Lara Leontowich is the owner of Bellies to Babies Celebration, a twice-annual trade show highlighting exciting new products, resources, and offerings for expectant parents. Now in its fifth year, the last show was held on Sunday, April 10 at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver.
What were you doing before you opened your business?
As a marketing director for a shopping centre, I was responsible for developing and organizing numerous events. Prior to that, I worked as the marketing supervisor for an international company. My roles, though enjoyable, often required out-of-town travel and some extra-long days.
After becoming a mom, I was drawn to becoming an entrepreneur so I could be more available to my son. Traditional work can often mean a long commute and having family meals served late into the evening. After careful consideration, I realized that entrepreneurship, despite its challenges, was very much a lifestyle choice.
What inspired you to start your company?
I identified a void in the market and saw tremendous potential to offer a high-quality, high-value show for moms-to-be. It felt good to know that I could draw on my post-secondary education in business and marketing and combine it with my experience in marketing, event planning and public relations in something I was passionate about.
What is your company all about?
Bellies to Babies Celebration – A Place for Moms-to-Be is a is a one-of-a-kind event, offering a unique opportunity for new and expectant parents and grandparents to learn about new developments in clothing, equipment, green items, time-saving devices and other essentials for babies. It is an educational and informative event. For each trade show, select speakers are also chosen to share new insights for new parents. Community representatives from various support groups are also on-hand to answer questions for new and expectant parents.
What’s your vision for your company?
Our goal is to continue to provide an exceptional and memorable trade show with credible follow-up leads as well as professionalism and superior customer service for all exhibitors and sponsors.
For attendees, we seek to showcase a selection of the best products and services available throughout the Vancouver area and beyond. With each trade show, it is a matter of creating a memorable experience for new and expectant parents at this exciting time of their lives, all while giving back to the community.
What excites you about what you’re doing?
Five years ago when I started my companies, I created the business plan and vision. I thought that in itself was enough. Each time things didn’t go as I planned or hoped, I quickly learned something new and noted what worked and what didn’t.
Now years later, I finally figured out what works for my business. I never had merchandise to sell. So for me, it’s not just about selling a 100 of this and 50 of that. It was more about finding a way to offer high value to my customers.
Right now, I love that I’m on the right track and I have a tried-and-true system for everything. I feel that all my hard work, sweat and tears have finally paid off.
Are there any charities or organizations you’re involved in?
In lieu of an admission fee to attend the Bellies to Babies Celebration trade show, we accept donations to Vancouver Food Bank’s Basics for Babies Program. I am delighted about the tremendous support shown and how we have collected numerous supplies for babies in the region plus over $3,000 for the charity. It is a rewarding part of each trade show. It feels good to be giving back to the community.
This article was previously published on VancouverMom.ca