As part of our Female Founder blog series, we were fortunate enough to interview an amazing female founder, Michelle Leek of Irvine Moms Network. She has built a business around the power of a network -- something that we at MASAMI also believe in. The support of other indie brands has been invaluable as we all navigate our way through unchartered territory with COVID-19. Having peers, advisors, friends and mentors has been so important as we all try to stay positive and grow our businesses. Here’s what Michelle had to say about creating a network.
What prompted you to launch Irvine Moms Network?
At the time I had relocated back home to the Irvine area from the East and thought while my kiddo and I were exploring Southern CA, it was a perfect fit for other parents also looking for in-person get-togethers. Also, to discover what was in the area and make weekend planning easy and fun for others. I realized how important it was to have a weekly routine of getting out of the house. For moms and dads to have a date to meet others was incredible for not only their children but for the parents’ mental being, as well as to be able to have conversations with other parents who are going through the same things.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
With Covid, it really has put all in-person events on hold. Parents are our audience. We must be able to have relevant information to share to keep them informed on any developments in the community. You will notice on our Community page that for the time being nothing is really set in place on the early calendar year. As many museums, nature centers, etc are holding tight to learn of any restriction changes. Getting together has been tough, we must be able to respect boundaries. Some people do not feel comfortable meeting outside of their family pod. Some do feel fine to meet as long as you are wearing a mask. We stay engaged online for now until it is safe and everyone feels comfortable to meet in person again.
Have there been any silver linings from Covid?
Yes indeed. Thinking outside the box in how to relay information that is important to women. Starting a podcast and meeting incredible people. The different strategies that came into place because of Covid allowed me to work with different brands and create unique collaborations!
Mom's Time Out podcast by Irvine Moms Network
How do you keep yourself and your team inspired?
Exploring, reading, and studying. Naturally gravitating to the items I enjoy and love fuel my creativity and unplugging helps too. Over the holidays I was able to put my phone down without feeling like I had to check in again and again. That is helpful to me because I am in the moment experiencing my activity or event. Therefore, it lifts me up and my ideas start to roll in. On social media, sometimes that is also helpful when accounts are on fire and you just love them!
What's your favorite activity that makes you happy?
I love the outdoors! Downtime for me is being outside. Surfing, hiking and camping. Right now, beach days on repeat.
Michelle Leeks, founder of Irvine Moms Network - So. California beach
Any other female-founded brands you want to shout out?
Yes, most definitely! I am always inspired by Female Founders. They kick ass, they help motivate me. You are not alone in this so it is welcoming to know you can reach out and ask a question or a little guidance.
Shoutout love to Playcollective.co, Shopbexo, Ebony Robinson founder of @wearedira