What do you do when unforeseen challenges arise and it feels like fires are burning out of control? Maybe you feel a bit guilty taking care of yourself in the middle of it all. Maybe you don’t know who to talk to about what’s going on. Maybe you’re not sure if you can keep running your business the way you want.
Erin Moffatt, Joel Jelinski and Michael Tighe are three Calgary entrepreneurs who know what it’s like to face the unexpected—and how to move forward. Read on for Erin Moffatt’s story and advice to other entrepreneurs who may be facing challenges of their own.
'It’s a very isolating experience'
Erin Moffatt is the creator & founder of Poopheart, which offers hand-drawn and hilarious poop-themed art and gifts.
An engineer by trade, Erin Moffatt was working in Calgary’s oil and gas industry when in 2015, like many others in our province, she was laid off. At the time, she’d been making her hilarious art for fun; she’d never considered that it could become a full-time gig.
“I didn’t really know anyone in that space,” Erin says. “My friends were all the typical nurses, teachers, engineers, all with working professional backgrounds. I really didn’t have any network or group of people.”
About six months after losing her job, Erin launched Poopheart in earnest, teaming up with CAWST (the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology) to raise awareness about poop and sanitation through her hand-drawn artwork.
“It was definitely a confusing time for me, not really having any resources and just googling things,” Erin recalls. “It’s a lot and it can be really overwhelming. ”
A year after she launched Poopheart, she joined Cohort 1 of ATB X, ATB’s business accelerator program, where she was suddenly surrounded by 19 other entrepreneurs and business owners. Looking back, Erin says her biggest mistake was not connecting with a network of people earlier in her entrepreneurial journey.
“As much as I’d had a great year and I loved the challenge of starting a business, it wasn’t until that moment where I was actually around other people again, I realized that I’d had a lot of unhappiness from being isolated and not really realizing that or recognizing it,” she says.
Erin’s advice to entrepreneurs
Network, make connections, and build a community.
“The biggest impact to my business was meeting other entrepreneurs,” she says. “It is a very isolating experience so it can be challenging when you don’t know where to go.”
Check out the other inspiring stories from Joel Jelinski and Michael Tighe as part of our series of features on expecting the unexpected.
Thank you to Erin, Joel and Michael for bravely sharing their stories about mental health and entrepreneurship at The Struggle is Real in Calgary in November. The next Struggle event will take place Jan. 15 at Work Nicer Beaver House.