We’re back with another installment of people doing cool shit. But this time, our founder Emma May sat down with Natalie Gomersall, one of the entrepreneurs that launched her business through SophieGrace’s support of microloans at Momentum.org.
Over the past year, Sophie Grace has donated funds to Momentum as part of our mission to help women win at work. Momentum’s successes are exactly what we live for! And we are looking forward to launching a new Equal Pay Scarf Campaign with them and The Awakened Project later this summer. Natalie's story is exactly why this organization fills our hearts and souls.
Natalie is a quirky, fun-loving Brit who has made her living as an entrepreneur and caring for children. She is now the proud owner and operator of Lavish Canvas, a gorgeous event and glamping company with that Glastunbury a boho vibe we all covet. Natalie and Emma had the chance to talk all things women in business, why women need to pave their own way and the power of owning your own future.
E. What is it like for you to own a business?
I love being a business owner. I really love being my own boss and the autonomy, even though at times, there has been a lack of sleep! I have so many ideas to try out. My glamping business brings out the creative side in me and I love putting my unique stamp on things. It’s also a lot of work, I set up and decorate the tents myself and customize colours for my customers. People are more interested in spending time outside for health reasons as well as new-found enjoyment, so I have more bookings than ever!
I previously ran a business for 8 years doing kids' birthday parties, but as a single parent, it didn't work. I was always working evenings and weekends, and I wanted to be there for my kids. I worked in childcare instead and enjoyed that work. And now that my kids are grown, I can do what I want!
I got divorced when my kids were small. I am an outgoing person, but at home I felt like a nobody. After leaving my marriage, I was very much living paycheque to paycheque, all my savings were depleted, and I wasn't able to save for retirement.
So a big part of the reason for starting my business is that I need a working retirement. My goal is to have a small acreage where people will glamp. I imagine having chickens and bees, it will be somewhere to have a little destination. My dreams are modest but beautiful - something that pays the bills and that I enjoy. We don't think about people in 40s and 50s and that we still have energy left in us. To start something new is brave or maybe stupid, I'm not sure what!
E. Oh I get starting a business in your 40s! And I feel the same way - I have a lot of energy now that my kids are grown. Can you tell us a bit about how Sophie Grace’s support of Momentum microloans help you?
It was wonderful to be accepted into Momentum's program for entrepreneurs. To me, it meant that I have an idea that is viable because Momentum thinks so too. My responsibility was to come to the table and do the research, but it was so important to have perspective from people who are knowledgeable. I had the accountability and expertise to make sure my business was going to work for me. The microloan especially was a boost – it allowed me to purchase a tent, get media exposure and buy other small necessities for my business.
E. Why do you think it’s important to support women in business?
As women, I think we are constantly negotiating how we earn a living, while being there for our kids, and making room to be ourselves in the process.
I have given so much to my kids, even now I employ them in my company from time to time! I need my own solutions that fit my life, and being an entrepreneur does that. To see my business succeeding and to enjoy life is an amazing thing, especially when it wasn’t always that way.
I have a good friendship with another woman who started a food truck business through Momentum, and we love to cheer each other on and help each other with business. That kind of support is so important to me. Thanks for the support from Sophie Grace and all their fabulous customers too!
E. Thank you Natalie! For our Calgary based customers be sure to follow Natalie at @lavishcanvas on Instagram. I think one of my favourite parts about this is that you are now looking at buying the scarf we are crafting so you too can now give back to the program. The circular nature of this is what I find most impactful.
And I can’t wait to GLAMP!