Vancouver resident and business owner Aria Leighty started The MOB NW as a Facebook group in 2012 to connect local mom-owned businesses with each other.
Fast forward five years, and that group has nearly 10,000 members across the country. What is now The MOB Nation has launched more than 20 chapters in seven states, creating place after place for moms to meet monthly and network their businesses. Chapter leader applications are being accepted for chapters all over the U.S. The MOB app launched nearly a year ago and features 425 mom-owned businesses.
The organization has picked up several awards over the last two years, including the American Express 2018 Neighborhood Champion; Finalist, 2018 Oregon Entrepreneur Network Game Changer Award; and Oregon Winner, 2017 American Small Business Championships.
The MOB Nation kid friendly meet-ups are well known for their come-as-you-are aesthetic, and for accepting all businesses equally. The venues are equally a place to share the challenges of balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship, and to grow businesses.
Owner of Art ala Carte Mobile and CEO of The MOB Nation, Leighty talks about the joys of entrepreneurship, the historical lack of support for mom-entrepreneurs, and the relationship between art and business.
VBJ: Tell me about the need for a nationwide network like The MOB Nation. What was lacking before The MOB came on the scene?
Aria Leighty: What was lacking was accessible networking and resources for mom-owned businesses. I was also tired of going to other networking events and feeling like they were cliques, or you had to pretend to be someone you are not. There needs to be more resources, and a warmer welcome for brand new business owners. All levels of business are respected equally in The MOB. And of course, our communities were missing a level of compassionate and relationship-based networking catered to busy moms! If we are putting our kids in childcare for the evening, giving up time with family, valuable downtime, or business time – the events need to be powerful, valuable, and everyone needs to walk away feeling heard!
VBJ: What’s your perspective on being a woman in business? What does that phrase mean to you?
Leighty: Being a woman in business speaks such power! I love seeing so many women succeeding in the business world, specifically in areas that were once male-dominated. One day, we will not have to make a big deal of saying “woman-owned business” or “mom-owned business” or “minority-owned business” because it will not be such a shock. The business world will continue to diversify! Until then, I support and stand behind these business owners and want to help them succeed in any way possible as well as call them out on the huge strides they are making in and for our society.
VBJ: What motivated you go into business for yourself in the first place? What sustains you when it gets challenging?
Leighty: I swore I would never own a business, even though entrepreneurship and creating have been in my blood since birth! With my first business, I saw a lack of process-based art made available for children. The MOB, my creative consulting business, my podcast and my books are all fulfilling needs in the community. If I see something that needs to be created — or something that is lacking — I create it, or help others create it!
VBJ: I know that you are an artist. Tell me how that informs the way you run your businesses and the way you relate to this community.
Leighty: Creativity is EVERYTHING in a business. It is crucial to your success in business to stay creative. Getting those creative juices flowing and enjoying the process of creating help you reach new heights, fall in love with your business all over again and find new ways to solve problems.
VBJ: What is your best advice for other moms who want to build their own businesses?
Leighty: Join The MOB! But seriously, the best advice I can give you is to definitely know you can be BOTH a great mother and a great business owner. You do not have to choose either/or. The only way to succeed in this is to make sure you are constantly investing in yourself, knowing/charging your worth, valuing your time, creating time daily for self care, setting boundaries and being unapologetically yourself!
Aria Leighty is a wife, mother, creative consultant, author, podcast host and the founder/CEO of The MOB Nation. She is dedicated to helping small business owners find their passion, unleash their creativity, step in to their power, find valuable resources and create long lasting connections. Find Aria at themobnation.com, glittermindset.com and at Instagram.com/arialeighty.