2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Business Development Department of Momentum. To celebrate, we collected 20 stories about past participants who have thriving businesses. Written by Marnie Schaetti of RaiDo Dynamics, these stories reflect the diversity, innovation and hard work of the inspiring participants who come through our doors every year to take one of our many programs.
This is one of those stories.
Entrepreneur Name: Natalie Wynn-Dempsey
Programs: Women’s Venture Program, Women’s Venture Accelerator, Micro Business Loans
Program Years: 2006, 2010
Business Description: Early literacy, music and play program.
When she was 18 years old, Natalie Wynn-Dempsey was pregnant and planning to give her child up for adoption. One look at her newborn—a humbling experience of falling overwhelmingly in love—completely changed her mind.
Asking advice at the adoption agency, she expected a list of parenting guidelines. Instead, Natalie was shown a sensory-based musical activity to use with her daughter, which introduced her to a whole new way of seeing the world. Natalie’s imagination exploded. She began gathering stuffed animals, puppets, books and songs, which eventually became the Little Wonders curriculum. She backed up her intuitive abilities with training and then work
experience in early childhood education.
Years later, she and her husband were living in Toronto, their third child had just been born and they were facing student loans and credit card debt. They made the difficult decision to move in with Natalie’s mother in Calgary to save money. Once there, with no job prospects on the horizon, Natalie jumped at the chance to learn how to run her own business.
The Women’s Venture and Venture Accelerator programs at Momentum helped her identify the singing and reading skills she had already mastered, and turn them into an early literacy, music and play program for children up to six years old. She launched the business in 2006, offering programs for children and their parents in a church basement. Within three years, her first 19 participants had become 100, and she now teaches multiple groups at 12 different centres every month.
During this time, her youngest daughter, whom Natalie describes as a wonderful and gifted girl who learns in a unique way, was formally assessed with learning disabilities. Natalie homeschools her, continues to operate her business, has written a book and has recorded a series of CDs. She thinks of everything she does as an excuse for love, a celebratory way of creating space for families to rise up.
Learn more about Momentum’s Business Development programs.