Pepperlane was born in Massachusetts, but we've been working with an ambassador, Charryse Bigger, in the Portland, OR area to build our first out of state chapter. As part of that effort, we are launching a new partnership with the MOB NW/The MOB Nation, a Portland community focused on connecting and supporting moms who own businesses. Below is some background on how the MOB NW came to be and how it's working to build a strong community of mother owned businesses in the Northwest. We'll be teaming up for our first event in that area in January.
In 2012, Aria Leighty was a single mom running her first brick and mortar business, an art studio for kids. She knew she needed to network and connect with other business owners, but struggled to fit into traditional networking groups where her purple hair and paint-and-glitter covered clothing was frowned upon.
She founded the MOB NW (Mommy Owned Businesses) as a way to connect with other business owners who were also mothers. In the beginning, a handful of women would get together in their homes, with children present, to share stories and relax with others who understood their struggles. Eventually, the group grew to be a place for mom business owners (called MOBs) to ask business questions, get feedback on ideas, and talk about juggling work and kids.
“At first, I wanted to blend in and be more like the business people I was seeing in the community. But I saw so many other women that were hiding their truth. I want to redefine the way women in business are viewed. Especially moms in business—rock your purple hair, tattoos, whatever. You can still be good and professional,” she says.
By 2016, the Facebook group had grown to over 1,800 MOBs in the Northwest. Aria formed her board of directors (Eva Kelley as Creative Director, Ashely Schlaefli as Treasurer and VP of Membership, Gwen Montoya as VP of Marketing, and Brittainie Henderson as VP of Events and Member Outreach) and launched the MOB Alliance, the paid level of the MOB NW.
The MOB Alliance is a cross between a chamber of commerce for mom-owned businesses, a networking group, and supportive, kid-friendly community. MOB Alliance benefits include free access to kid-friendly meetups, co-working, coffee chats, weekly business and self-development webinars, reduced quarterly conference tickets, discounts from other MOB Alliance members, exclusive discounts on advertising, and listing on the MOB NW website.
Over the past 18 months, the MOB Alliance has grown to over 210 member businesses, six chapters, and nine monthly meetups around Oregon and Washington. Plans to expand nationally led to the creation of The MOB Nation Facebook group for MOBs outside the Northwest as well as rebranding the website as The MOB Nation. The MOB NW was also chosen as a 2017 SCORE Mentors Small Business Championship finalist.
Aria says the impact in the community includes seeing members take the leap into opening a new business getting out of their comfort zones, and expanding current businesses. "What has shocked me the most is to see the personal growth in each member. I love watching the close friendships form, the businesses double, and the people grow as both moms and business owners."
Aria hopes the MOB Nation brings “MOB Culture” and its focus on cooperation over competition and showing up as you are to MOBs all over the country. “I love to see women supporting and helping each other. Every woman should have a tribe of other women who have her back. I truly believe that the MOB is changing the way women network.” she says.
Here's a look at three MOB Alliance businesses:
Author and speaker, Coach Lia Dunlap, is a beloved coach in the MOB community. She’s been a speaker at MOB conferences, and she is one of the first people MOBs turn to when they are struggling with personal or business limitations. With over 20 years’ experience and direct manner, her thoughtful questions and intuitive guidance have gotten more than one MOB unstuck and on to the path of success!
Bryna Sampey, owner of Doula My Soul, is a birth doula, IBCLC (lactation consultant) and birth educator. She uses a multi-disciplinary approach to breastfeeding and postpartum care to help moms achieve their goals faster and in a more supported way. Her team includes several other MOB Alliance members including Sejal Fichadia (IBCLC, postpartum doula), Anne Tegtmeier (IBCLC, massage therapist), and Jessi Wells St. Claire (IBCLC, postpartum doula).
Lyla, owner of Full Belly Fare – Handcrafted Dinners Delivered, provides meals for busy people. Her experience making delicious, nourishing dishes for friends and family dealing with severe illness or recovering from surgery give her the skills to create meals that can be customized to accommodate dietary preferences and allergies. Many of her crew are mothers needing extremely part-time work with a flexible schedule. She also co-owns Kitchenhood Commissary, a commercial kitchen that serves as an incubator for small, local food businesses.
We also shared some more about Pepperlane on the MOB NW blog; take a look.