of Happiness


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5 Tips for Holding a Promotional Contest

Written by Karen Bivand

Before you invest the time and money into holding a contest, it’s important to make sure that it will get you tangible results. Not all contests are created equal; some are effective marketing campaigns, while others just amount to a waste of time. Here are some tips that will help you ensure that your contest makes a solid contribution to your business.

Know Your Goals

What are you trying to accomplish with this contest? Brand recognition? Increased followers on your social media sites? More referrals from existing customers? Who is your target audience? When you are clear about what you want to accomplish, you are able to design the contest with your specific goals in mind. It also makes it a lot easier to evaluate the success of this strategy.

Have an Irresistible Prize

Once you have determined the target audience for your contest, you need to get to know them. Who are they? What do they care about? What problems keep them up at night? Most importantly, what do they want? If you find a prize that they simply can’t resist, then you’ve got them hooked.

Keep It Simple

Have you ever been all excited about a contest only to find that entering it is complicated?! Who has time to spend half an hour filling out multiple entry forms or visiting several sites to fulfill the contest requirements? There should be no more than two steps involved and the whole process should take no longer than three to five minutes. As soon as your contest gets annoying, most people will ditch it.

Make a Promotional Plan

Your contest is at the top of your mind but for everyone else it’s just another thing competing for their attention. You need to remind people about it in a way that engages them and makes them want to be a part of it. Try to put yourself in the position of your target audience and think about what would grab your attention. It’s important that your plan clearly outlines where, how and when you will promote your contest and that you follow through with it.

Be Fair

Nothing irks people more than someone who isn’t playing fair. Just ask a four year old who lost his favourite game because someone was cheating. When your business is holding a contest, your reputation is on the line. Use a computer program to randomly select winners or have witnesses present when you hold a draw. It may not seem important now but you’ll be glad you did it if anyone ever questions the integrity of your contest.
Contests are one of the more fun parts of marketing your business. Have a brainstorming session and let yourself to get creative with it. You don’t have to do the same thing that has been done hundreds of times before. Take a risk, try something new and your customers will love you for it.



Featured image courtesy of shutterstock


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Tara Morellato – Tiny Teethers

Tara Morellato is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Courtenay, BC. She is the Founder and CEO of Tiny Teethers, where she designs modern teething accessories for babies. From her signature pacifier clip to wooden teethers and nursing necklaces, Tara wants to provide moms with practical, stylish and eco-friendly products for their little ones. We are excited to share Tara’s Success Story!

Mompreneur Tara Morellato of Tiny Teethers

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
When I take a step back and look at the core of my business, it’s about being creative while providing moms with a little bit of help to get them through their day. Knowing this, it helps to give me the entrepreneurial push that I need to keep driving forward and eventually work on other useful products to serve my audience of moms.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Until a few years ago, I never had aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur. It was never a career that was on my radar, or something I thought was obtainable for me. It wasn’t until I was on maternity leave (from my high school teaching position) that I began Tiny Teethers as a means of fulfilling my creative side. Before my first was born I used to design jewellery, but I was a bit weary of having silversmithing solutions and tools around my baby. This led me to start Tiny Teethers and to realize what life could be like as an entrepreneur.

Mompreneur Tara Morellato of Tiny TeethersWhat’s the best part about owning your own business?
There are too many amazing aspects to list just one, so here are three. As a mother of two young boys under 5, I enjoy the flexibility of working around my kids’ schedule when needed. I love that I have the freedom to creatively express myself through my work. Selecting new colour palettes and then bringing products to life is one of my favorite things, and something that I don’t get to spend a lot of time doing when running a business! Also, I feel so blessed to have such meaningful connections with the parents who purchase our products and reach out to give me their support. Finally, the women I have met (or idolize from a far) who are running their own businesses are such an inspiration and without embarking on this journey, I might never have gotten to know them.

What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
First and foremost my husband Mike. He’s the one who encouraged me to start Tiny Teethers when I was on maternity leave and he’s been my biggest support through this journey. Most of all, he listens to me celebrate my successes and more importantly my frustrations and struggles. Finally, my cousin Ross has been instrumental in getting Tiny Teethers to where we are today. He saw something in my passion and my products and has been invaluable in growing my brand nationwide.

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
Honesty, respect, a commitment to serve others and the environment. At Tiny Teethers we always put parents and their babies first. We guarantee our products for life. If anyone is ever disappointed we work quickly to make right our wrong and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Mompreneur Tara Morellato of Tiny Teethers

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur I am my own worst critic and at times I need to force myself to stop and look around at what I’ve created. Our products are distributed nationwide and we are beginning to be a known brand in the teething world. To think that me, a high school teacher, created this really fills me with gratitude, especially when I know the best is yet to come.

Mompreneur Tara Morellato of Tiny Teethers

What does the future look like for you and your business?
The future is exciting for Tiny Teethers. This year we will be launching a new and innovative product in the feeding category for toddlers with a focus on sustainability. This has been in the making for about a year now, and I am thrilled to finally introduce it to parents because I know it is going to make things easier for them. An important part of my life has always been giving back to others. I feel that Tiny Teethers needs to be doing more, so with the launch of this product, we will be tying it in with a social responsibility program as well.

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
Working on something that you create and control is so liberating and exhilarating. That being said, I find being an entrepreneur is often glamorized. Starting your own business means: being prepared to work when other people aren’t, making sacrifices because you have something pressing that needs to be completed, accepting the ebbs and flows of income, and also being aware that you will spend the least amount of time on your creative projects and the most amount of time on everything else involved in running a business. This is not said to deter any women, but something to be cognizant of when starting this journey. If you are reading this and have been contemplating starting your own business based on something you are passionate about, go for it! If you never try then you may always wonder, what if?

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Healthy Eating for a Stress-Free Life

Written by Suzanne Forster

If you’re like most people, you likely struggle from high levels of stress. Just about everyone has some type of stress in their life, like money, work, relationships, and just daily life. This isn’t what is damaging to your health, but it is important to be award of the high, overwhelming levels of stress that can compound and cause concern. It can be hard to function on a normal level when you have this much stress in your life.

There are certain times during the year when you might notice it more severely, like the holidays or a time when something traumatic takes place. Instead of just trying to deal with it, why not overcome it? The first way to do this is by looking at your diet; what you eat or don’t eat can have a large impact on the type of stress you experience. You can eat a healthier diet that includes foods and superfoods to help boost your mood, increase your happiness, and reduce stress levels all at the same time. These tips should help you get on your way!

Why Your Diet is Important
Before looking at some different tips for eating a healthy diet in order to help reduce stress and talking about individual foods that can help, let’s first look at why your diet is so important. Many people don’t realize the type of impact their diet has on their health and wellness. What you eat or don’t eat doesn’t just affect your weight, but can make a difference in the medical conditions you have, increase anxiety, and yes, cause or relieve stress. There are some foods that are good to add to your diet because they help relieve stress, while others can be hard on your stress and overall emotional health. When you are looking at eating a healthy diet, don’t just consider macros like calories, fat and carbs, but really look at how different types of foods can affect your stress levels. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Aim for Vitamins, Minerals, and Well-Balanced Meals: a simple way to know that you are eating the right foods for helping to relieve stress instead of making it worse is to focus on balance. Don’t try to eliminate too many foods, but make sure the foods you eat are healthy and quality. This means choosing complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and whole grains, choosing fruits and vegetables with plenty of vitamins and minerals, and adding in important nutrients like fibre whenever you can.

  2. Avoid Restricting Diets, Unless Medically Necessary: You should also be careful with diets that are too restricting. It is possible to eat a healthy diet and lose or maintain weight, without having to give up all your favourite things. While this might help you to lose a few pounds, it often ends up hurting you in the end. It creates emotional turmoil and heightened emotional stress because of how important food and nutrition is in your daily life. You can actually have more stress when you are logging everything you eat and constantly looking up nutritional content before you go to a restaurant with friends.

  3. Be Careful with Stress Eating: As much as eating can help with stress, it can also hurt it. One thing you want to be really careful with is the cycle of stress eating. When you find that you crave certain types of foods when you have stress or anxiety, like sweets, salty or fried foods, it is often not from hunger but because you are feeding your emotions instead.

How Your Diet May be Hurting You
Another important thing to know about your diet and stress levels, is that what you choose to eat might actually be making your stress worse. This isn’t just related to stress eating or lack of nutrients, but certain types of foods that can increase your stress and make life miserably on a daily basis. This is something many people don’t realize and struggle to find ways to relieve their stress, when it was exacerbated by their diet all along. Here are some foods that can make your stress worse:

  1. Foods with High Amounts of Sugar: Yes, you guessed it – sugar is the enemy when it comes to stress. This might not surprise you, since sugar tends to have a negative impact on your physical health, from bloating and weight gain, to making mental conditions like anxiety worse. Sugar can also be hard on your body when it comes to stress, most similarly with the sugar crash that happens shortly after having a high amount of sugar in your body. This is also what happens when you have a lot of simple carbs like bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes.

  2. Fattening Foods: Foods that are high in fat can also worsen your stress levels, not to mention they are often trigger foods for anxiety, which also makes your stress more severe. It is okay to have healthy fats like avocados and olive oil, but avoid saturated fats like vegetable oil, lard, and most fried foods. Reduce how much packaged and processed foods you eat, don’t eat anything fried, and you will be well on your way to eating for a stress-free life.

  3. Drinks with Caffeine: It is also a good idea to avoid caffeine, or at least reduce it. Instead of 4 cups of coffee in the morning, try one cup of coffee then see how you feel. Or switch to drinks with less caffeine, such as tea. Also, be careful with the sugar-laden soft drinks that are also loaded with caffeine.

Superfoods for Stress Relief
The first category of foods that can help you relieve stress are your superfoods. Superfoods are healthy foods with a higher-than-normal amount of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Here are some superfoods that are great for reducing stress.

  • Blueberries: When you’re dealing with stress, the interior of your body feels just as bad. However, consuming berries full of phytonutrients and antioxidants can help improve your body’s defenses and response to stress by killing off stress-causing free radicals. Try adding blueberries to your cereal or oatmeal, or making a morning smoothie with the berries.

  • Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds are great sources of magnesium, which can help you maintain your emotions and reduce stress. Additionally, this mineral can also help you manage fatigue, irritability, and depression. If you’re on your period, consuming seeds can also help you combat PMS symptoms, such as water retention and cramps.

  • Salmon: When you feel stressed out, your body can increase certain hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Fortunately, the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can help you lower your stress hormone levels. Not only will eating more salmon help reduce the stress response in your body, but the omega-3 fatty acids in this superfood can also help you to reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Dark Chocolate: Who doesn’t love some chocolate? Instead of milk chocolate, switch to the healthier dark chocolate. A healthy consumption of dark chocolate can help lower your overall stress levels. Research studies have found that the chocolate can help reduce rising stress hormones, in addition to cortisol. Antioxidants found in dark chocolate also help your blood vessel walls relax, lowering your blood pressure and improving your blood circulation. Dark chocolate also has a natural substance that creates a euphoria that’s quite similar to feeling in love. Just make sure you go for the dark chocolate variety that has at least 70 percent cocoa content. The higher the cocoa, the darker it is, and the healthier it is going to be for you.

  • Green Leafy Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are known to help your body produce dopamine, which is a chemical in your brain that induces pleasure and can help keep you calm under stress. There have also been studies that look at how dark, leafy green vegetables can help with anxiety and depression thanks to the unique combination of nutrients in this vegetable. All leafy greens are best, but look for greens with a lot of vitamins and minerals, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens.

Other Foods to Add to Your Diet
There are also many other healthy foods that can also help you to reduce your stress levels. Give some of these delicious foods a try when your holiday stress is getting to be a little too much.

  • Yogurt: Believe it or not, the bacteria located in your gut may be causing you stress. Researchers have found that the brain often signals the gut when it’s stressed, which is why you can experience gastrointestinal problems when you’re stressed out. However, the connection can go the other way as well, and the gut can send stress signals to the brain as well. The probiotics in yogurt can be extremely helpful for your body and mind, so having it more often is always a good thing.

  • Turkey Breast: It’s true that tryptophan in turkey is commonly associated with the traditional “food coma” on Thanksgiving. However, the amino acid, also found in other protein-based foods, helps you produce serotonin, which is a chemical that helps your body regulate both hunger and stress. Tryptophan also has a noticeable calming effect, which can be soothing to stressed out people. If you’re tired of eating turkey, you can also eat fish, lentils, beans, eggs, tofu, and oats, all which contain tryptophan.

  • Oatmeal: When you’re stressed out, you usually go for comfort foods high in carbs, such as donuts. Surprisingly, the rule of thumb we can tell you is to avoid denying your cravings. It is true that some carbs help to release serotonin in your brain, which helps to reduce your stress. But, instead of reaching for your next donut or bear claw, eat complex carbs such as oatmeal. Since the stress you feel is already increasing your blood pressure, complex carbs can help regulate your blood pressure, rather than add to it.

  • Cashews: Only one ounce of cashews can give you nearly 11 percent of your daily recommendation of zinc, which is a powerful mineral that can help lower your anxiety levels. While it is good to have more zinc from cashews and other healthy foods, that isn’t always necessary. Zinc supplements can drastically lower anxiety symptoms and even saw a 31 percent decrease in anxiety levels and help to influence your mood in the right way.

  • Milk: Fortified milk is a great source of vitamin D, which is a nutrient that can help increase your body’s sense of happiness. Milk has also been linked to reduced depression and anxiousness, so if you suffer from any of these mental health conditions, it is time to do your body good. However, if you are not a fan of milk, you can always go for other fortified foods, such as a fortified cereal with almond milk or soy milk.

  • Pistachios: The rhythmic motions of cracking open pistachio shells can help you lower stress and get rid of negative thoughts in your head. Not to mention, cracking open pistachio shells slows down your eating and overall, pistachios are a healthy, diet-friendly snack to indulge in. Pistachios also have a wide range of heart-health benefits, such as being able to lower blood pressure, acute stress, and your heart rate. Pistachios also contain phytonutrients, which offer powerful antioxidant that can improve your cardiovascular health.

If you want to get rid of stress in your life for good, you should start with your diet. By having well-balanced meals with whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, you are on your way to a stress-free life. And remember, even a 1% improvement each day is maintainable and doable in real life!

mompreneur Suzanne Forster Health CoachSuzanne Forster is an Elite+ Mompreneur member and Health Coach that practices holistic health and wellness with a focus on the connection between the mind, gut and heart. In her completely customized 90-Day Evolution Program, Suzanne guides her clients to feel vibrant and beautiful in mind and body through a journey of self-care and awareness. Using mindset, habit change, nutrition and practical living tools, Suzanne can help you achieve your health and happiness goals!


A version of this article previously published at

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Cathy Thompson – Beyond the Classroom

Cathy Thompson is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Burlington, Ontario. She is the Founder of Beyond the Classroom, where highly trained and hand-selected tutors work with families to customize tutoring sessions for their children – providing exactly what the child needs. The sessions take place in the students’ home in order to meet the comfort level of the child and to give parents a much-needed break from the constant shuffling around to activities.

Beyond the Classroom tutors work with students in grades JK to 12, and are Ontario Certified Teachers (OCT) or degreed professionals with teaching experience. As the only tutoring organization focused on the whole child, Beyond the Classroom tutors know academic struggles do not happen in isolation – the student might be experiencing additional challenges – anxiety, depression, sleep issues, along with different learning styles & abilities. With access to several professionals, along with expert tutors, Beyond the Classroom has 8 franchise locations in southern Ontario to help students and families feel great about school, and continues to engage with new franchise partners to help even more students with their academics. We are thrilled to share Cathy’s Success Story!

Mompreneur Cathy Thompson, founder of Beyond the Classroom tutoring for children

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
In 1991, I was offered the opportunity at my high school to take a tutoring course, on the recommendation of a teacher. Within this class, I worked with two Grade 9 students, tutoring them in their Math and English courses. I truly found my love for working with students. I realized I had a natural way that I could connect with and teach them concepts that made sense to them. That was the start of Beyond the Classroom, which was officially started  as an organization when I hired my first tutor in 1998. After being an entrepreneur for over 20 years, I truly love it! It offers me flexibility with my schedule, opportunities to be creative, freedom in decision making and most importantly, more time for my family. Having more moments with family and friends is my “why”.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
In 1977, when I was 4 years old, I had my first experience as an entrepreneur. I gathered dandelions, tied them with twist ties and sold them door to door! I feel like being an entrepreneur is a calling that I was born with. After graduating university, a good friend of mine, who was tutoring with me (before it was an official business) suggested I start a company and profit from the tutoring. My response was, “no way, I don’t want to own a company!”. In retrospect it was fear talking. I didn’t have any role models who were business owners and I had no clue where to start. But I saw that more kids needed help with school and by figuring out how to run a company I could help them. I trusted my gut, made mistakes, had successes and that’s what has kept me going. Doing things that make sense in business, rather than doing it the way it’s always been done.

Mompreneur Cathy Thompson, founder of Beyond the Classroom tutoring for childrenWhat’s the best part about owning your own business?
For me the best part of owning a business is being able to use my creativity every day to overcome challenges, problem solve and strategically plan for what’s next. I also love setting my own schedule; having the time to exercise along with helping my own kids with homework and other extracurricular activities.

Describe people and/or experiences that have been instrumental to you along your journey to entrepreneurship – what impact did they have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
There are so many people who have been instrumental on my entrepreneurial journey, pretty much everyone I know! When I think about what has kept me going for over 20 years, it is the support of those around me. My family, friends, colleagues – they have all been incredibly supportive and non-judgmental or critical. I feel that they truly believe in me and what Beyond the Classroom can do for families and students. I know that I can do anything and dream bigger because I have people who will lend an ear, offer advice, give me a hug, and inspire me.

Deciding to become a franchisor is one of the most impactful decisions I have made and my biggest professional achievement. It took me 5 years of research and consultation to finally take the (HUGE) leap to franchise Beyond the Classroom. I had no franchisees on the horizon, no mentor/guide as to what a franchisor role was, or if the model would even work. But I closed my eyes tight and leaped with no net. I had nothing to rely on except my tenacity and gut instinct (and a business model I knew was successful and could be replicated). It was the BEST decision I could have made. I have grown enormously both personally and professionally because of the care and support I receive from the franchise owners at Beyond the Classroom. I learn from them just as much as they learn from me, and I truly cherish the connection we have.

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
My core values are emulated in the core values at Beyond the Classroom. The first is connection; with relationships with family, colleagues and friends. I am at my best when I feel supported and connected to those in my life who are important to me. I make time for cultivating my friendships, even when it means being behind at work. I am very connected to my franchise partners (owners of Beyond the Classroom franchises) and continually look for ways for us to get together, share and create new ways to support students and one another. One of my other values is fairness. Decisions I make at home and in my business relate to fairness among the parties involved. I strive to have a win-win situation in the work that I do. I also value authenticity. When I show up in life, I’m my authentic self, problems and all! People who I work with and am connected to personally know me well – the good & the bad! I speak from the heart and I believe this makes a big difference in my life.

Mompreneur Cathy Thompson, founder of Beyond the Classroom tutoring for children

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I am most proud of following my instincts in business. Beyond the Classroom would not be where it is today without trusting my decisions. As an entrepreneur, it can be a very solitary role and with that comes making decisions without anyone else to talk to or to shoulder the weight. I am proud of my tenacity and how much I have grown into the role as franchisor of the company I started so many years ago. I love being a business owner, entrepreneur and mentor.

What does the future look like for you and your business?
Beyond the Classroom will continue to attract the best franchise partners to bring this amazing service to more communities to help kids feel amazing about school. Our team will continue to grow, support one another and the families we work with. I know Beyond the Classroom will be a part of many student’s journeys for years to come. For me personally, I will be moving into the franchisor role and selling my existing 2 franchise locations to other franchise partners. I covet my role as a business coach, mentor and trainer at Beyond the Classroom and would love nothing more than to continue in this field, motivating and inspiring new business owners to be successful in a business I know well.

Any tips for other women thinking of starting a business?
Do it! If you have a great idea that solves an issue that you are personally connected to, don’t let fear guide your decision making. Fear is the number one thing that stands between you and the freedom you can have as an entrepreneur. It is not easy, but it can be a lot of fun! Today, there are an incredible number of supports available to new and emerging entrepreneurs which make starting a business very accessible.

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The Lessons That Life Teaches Us

Written by Tessa Kampen

There is no way around the fact that life is hard. Find a person who has not gone through painful experiences, and you’ll actually find someone who hasn’t fully lived. I’ve have had my fair share of those experiences myself. Just recently, I was doing some yard work and I dropped a rock on my foot, and because I don’t own hard-toed working boots, I wore runners. OUCH! I learned that I must be more careful and have proper footwear when doing that type of work.

After 40 years of living, I’ve realizes that life is about learning – and by using the lessons we’ve learned, we become better at our work, better as parents, better at being a friend and just better all around. Each day is a new day to learn something new, to gain new perspective and understand more and more what this world is about. I’ve discovered that this helps me be more grateful in life and a more optimistic person in the long run.

“Learning isn’t something that stops when we are handed a diploma.”- John Wooden

Most people stop learning after high school or college – intentional learning that is. In fact, studies show that they never pick up a book, attend a course or are willing to learn new perspectives once they graduate. However, I believe that this is a time in our lives when we truly start to learn! I have learned more since graduating then I ever have in my studies! School provided me with the basic tools to handle life outside of a classroom, but what about when life knocks you down, or you experience something you couldn’t possibly prepare for? Who teaches us how we are supposed to react to everyday life and disappointments that come our way?

There were years where I thought I knew everything, and I thought my losses couldn’t teach me anything. I was stuck, frustrated and just wanted to give up, but I soon realized that pausing, re-evaluating situations, and considering what was really going on, allowed me to gain the insight and knowledge to make adjustments and move forward.

My mentor John C Maxwell talks about the different components of dealing with different types of losses, and taking those lessons and turning them into valuable weapons to equip us for challenges that will come our way in the future. Because if we don’t, the following difficulties will arise:

  • Emotionally, we will become stuck
  • Mentally, we will become defeated
  • A gap between “I should” and “I did” will be created
  • Bigger losses will come our way

Knowing all this, do you feel that setbacks, disappointments and failures are holding you hostage? Are you dealing with some bad news and you just cannot seem to move forward? There are lessons in all of those aspects of life, and you can change your perspective with proper insights to turn those dark moments into light. By looking at losses as opportunities for growth through learning, then we become unstoppable. Life is hard and it will always contain losses, but when armed with the tools to learn, losses will not overtake you.


Tessa Kampen of Mompreneurs Guelph, Kitchener and WaterlooTessa Kampen is wife to an amazing husband and mother of two spirited children, Quinton and Chloe. She is a Lead Community Manager for Mompreneurs®, ensuring that our growing community of members are supported no matter where they are located or how big or small their business is!

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Patricia Gallagher – Strong and Free™

Patricia Gallagher is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Saint John, New Brunswick, and is the VP of Marketing for Strong & Free™. The Strong & Free™ Emblem was created from leaves in Patricia’s backyard to provide proud Canadians with a way of showing their national pride. It began with a plaque for the home and has expanded into a wide variety of quality Made in Canada apparel and souvenir products. Strong & Free™ is a registered trademark, licensed to Canadian manufacturers who sell it wholesale and online all over North America. We are thrilled to share Patricia’s Success Story!

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
Having spent many years in corporations, I had always wanted to have more control over my day to day lifestyle and really be my own boss. Starting my entrepreneurial journey via a home and decor store really helped me fall in love with everything retail! When we launched the Strong and Free brand and it began to take on an amazing life of its own, we knew it was time to focus on that full time. The brand landed in Canadian Tire, Zellers, Sears and on and on. Focusing full time on brand sales has catapulted us into boutiques and Duty Free locations from coast to coast. I think the journey of the brand and my role into entrepreneurship really exemplifies the idea that if you put it out to the universe, great things can happen.

mompreneur Patricia Gallagher of Strong and Free Emblem in Saint John New Brunswick

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Fundamentally it was a desire to spend our life doing what we love and on our own terms. We had the passion, the product, the fearless nature and a load of tenacity.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Everyday is Friday! We love what we are doing and never dread Monday!

Describe people and/or experiences that have been instrumental to you along your journey to entrepreneurship – what impact did they have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
Working with a partner has been key — I would say it has been the power of 2 that has been instrumental in our success. We are both very competent but very different people in our skill sets which are very complimentary, and this has made us quite a dynamic duo. My partner Denise is a strong business woman with several years of experience in management, and my experience in HR helped hone my ability to develop and maintain long term relationships, which is key in marketing and sales.

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
There are a lot of ups and downs when you’re an entrepreneur, but you can’t stay down long, you have to pick yourself up and take another step forward. We like to have lots of “irons in the fire”, so any flames that go out are not as much of an impact because there is always something else burning! We also believe there is enough for everyone — don’t limit your best practice sharing or experiences; use them to help others along the way!

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
In 2010 we drove the Strong & Free RV from the Atlantic to Pacific to cheer on Team Canada for the Vancouver Olympics, and were followed by Canadians across the country on CBC radio. It was a very ambitious undertaking, but also the trip of a lifetime, one we are very proud of to this day. Occasionally we have a brief moment of reflection and say wow, look at everything we have done (there are literally thousands of Strong & Free items sold and making their way around the world)… it’s impressive by any standard, but we like to remain humble – after all, we are Canadians!

mompreneur Patricia Gallagher of Strong and Free Emblem in Saint John New Brunswick

What does the future look like for you and your business?
Canada 150 back in 2017 was a huge boost for us; we drove the Strong & Free RV to Ottawa for the celebrations and had a banner sales year. With more focus on marketing and sales since then, we are now in Duty Free shops all across Canada with more to come online in 2019. We are looking for more opportunities to partner with other Canadian companies who have products that would benefit from leveraging our trademark. Together we are stronger ! #buycanadian #wearcanadaproud

Any tips for other women thinking of starting a business?
First of all, I always tell people it can take ten years to be an overnight success so prepare for the long haul.  Find the right model that works for you, have a strong partner who supports and shares your passion and always have a plan “B”- that way it will reduce the stress if you have something to fall back on.

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Angela Peeters – Canadian Surrogacy Community

Angela Peeters is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Exeter, Ontario. She is the CEO of Canadian Surrogacy Community, a consulting service that helps people who are struggling with infertility to have a voice in their plan to have a family, including members of the LGBTQ community.  Through referrals, egg and sperm donation, surrogacy, and support services that are offered every step of the way, CSC guides clients for the entire duration of their journey because they believe in a process that is unique to what has been offered in the past. The team at CSC passionately believes in the necessity of providing support and guidance in a confidential and safe environment, to the Intended Parent, and the surrogate and egg donor. It starts right from the beginning with a Skype or Facetime consultation so that together, each unique situation can be assessed and it can be determined how to best help those in need. We are thrilled to share Angela’s Success Story!

mompreneur Angela Peeters of Canadian Surrogacy Community

About Canadian Surrogacy Community
We work differently than other agencies in Canada, in that we do not initially charge fees for consulting we haven’t yet undertaken. We charge one introductory flat fee for the specific service of support, referrals, profile-building, screening and consulting, to help get you started on your journey. Navigating the waters of infertility can be an intimidating process for many. We want to help alleviate those worries and answer any questions or concerns you may have towards surrogacy in general, but also discuss your own personal situation. Then we can assist in finding and mediating with the proper professionals who can benefit you the most.

Canadian law forbids us from ‘matching’ surrogates with Intended Parents. We can, however, provide a safe framework whereby we vigorously screen both surrogates and Intended Parents with the intention of building a profile which empowers you to find your surrogate or egg donor, armed with all the information and support that you need. Finding your own surrogate through our agency is a free service. After you’ve found your surrogate and she has been screened by a counsellor and clinic doctor, a second flat fee is due to hire CSC as a support service for you and your surrogate throughout the duration of your journey. This includes everything you can imagine; our team will be mediating between lawyers/doctors/nurses before, during, and after transfer, in addition to monitoring medication cycles to ensure a surrogate is comfortable. CSC will be present for several clinical appointments within Ontario clinics that the surrogate requests support, and will be present during and after the births for all babies in all provinces.

Our infertility program helps during one of the most emotionally-charged times of life, as we guide couples through the uncertainties of IVF and patient management. You’ll receive a unique level of compassion and experience during the stressors and emotional stages of pregnancy. There is never any pressure to move quickly through any stage. You determine how the journey unfolds.

mompreneur Angela Peeters of Canadian Surrogacy CommunityAbout Angela Peeters, Founder of CSC
Angela is a two-time surrogate, and a Mom of four children. She’s embarking on her third journey as a surrogate and spends her days taking care of women who are kind enough to help others. It’s a circle of giving back, because the world is about making a difference in others’ lives. Angela always believed in the premise of being on this earth to serve others. After becoming a Mother, she quickly realized she was meant to carry babies well. She enjoyed being pregnant and after three years and four children later, she was sad to quit growing life.

After watching someone close to her struggle with infertility, she immersed herself into the world of surrogacy and decided in 2012 to be a gestational carrier for a gay couple in London, Ontario. She carried two children for them two years apart and a deep friendship grew and has continued through today. After her last pregnancy she was well-versed in the surrogacy world and took a run at the business side of surrogacy by working for another agency. She thrived on the relationships she built with other women who came to her for help. But she saw the gaping holes in the service and support all agencies provided at the time. After her divorce in 2015, she re-evaluated her life and her passion for empowering women. Surrogacy is where Angela was meant to be. As a single Mom, she took her entire savings and followed her heart. She began Canadian Surrogacy Community in 2016 and it has flourished since. She wants to help other women who search for guidance through a complicated and sometimes scary process. And she wants to help empower women to find an inner peace with helping others create their families. She believes this is one of the most fulfilling, selfless acts of love one can do for someone else and she strives to create an environment for you to have the best surrogacy experience possible. Her goal is to always be evolving and making her company better for those she helps.

www.surrogacycommunity.caWhat is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
Canadian Surrogacy Community was founded on a belief that all individuals deserve a level of support that surpasses others. The struggles and grief that accompany infertility make every journey matter on an intimate level. We want to show you the benefit of finding a team of women who truly care about what you need as you move forward into surrogacy.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I always felt as a young woman that I was a square peg trying to squeeze into a circular hole. I never quite fit. I was a chameleon and could adjust to all situations, but at heart I desired a quiet introspective life. I buried myself in books – was an introvert at heart, living in an extrovert world. I couldn’t ignore the need I felt to always be fixing others. I realized early on that I could connect and ‘feel’ people on a deeper level. It became obvious that I had a strong ability to read people – cues, facial expressions, emotions, and truths. I grew to be the person everyone came to for advice. I loved writing, and so I became a journalist. Then I worked in the social services field, and then began my career in education teaching English as a Second Language.

When I decided to get married and have my own family, I poured my heart and soul into being a Mom. I loved being their everything, but my deep desire to learn more about people steered me into taking psychology courses while being a stay-at-home-Mom. When my kids went off to school, I felt a sense of emptiness. I went back to the education field, but felt unfulfilled. After dipping my feet into a surrogacy business, I knew that I had an obligation and a true calling for making surrogacy and infertility more patient-driven, with personal supports and true connections with people. It wasn’t until after I began my programs that I realized the perfect decision I had made. I had found my tribe; a community of women who all loved and supported each other through one of the most amazing and tough experiences of life. They choose to help others create life and I choose to help them do it.

mompreneur Angela Peeters of Canadian Surrogacy Community

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
In truth, I was naive about being a business owner. I had zero business experience or education; but I knew people. I understood what motivated them and how to read between the lines. I could learn the business aspects, but I wanted to be a Girl Boss and shine my light on the world. I wanted to be a great example for my children, so the best part of owning my business is teaching them about the kindness of others. They have learned that after having me home and all to themselves, they now have to share me with other people who also need me. Sometimes that’s at inconvenient times, and they miss out on moments with me, but they have learned patience and empathy because of it. They also know that my schedule can be flexible at times and I can be an active part of their world more often than the 9-5 parent who can’t get away for the track and field meet or the school talent show. I can leave the office in an emergency, and I can take my children to dentist appointments. But the power of example is truly why I do what I do. Teaching them about giving back to someone without expecting anything in return – that’s a lesson that rings loud and clear every day we wake up.

mompreneur Angela Peeters of Canadian Surrogacy CommunityWhat impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
Having my own children has led me to a place of understanding the world differently – unconditional love will do that to a person. They have taught me probably more than I have taught them about kindness and love. Growing life inside of me was an indescribable joy, but raising my kids and watching them grow into tiny human beings was the real force in driving me to start my business. The thought of anyone not being able to experience that joy is truly heartbreaking to me, especially by no choice of their own or uncontrollable outside factors. I swore after having my own kids that I would help others. During my first surrogacy experience, I met so many amazing women who inspired me to continue helping others. Many of these women I still call friends, and they support me in all that I do today. There are many stories of women through my agency who persevered through miscarriages, failed transfers, and worrisome Intended Parents, all of whom came out at the end with a healthy, beautiful baby. Those are the stories of the women who I admire and who give me the strength to keep going no matter how hard it gets. Without those women, I would not be here to continue helping others.

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
I believe in advocating for your rights as a patient first and foremost. No doctor should ever create a plan for your health and family-building that does not include you being an instrumental piece of the puzzle. So many couples suffer through unimaginable heartache trying to grow their family. Something that is so easy for one couple, can carry an immense weight for another. I was taught that if someone needs you, it is a kindness to help, expecting nothing in return. What we get is the lasting understanding of the ripple effect our choice creates. Honour, ethics, and respect drives every decision I make in my personal life and my business life. Sometimes that means making tough decisions in order to stand for what you believe in. I believe in a higher purpose. I believe in putting our intentions to the universe and letting them come back to us. I live by this notion every day to try and grow my business and believe it will all work out the way it is meant to.

mompreneur Angela Peeters of Canadian Surrogacy Community

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I’m proud of building something great from the ground up. I’m proud that when I had a dream, I chased it, no matter how uncomfortable it made me feel to walk into the unknown. I wanted to be a strong, independent woman who made her own way in the world and I have become exactly that, all while creating families for people who otherwise wouldn’t know the joy of a child. I’m proud I stayed the course and did it with my values in place. I’m proud I created a brand that is only going to grow as we learn to build our network and connections with other like-minded women and Mothers.

mompreneur Angela Peeters of Canadian Surrogacy CommunityWhat does the future look like for you and your business?
Sometimes taking that leap is scary. It’s like being blind and having someone lead the way for you. But I’ve come to understand that the universe provides when we ask. I know that with every challenge comes the potential for great success. I am leading the charge for my company to grow and evolve because I know that I have a responsibility to set the bar for other women in business and I have a deep desire to connect with others like myself. I know with certainty that we have a long road ahead of ups and downs, but giving up is not an option. I know business fluctuates, but we are going to stay the course. This year is about networking and connection with strong women and meeting amazing Moms who might want to help create families and be a part of our community.

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
Go for it! If you can dream it, you can do it. Understand the power of knowing your worth and find other empowering people to surround yourself with who can lift you up. Be ready for the down days, but don’t let them consume you. Always know that when one door closes, another one will open.


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5 Bad Excuses for Not Starting a Business

Have you always dreamed about starting a business, but found that you are too afraid to take the leap?  There are plenty of good reasons not to start a business, but often it’s just good old fear that stops us.  Unfortunately, it’s the things that we don’t do that we usually regret – if you are resting on one of these five excuses, it just might be time to get out of your own way!


It’s true, you might… but you also might succeed passed your wildest imagination. In the end, even if you do fail, you will likely learn something valuable in the process.


You have something crucial in common with even the most successful business people that you know – everyone has the same 24 hours given to them on a daily basis. What are you prioritizing and how are you spending the time that you do have?


You will probably never be ready. Launching a business is always going to be scary and overwhelming, but you just need to take the plunge if you know to your core that it’s something you are passionate about doing.


Building a business takes capital… that saying “it takes money to make money” isn’t just a cliche, it’s the hard truth. Don’t let this stop you however – just start small and grow slowly! Things will move at the pace they need to, and a lack of capital shouldn’t prevent you from at least getting the ball rolling.


There is an incredible amount of resources available for new entrepreneurs, both online and at various centres you can visit in person within your community. Google is your friend here, as well as other female entrepreneurs who have some years of experience under their belts. If you ask the right questions, you will start to gain the insights you are looking for!