In 2005 I was a new mom cloth diapering a tiny baby and feeling very isolated from my existing friends and was having a hard time connecting with new ones. I had faced significant challenges with breastfeeding and didn’t know anyone who could relate to my situation. I started thinking about the path of my life, the impact of every choice I made for my little girl on the world around me, and how I could use the information I learned as an engineer to connect with other parents who, like me, wanted to make a difference for their children, and for our environment.
By April 2006, Nurtured was born. Those first few months were full of planning, research, ordering, building and learning a whole new world of retail and e-commerce. The original Nurtured Products for Parenting website launched in August 2006 and was supported by friends, family, and a few loyal local customers. In those early months I met many women with whom I instantly shared a connection and who have become life long friends. At this time, I was pregnant with my now four-year-old and looking forward to making Nurtured my new career.
Through “word of mom” and networking opportunities locally, Nurtured hit critical mass in the spring of 2007 with a sudden upsurge in growth, which coincided with the birth of my son. Those early months were challenging, and I burned the midnight oil building a business between feeding an infant for weeks and months on end. I also participated in the “My Fair Baby” shows hosted by the Midwifery Coalition, gave cloth diaper workshops throughout HRM at yoga studios, stores owned by friends and acquaintances, and in my own home on a weekly basis. Babywearing workshops followed, initially in collaboration with my friend Tory at her (now closed) shop, Next In Line, and then, after an invitation from local doula Robyn Berman, at Uncommon Kids in Halifax and Pillars of Health in Dartmouth.
In 2008 another customer became not only one of my best friends but Nurtured’s first part-time employee when Becky Keen joined the Nurtured team one or two days a week. This was following a significant home renovation to move Nurtured from my dining room table to the basement. By the end of 2008, Nurtured had won the SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Atlantic Canada, was still growing very quickly, and it was evident that Nurtured had outgrown its home-based location. That Fall, a lease was signed for our Halifax location.
With many late nights renovating, tag-teaming with my husband while we set up shelving and juggled child care, the Nurtured store opened on April 1, 2009 with a staff of four: Gillian (now Manager), Karen, Annie, and myself. This was incredibly rewarding but also took its toll as I was working 6 days (and sometimes nights) to get the business up and running. I can never thank Gillian, Karen, and Annie enough for their help in those early days.
2009 truly left its mark on me as a business person with the media attention we gained for opening a boutique store in the middle of a global financial recession, and for the legitimization moving to a retail store provided for the Nurtured brand. I also acquired Anointment Natural Skin Care from Anastasia Manolakos, a favourite of mine and MANY others from the Halifax Farmer’s Market, and began working on improvements and marketing strategies Anointment products, which stood out to me for their natural ingredients, lack of unnecessary “stuff” and high quality.
In 2010 Nurtured won the Small Business of the Year Award (Silver) presented by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, was nominated in the Better Business Bureau Ethics Awards, Was 2nd Best Eco-Conscious Business in Halifax as voted by the readers of The Coast magazine, grew from a staff of four to a staff of eight, and essentially outgrew our retail store. I am very proud of all these accomplishments.
Also in 2010, I learned we were expecting our third child and both my father and my husband’s mother suffered significant health issues. With reality setting in of having a child in school, one in pre-school and an infant, we were faced with some difficult decisions. Having worked so hard while my son was a baby to build this business and the resulting burn out it caused, I had to consider carefully if this was the path my family wanted to continue to follow. My husband was also provided with the opportunity to transfer his job to another office, which would allow us to move closer to both of our extended families. With a deep breath and a lot of discussion, we decided it was time to let someone with fresh eyes build Nurtured while we cheer and watch from the sidelines.
The search for a buyer began and concluded with a lovely husband-and-wife team, Eric and Jolyn Swain along with their five-year-old son. Eric is a Nova Scotian who was longing to come home, and Jolyn, with a business background and a birth and post-partum story not unlike my own, was very excited to be part of a business with such a strong sense of environmental ethics and community. I have been working with Jolyn for some time now and I am very impressed with her knowledge, kindness, and desire to continue the community that Nurtured has become.
Over the next few weeks you will see Jolyn and I together frequently as she learns the fine details of what makes Nurtured tick. Of utmost importance to me was that the staff also be retained, and I’m happy to say that Gillian, Karen, Simone, Sarah, Jessica and Melissa will remain at the store, so you can be sure that the customer service you have been accustomed to will continue.
Jolyn has many fantastic ideas for making the great things about Nurtured even greater, and the team will remain strong and focused on the natural parenting ideals that makes Nurtured special.
I have experienced a lot of emotions over this huge change in my life, but I can say with confidence that you are all in very good hands. I will still be a regular at the store as I deliver my third baby sometime in the next three or so weeks, and I will be working away on Anointment over the years to come.
I want to thank each and every single person who has shopped in the store, come to a workshop, attended a breastfeeding support group, picked up a card for a local doula, asked for help, advice or just wanting to hear a “I’ve been there, this too shall pass”, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Nurtured is very special to me: like one of my own children, and it is my sincere wish that the Nurtured community will welcome Jolyn to the Nurtured family with open arms.
Cheers to the great circle of natural parenting enthusiasm we have all built together, thank you for allowing me to be part of it, as I will continue to be from the sidelines of my Anointment workshop, the soccer field, or wherever life takes me as I take some time to focus on my children and my family.
With love and gratitude,