I’m Dina and have always had a passion for supporting parents and children through the early years and beyond. After I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Child Studies and Development from Concordia University in Montreal, I moved out west to Calgary, Alberta. Like many, I moved for a boy and was married a year and a half later. Fifteen years later and I am the mom to three boys. By day I am the co-owner at Akidemy Preschool, located in Calgary, Alberta. Akidemy serves just over 96 families a year with a unique Reggio inspired preschool program and the Calgary community that also offer free parent education and workshops. By night I am busy sharing all my tidbits and experience about children, parenting, and simple living on my blog. I am also an upcoming co-author in You've Got This, Boss Mama (launching October 2019).
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS AND WHAT LEAD YOU TO START IT?
AKIDEMY is my first business baby. I have always wanted to open my own program and had this vision in my mind of what my own preschool would look like. The stars aligned when the perfect opportunity presented itself. I asked my bestie to join me after putting together a 10-page business plan literally overnight. I knew that it had to have all the right details to have her buy-in. Six years later we co-own and operate one of Calgary’s best preschool programs! I also started Move.Play.Mom a couple of years ago as a fun way to document and share our major lifestyle changes and minimalist life. Readership took off in the past 7 months and my Instagram growth hasn’t stopped, I am now seeking ways to monetize and scale this social media business all while staying authentic. I would have never imagined Move.Play.Mom as a brand, and I am loving the opportunities it is bringing!
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
My parents. My grandparents. My great-grandparents. We have a family owned and operated business in Montreal that was established in 1939. I was born into an entrepreneurial family and have had the taste of what that lifestyle is like from the start. You work hard, you give everything you have, you are the face of the business and brand, therefore, you make sure to create a framework, policies, expectations, growth plan…etc..all the things to be great and you DO IT! You execute all the things you need to. You remain authentic and you always strive for great customer service and quality. In return, you work for yourself and that has its own benefits as well. All these things were engrained into my soul and have stuck with me. My grandmother, who the business was passed down to, was the first woman, the matriarch behind the family business until she passed and my incredible dad took over. I believe that the best pieces of them have become a part of my journey. I am grateful for everything they were and continue to be.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TIPS TO MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
This is huge for me. I always was realistic about how much I could handle while taking into consideration all the things in my life, my role as a mom, a wife, maintaining a home, being present etc… but I am also very ambitious and can get a lot of work done in a short period of time. So if I can commit to something I can really give it my all while still maintaining balance. I am part of the early morning club. I like to wake up, stretch, meditate and then head down to my at home gym (which is the size of a closet but I knew I needed a small space to just get it done!) and I work out and run. I spend the next hour prepping my day. My boys are all school age now and life is much easier in the mornings. I help get them ready and off to school before either heading to AKIDEMY or working on Move.Play.Mom. I find getting up before the boys and having this me time, quiet time, to reflect, move and plan my day helps a lot! it’s amazing what you can get done during an uninterrupted half hour! I also have my summers off, as we close our regular program in the summer months and we staff our summer camps, which is a great time for me to connect with my kids and our community.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER MOMS WANTING TO START A BUSINESS?
It’s not easy but it’s incredibly rewarding. I think if you have something you strongly believe in, a product or service, anything, that you know, you believe, you feel that you need to share with the world then do it! The idea of not trying was more of a risk.
IF YOU HAD AN EXTRA HOUR TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT?
GET TO KNOW DINA