A group of pictures of finalists from Total Mom Pitch 2023
Running a business

Mom entrepreneurs on the rise: Meet the finalists of Canada’s Total Mom Pitch

As a mom entrepreneur, you understand first hand the unique challenges and triumphs that come with balancing family life and building a business. This year's Canada’s Total Mom Pitch finalists represent a dynamic mix of industries, showcasing the vast talent among mom entrepreneurs across Canada. At Intuit QuickBooks, we're excited to share the stories of four of five remarkable finalists.

By celebrating these founders and acknowledging their shared experiences, we hope to inspire the next wave of business owners who also happen to be proud moms.

Below, learn more about what inspires these women to keep going on a tough day, and get their advice on building a legacy.

Sanamaria Inc. - Empowering Canadian brands in the consumer packaged goods market

Maria Cruz-Lind is the proud owner of Sanamaria Inc., an Ontario-based food broker that helps new Canadian brands scale the competitive consumer packaged goods market. She saw a gap in the industry where new businesses needed sales help but were not capable of engaging the services of big brokers just yet.

Sanamaria is an affordable, remote sales team that gets products into stores, sends purchase orders to distributors, and takes care of sales, among many other tasks.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a small business owner, and how have you overcome them?

Staffing has been one of the biggest challenges, along with figuring out best practices, compensation, and the right job descriptions. I want to ensure I take care of our employees, and keeping a balance of what that means has been very difficult. One of the things I am working on now is ensuring that our practices are fair and easy to follow. This makes it easier for everybody to know what is expected.

What challenges do you feel are unique to women business owners?

Women entrepreneurs are still tasked with making sure the household is taken care of. Even with so much support from partners, it's still always on the list to ensure that the house is taken care of. I do feel that this is unique to women, as we are natural caregivers.

Do you have any advice for small business owners wanting to start their own business and build a legacy?

Being an entrepreneur is a commitment, and there are going to be a lot of challenges and a lot of amazing wins, and that is the beauty of it all. Just keep on keeping on, as that is also what builds a legacy!

How psychology-based app Safe is revolutionizing financial wellness

Siobhan Hamilton is the creator of Safe, the first personal finance app backed by psychology and behavioural economics. It provides a seamless way to engage purposefully with money, without the stress and mental load of tracking and traditional budgeting.

The app's AI chatbot, The Safe, delivers personalized insights and guidance tailored to each user's spending and saving habits. By connecting to the user’s bank account, the app provides a visual map of where their money is going and gives a safe-to-spend amount within a soft boundary.

What is the driving force behind starting your business (aka your “big why”)?

My “why” stems from my personal struggles with money management, chronic disorganization, overspending, and avoidance, compounded by the mental load of raising kids with a partner who shares similar stresses. My background in clinical psychology led me to approach these issues from a research-driven perspective and seek solutions beyond antiquated methods found in other apps and spreadsheets.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a small business owner, and how have you overcome them?

As a small business owner without a background in business, the challenges of fulfilling multiple roles as a lean startup CEO have felt very overwhelming. To combat this, I've sought support from the local community of fellow entrepreneurs and embraced continuous learning through podcasts, workshops, and reading. Learning about OKRs, time blocking, and really prioritizing my tasks and delegating (when possible) has been my greatest learning to date.

Do you have any advice for small business owners wanting to start their own business and build a legacy?

First, you need to know what you really want: A small business? A scalable one? What does this reality look like in the bigger scheme of things, including other properties such as family and long-term goals?

Secondly, take advantage of the awesome support systems out there, especially for women in business. Lastly, keep going! So, so, so many people fall to the wayside when the course gets difficult — and it will, several times over. Keep going back to your “why” and keep going!

quote image
When the course gets difficult, keep going back to your "why".

From beans to brews: How Shed Coffee is raising the bar in the industry

Hai Nguyen has been roasting and brewing something exceptional at her company, The Shed Coffee. As the first P.E.I. woman entrepreneur to achieve WBE Canada (Women Business Enterprises Canada Council) certification, Nguyen has been raising the bar with international coffee industry ethics and sustainability.

She’s also sought ways to support and promote women’s contributions in the coffee industry by using coffee beans from women-led farms and leading the local chapter of Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Canada.

Can you tell us about your business? What products/services do you offer?

In 2021, we opened our first coffee shop and micro-roastery in Charlottetown, which celebrated global specialty coffee trends as well as the local flavours and landscape. At the same time, we developed two new products: canned cold brew coffee and drip bag coffee.

In spring 2022, we were offered a new way to serve our wonderful community with a second location in the Charlottetown library.

In 2023, we opened a third location, which is the new roastery, helping us to scale. We are beginning to expand product offerings and develop a growth strategy to sell our products both regionally and nationally.

Looking ahead, what impact do you hope to make through your business and what are your plans for the future? Is there any way you hope to measure success beyond financial metrics?

I’m passionate about creating fun coffee products and committed to promoting the often unrecognized contribution of women in the coffee industry. Our Koolbrew canned coffee celebrates the women who have poured their love and labour into coffee. Our mission is to erase the border between the coffee bean and the coffee lover. We hope to have more and more business models of women supporting women. The most rewarding and valuable thing a female leader can do is to invest in helping and uplifting other women so we don’t need to fight to be valued.

Do you have any advice for small business owners wanting to start their own business and build a legacy?

  • Whether the task is large or small, do it well or not at all.
  • Empower others. This is key to building a great team and to keep it moving in the same direction with the company.
  • Be patient with yourself. Soon it is going to happen after a lot of sleepless nights, and tons of fear and loneliness.

oomé: Creating sustainable smoked tofu to honour a family legacy

Led by owner Miki Talebi, oomé is a premium smoked tofu company that takes sustainability to the next level. Products are marinated with clean and simple ingredients and smoked with cherry-wood sourced from Talebi's family cherry orchard.

“We are proud to be plastic-negative certified. This means that for every package of smoked tofu sold, we remove two packages worth of plastic from our environment,” she says.

Can you tell us about your business? What products/services do you offer?

oomé is a premium smoked tofu company. Our products are ready to eat, naturally smoked, and locally produced. We are on a mission to celebrate family and great tasting food, while creating a brighter future for our planet and generations beyond us.

What is the driving force behind starting your business? When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going?

I started this business to honour my father. My father passed away in 2020. He was an incredible salesperson and had a passion for using his smoker to create delicious meals that brought the family around the dinner table.

Whenever I’m second-guessing myself or having a hard day, I think about what he would want for me. I also look to my children and the example I want to be for them — that we should be pursuing careers that bring us purpose and fulfilment.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a small business owner, and how have you overcome them?

So much imposter syndrome! The biggest challenge is believing in yourself and putting one foot in front of the other. Taking that first step and starting the business was the hardest part, but the fear of regret outweighs the fear of failure, and that forced me to overcome those initial feelings.

Starting a business can feel overwhelming at first. Find helpful business resources, inspiring stories, and free tools — curated for busy moms and business owners — on the QuickBooks Blog


This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by region, province, state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

We provide third-party links as a convenience and for informational purposes only. Intuit does not endorse or approve these products and services, or the opinions of these corporations or organizations or individuals. Intuit accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content on these sites.

Looking for something else?

Get QuickBooks

Smart features made for your business. We've got you covered.

Firm of the Future

Expert advice and resources for today’s accounting professionals.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.