SavvyMom Entrepreneur of the Year 2011

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You can now nominate and vote in the 5th annual SavvyMom Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Since 2007, SavvyMom online parenting network has celebrated business-minded mothers by offering up a $15,000 prize to what their judges deem the most successful and most influential company of the year in the mom entrepreneur world.

I profiled two local finalists in 2009 and once again Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have a strong showing in this national competition.

Local nominees 2011:
Little Bambino
Jillian Kirby Baby
Toots n’ Tots
Sunflower Florist
Zoolu Organics
The Goddess Movement
Ugi Fitness Inc.
Kids Vancouver
Harmony Dental Studio
Mother of a deal
Aly Dahl Designs
Children’s Directory
Kinder Cafe
Organically Hatched
Baby Boo
Taslie Skin Care Ltd.
The Beautiful Woman Project
Cheeky Cherry
Lovey’s Baby Products
Geekling Designs

So what makes a mom entrepreneur? Nominees must be the founder, developer, day-to-day operator of a business that was founded after becoming a mother (see full contest rules and regulations).

I emailed back and forth with one of the nominees, Jennifer Thornton, who founded Geekling Designs in 2009. She was trying to find something unique for her eldest daughter to wear when she was a baby and failing to locate just the right styles, she took it upon herself to start designing outfits.

“Having always had a passion for anything crafty, I made a bodysuit for her to wear, which showed off my and my husband’s love for video games,” Jennifer told me. “After a lot of compliments on her bodysuit, Geekling Designs was born and we started selling at local swap meets and online.”

Jennifer said that her target audience is “fellow geeks” who will get the Harry Potter, gamer, and computer-oriented references that are printed on her child-size outfits. “Due to the popularity of video games and movies such as Harry Potter, ‘geek’ has gone chic, and parents are gobbling up wares for their geeklings!”

Should she win the Savvy Mom award, Jennifer would use the $15,000 prize as an investment in her home-based business, streamlining production and getting in more equipment. Winners receive $5,000 cash along with other goods and services that make up the remaining $10,000 value. This includes a full-year business mentorship with Laura Berg, winner of the 2010 award, and founder of My Smart Hands.

With such stiff competition and a growing “mompreneur” sector, I asked Jennifer how she feels she can compete in this market. “I found a niche market in providing geek-wear for children, and am passionate about what I do,” she replied. “If you believe in yourself and your product and put in some hard work, the rewards can be amazing.”

She said that when you can combine a career-driven woman with being a motivated parent, “You get the best of both worlds–being able to have complete control over your work, and able to focus on your children at the same time.

As for the effect of social media and online networking, which would be key to a building home-based business, Jennifer said that sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Etsy have been invaluable. She’s been able to expand her business beyond her Chilliwack home and reach customers in Europe, the UK, Australia, the US, and the rest of Canada.

“The rewards from social networking have been amazing. Not only can you connect with friends and family around the world, it has become a great avenue for self-promotion and brand awareness. I highly recommend using social media to help grow business.”

You can read more about the SavvyMom Entrepreneur Awards, nominees, winners, and judges online. Nominations are still open and the voting round is also open. The contest closes and voting ends September 12, 2011.

Past regional and national winners include Mabel’s Labels (2007), Nurtured Products for Parenting Inc. (2008), Bugalug Inc. (2008), yoyomama (2008), My Smart Hands (2008), Canadian Sitter Inc. (2009), Vancouver Island Baby Fair (2009), My Smart Hands.

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