In 2012 Aria Leighty was a single mom who had just opened her own brick and mortar business. She wondered how other moms managed motherhood and running a business, and she wondered where she could turn for answers to business questions. Resources that focused on business and entrepreneurship didn’t take into account being a parent and parenting groups typically didn’t touch on also running a business. Realizing there was no one place where being a mom and being a business owner were held in equal regard, she founded the MOB NW in 2013 as a Facebook group.
Over the years, the Facebook group grew into the thousands. Some in-person meet ups were held, but it was a challenge to make them sustainable. Although Aria always planned to launch a directory of mom-owned businesses and paid level of her MOB group, the pieces didn’t fall into place until Spring 2016 when she put the MOB NW Board of Directors together. She selected her board of directors from the MOB NW Facebook group, choosing women who represented the heart Aria wanted the MOB NW to have as it grew.
The MOB Alliance, a paid level of the MOB NW group was launched in the spring of 2016 and has since grown to more than 150 members in the Portland Metro, Vancouver, and Eugene areas. The original Facebook group has grown to more than 4,400 members and continues to grow by about 50 members each week.
“We’re growing so fast. Not only the MOB Alliance, but also the original group. I think moms are tired of traditional networking and are looking for ways to connect and network in a way that feels right to them,” says Gwen Montoya, VP of Marketing.
As Eva Kelley, MOB NW Vice President and Creative Director, notes “It's not just about numbers. The quality of relationships and business partnerships has been really amazing to be a part of and witness. I'm blown away by the amount of active and involved moms we have in this community.”
One of the unique aspects of the MOB Alliance is its inclusive membership benefits and accepting “MOB Culture”. The absence of extra fees for members when it comes to conferences or meet ups and the come-as-you-are environment are both deliberate decisions and an important part of Aria’s vision for the MOB. “I wanted our members to know that we value their time and money – we know both are limited when you are a MOB. Running your own business is rarely glamorous, so I wanted to create a space where we could come as we are and not worry about getting dressed up and putting on a show for others.”
The overall sense of community and family is something many MOBs didn't realize they were missing until they attended a meet up or conference.
Brittainie Henderson, VP of Events and Member Outreach says "The MOB means family. An ear to listen and a voice of wisdom. Being part of strong, successful, and loving women in business is what motivates me to get out of bed every day. My favorite part is hearing how everyone is growing and accomplishing their dreams while working on my own."
MOB meet ups are held four times each month in Oregon and Washington– Portland Westside, Portland Eastside, Vancouver, and Eugene. A Happy Valley/Gresham meet up launches in June 2017. Hillsboro and North County (Washington) meet ups are scheduled to launch in August 2017. Meet ups are fun, casual events where children are typically welcomed. It isn’t unusual to see a mom networking while wearing her baby or holding her toddler.
"It is different from any other networking group. You don't have to pretend to have it all together. You can come as you and everyone is understanding and welcoming because they get it,” says Ashley, VP of Membership and Treasurer of the MOB NW.
MOB Culture is often mentioned in the group and is a guiding principle of the MOB NW.
Brittainie explains "We're showing the impact we can have, as women and as business owners, when we come together. We're raising awareness and community by living MOB Culture every day. It's truly amazing to step back and see such a diverse set of women work together and support each other so well. "
“I’m humbled to see so many women stand behind such a new idea. What has shocked me the most is witnessing the personal growth in each member. I love watching the close friendships form and seeing members grow as both moms and business owners.” says Aria
In March 2017, the MOB NW was awarded a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card and named as one of 102 finalists nationwide of the SCORE Mentors and Sam’s Club American Small Business Championship awards. The grand prize is $25,000.
The $1,000 Sam’s Club prize money was used to purchase items to improve MOB NW events, including meet ups and conferences, for attendees – a portable microphone so soft-spoken speakers can be heard and better name tags for networking. Collapsible canopies, folding tables, banners, and signage were also purchased. These will be made available to MOB Alliance members don’t have the funds to purchase these items or the space to store them to rent as needed. “We were able to use these new items at an event recently. Better visibility helped us not only promote current members, but also sign up brand new members,” Aria explains.
As a mom and business owner, Aria sees the unique challenges of juggling both roles first hand. “Running a business and being a mom both require 100% of your time and effort. Finding the balance is so important for all of us.”
Brittainie brings up the guilt most working moms feel. "Mom guilt is the biggest challenge for me. Imagine having to meet with clients on a tight deadline but, your toddler is throwing a tantrum and decides to poop right before you have to leave to drive a half hour away from childcare. Then, when you get there your child is looking at you with the most innocent eyes filled with tears because you have to go," she says.
Eva also mentions how challenging it is to be mom-owned business and pulled in different directions. “We’re fully needed in different ways by separate things. Even writing this down has taken me about 10 times longer than they should have because I have a toddler. When I team up with another MOB for an event and we are picking a date or figuring out logistics, I don't have to skirt around the fact that I am scheduling around my family. I get to just be the other mom that owns a business and is trying to make it all work- and my MOBs get that. I don't have to check any part of who I am at the door,” she says.
Eva says an unexpected benefit of the online directory is how easy The MOB NW makes finding and supporting mom-owned businesses. “The most surprising aspect of the MOB for me is just the amount of quality mom-owned business there are in this "small" area. I already knew women can do anything- but I just keep being impressed over and over again.”
Gwen mentions the welcoming feel of the group, “The passion our members have for supporting each other and actively seeking collaborations has surprised me the most. I know these women. I know they have big hearts and big plans – and seeing them lift each other up is always inspiring,” she says.
Aria’s future plans for the MOB are focused on growth and expanding MOB Culture. “I hope to have more than 25 chapters around the United States. I want to bring the love, culture, support, and community the MOB NW provides to as many as possible. I truly believe that the MOB is changing the way women network,” she explains.
Jen owns Trifecta BodyBar located inside Birch Salon. You can find her in downtown Milwaukie at 11220 SE 21st Ave, downtown Milwaukie (near Milwaukie high school).
Although she spent 15 years working in the banking and mortgage industries, she eventually realized she needed a drastic change. She wasn’t happy and was suffering from corporate burnout. “I've always had a nurturing side, and after doing some soul searching and lots of deliberation, I decided massage therapy and self-employment would be the next chapter of my life,” she explains.
Over the past eight years, she has been licensed in esthetics and certified to do lash extensions and sugaring, an alternative to waxing. Those skills, combined with massage therapy allow her to offer a wide range of self-care options. Jen works with both men and women and her services include facials, massage, lash extensions, sugaring, and foot reflexology.
We asked Jen if she has a mentor she admires. “Anyone who juggles being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, homemaker, business owner, social media pro, and all the things that go with it – they are who I look up to,” she says.
She continued “Three that come to mind are Deanna Marie, owner of Birch Salon - who has 4 kiddos!). Alicia Osborn, my upline with SeneGence - who has multiple full time jobs and a big family. And, of course, and Aria Leighty, founder of the MOB NW, who manages so many responsibilities with a smile and amazing attitude.”
Jen’s biggest struggle in business is one all moms can relate to - time management. “Now that I have a little one. I need to clone myself!” At the same time, she says running a business and being a mom are two of her proudest accomplishments and that managing both has taught her a lot.
She urges anyone considering opening a business to include themselves in their plans and goals. “Many times we get so excited to start a new chapter that we forget and lose sight of ourselves, and risk burnout,” she explains.
Jen’s ideal referral is someone who is motivated and ready to make themselves and self-care a priority.
Jen says she is excited to be a MOB NW member because of the connection. “The family-esque relationships and no negativity. Just constant support, love, advice, and friendship.
She loves working for herself and setting her own hours and even the amount of pressure she puts on herself! “The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself! I can be as lax or as intense as I want; I'm the one who has to deal with the consequences,” she explains.
You can find Jen online at:
Can we take a moment to appreciate how hard moms work?
With that in mind, we want to treat a mom to a bouquet from Flowers by Alana, an aromatherapy spray from Oily Mother, and a Head to Toe 90 minute relaxation package (includes mini organic facial, mini massage, and reflexology foot treatment with peppermint and tea tree oils) from Jen at Trifecta Body Bar!
To enter the contest, go to this link and follow the instructions! Good luck!
Launched in 2012, WellMama is a free wellness and community resource fair in Clark County, Washington. MOB NW member, Bryna Sampey, is the founder of WellMama as well as a IBCLC (a lactation consultant) doula, and founder of Doula My Soul.
The WellMama fair hosts diverse vendors and engaging speakers from Clark County and beyond with the goal of sharing free and low-cost family resources and education. The day-long event includes gifts for attending, entertainment, events, fantastic raffle prizes, a marketplace for shopping, and lots of fun activities for kids and families.
WellMama 2017 takes place on May 6th from 9am to 1pm at the Firstenberg Rec Center. This year's theme is "What Does a Family Look Like?". Get more information here.
Families in the community are welcome to attend, have a fun outing, have time to shop, and learn about free and low cost resources near them. “We’re about bringing together people who may not realize how accessible healthcare can be. Our folks work together with families to find affordable ways to work together. For example, many providers take State insurance, or offer payment plans. Some of our vendors offer ways to work from home and earn extra income, some offer assistance and support for free,” Bryna explains.
The common thread running through everything WellMama offers is health, well being, and accessibility to the community members who need it most.
We asked Bryna why it was important to her to hold WellMama in Clark County:
“Living in Clark County, folks get used to going to Portland for lots of things. That started to include health & wellness. As I grew more established in the healthcare community, I learned of some amazing local resources that were going largely untapped. Meanwhile, traffic is getting worse every day, and people are wanting to devote their free time to family, not commuting to the doctor. Besides, if you drove an hour in traffic home from a chiropractor, all that good work is undone! I decided to ask the local community to come together to show off what we have on offer! Therapists, bodyworkers, doctors, physical fitness coaches, you name it- we have an amazing mix of health & wellness folks who bring such good stuff to the table!”
Proceeds from this year’s WellMama event will go towards “Happy Homecoming, Baby!” A project that will bring postpartum doulas to families of diverse backgrounds to measure the effect of two weeks of postpartum doula support on family outcomes in the first 12 months.
Vendors and speakers include:
Nursing Mother's Counsel
Bella Health & Wellness
Karen Asbury Healing Arts
Whole Mama, Whole Child
Pinnacle Women's Theraputics
Your Holistic Mentor
Birth & Family Midwifery
Baby Nest Birth Services
Doula My Soul
Making Your Own Bed Intimacy Coaching
Family Chiropractic at Salmon Creek
Pure Haven Essentails
Traveling Julie Photography
Be Inspired Counseling & Wellness Coaching