Celebrating Women! Meet Jana Leonard and Ricci JVR, founders of ‘Messages for Mama’

Mom and PR Creative Jana Leonard and Fashion Designer Ricci JVR, both serial entrepreneurs, have created an incredible company focused on Mamahood. Below they share with us their aspirations, role models and advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
Jana: Messages for Mama was created by myself (mom and entrepreneur), and fashion designer Ricci JVR, with one goal in mind – to create a platform for Mamas to be encouraged and supported by friends and family while creating magical keepsakes for their babes as well. Messages for Mama’s products are vessels for beautiful bespoke messages for Mama when she needs it most, because, let’s be honest – Mamahood is really hard, no matter how much or how little help you have.

Ricci: There is simply nothing as encouraging as a beautiful reminder that you are amazing – Mama or not – and that is what we want to share. The pandemic has taught us that anything can change in a split second, how a small gesture of hope, encouragement and support can really drive you to succeed, get better and feel better. Having someone be your cheerleader when the going gets tough is a human component everyone needs and we are so here for that!

What are you most proud of?
Jana: being vulnerable. Motherhood has taught me that just when you think you’ve NAILED it, you’re proven wrong – very wrong. Haha! I have been my own boss for more than 4 years but my 2.5 year old boss keeps me on my toes. I am not perfect, but being vulnerable enough to realise that has made me a better wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister and business woman.

Ricci: Becoming an aunt. This has taught me to see the world in a new way. Being mesmerised and to marvel in the wonder of the smallest things as if experiencing it for the first time truly makes you re-asses what’s important. In the fast paced world we live in – we can easily get caught up in the rat-race and miss the small priceless moments. The boys have taught me to slow down, be patient, enjoy the process and be present. They have also taught me the importance of showing up and being consistent. The whole experience is also how Messages for Mama started and why it is so important to me.

What does power mean to you? Do you consider yourself an ‘influencer’?
Jana: Influencer has been labelled as an individual with a lot of followers and is a huge part of our (and any brand’s) marketing initiatives, however influencing others resonates very differently with me – I believe everyone has the power to influencer (see what I did there haha!) and it’s up to us to use our power and influence to do good, to drive success, to encourage and to support.

Ricci: The only thing we truly have power over is ourselves. Our abilities and capacity to do certain things or act in a particular way, will almost always influence those around us. Regardless of the size of the group you are in contact with – we all have the power to influence, impact, change, encourage and inspire those around us. Paul Shane Spear said it best, ‘As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person”.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give someone that’s looking at starting their own business/new business owners?
Jana: Do your homework, chat to other entrepreneurs, be vulnerable and go for it! I read a quote somewhere and boy did it resonate with me, “The same God that gave you your business idea, will give you your clients.” and it’s true! If you do the work, what will be will be.

Ricci: Focus on having a teachable spirit. This will help you to be aware of the limitations of your own knowledge and abilities, yet feed your hunger to discover and grow. By being teachable you will be more open to input/feedback, it will help you to constantly re-evaluate/improve and move forward.

Messages for Mama

Who are your role models?
Jana: My mom and mom-in-law. Cliché right! I have never understood what it means to give of yourself, until I became a mom. I often think yoh we have it hard (time limitations, budget etc.) but then I look at my moms and think – holy moly, they had it hard and look how incredible they are (and how well they’ve raised us). We live in a world where we tend to move at such a fast pace that we forget to go back, look, learn and move forward. I have made it my goal to slow down, take in, and sometimes – be selfish with my time.

Ricci: The amazing circle of women I am surrounded by daily. Those who have sacrificed so much to have things a little easier for all of us. Those who taught me what true courage, love, patience, selflessness and wisdom look like. Those who support and encourage others. Those who endlessly give of their time, selves and resources to build others up. It’s not one person in particular but rather the behaviour, characteristics and acts of a few whom inspire me to always want to improve and be better. My mom and sisters are definitely some of these women.

When I grow up I want to be…
Jana: Me. I am incredibly content and happy with my life – the ups and downs just add some additional colour to my life!

Ricci: A better version of myself. Ricci 2.0 or something like that. I am content and happy being me, but I do hope that I will always strive to learn and improve, to become wiser, laugh a little louder and cultivate a willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn things.

What are your aspirations for the future?
Jana: To grow Messages for Mama to be a reputable local (and internationally recognisable) brand. I STRONGLY believe we need more support for moms – from friends, to family members, to strangers. Being a mom takes so much from you and your identify, but adds soooo much love, passion, laughter and joy. I cannot imagine my life without my kids and it’s a title I am EXTREMELY proud of but I’d be lying if I ever said it’s not hard and that every day is smooth sailing. We are raising human

beings, and they will grow up and become an intricate part of society – now imagine being responsible in raising good humans! Hectic hey. Haha!

Ricci: Growing Messages for Mama like Jana said, I truly believe we can make a difference and create a community where mamas can find the support they need, connect with others and have a judgement free space while navigating all seasons of mamahood. Changing social stigmas of the ‘perfect’ mama to being content and happy being perfectly you! Perfect doesn’t mean perfection.

Messages for Mama

Anything else you’d like to add?
Jana: You are amazing, whatever you do, whoever you are – you have been put on this earth for a reason and once you’ve realised that you will find your path of success.

How/where can people get hold of you?