Jade Barr can’t keep up with orders for the baby booties she sews in her basement, and orders will likely surge off the charts after receiving top honours from the GTA-based women’s business organization Mompreneur.
Barr, a 26-year-old mother of two from Saskatchewan, won the Mompreneur Award of Excellence at a gala in Toronto on Saturday night for her business Jady Babys. The honour comes with a $30,000 prize in cash and business services. The winner was chosen after 65,000 votes were cast across the country.
Cityline’s Tracy Moore was a keynote speaker at the Mompreneur event.
“The help from these women, I think, is going to be huge for me just to push forward,” Barr told CityNews.ca on Monday. “It was just an amazing experience to win this prize with all of these different women in business who already know what they’re doing and they’re excited for me. They want to help me and they love my business … it’s crazy amazing.”
Mompreneur, the organization that handed out the prize, offers advice and tools for mothers looking to start and grow their own business. It was started in 2010 by Milton resident Maria Locker.
The organization boasts 15 chapters in Ontario alone and more than 11,000 members across Canada. Members come from a wide array of professional backgrounds and include dentists, chiropractors, photographers, graphic designers and crafters.
Barr started sewing at the age of 11 and decided to start making soft-soled boots in 2010 when she was expecting her first baby. She posted pictures of her creations on Facebook and orders started flooding in. (She also produces diaper bags, playmats and other articles of clothing, but only has time to make the boots right now.)
She’s pumping out product on a sewing machine and serger, which she said are definitely “overworked.”
Word spread quickly and she soon found it difficult to keep up with demand. She currently has an eight-month wait for her product, which she sews in her home after her two kids go to sleep, and before they wake up in the morning. She manages her company’s social media accounts during the day. She said Facebook and Twitter are integral to her business.
“I try to do as much as I can when [the kids] are sleeping,” she said. “I’m either up until 1 a.m. or up at 4 a.m. trying to get some stuff done.”
She said she doesn’t turn a profit if she’s paying a nanny to watch her children during the day.
“My husband asks me every day when he can quit,” she said. “He’s hoping I can make it big enough where he doesn’t have to work and he can watch the kids.”
“I like working and I definitely have a huge work ethic.”
Demand is so high she’s hired two women in Brampton to help her with invoicing. She put out a call for help on Facebook and received offers from across the country.
She said the prize money and services she received from Mompreneur will help her tackle manufacturing challenges. There are so many orders she’s looking at contracting out the sewing so she can grow her business.
Mompreneur’s Locker said, “[Members’ business backgrounds] really run the full gamut and what we love about that is everyone feels comfortable,” “They’re able to walk in and say I’m a mom. I do run a business. This is what it is.”
Locker said members’ reason for joining are as varied as their skill sets. Some women are looking for ways to reduce the stress of daycare costs and juggling hectic schedules.
“For some women it’s truly they have that passion and drive for entrepreneurialism.”