Kristen Trovato and her team have spent the last several weeks turning 55,000 pounds of cherries, 50,000 lbs of blueberries and soon 80,000 + lbs of apples into juice—all destined for export markets, especially Asia. Trovato and her husband, Remo, own Mobile Juicing and they also import and sell the fruit processing machinery that turns extra fruit into delicious juice.
The couple had talked of creating a juice they could export for years, but the steps to get there—namely earning licensing from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)—kept getting put off. And then this year, Kristen joined Momentum, a women’s business accelerator hosted by Community Futures North Okanagan.
“I was able to prioritize it and make it a goal,” says Trovato, who is now embarking on a stationery juicing facility to increase capacity. “We had that focus: What’s the best thing you can do for your business in this moment? It was getting that certification in place, and I did it.”
This summer, Mobile Juicing’s sales have increased by 40 per cent.
Helping women entrepreneurs identify and achieve their goals is a big focus of the program, which brings together like-minded professionals for learning, peer support, one-on-one coaching and funding for business development.
Trovato put some of her Momentum funding toward legal support in creating employment contracts, and focused much of her off-season months on how to have her values articulated and ‘show up’ in the day to day.
“That’s been really grounding for me, to see how we can make changes so the business is more in line with our core values, and it’s been so helpful.”
Collaboration is another key element of the Momentum program. Trovato has had the chance to further develop her relationship with Momentum participant and BX Press owner Melissa Dobernigg as well as Jill Hemich, owner of Correale’s Wine Cellar. Now that Trovato has the CFIA certification, she and Jill are able to pursue opportunities for Mobile Juicing juice to be included in Correale’s wine kits. It’s early days, but both are excited about the possibilities.
For Hemich, who bought Correale’s in 2008 and largely grew her business on her own since then, Momentum has opened so many doors.
“When I first started the business, I did a lot myself. I didn’t know what was out there, but to see how we can grow and help each other is great. You are busy, but you find the time. Otherwise, you wouldn’t get out of your business to find those opportunities.”
Hemich was able to use the program’s business development funding to create a website that’s helped customers across Interior BC find her. Many of them now drive to Vernon for her wine-making kits.
“Having the website has been so beneficial for me.”
Another Momentum participant with a store that may never have otherwise gone online or created a digital inventory system is Maggie Niewinski of Cobbler’s Rack Shoes and Repairs.
“It has been so beneficial to be able to point people to the website so they can see what we carry.”
For Niewinski, the one-on-one coaching with Momentum facilitator Connie Viszlai over the last 10 months has also been invaluable.
“I had a lot of questions about accounting or about my team and she was always able to point me in the right direction. I had to do the work, but she gave me a starting point. A lot of these things, I didn’t know how to do or I was scared to try, and I have accomplished so much. It’s helped me in so many ways.”
As an introvert, Niewinksi always appreciate the option to participate in group discussions and workshops, or have individual coaching time with Connie.
Connie has continued to lead program virtually since the spring, and who has helped participants access additional funding supports to overcome the impact of COVID-19. She says it was an especially important time for members of the group, many who are sole proprietors running businesses on their own, to be able to turn to one another.
“The whole notion of collaboration and mutual support has meant just having a place to go to voice frustrations and look for solutions, and know there are others out there feeling the same pains. It helps you feel that you are not alone and it removes that sense of isolation.”
Are you a woman entrepreneur interested in learning more about how Momentum can help your business grow and thrive? We have a new intake starting in September! Learn more and reach out to Momentum facilitator Connie Viszlai.
(Feature image, Maggie Niewenski, Cobbler’s Rack Shoes & Repairs)