It's been a busy few years for Cary Heise, an Apex mom of two, founder of the Social Butterflies NC online family event guide, creator of the Stay at Home Rock Star T-shirt and, if that's not enough, launcher of the Raleigh Mompreneurs Facebook page.
Heise launched the Facebook page two years ago with the goal of connecting other moms, like herself, who own or are starting businesses. It became a place where they could network, connect, bounce ideas off each other and find support.
The Facebook page took off, quickly building fans and offline meetings. Last year, the group held its first conference. This year, Heise made a big change, launching a directory of mom-owned businesses and changing the name to Vend Raleigh. It all went live this summer.
Vend Raleigh gets high marks from its members. They say it's offered a place where they can not only seek advice and support, but also build their business.
"What I love about being a part of the Vend Raleigh group is connecting with other like-minded moms, who are also working from home, juggling work and family, and come to support each other," shared Meg Powell of www.aupaircare.com.
"It is incredibly empowering to meet with other mompreneurs, share ideas and support one another in her business endeavors. Thanks to the tips in a presentation, I have gained [exposure on national websites] and am currently waiting to hear if a piece I'll be featured in will be published in a major magazine," shares Petrina Hamm, a certified personal trainer and fitness consultant.
I chatted with Heise by email to learn more about Vend Raleigh, her goals and what's in the works for the future. Here's our chat:
Go Ask Mom: Tell me about how Raleigh Mompreneurs turned into Vend Raleigh?
Cary Heise: Raleigh Mompreneurs became Vend Raleigh, the place for Raleigh Mompreneurs, this year for a couple reasons. Mompreneurs is a trademarked word and at the time, this community we started was just that, a community. But with the introduction of the Vend Raleigh Directory, a collection of mom-owned businesses online, this community became a business. So, changing the name was the ethical thing to do, and it was also a great way to reintroduce the group and mark a great milestone!
GAM: What is it?
Heise: Vend Raleigh is a business group for Raleigh area moms that own their own businesses, from Etsy shop owners to professional photographers to coaches and consultants. We are a group of business-minded moms over 1,000 strong! We have a strong online presence via social media and we are also connecting face to face with monthly meetings and events.
GAM: What's your goal?
Heise: I have two goals.
One goal is to build Vend Raleigh up to be recognized as a top Raleigh business organization. My second goal is for Vend Raleigh to be such a common name that every Raleigh area mom with a business of her own that is looking for support, business education, and partnership will know we are here for her.
Our annual conference Illuminate is coming up on September 13th. We have an impressive list of speakers bringing expertise for business moms no matter what stage their business is in. This will be a huge networking event as well. We welcome new faces and are excited to see our loyal directory members there, too!
GAM: What have you learned since starting it?
Heise: There was a huge want and need for this environment for mompreneurs. There are many professional organizations out there, but none with our passion for the blend of "mom" and "business owner." While we are a professional organization, we have a warmth and energy that is unique. I know that we are one of a kind and I've heard others say it over and over again, too.
GAM: How do you hope it will grow?
Heise: I see the Vend Raleigh Directory being the number one resource that Raleigh area consumers go to shop small business. I look forward to the challenges that come with that growth, that's how much I believe in these mom-owned businesses. I work with this group of women every day and their stories and work ethic are so exciting and inspiring. I'm very proud to promote them.
GAM: Tell me more about the conference.
Heise: Our second annual conference, Illuminate, is coming up on Friday, Sept. 13. Illuminate's tag line is "Light your path to success." No matter where you are in your business, just starting, haven't started, or years in, we have something for every mompreneur. We have a full morning planned with top business moms in the area to talk about all aspects of business. This will be a great networking event as well. We are excited to have a larger location this year at the Holly Springs Cultural Center so that we are able to accommodate 120 Raleigh area mompreneurs!
Illuminate speakers are experts on personal branding, search engine optimization, Google +, building an audience, business organization, small business finance and more! Vend Raleigh is like no other professional group. We promise to deliver a warm and very exciting experience at Illuminate to new and familiar faces. For details about the conference, click here.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.