ARIA LEIGHTY IS HELPING MOMS
THRIVE IN LIVE AND BUSINESS
Aria Leighty is the founder of MOB Nation, a networking group she founded in 2012. After finding networking opportunities inaccessible to mom owned business, Aria wanted to create a space of true connection. After years of working with hundreds of mom-owned businesses, Aria realized there was so much more that MOBs needed to thrive in life and business. In addition to The MOB Nation, Aria is a thought leader, trailblazer, and business mentor. For almost a decade, she’s combined her diverse experience, creative ideas, wide range of connections, and unique perspectives to help women on the edge of change up-level in their businesses and lives.
IN THIS EPISODE
[02:02] On what Aria is most passionate about
[02:34] On how her experiences have made her passions a priority
[03:23] How her childhood influenced her work
[04:12] What Aria did before MOB Nation and how it led her to it
[05:06] On her unique experiences as a mom-owned business owner
[06:13] How she found a mother with the same passions and grew a business from it
[08:04] On expanding MOB Nation from local to global
[09:48] On the micro economy and the benefits for MOB members
[11:04] On her core MOB Nation team
[14:02] On the tiers of MOB Nation and how to become a part of it
[15:52] On sponsoring a meet up for MOB Nation members
[16:36] What Aria has learned about herself through this journey
[17:36] On the future for MOBCON and MOBCON Minis
[19:03] On her coaching and consulting business
[20:25] How you can sign up with consulting programs with Aria
[20:53] On the limiting beliefs that hold women back from starting their own business
[22:04] On tapping into the feminine energy of money
[23:57] On getting through the darker moments and persevering
[25:36] Aria’s advice to mothers wanting to start their own business
Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to The Passionistas Project Podcast, where we talk with women who are following their passions to inspire you to do the same. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington, and this is our 100th episode of the podcast. We want to take a moment to thank all of the women who have shared their stories and to all of you for tuning in and listening. We hope you've been as inspired by all of these Passionistas, as we have been. We've picked someone very special to be our hundredth guest: MOB Nation founder, Aria Leighty.
We were introduced to her by two other women who have been guests on the podcast. Stacy Newman-Weldon, the founder of Adventure Wednesdays and Dr. Melissa Bird, the founder of Natural Born Rebel and the new Heart of the Warrior Program.
Not only is Aria today's guest, but we're currently collaborating with her and her incredible community, The MOB Nation, on this quarter's Passionistas Project Pack. As usual, our subscription box is filled with women owned products. But thanks to the MOB, for this installment, they're all from Mom-Owned businesses.
Aria founded the networking group The MOB Nation in 2012. After finding traditional networking opportunities inaccessible to mom owned businesses, she wanted to create a space of true connection. After years of working with hundreds of mom-owned businesses, Aria realized there were so much more that MOBs needed to thrive in life and business.
In addition to building The MOB Nation, Aria is a thought leader, trailblazer and business mentor. For almost a decade, she's combined her diverse experience, creative ideas, wide range of connections, and unique perspective to help women on the edge of change up-level in their businesses and lives. So please welcome to the show, Aria Leighty.
Aria: I love that. Thank you for that intro.
Passionistas: We're so excited to have you here. We love Mob Nation. We're huge fans. So Aria, what's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Aria: Really getting money into the hands of women and mom owned businesses. I think that that is like the overlying like concept in all of my businesses. All of the things that I do is the intent of redistributing the wealth into really good hearted women and allowing us to tap into that feminine energy of money.
Passionistas: And why is that so important to you and what personal experiences have you had that made those things a priority for you?
Aria: Well, I have just personally witnessed that it really does change the world. Like when we can redistribute the wealth, it has been proven that when women have more control of the money, they go and they spend it locally. They make more investments, they do more things. They have all the spending power in their family, so they can decide how to use that money to, like I said, change the world, whether it's, you know, outsource and their business to create more jobs, whether it is tipping better, women tip better. Also, you know, it just has more of that cycle of change in the world when women are earning it and spending it.
Passionistas: So let's take a step back. Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? And did your childhood have an influence on these things that you're doing today?
Aria: I grew up... I split my time, my whole life has been split between Honolulu, Hawaii, Portland, Oregon, and San Diego, California. My dad was in the Navy. He met my native Hawaiian mother. It was kind of one of those cliche sailor meets a Hawaiian and so we moved around a lot. It's funny that you ask this because I was just asked this. And I said that my childhood was actually very lonely and I spent most of it very alone. And I was like, so I don't think it really had an impact on me. And then I was like, okay, well, duh, it did because I went out and built these massive communities so that people didn't have to do it alone.
Passionistas: So let's jump ahead to MOB Nation. What were you doing prior to that? And what led you to create this amazing community?
Aria: I had just opened my first brick and mortar location of a kid's art studio called Art a la Carte. I was in Portland, Oregon at the time. And so I was a single mom, single young mom. And my daughter was starting kindergarten and I decided to open a business and I knew that I was absolutely nuts. And I got to this point where I was like, what have I done. This is crazy. And so I started to go out and went to build my business, went to build my network.
And I just didn't feel like networking was successful. I couldn't find my people. And I always joke that I was like, I've got to find at least one more. There's gotta be one more mom that was crazy enough to also start a business and balance that with motherhood. And then, you know, thousands of members later, here we are.
Passionistas: So what were you experiencing as a mom owned business owner that was unique to what other business owners go through?
Aria: I mean, it literally wasn't accessible, like it just wasn't. During times of the day, I felt like I had to take my mom hat off and kind of run a mask when walking into those rooms. At the time, I mean, this was a decade ago. It really felt like traditional networking was kind of like... like the boys club and it was very masculine energy. It was very competitive. There wasn't a lot of like collaboration. Even if there were female centered, women centered circles, it still felt like we were modeling that masculine behavior of competing with each other and one-upping each other.
And some of the other traditional networking things... like you can never miss a meeting or you'll get kicked out .And it's, you know, if my daughter has a play or, you know, she's not feeling good, that's coming first before anything else. So that was really what made me start to realize that moms needed so much more than just what was being offered at the time.
Passionistas: So how did you go from finding that one other mother, who had started a business, to building this community of thousands of women? What was the process?
Aria: Well, first we just started meeting. I mean, it started with a Facebook post, like, "Hey, anybody know anyone else that's doing this?" And we had the first little quote unquote meetup around my dining table. I think there was like six moms, who a couple of them are still members today. Then we started going into a couple of different coffee shops and then people would just hear.
Like, you know, word of mouth spread really quickly because it was like, this is unlike anything that I've ever seen. You know, moms are actually collaborating, they're purchasing from each other. It's just, it's a completely different dynamic and energy and the referrals aren't forced. It's a very organic connection.
When I brought my kids and they were coloring, you know, during the whole thing. So when we started like really making structured meetups, it was very intentional how I've created them to make sure that everybody walks in feeling seen, everybody leaves feeling heard. Like they made a new friend. Like they got a new connection. Like they had an opportunity to share their pitch and their big ask.
And then again on a national level... that just... it went crazy. People were talking on Facebook. Like I joined this group where I went to this event and I saw, you know, my sales doubled within a week. Or, you know, I've never felt this level of community before. And so people started calling and emailing saying, "bring this to Phoenix, bring this to San Diego, bring this, you know, over here to Florida." And so we really just began expanding from there.
I had no intention at the time. And Gwen, our COO, was like, "As soon as you asked me to be a part of this, I knew that this was going to grow on a national level." But I really thought it was just going to be community-based. And I'm still shocked all the time when I talk to somebody from across the world now, and they've heard of The MOB Nation.
Passionistas: So talk about that process of expanding from being a local community, to taking it online and expanding throughout the country. How did you go about that?
Aria: Pre COVID times, we began with bringing on different leadership in the different cities. So the people that would say, "oh, we would love to have this in San Diego." It's like, if you want to lead it and you want to learn the secrets behind it, and you want to create the meet ups in the way that we have created them, and you want to duplicate in that in your area, then come onto our leadership team. And I would travel out there, help train them, help run their first event.
So prior to COVID, we were doing 30 in-person events per month across the nation. So there were several nights that would have, you know, one in Bend, Oregon and one in Texas and one in Honolulu. And it was really awesome to know that all of those were happening at the same time with these incredible leaders.
Then COVID happened. And it actually was a blessing for us because taking it to the online model... I don't want to say blessing, but you get what I'm saying. It did impact it in a positive way. We were able to make it a lot more accessible and expand the virtual meetups that we were doing to offering those 12 times per month.
And so people were able to come and, you know, have that experience. We were luckily able to duplicate that experience that we have and the structure that we have on Zoom. And people that are from small towns that don't get access to that community, people that have online businesses, where they can really benefit from sales from anywhere, they're able to hop on, get that experience, make those connections.
Passionistas: I mean, I think one of the most impressive things is this micro economy that you have fostered. So talk about that, and especially during COVID, the benefits that that has had for your members.
Aria: That is the thing I'm the most proud of too, is the micro economy. We like, we love to say, "there's a MOB for that."
And so that's really what we stand by. We encourage our members to support MOB first. And again, we take that same idea that when moms have more money in their pockets, we can change the world. We can make a difference, we create more jobs. And so being able to cultivate that culture within the group, getting them thinking all the time, what big box purchases can I switch over to mom owned and get this economy going.
And we saw, like during COVID, when all of these businesses were shutting down, our members were still seeing the same amount of success, if not more, because now there's so many more people saying, "go support mom owned. It's more important than ever." And even the really, you know, successful businesses were purchasing gift cards from stores, they knew that they would probably never go to because it's in a completely different state just to make sure that those stores were able to remain open on the underside of this.
Passionistas: Tell us a little bit about your core team. Cause we know you mentioned Gwen, like you have some women that are kind of the nexus of this organization with you. So can you talk about how you brought them together and the roles that some of them play?
Aria: Yes, my people! So I had the MOB and I was running it for about five years... four years before taking it to the next level with the alliance and the paid membership version of the MOB, the up-level next step. And I knew before launching that that I really needed to have a team that was going to be able to support that feeling that I wanted to do. To be able to love on the community. To be able to bring in their zone of genius so I can focus on mine's zone of genius. Because I fully believe in outsourcing and bringing on team, whenever you can.
So I actually asked a group of four women. They came into my glittery painted art studio and we sat at this trashed, painted table. We have a picture of it. It's really funny. I was like, I have this idea. I think it's going to really blow up. I think it's going to change the way that networking in business is done. I want you to be a part of it.
Gwen... I don't even think I had actually met her in person yet, but she was one of those women around the table. But she was just always showing up in the MOB group and providing so much value, had so much insight. You couldn't help, but just be drawn to her energy. And I was like, this person loves this community the way that I do, and they, you know, are generous and give the way that I want to give as a leader. And Gwen has stuck with me through this entire time.
Mori was actually a chapter leader. And people would come in saying, you know, "I was so nervous to go to this Vancouver/Washington event. And Mori made me feel so good. And gave me a hug." Like I was hearing stories every week. Like" Mori made me feel this," "Mori, you know, gave me the best hug." "Or she held my baby so I could, you know, eat a meal." And I was like, I need this to be duplicated so that every member that we have nationwide can feel this level of love. And so I was like, you need to be the VP of membership, but you need to spread this joy throughout the nation.
And she has. And still, every week, it's like, "Do you know how cool Mori and Gwen are?" I'm like, yes, thank you. But that's all anybody wants to tell me is like how great those two are.
Passionistas: You're listening to the hundredth episode of The Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Aria Leighty. To work with her as a coach and business mentor, visit arialeighty.com to join her alliance of women owned businesses visit themobnation.com.
If you're enjoying this interview and would like to help us continue creating inspiring content, please consider becoming a patron by visiting thepassionistasproject.com/podcast and clicking on the patron button. Even $5 a month can help us continue our mission of inspiring women to follow their passions.
Now here's more of our interview with Aria.
So you mentioned the paid level. Can you talk about the tiers and how women can be a part of MOB Nation?
Aria: Yeah. So if you identify as a mother and you have any size business, then we welcome you in. There is a show up level, which means that you're going to show up in then directory. So that's a great first start. If you are just wanting to get that marketing, that visibility, The MOB Nation directory, which is theresamomforthat.com, is the largest mom owned business directory in the nation.
So you're going to get that visibility. You're going to get seen. Again, you're going to get our members who wanted to support mom owned first, going there and to look, to see who they can support.
If you're really ready to dive in to the community and attend the meetups and, you know, get really invested, then the go up-level is for you. So you can attend all the meetups. You also have coffee chats and pitch practice and goal-setting calls. Our alliance community are really the ones that are super invested. So you know that you're going to be networking and in a private community called MOB Social. Networking with those people that really have the MOB culture on lock.
We get a lot of different amazing discounts and opportunities for our members. We partner with amazing people like The Passionistas Project, where we get our alliance members, you know, featured. So there's so many opportunities. The directors team is always looking for more ways to highlight these members and to get them seen and to get more money into their hands.
And our glow up members are members that have been a part of our community and are really the outstanding members, like look to these members to see how to have success in this community. And so they apply after a certain amount of time and get their directory listings featured on the website and a lot more benefits.
Passionistas: And even if you're not a member of The MOB, you can sponsor a meetup. Right? Tell everybody about that, cause we did that and it was an amazing opportunity.
Aria: Yeah, anyone that is really, like aligns with our community culture and wants to get their business or offering in front of our group of amazing members, they can sponsor a meetup. They can sponsor a MOBCON Mini, and be able to hop on virtually to tell our group, and then we share it in our social media platforms. And we take it very seriously, who we partner with and work with because our members have built trust with us. And they know that we only bring them the best of the best, like The Passionistas Project. And so they are, you know, so excited to support these different organizations back that partner with us.
Passionistas: What have you learned about yourself from all the work you've done with MOB Nation?
Aria: What haven't I learned about myself. I saw a thing that said, if you really want to see where you need to heal, like own a business. That's going to teach you everything that you need to know. So, I mean, it's just completely changed the trajectory of my life, and how I show up, how I connect with people. I think allowing people in and allowing myself to receive community and friendships has been a big blessing for me.
And I think I've learned everything about money mindset through working with mom owned businesses and seeing the different stories that we all carry about ourselves that, you know, men just aren't really carrying around about themselves. So, yeah, I've learned all of my important lessons through this project and this mission.
Passionistas: Every year, you have a big convention called MOBCON and then a couple of MOBCON Minis. So tell us about those and tell us the plan for the big MOBCON.
Aria: So we are having it in person. Yes. Haven't had that since 2019. It's in San Diego, California, the last weekend in September. And it's really the most amazing time where all of our members on a national level have a chance to be in the same room, feed off of each other's energy, learn from incredible speakers. We have a lot of different networking and connection opportunities.
And really our intent is to fill your cups personally and professionally. So you're going to walk away with new tools. You're going to walk away with a new, like fire lit under you with new connections, new friends. And you're also just going to have this belief in yourself and walk away that even though you poured all of time, you're still somehow going to walk away feeling like rejuvenated and rested and cared for and loved on.
So it's an incredible experience. I think like I cried for like a week after the one in 2019 because it was just... there were so many breakthroughs and so many hugs. And these people are so close and they've never met in person. You know, they've been talking for years across the world and they finally get to sit next to each other and hug and, you know, share a hotel room together. And they're just, they're so stoked.
Passionistas: Besides all of this amazing work you're doing with MOB Nation, you also have a very successful coaching and consulting business. Tell us about that and how you work with your clients.
Aria: Yeah, so that kind of formed organically. I realized that I was a consultant without even really charging for it or giving it a name. I've just been constantly mentoring different businesses throughout my decade of working with mom owned businesses. So I love to work with creative entrepreneurs and really I help them step into their power. I help them create collaborations, help them step out and show up into the world as the expert and the leader in their industry. Help them really discover and tap into their zone of genius and then stay there so that they can make money from that space.
It's something that I really love to do. My favorite thing right now is my new program "Show Up to Go Up." And that's a six week program for those really ambitious, audacious women that are ready to build that power network and to build their name on a national level, get press mentions, all of that fun stuff. And we work through everything from mindset to literally how to network intentionally. And already the women that have gone through that program, like, they are getting more bookings. They are being featured on podcasts. They are making more money within just a few weeks. So it really is a program that I'm really, really proud of.
Passionistas: And how can women work with you? How do they sign up for these programs?
Aria: They can go to arialeighty.com. I'm actually completely full for one-on-one clients until after MOBCON, which is insane. So the best way to work with me right now is to join that Show Up to Go Up program. I have one launching right now, and then there'll be one late summer/early fall that we'll be launching the next cohort.
Passionistas: Do you find that there are limiting beliefs that women tend to have that are holding them back when it comes to business?
Aria: Definitely that everything has to be hard. Like that they have to hustle and that everything has to be hard work. That it can't be easy. You know, things around the worth of their value. When we are tapped into that zone of genius because it does come so naturally and easily to us, moms are always like, "well, is it allowed to be this fun? Is it allowed to be this easy? You know, aren't I supposed to work hard and lose sleep and..." No, absolutely not.
And then the money, because so many women and so many moms they're doing heart's work, right? Like Passionistas Project is heart's work. You love it. You want to be changing the world. And so a lot of people think that if I'm changing the world, I can't be making a lot of money from it. Which you're allowed to do both. And you'll actually change the world even more if you are making a lot more money. Even just from the people watching you. Like, if we can all be, you know, breaking those limiting beliefs and those stories and those stereotypes down, it gives permission to all the women watching us to also go after what they want and to make a lot of money as well.
Passionistas: You talk about tapping into the feminine energy of money. So explain what you mean by that.
Aria: So tapping into the feminine energy of money. We have these stories around money that it's like, again, you have to work really hard. You have to sacrifice time with your family in order to, you know, make money. Money is the root of all evil. We've seen a lot of masculine examples of men having money and not doing amazing things with it.
But money is a tool. So it's only going to amplify whatever you are, whoever you are. Right? And so when we have control of it, we're doing better things with it. So when I am talking to clients and having them tap into the feminine energy of money, I really have them think "what kind of difference can you make?" Like make an impact list of how you would be spending this money.
And that often helps women because they're not looking at it anymore as this toxic thing or this greedy thing. Now they're really seeing it as like, I can be more giving and generous and compassionate. I can make better choices for my family. I can set my kids up to not have to, you know, work so hard and to be able to enjoy their lives. They think of the few things. They write it down and it's like the few obvious things. Okay. I can create some jobs or whatever. But then when they really get into it, it's like, "Oh, I can buy all of my groceries or all of my produce from organic farmers who are not, you know, destroying the earth and who are now taking that money back and being able to contribute to their family."
And all of a sudden we're really realizing what an impact we're going to have on the world when we are thinking of it as a positive tool, rather than this greedy thing that we shouldn't have.
Passionistas: When you look back at your journey, is there like a moment where things just looked really dark, but they ended up being the catalyst for something really positive?
Aria: I think every couple of months I have times where it looks... I gotta be honest. I mean, I just, I don't like to talk about things until I'm on the other side of them or until it's like, you know, a long ways back. But I just went through something where I really honestly thought, back in November, that I was going to just have to shut everything down.
I made an investment that looked like it was going to bring the MOB forward. It wasn't everything that was promised. And so it just really looked like, wow, this is not... this is the end. Like I can't keep going financially or emotionally, or, you know, I just don't have it in me physically.
So, I mean, four months ago that happened. And before that it was MOBCON 2019. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. I mean everything. My card got declined checking into the hotel. And I was like, oh my gosh, like we are at our last penny to make this, you know, crazy thing happen.
And it all worked out. We had so many members join because of that. We had so many amazing opportunities open. So yeah. But I would say every year, there's one major thing that I'm like, "okay, this is it."
Passionistas: What advice would you give to a mother who wants to start her own business?
Aria: Don't do it alone. Definitely, I mean, join us for a meetup. Join us in the community so that we can support you. You don't have to start... it's kind of like getting a head start, right? Because you have all of these moms championing you throughout the process and helping you with resources and, you know, getting you there quicker.
And I think also, just starting with whatever you have. It doesn't have to be perfect. I think a lot of people want to wait until they're this, or they've accomplished this, or they read this book. But show up now with what you have and evolve in front of your audience.
Like I sold out masterminds and sold out clients with Google forms before I even had a website, you know? So you can do it with whatever you have and the world is desperate for what you want to be bringing to life. There's people out there desperate for it. So go start showing up now.
Passionistas: Thanks for listening to our hundredth episode and interview with Aria Leighty. To work with her as a coach and business mentor, visit arialeighty.com. To join her alliance of women owned businesses visit themobnation.com.
Please visit thepassionistasproject.com to learn more about our podcast and subscription box, filled with products made by women owned businesses and female artisans to inspire you to follow your passion.
And remember, this quarters box is a collaboration with The MOB Nation and features products from mom owned businesses. It's the perfect Mother's Day gift for the mother in your life, or a treat for yourself. Get a free mystery box with a one-year subscription using the code SPRINGGOODIES.
And be sure to subscribe to The Passionistas Project Podcast so you don't miss any of our upcoming, inspiring guests.
Until next time, stay well and stay passionate.