A new conference aimed towards Canadian military spouses is coming May 25, 2019.
This new conference, the MilSpouse Collective Annual Conference, is the brainchild of Jessica Khouri and Katie Tollis-Flabbi, two experienced event planners and military spouses.
Starting their venture as Paperback Events & Consulting in 2016, both women saw a lack of resources and wanted to fill the void in the industry in the Ottawa Valley.
“As two military spouses that were professionally skilled, we saw an opportunity in the area to provide more. At the time, very little was being done by way of event marketing and saw this an opportunity to bring more excitement to the area. The biggest thing we hear as military spouses is that there is nothing to do – we wanted to change that,” said Tollis-Flabbi.
“The biggest barrier we face as military spouses is underemployment. Many have extensive backgrounds, education, experiences…that go under-utilized due to locational restrictions,” said Tollis-Flabbi. “We wanted to provide a platform to support each other, build community, and to inspire military spouses that opportunities are available – sometimes you have to make them for yourself,” said Tollis-Flabbi, a military spouse.
Khouri and Tollis-Flabbi started planning for the first event in 2017 when they pitched the idea at the Ottawa Valley Start-Up Night. They won the pitching contest began hosting various pop-up events in the area.
The conference, which is hosted in Pembroke on May 25, gives military spouses the skills and confidence needed to pursue or strengthen their entrepreneurship, start a viable and portable business, or to grow their professional network and skills.
“The biggest barrier we face as military spouses is underemployment. Many have extensive backgrounds, education, experiences…that go under-utilized due to locational restrictions,” said Tollis-Flabbi. “We wanted to provide a platform to support each other, build community, and to inspire military spouses that opportunities are available – sometimes you have to make them for yourself.”
Currently, only 46 per cent of military spouses has full-time employment, with only 8 per cent who are self-employed.
“These barriers in and of themselves are challenging to handle individually. Therefore, we wanted to provide an open platform where spouses can openly learn from each other, address these barriers, and feel supported in the ventures they wish to pursue.”
The intention of the conference is to eventually grow nationally with an Eastern, Central, and Western conference to help offset the travel associated with only hosting one event in one region.
With 50 per cent of tickets sold, both women say they’ve received a great amount of support working with military spouse-owned businesses, and the military community.
“Each event that we’ve hosted leading up the conference has included collaborations with military spouses as much as possible. The day of the conference focuses on supporting military spouses in almost every component as well as we believe we are each other’s strongest asset,” said Tollis-Flabbi.
Tickets are still available to purchase and include a variety of perks. The day is filled with valuable and inspiring talks from keynote speaker Ariel Garneau, founder of PMQ for Two, interactive workshops from Caitlin Ritchie, brand stylist, and photographer, and Instagram-worthy photo ops and networking opportunities with other military spouses and businesses.
“We hope that attendees take away the motivation and support needed to further grow and develop their skills. We want to build this community not just for the day, but for years to come so that military spouses know they have a support network, whether it’s for personal or business,” said Tollis-Flabbi.
Visit the Paperback Events page for more information.