Five moms who turned their parenting solutions into entrepreneurial gold

For these women, the daily struggles of parenthood provided the inspiration needed to launch their own companies

Peekaboo Beans founder Traci Costa, with some enthusiastic clients. (Portrait by Amanda Skuse)

Peekaboo Beans founder Traci Costa, with some enthusiastic clients. (Portrait by Amanda Skuse)

For most parents, balancing the duties of childcare with the demands of a busy career can be difficult at best, and overwhelming at worst.

There are some, however, who take the everyday stresses of parenthood and spin it into commercial gold. While the term “mompreneur” has earned its fair share of eyerolls in the business world, there’s no denying the entrepreneurial savvy of women who launch their own companies on the back of unique answers to common parental problems.

Here are a few examples of Canadian moms who took their parenting solutions all the way to the bank:

1. Jennifer Carlson, Baby Gourmet Foods

It was while caring for her own son that Carlson found a lack of high-quality baby food on the market. So in 2006, after extensive research and testing, she started Baby Gourmet Foods Inc. and began selling her organic baby food at her local farmers’ market. After two year of gathering feedback from loyal customers, she launched the product on the mass market. You can now buy Carlson’s concoctions at Loblaw’s, Walmart, Safeway, Metro and Sobey’s—and she still develops every recipe herself.

2. Victoria Sopik, Kids & Company

Sopik saw the need for a better work-life balance in Canada’s workforce; it’s a balance she knows all too well, as mom to eight kids. She started Kids & Company in 2002 with the goal of establishing a unique national child care model that would allow parents to return to work, confident that care was available on a full, part-time and emergency basis. Now, it’s the only national flexible child-care company on the Canadian market, and they’ve expanded to the U.S.

3. Christine Stanschus, Little Kickers

In 2002, Stanschus couldn’t find soccer classes for her two-year-old son. Seeking to provide classes for kids eighteen months and up, she founded Little Kickers, a program that promotes a curriculum of early learning skills (colours, numbers, etc.) alongside a love of sport. Today, over half a million kids have participated in the program, and the company boasts 200 franchises across 17 countries.

4. Kimberley Langen, Spirit of Math Schools

Kimberley Langen—whose website proudly bills her as “Mom, Entrepreneur, Educator”—started Spirit of Math Schools in 1993, to address what she saw as the poor quality of Ontario’s math curriculum. The company had humble beginnings, with Langen teaching kids out of the basement of her home. Over 20 years later, kids with a B+ or higher average in grades 1-12 can register for the rigorous after school program, which has expanded into Western Canada and the U.S.

5. Traci Costa, Peekaboo Beans

Costa worked as an investment banker for years, before leaving the business to raise her daughter. Realizing that restrictive baby clothes were hindering her daughter’s play, she founded her own clothing company in 2006. Peekaboo Beans offers colourful kids clothes that are reversible and lined with zippers—perfect for an on-the-go parent with a spill-prone child. Costa originally sold to Vancouver boutiques, but switched to a direct sales model in 2011. Now she has over 700 sales agents across the country, with a growth rate of 30 consultants a month.