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7 Pivotal Moments That Led To The Creation Of Nesting Story

In celebrating Nesting Story’s new website and the addition of it’s contributors, I wanted to share the 7 most pivotal moments that got Nesting Story to where it is today. It’s had some unexpected twists, very exciting turns, and I wouldn’t change a thing…

#7: Feeling like I needed to create something that was mine.

I think entrepreneurs are cut from a certain cloth. We are idea people, who no matter how many times say we are going to take a step back, end up waking up the next morning with five new ideas. It’s in us, the urge to create something from nothing.

I’ve always had this sense, but it became impossible to ignore once I had my first two babies. So, I began dabbling in creative outlets, hoping that one day it would turn into a full-fledged business. I had Etsy shops where I created and sold hand made headbands and mobiles. I created a baby concierge service, which never quite made it past the planning stages, and eventually landed on an Interior Design and mural painting business, with a focus on children’s spaces. So in 2013, Nesting Story was officially born.

busy mom

This little business began to thrive, and it felt great putting my Interior Design and fine arts skillset to use. But it came to a halt when I had the surprise of a lifetime… twins! I was pregnant with twins, and had terrible pregnancy sickness to accompany it. My days of climbing a ladder to paint were officially on pause…

mural

#6: Craving connection during an isolating twin pregnancy.

My twin pregnancy brought me to my knees. Although our twins thrived, my body struggled through the entire process. I would black out after climbing stairs, my hips were in constant agony and I even lost my vision at the end. On top of this I had two older kids that needed me.

Many days were spent laying on the sofa, with a pillow between my knees, beds for my kids made on the ground, feeding them bowls of Cheerios while watching a movie.

pregnant with twins

It’s amazing how alone you can feel when you are surrounded by so much support. I longed for connection with other parents of multiples. I didn’t know one person with twins. So family members began connecting me via email with twin parents they knew. I was shocked by the negative emails I was receiving from them, with the over-arching tone being “your life is over.”

I wouldn’t accept it. I began scouring the Internet for twin-mom bloggers, who hadn’t lost their identity, but came up short. It was this longing, as well as some encouragement from friends to switch Nesting Story over to a parenting blog…

#5: Sharing my twin pregnancy story and finding my tribe.

When the dust settled, and my twins were around six months old, I began to blog. I shared everything, from what it’s really like to be pregnant with twins, to the depression I experienced during my twin pregnancy.

It was during my twin pregnancy and birth series that I started to gain some traction. With the help of my twin mom Facebook group, we got the posts out into the world and more and more mothers began to resonate with it.

twin mom

I found my voice with writing and shared every gritty detail, but always ended on an inspiring or solution-based note. The last thing I wanted to do was scare other moms like the emails that were sent to me had done. Besides, although I was in the trenches, I was able to find my voice and was slowly rehabilitating my (new) body…

#4: Hitting a viral nerve.

Going viral is not a natural or normal human experience. Anyone who has experienced going viral can probably agree that it is a bit of an out-of-body journey with a roller coaster of emotions that follow. Although it can bring some incredible opportunities, it can also throw your life off course. Here is my story.

In 2015 I had been pretty pumped about the fact that I was finally falling into a rhythm with my early morning workout routine and could actually see my body coming back after having my four kids, (including twins). I knew that my body would forever be changed. I had a few followers expecting twins that I wanted to share my body after baby story with.

So, after a finishing dinner with a big glass of wine I sat down and began to write. I laughed with my husband that I probably shouldn’t be blogging because I was a little buzzed. I cranked my music and began. It poured out of me. I enjoyed going through my pregnancy photos and finally felt balzy enough to throw in those postpartum photos I once felt so ashamed about. After only an hour and a half, (record time), I finished and went to bed, waiting for the morning to hit publish. 

Over the next day I could see the post was resonating with everyone, not just moms expecting twins. My website traffic was slowly climbing and the comments were pouring in. “Cool,” I thought to myself, “my post had legs.” Over the weekend I watched the numbers climb. I mentioned to some family that one of my posts was going viral, “oh that’s nice,” they replied, not knowing what was about to happen.

Within days, Nesting Story reached just under two-million page views. The crazy viral numbers started to level out and slowly decline. Then came the press. For the next couple weeks I averaged four interviews a day, (on the phone and reporters in our home). I was featured on media outlets like People magazine and Fit Pregnancy. It felt like a dream.

viral

As the buzz tapered, so did my energy. I had to find my footing again and figure out what was next. I hadn’t even monetized my blog yet…

#3: How do I turn this into a business?

I sometimes look back at when I went viral and think, “that woman had no idea what she was doing.” Okay, in terms of storytelling, the old me knew what I was doing. In fact, I am kind of jealous of the filter-free Joanna. I’ve definitely found time, growth and my kids getting older have made me more filtered. But what I meant was, I had no idea how to turn a blog into a business. Here I was on the heels of a media storm, basically holding a golden ticket and I had not idea how to cash it in.

I began calling PR agencies and after some negative encounters, (and what felt like Pretty Woman moments, “big mistake, huge!”), I decided to go to a blogger conference. So I snagged a ticket, and booked a flight to Scottsdale Arizona and attended my first Mom 2.0 Summit, a conference for bloggers.

Finally being plugging into a blogging community was everything. I no longer felt like a lone wolf. I created friendships and learned faster than I could take notes. Then on one fateful day, after a lovely lunch conversation with a fellow blogger, she said “I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Baby Center.” My jaw dropped, I felt like I was in the presence of blogger royalty.

This chance encounter with the Baby Center team was a huge moment on my journey. They ended up adding me as a contributor, and through them I was able to get my first paid gig and learn how to work with brands.

baby center

Brand partnerships soon followed on Nesting Story and I was able to start making an income. My dream of creating my own company from scratch was coming true. I continued to share my story on my blog, but I began to feel like writing and photos was limiting some of the stories I wanted to tell…

#2: I guess I’m also a video creator.

I could have continued telling my story on my blog, but some needed extra explanation and visuals. I really wanted to give my twin mom audience a nursery tour and show them how I fed my babies, without help during the night, from day one. “Could I film it?” I wondered. I decided to give video and YouTube a try. I had already slapped a few videos up on YouTube, what’s one more? Besides, I could embed it in a blog post so that it can actually be viewed.

So, I invited a friend over and asked her to film me in my twins’ nursery with my phone. After a couple failed attempts with cranky babies, I swapped my twins out for dolls and I was off to the races. That video now has almost 100,000 views.

I enjoyed creating that video so much, I thought I’d try sharing a “day in the life.” I was able to capture my day on my phone and edit it together. Success!

I dabbled with video here and there over the next year, and slowly I gained 5,000 subscribers. I would do this thing where I’d film myself casually, talking to the camera, and then show my day. It wasn’t until that year’s Mom 2.0 Summit that I was told by someone that I was really good at vlogging. “What was vlogging?” I thought. I had so much to learn, and apparently some YouTube to watch.

I was soon after introduced to Kin Community Canada, being told that it would be a great fit for me. After some adjustments to my videos and my channel, they signed me. I didn’t realize that Kin would not only become a huge stepping stone for my career, but would also feel like family. It was also through Kin where I met my “work wife” AmandaMuse. Together we have created videos, a business, and spoken at events.

Over the next few years Nesting Story transformed, and grew with me. I began to share more about me, and a little less about my kids. I began to share more lifestyle, home, DIY projects and wellness content which all made my heart sing. But something was nagging me. I didn’t want to abandon the twin community that meant so much to me. I wanted to pay it forward and help other new bloggers the way Baby Center helped me. And I didn’t want my blog to fade into the background, being overshadowed by video…

#1: It’s come full circle.

By late 2018 I began saying something out loud to a few of my closest people, “I want to add contributors to my blog.”

“You’ve wanted to do that for years.” They’d say.

I had. I had been saying it for years. I had held back out of fear. Fear because I didn’t know if anyone would want to write for Nesting Story, fear because I didn’t know how it would all work. But it was time. I also had an incredible team by this point who I knew would help make it happen.

So we put out a call, and boy did you deliver! We had a huge response. I was so excited to pick our final contributors and I am even more excited to share their stories. So, who are Nesting Story’s contributors? Some are twin moms, some are new moms, one isn’t a mom but is a master of minimalism. One specializes in makeup, while another one specializes in Interior Design. But the common thread is each of them speak from an honest and inspirational place which I am sure is going to resonate with all of you. I’m sure as our contributors own platforms grow, they will move on and we will be ready to add the next wave of writers.

I see this point of Nesting Story as a full circle moment. I am able to continue telling my story and do what I love, but I am also excited to share the spotlight with new writers and budding bloggers. I am exciting to work behind the scenes on some other projects including ebooks, an ecourse, a shop and lots more.

I don’t know entirely what’s down the road for Nesting Story, and after some of my surprising twists and turns I’ve stopped trying to predict the future. Right now I am going to celebrate this new launch and just breathe it all in.

Join Nesting Story on this exciting journey on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube!

HelPaws

A NESTING STORY NON-PROFIT PARTNERSHIP

Oliver Helpaws

Adopting our dog Oliver was a life changing decision for our family. He is the sweetest and smartest dog who has a special and unique relationship with each member of our family. It baffles me to think he was found on the streets of St. Lucia as a puppy. We are forever grateful to HelPaws for rescuing Oliver and countless other puppies and all of the hard work that they do.

HelpAWS is a non-profit organization that specializes in the rescue, adoption and high volume spay and neuter of animals in St. Lucia.  Overpopulation and unwanted reproduction are at epidemic proportions on the island resulting in many animals being born into horrendous conditions.  Although HelpAWS facilitates responsible sterilization through regular high volume spay and neuter clinics, there are still way too many unwanted puppies born into dangerous situations on a daily basis.  We at HelpAWS believe that every animal has the right to lead a healthy, happy life free from abuse, neglect and cruelty.


HelpAWS was founded in 2013 by Canadian, Charlene Penney.  Since then, we have found permanent, loving homes for more than 550 animals.  We have also facilitated the spay and neuter of more than 2,000 animals on the island of St. Lucia.  HelpAWS has grown exponentially over the last few years as we have built an amazing team of volunteers who are based throughout North America.


As a private non-profit corporation, we do not receive government funding.  As such, we rely solely on donations in order to continue making a lasting difference in the lives of St. Lucian animals.  We offer many ways to donate.  Funds can be sent via e-transfer to donate@helpaws.com,  or via PayPal at www.helpaws.com/donate.  We also appreciate donations of items that are necessary for our daily operations.  These items can be purchased through our Canadian or U.S. Amazon Wishlist.  We also run various fundraising programs throughout the year, including raffles, special events, and HelpAWS swag and calendars for purchase. 


We always have puppies available for adoption.  The application process moves quickly and is simple.  Adoption applications are found on our website at www.helpaws.com/adopt.   All applications undergo an initial screening and those meeting our adoption criteria will then be contacted for a phone interview, followed by reference checks, home photos and a vet reference check.  Once approved, the adopter is notified via email and continues to remain in contact with the volunteer team as the puppy’s transportation to Canada is secured and pertinent information regarding the puppy’s routine, feeding schedule, etc. is communicated.  Our adoptive families receive all the information necessary to welcome their new family member into their lives, along with ongoing support from our team throughout the dog’s life.

Mamas for Mamas

A NESTING STORY NON-PROFIT PARTNERSHIP

Written by Rachel Grey, Mamas for Mamas Executive Resource Coordinator – Eastern Canada

When Joanna and I first connected about being a part of the Mamas movement I could have jumped up and down on my couch! I probably actually did (think Tom Cruise & Oprah Winfrey circa 2005). The reason I was so moved is because Mamas for Mamas truly is an organization build upon the kindness of others and I knew how much kindness she had to give.

Most of those working for Mamas for Mamas do that out of the goodness of their heart and selflessly donate their time to giving a hands-up to other mothers in their community. Many of these volunteers are women, and also happen to be mothers. We all share some level of common experience which allows us to give from a place of love and empathy. Whether it’s struggling to pay the bills that month, or having to decide between new clothes or a full fridge, paying for daycare, or just trying to balance the very real demands of motherhood. And that is how Mamas for Mamas continues to grow across Canada, with a vision of growing to local communities all across Canada. And I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful partnership than with Nesting Story.

I first became involved with Mamas for Mamas in 2017 after having my second child and I was home with two daughters under 3. There were so many things happening in the world. There was the continuation of the #MeToo movement, travel bans and other political travesties, and environmental disasters seemed to be hitting at record speed. And I felt like I was just sitting by. I needed to find a deeper purpose, where I could make a real impact in the lives of those around me.

I reached out to Mamas for Mamas to ask “What can I do? How can I help?” And I was afforded the opportunity to open the first remote chapters in Ontario including Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton areas. And that was the beginning of how we have continued to grow across Canada. Every day we open new remote chapters which reside in the digital world on Facebook to help bring resources to all mothers in their community. Taking away the financial currency and replacing it with trading, swapping, borrowing, giving and donating, we have made it so “the only currency you need it kindness.” And irregardless of level of need, all mothers can access the resources they need to help reduce the financial and social burdens that can be associated with motherhood.

We have continued to grow with remote chapters in Toronto and London and are always looking for ambitious kindness ambassadors who would like to open a chapter in their local community. Additionally, in 2019 we are opening our arms to Resource Coordinators in communities across Canada who compile information about all the services in their area including sustainable nourishment, clothing, food services, housing, childcare and more so we can act as a national database for mothers needing to access resources.

We have huge plans for growth in the years to come and dream of having a bricks and mortar location in the GTA so we may replicate all the goodness that happens at our head office location in Kelowna BC with “The Karma Market” where mothers may visit and find items that they need to better provide for their families.

Every day our team grows, our vision grows and amazing brands help to support our mission. When women work together we have the power to create the most incredible vision for the future. And that is what we are doing. Putting one foot in front of the other in order to make life a little less burdensome as we navigate the realities of the juggling act we live as mamas. We often say that it “takes a village,” and this couldn’t feel any more true that being surrounded by the vision of Mamas for Mamas everyday.

Rachel Gray @femmepowerup

Executive Resource Coordinator – Eastern Canada

Mamas for Mamas

www.mamasformamas.ca @mamasformamas

How To Pack For A Conference & Free Packing Checklist

I am about to head to my tenth conference, and this week I am heading to my fifth Mom 2.0 Summit conference.

Over the years I’ve really been able to turn packing for a conference into a craft and have picked up many tips along the way. I’ve also learned hard lessons from real life situations, like forgetting all of my makeup once, so now I rely heavily on a checklist. Which you can download here:

On my last trip I was told to check my carry-on at the gate because there was no room and the airline lost it! No more carry on case for me.

I filmed me packing for my trip to Austin, Texas and have added lots of packing tips, including what to bring to a conference. Enjoy!

My Simple Heirloom Easter Table Setting

Last weekend we had our first family get together for Easter. It was an impromptu, last minute early Easter gathering. As I cleaned our house, getting ready for our guests, table decor ideas were coming to me.

I knew I didn’t want to spend any money on new decor, or fresh flowers, nor did I have time to head out and shop. So, I decided to get creative and use what I already had.

I started to gather items from around our house… carnations that were still hanging on from a bouquet I had put together for a photoshoot (the hydrangeas had already bit the dust), faux greens and basic terracotta pots that I had purchased in the fall from Michaels for our Autumn centre piece, linens from our pre-kids-days, crystal handed down from my grandmother, 1950’s milk-glass plates and salad bowls passed down from Mike’s grandmother, and a simple white rabbit I nabbed from the shelf of my office.

You can find vintage mid-century 1050’s milk glass dishes on Etsy.

I began setting the table…

To break up all of the white with the table cloth I decided to sandwich the robin’s egg blue napkins between the dinner plates and salad bowls.

When it comes to Easter and Halloween I prefer to stay away from the overly themed decor and go for a natural and neutral look that reflects what is happening with the foliage outside.

But I just couldn’t resist adding my little office bunny to the centrepiece as a nod to Easter.

To complete the look I added a white carnation to each table setting. I was so happy with the overall look. It was simple, fresh and reflected the season. Watch the entire transformation unfold here…