BALANCED. BRAVE. BODACIOUS.
Moms In Business: 15 Success Stories with Soul
Motherhood is messy, brilliant, overwhelming... and full of so much love it can stop your heart in its tracks. When you add in a career or business, the juggling act stretches you to new heights. Sometimes it brings you to your knees, but you keep your heart open and you keep going – because you believe in you, and your tribe has your back.
You are a WOW Woman Of Worth, and you are absolutely glorious.
“It takes a village to make life work. These incredibly inspiring, smart and hard-working ‘mompreneurs’ have provided the most heart-warming real-life stories. This book will be a game-changer for your life and business.”
Karlene Karst — Mom of 3, Founder of Sea-licious
“Mom entrepreneurs often feel alone, juggling a dozen balls with one arm while carrying a toddler in the other. Bravo to the women in this book who share their inspiring stories so that others can learn from them.”
Elaine Tan Comeau — Canada's 2014 Mompreneur® of the Year
Our authors listed below, share the highs and lows of their journeys, and the gems of how they made it all work to survive and thrive. Their stories will make you laugh and cry, and they will inspire you to shine.
Christine Awram, Founder
WOW is MOM Upside-Down
“I don’t understand any woman who says ‘I’m just a mom.’ Is there another job on the planet that’s more important?”
— C. Awram
“Chocolate is a vegetable, because it comes from a bean.”
This is just one of many outrageous statements you’ll hear from Christine Awram (while wearing a pink tiara) as she encourages women to question any of their beliefs that limit an empowered, joyful, and successful life.
She’s the founder of Woman Of Worth WOW Worldwide and is a dynamic speaker, author, visionary, and philanthropist. Christine radiates vitality with her indomitable spirit and humour. Yet her earlier years began as a teenage runaway who experienced addiction, illness and depression.
She inspires others by sharing the specific strategies she used to move from futility to fulfillment, and how she transformed challenges into passion and purpose.
Christine’s commitment to the empowered leadership of women resulted in her being honoured with the Outstanding Leadership Award by the Global Women’s Summit. She has personally inspired over 10,000 women through her WOW events, has published four #1 bestselling books in the last two years, and believes she is just getting warmed up.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
— Mark Twain
Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Luisa fell in love with theatre after landing the role of Mary Magdalene in her high school’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. She graduated university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications before pursuing her true passion: singing. This paved the way to performances with the popular group Ambivalent Crowd and her own band Hall of Fame in Manila, Japan and Malaysia.
In 1989, Luisa and her band came to Canada touring North America. Her uncanny resemblance to Tina Turner paved the way for her world class tribute act, receiving rave reviews and standing ovations all over the world. Luisa was invited on Oprah twice and made a much-talked about special appearance on the ELLEN Show.
Believing in the importance of giving back, Luisa performed in various fundraising events, including a gruelling show tour for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Bosnia and Sarajevo, performing for the Multinational Force and Observers in Israel and Egypt, and raising awareness for veterans with PTSD. In 2013, she was voted as one of the Top Canadian Immigrants.
Luisa is a mother of two, Kimi and Zenia, married to Steve Marshall, a singer, advocate, producer, tv host of SMC Channel 4’s Simply The Best, The Luisa Marshall Show and writer/ publisher for MetroVan Independent News Online.
Six Degrees of Personal and
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,
but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”
— Maya Angelou
Registered Holistic Nutritionist Tawnya Ritco’s story is one of self-
discovery. Her interest in nutrition stemmed from her own past blood sugar issues, and when several of her family members faced serious health challenges she was inspired to pursue a career in natural health. This in turn led her to becoming a Director of Education for PURICA – a complete wellness company. Tawnya has given public presentations on health-related topics and has contributed articles to various publications.
The premature birth of her daughter Alexa took her on a courageous journey which only strengthen her belief in a balanced and integrative approach to health. She is now a volunteer and member of the Patient and Family Engagement Committee (Neonatal Program) at BC Women’s Hospital.
Tawnya believes that being proactive in taking care of your health is like buying insurance: you don’t think about it until you need it, but when you do you are happy you have it! Life can be unpredictable, but when we start from a stronger base, we are better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs and take in all of life’s beautiful moments.
You Are Amazing
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou
Kristy has a beautiful photography studio located in Langley, BC, and has been photographing people for the last decade. It is her belief that every person deserves incredible portraits of themselves, whether it be to bring yourself forward as the face of your business through a Personal Branding session or to celebrate yourself just because with a magazine-style portrait session. No matter what the purpose of your photos may be, Kristy delivers an experience that will leave you feeling uplifted and amazing.
She realized at the start of her business that photographs could do more and be more than just pictures. Through her imagery, she loves to share stories and create awareness about important messages. She has also used her talents to volunteer and give back to many community organizations, movements and events.
When she’s not doing any of the above, she spends her time raising her three energetic and hilarious kids alongside her husband and hardworking partner of sixteen years. But her door is always open to connect, and she invites you to her studio to have a photoshoot of your own.
Side by Side: A Work-Life Balance Success Story
“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens”
— Jimi Hendrix
As someone who nurtures her creative side through singing with the Richmond Singers, painting, photography and writing, Lorna often wonders how she ended up where she is now – running a company and dealing with numbers for most of her daily life.
Lorna read a Vanessa Johnson poem as part of her eulogy to her mother in 2008. The words in the first verse really struck home for her: “I want to live life to the fullest, and not have any regrets, for the things I say, for the things I do, as I pass by my way on through.” It’s a philosophy she has depended on for guidance and describes how she has navigated through life’s
ups and downs.
Lorna has faced a number of daunting challenges over the
years, but she knows she could not have done it without the remarkable team she has built around her. That team includes her daughter, Karen, who has been by her side in the business since 1992, and her son, Mark, who joined the company in 2014.
Lorna loves her life and can truly say she has “no regrets.”
Shelly Lynn Hughes
Past and Present
“To be successful, you can not be afraid to ask for help and admit you do not know it all. You can not be afraid to experience incredible failure, and when you do fail – and yes, it will happen, as it has for me and every other entrepreneur or person in business – you have to have the confidence and understanding that failure is part of the process in your journey to success.”
— Shelly Lynn Hughes
Shelly Lynn Hughes is the founder Fresh Magazine and a partner Skin Spin Cosmetics, Project Her Inc, and YOYOMAMA.CA.
In addition to her work as a publisher and business owner, she has developed an exclusive skincare label for a major pharmacy and consulted for various magazines and health and beauty brands.
Shelly won the prestigious WOW Woman Of Worth “Mom Entrepreneur of the Year” Award in 2013. She loves to get her hands on an idea, make it a reality, and share it with the world—all while radiating the good vibes of a best girlfriend.
Finding Your Inner Strength
“No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations you go through in your life, we all have something deep within us that we can reach down and find the inner strength to get through them.”
— Alana Stewart
Christine Mack is from the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola, BC (the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest). Before small pox ravaged the area, there were 200 communities, and after smallpox less than 200 people survived. They all came together, and this is how Bella Coola was formed. Resiliancy is in Christine’s blood. She takes pride in being a strong
Nuxalk woman and mother to her five beautiful children. Her children have given her the strength she needed to continue moving forward and start her healing journey.
Christine began her career in health care in 2002. She started as a Resident Care Aide and then furthered her education to become a Licensed Practical Nurse in 2008. She has been an LPN since 2009 and spent all these years working in Dementia Care at various nursing homes in Kamloops, BC.
Christine has plans to further her education and become a Registered Nurse. Having a child with mental health problems and losing both her best friends to addictions has made her passionate about mental health and addictions. She is going to pursue that path and plans to work in mental health and/ or addictions after she is completed the Registered Nurse program.
Allison J. Bran
Freedom to Succeed
“Freedom cannot be bestowed – it must be achieved.”
Allison J. Bran has known since the age of three that “Mom” was the title she wanted to earn more than any other. She’s also a textbook type-A overachiever who entered this world with big dreams and they keep getting bigger.
Today, Allison is an entrepreneur, brand strategist, and the founder and CEO of REX Marketing + Design Inc., a seven- time international-award-winning agency. Her company has developed some of Canada’s fastest growing brands while remaining committed to the creation of socially responsible marketing messages.
But her own business growth didn’t come quickly at first. Allison shares her personal story of how her desire to put her family first held her back from thinking big and the specific breakthrough that led to 800% growth over twenty-six months while remaining true to her family values.
Allison is married to her partner of thirteen years, David, and they have two incessantly curious and lively children under the age of four. Driven by a desire to facilitate connection and growth, Allison is on a mission to develop good-hearted leaders that will change the world, whether it be in her role as a mother, marketer, or mentor.
Getting To What Matters Most
“Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.”
— Nicole Reed
Lucie Honey-Ray experienced several losses in her life before she became conscious that she was allowing these losses to define who she was. Driven to make the best out of her circumstances,
Lucie’s journey to learn more about herself led her to discover a deep passion to help others and build community. She has contributed hundreds of hours to supporting nonprofits,
participated in social development initiatives and led hundreds of personal and professional development workshops. She was affectionately known as Abbotsford’s Community Cheerleader.
Her keen interest and passion for neighbourhood development resulted in the creation and publication of a Neighbourhood Toolkit that was used nationwide.
Lucie became a life student of the effects of change on individuals, organizations, and communities. She holds an MA in Community Development, a BA in adult education, a Provincial Instructor’s Diploma and a Business Administration Diploma. She currently manages two initiatives for youth transitioning out of government care in BC and Vancouver.
Lucie’s eclectic and diverse life experiences make her a dynamic and inspiring facilitator and speaker. An advocate of lifelong learning, she continues to explore and incorporate new tools and innovative approaches to her practice.
Daughters Become Mothers
“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
DeeAnn Lensen is a European-trained Skin Care Expert, Spa Consultant, Certified Life Coach, Best Selling Author, and Keynote. A pioneer in pairing self-esteem tools with spa treatments and skin care application, DeeAnn’s multi-faceted strengths have empowered thousands from the Inside Out. She offers
powerful Thrive Coaching, plus Skin Rescue Seminars. She owns Touché Beauty, which offers spa-quality serums. She also owns Advanced Spa Technologies, a five-star spa, consulting, education, and distribution company in Canada.
Nicole Slenning is an award-winning journalist, former TV sports reporter, anchor, and producer. The first female sports anchor in southern Oregon she covered college athletics for 15 years including the BCS Football National Championship, the Rose Bowl, and the US Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Slenning now works as a producer and project manager for YouTube cover artist Peter Hollens and his online creator academy, Creator Education. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her partner, Nigel Burch and her children Chloé and Karch.
Kirsten Slenning is an actor, producer, and writer who has appeared on stage and in TV series, commercials and independent films. She also co-wrote, produced and portrays Emily in the web-based series The Drive, which has received several awards, nominations and festival screenings in USA, Canada, and Europe. Slenning lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband, musician Dan Mangan, and their two sons.
Melanie ter Borg
An Ode to the Empty Nest
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
— C. JoyBell C.
Melanie ter Borg has international experience as a scientific Research and Development technician and has worked with the government, academia, and start-ups. She has taught at UCI, Irvine, and the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, Vancouver. She holds a B.Sc. in Cell Biology, an M.A. in Women’s Studies, and is trained in Sustainability Management.
She has co-authored several scientific papers in the areas of plant virology, stem cells, and slow release in cancer therapy, and her master’s theses looked into the career trajectories of male and female scientists to see if there were any causative or correlative life events or circumstances that affected their relative success as they climbed the career ladder.
Since leaving academic research, she has been involved in numerous start-ups and not-for-profits as co-founder, board member, or “feet on the ground,” addressing auto-immune disease, food sovereignty, uptake of cleantech technologies, green living walls, and B2C delivery logistics.
Currently she is exploring anti-aging technologies and techniques and is overlaying this with knowledge about how to deal with the adverse effects of our toxic environment. She can be found living the dream sailing on her boat, doing isometric barre exercise, cycling, and attending wine tasting events.
The Balanced Mom
“Here is to strong women. May we know them .May we be them. May we raise them.“
Michelle Bernier has loved interior design since she was a child, and is in her natural element when she is designing and creating amazing spaces for her clients. She has been in the renovation and design business for over ten years and has proven that she can deliver a beautiful finished project. Her clients love her innovative ideas and fresh approach to decorating
Michelle’s constant pursuit for excellence, design, and
innovation,coupled with her affinity for using Canadian products, make her a well-sought-after designer. Michelle also has strong personal values and is loyal to her clients, friends, suppliers and to the underprivileged in her community. She is passionate that design should be beautiful, functional, and unique to you.
Her husband, Rey, and her two beautiful children, James and Anaiyah, have enhanced her creativity for making spaces beautiful throughout the years.
Her company, Michelle Dupré Design & Company, is a one- stop design shop for all of your project needs, from cabinetry to tiles, paint, wallpaper, flooring, fabrics and more. She has taught design to many students and plans to create more design classes as part of her business model.
Happiness is the Only Real Success
“The very most profound thing we have to offer our children is our own healing.”
— Annie Lammot
Christina Weizmann spent a good decade supporting leaders of successful corporations in both South Africa and Canada. After getting laid off twice due to the economic climate, she decided to take control of her own destiny and strike out on her own as an entrepreneur.
As the owner of Pivotal Concepts Communication Studio, she has worked directly with hundreds of clients in determining their values, objectives, and desired results and translating that into an effective marketing strategy with a powerful brand and online presence.
After marrying and starting a family in her early forties, Christina joined the family business Passion Diamonds, Inc. She now enjoys educating clients about diamonds and jewellery while also taking on specific projects that are in alignment with her values, including several charitable initiatives that help make the world a better place.
Christina is vehemently passionate about the plight of all animals around the world, and she is dedicating the next half of her life to help change the global laws to protect all animals and create awareness about their suffering. There’s a food revolution going on, and Christina is challenging us all to be disruptors to those who have the power to make real change.
A New Perspective on Priorities
“We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
— Brené Brown
Jennifer Nagel is a clinical coun-sellor who works with individuals, couples, and families of all ages and is the author of Magic in the Muck: Finding Grace in Chaos. She travels the world and teaches professional and personal growth programs in countries such as Canada, China, and Kenya, along with providing clinical supervision for other therapists. She has worked with
Chapter 13 diverse groups including therapists, social workers, educators, school programs, community groups, at-risk youth, non-profit organizations, and corporate groups.
Jennifer also is very involved as with the Satir Institute of the Pacific, a non-profit organization that provides programs for personal and professional growth and transformation.
She has spent the past twenty years learning, studying, and applying the Satir Model (based on the work and teachings of family therapy pioneer Virginia Satir) in facilitating transformational change work. Jennifer is passionate about teaching and mentoring others in the use of Transformational Systemic Therapy and helping others to reconnect with the magic of who they truly are.
Jennifer lives in Surrey, BC, Canada with her husband, Rod, and their children, Mahalia and Kai.
Truth Be Told
“What at first may seem like a detour, could very well turn out to be destiny.”
— Author Unknown
Paula Blamey is a mother of three, activist, entrepreneur and all around bad-ass business woman who brings passion and excitement to all areas of her life. As a successful Real Estate Agent in British Columbia’s beautiful Fraser Valley, Paula’s genuine interest for the real estate industry allows her to share her passion and knowledge with her clients, Chapter 14 providing the highest level of service.
In 2015 Paula received world-class training from iPEC
Coaching Federation, in Seattle, USA and later founded Warrior Women’s Circle, coaching women and mothers through separation, divorce, and challenging life transitions. In her spare time she enjoys an active lifestyle, practicing yoga and meditation and navigating the waters in her kayak.
Paula’s contribution to the book is a legacy to her children, and she hopes it will be a source of inspiration to them and to the readers to find their voice and share their authentic truth.
Defining Mom Success
“Success isn’t just what you accomplish in your life; it’s achieving what you desire and inspiring others to do the same in the process."
— Sandy Gerber
Sandy Gerber is an award-winning marketing and communications expert. For over twenty years, Gerber has revitalized marketing and messaging for companies of all sizes, including some of North America’s most beloved brands such as Molson Canada, Appleton Estate, BC Lottery, and more.
Her rich expertise in founding three successful companies fuels her passion to teach entrepreneurs how to market themselves effectively. As the CEO of NEXT Marketing Agency, Gerber set a new standard for innovative marketing, growing the award-winning company from her bedroom into one of BC’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies.
Sandy is the visionary of the “BRAND CHATTER” marketing methodology and education products. Her book, BRAND CHATTER: 5 Simple Steps to Brand Your Business to Stand Out, Create BRAND CHATTER and Grow Sales is a very popular resource for entrepreneurs.
She currently enjoys creating brand strategies to revitalize businesses with Marketing Action Plans (MAPs) and educating small business owners in marketing with her online marketing schools, Marketing & Communications Mastery and Elevator Pitch Mastery. Known for her innovative, fun and visual speaking style, Sandy promotes the power of emotional appeal through language and is a popular speaker for events and organizations.