A Chat with Nicole of Oh Mother Care Kits

Today we’re chatting with Nicole of Oh Mother Care Kits. It’s fun to get to know someone you only know via social media.  And the neat thing I learned? She’s a Pictou County girl, too, and we even went to the same high school! { Years apart, mind you….I was long done by the time she graced the halls 😉 }

It’s a privilege to interview someone who runs a business you admire and get the chance to learn more about them and the ‘why’ of what they do.  I have done Creative Interviews in the past but it’s fun to talk about the business side of it.  I’ve not met Nicole, but I look forward to the day that I do.

But, let’s chat with Nicole so you can get to know the mother and business owner behind Oh Mother Care Kits, one of Nova Scotia’s leading curated gift boxes!

Tell us a little about your self, starting with where you grew up, where you live now? Take us on the journey between then and now? And who you share your home with?

I grew up in rural Nova Scotia on the Northumberland Shore. For the most part, it was pretty great. I participated in the local 4-H Club, worked on a farm and spent my summers at the ocean. Choose your own adventure is really the name of the game when you grow up rural. As a child, I loved my proximity to nature – the wildness, the space, the quiet.

Once I hit adolescence though, rural living had barely any charm left. I was preoccupied with friends, frenemies and academics. I hated that I lived miles away from anything “cool” or “worthwhile”. By the time I graduated high school, I had one foot out the door.

I didn’t venture far. Off to Halifax I went, where I spent 7 years in university completing two degrees in the social sciences. I loved my post-secondary education but admittedly, I was pretty disillusioned about what I thought would be waiting for me on the other end. What I discovered was a whole lot of nothing but low to mediocre paying, contract positions to which EVERYONE was applying. Quite simply, I was overeducated and underemployed. The plague of the Millennial generation huh?!

I did the only thing that makes sense when you have thousands of dollars of student loan debt to pay back, I got a contract job, and that lead to another and yet another. And to be fair, some of these positions, I enjoyed. Some of them straight up sucked though.  

Having a strong passion for social justice initiatives, especially those that involve young women, lead me to pour a lot of love into this type of work for many years too, both as a community researcher, a grassroots initiator and NGO worker. Yes, it was rewarding but it also burned me out.

Along the way, I met my now husband, Ian. I was pretty sure I wanted to have a family but it always felt so far in the future and stubbornly, I wanted the awesomely, amazing career before I became a mom.

I honestly don’t know what clicked with me but I didn’t have an awesomely, amazing career to speak of when I had my son in 2015 and I didn’t much care. I was in my thirties and I was ready to raise a little human with my wonderful partner. That took centre stage.

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is where I call home. I live in a little two-story home with my husband, Ian, our son, Llewyn (2 yrs), our dog, Sophie and our wee grey cat, Boo. Also, jammed into our home is the Oh Mother Care Kits headquarters (aka our basement) where there are boxes upon boxes of product inventory.    

You’ve created this business focused on mothers – tell us about where the idea came from and why you decided to focus on mothers specifically?

Moms are notorious for putting their needs last, right?!

I’m not proud of it, but before I became a mom, I didn’t fully get it. Ok, real talk? I totally misjudged other moms, including my own, for their self-sacrificing behaviour – like, I would think – make time for yourself damnit! I know, I want to slap this past version of me too.

Obviously, I was aware that self-care is an issue for moms but I was completely naive as to the extent and intensity until I was in it myself. And boy, was I in it…wow! Motherhood is a pretty all-consuming thing huh!? And really, it’s not like you’re sitting around being disgruntled about it. Because being a mother is wonderful and you want to show up, be there and ensure that they’re happy and healthy. But guess what? There’s no shutting this off. You’re always mom. Rising to every occasion, putting out fires, taking names and kicking butt. Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to forget yourself in all of it. The mom identity is a strong one.

So this is where my want to serve mothers came from. I know self-care as a mom is friggin’ hard and I wanted to create a business that acknowledged this struggle and reminded the mommas who would receive these care packages that they are loved and oh-so-worthy of some blissful pampering.

How do you source the products for the kits and what requirements do you look for in the products?

I work exclusively with Canadian makers. Small batch. Natural ingredients. Attractive packaging. Practical usage for mom life.

I scour Etsy all the time.

I also get recommendations from my customers, who are spread right across Canada.

I curate my care kits seasonally so I look to this for inspiration. What we crave in terms of self-care and pampering varies depending on the weather. For instance in Fall/Winter we want warm, cozy, immune-boosting goodies. In Spring/Summer, we want fresh, fun items that support outdoor, on-the-go activities.

Are you a goal setter for yourself and your business? Where would you like to see yourself & your business in 5 years?

Goal-setting is crucial in business. You have to have some idea of what you’re after and where you want to go. Honestly, some of the goals I had in the beginning have been completely blown to smithereens. Healthy reality checks. Ha! So, you re-group and you set new goals.

I’ve learned to be open, almost experimental with goal setting, especially as a young business. I’m still trying to find my footing and see what’s possible.

I would like to still be doing this in 5 years so the hustle today is all about ensuring that I will be. Small businesses, especially ecommerce ones are challenging and trends are constantly changing.

What is your favourite part of running this business? Most dreaded task?

Bookkeeping/accounting sucks. It has to be done but it’s boring and tedious and I hate it. End of story.

Hands down, my most favourite part of running this business is hearing stories from customers about how much they loved receiving their care kit or how much their sister, friend, mother, daughter loved receiving her kit. These emails are the BEST. Without fail, they make me cry, every time.

Sometimes the stories are so painfully heartbreaking. One customer wrote me to say that she had purchased a year’s subscription of care kits to remind herself to take some recharge time. She anticipated that this would be needed as her and her husband, both recently retired and planning their many future travels and adventures together, just found out he had terminal cancer. Gah. Gut-wrenching.

Other moms will write and give me the whole play-by-play on receiving their kit and being so excited but deciding to leave it until post-bedtime. It’s ceremonial for them. And I love this. I love that moms swoon and savour their whole Oh Mother Care Kits experience.

But mostly, people write me to say “thank you”. These thank yous strike me so intensely and emotionally. I mean, I’m running a business but it feels like so much more and I’m grateful for that.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Nicole!  You are doing an amazing job and offering a product that strikes a chord with mommas and friends of mommas!  Nicole was gracious enough to send a kit for me to review, as well as doing this interview with me.  I was amazed at the quality and quantity of product in the kit!  If you have a momma in your life, she deserves this!!  So many treats and treasures to help us take better care of ourselves, which we all know, as mothers, we suck at it!  I look forward to using the great products that are tucked inside! And eating that chocolate, because, well….chocolate!!

We wish you loads of success, Nicole!

To be continued,

Lori

All the photo credits from this post go to Dee Dee Morris Photography

{ Disclaimer: I was given a kit to review but my take on it just that. }

 

 

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