Amongst the current world order of work meetings being held over Zoom and happy hours taking place on FaceTime, Durham-based MOMentum Marketplace is hosting a Virtual Summit for women and moms across the globe.
The summit—happening May 19-21 (next Tuesday-Thursday)—aims to connect moms of all kinds from around the world and spark important conversations about women’s roles in the workplace, and at home. It will feature speakers from a variety of backgrounds, including fashion design, e-commerce, motivational speaking, bestselling authors, and stay-at-home moms with side gigs. Attendees will interact and network with the speakers and other participants in daily breakout sessions, as well as an optional post-summit matchup.
Tickets are $35, though unemployed mothers can attend for free if they have been affected by Covid-19. MOMentum will also be offering free webinars after the summit for unemployed mothers to help them take their skillset into the freelance/gig economy.
The summit was originally planned to be three in-person days in the fall, but the team decided to hold it virtually now while so many moms are at home. Given MOMeuntum’s Durham HQ, several of the speakers and sponsors are Triangle-based female entrepreneurs.
Brooke Markevicius founded MOMentum Marketplace in 2018, and the platform has been growing ever since. Anne English joined the team recently as Chief Strategy Officer, while Chloe Terrace rounds out the executive team as Chief Operating Officer.
Markevicius started out working for Postmates after graduate school, where she experienced “bro culture” first-hand. She then quit her job and freelanced in web design, working for predominantly women-led startups. After seeing all of the hardships women were facing, she decided to create something to help alleviate those problems.
Over the years, Markevicius has seen a positive shift toward women gaining more respect in the workplace. Females coming together to support one another is a main factor, but also getting women to become investors plays a big role, she said. The more women investors, the more women-led companies will receive funding.
Connection Is Key
One thing women can hope to gain from this summit is an element of connection, Markevicius said.
“I think a lot of times as moms we don’t take time to better ourselves,” she said. “We’re focused on getting activities for kids.”
The MOMentum team is expecting about 1,000 participants, but the summit could bring more.
Braden Rawls, CEO of the Triangle-based startup VitalPlan—which manufactures herbal supplements, many of them especially well-suited to women—donated some of the company’s product to support the summit and VitalPlan is now a sponsor.
“Women in the workplace need extra support,” she said. “MOMentum serves as a platform for women to come together, and there is a great need for that.”
Another Triangle female leader, Melisse Shaban, will be speaking in a fireside chat during the summit. Shaban is the Founder and CEO of Raleigh-based Virtue Labs, a startup that sells luxury hair care products, and is a longtime working mother.
One of the issues Shaban plans to speak about is balancing work and family life. For her, it’s been all about finding ways to make sure you’re present in whatever role you’re playing at the moment.
When Shaban was starting out her career, she worked for a woman that she really admired, who taught her many life lessons. Her mother was also “a force to be reckoned with.”
Now, with all of her own experience under her belt, Shaban aims to help other women through her role in the summit.
“I think any form in which women can create a community and share ideas and experiences and mentor one another is important,” she said. “Having people of like-mindedness is helpful. It allows you to share fears and frustrations, good and bad ideas, and makes you sure you’re not alone.”