• Renee

My New Adventure

Updated: Apr 25

Almost thirteen years ago I became a mom. I always knew I wanted to stay home while our kids were young. As the weeks and months went on, I realized that being a stay at home mom of babies and toddlers is not for everyone. It is difficult. There are very few adult interactions throughout your day. I craved time with other people who could carry on conversations in complete sentences.

I found myself needing to get out of our 900 sq foot house every day, even if it was just for an hour, so that I didn't go crazy. I would go to the grocery store, the play place at the mall, the library. I joined a moms group and a women's bible study; anything to give myself some adult company. It wasn't long before I realized that my options were limited on comfortable places to go to connect with other moms.

I started dreaming of creating a space in my community that would give moms a place to connect in person as well as a place for their children to play and learn. However, the timing of me starting a new business was not right.

Fast forward seven years...our family moves to Haiti and finds a deep passion and purpose while living there. We learned so many things, one of which being the sad fact that so many of the children we met who were living in orphanages had living parents who simply could not afford to take care of them. So in desperation, they gave their child to an orphanage in hopes that they would have food each day and the opportunity to go to school. We learned that it was so much easier to get foreigners to donate money to "poor children with no parents" than it was to get them to help parents find employment and take care of their children in the first place.

Fast forward nearly six more years. We've moved back to the States and our hearts are still torn between two places. We are so thankful to be back here, safe and comfortable, near family and friends. But, it is so difficult thinking of our friends back in Haiti struggling day to day to take care of their families.

Last year about this time, this dream to create a space for moms and children began rising up again. I started researching and this past February, I started taking a course to learn how to start this particular business. I never knew if it would actually become a reality, but I continued to take baby steps. Over the past six months, I have struggled to find my purpose. My identity. Craig has his full time job. Morgan and Jaron are in school now. I am working part time with Extollo, but I found that I had extra time. I was encouraged to not fill my "extra time" too quickly, and to really figure out what I wanted to do.

I have learned how to say no. (NOT an easy thing for me...and I'm still working on it ;) ) But, with saying no, I've had more time to figure out if this is the right time to start bringing this dream to reality.

So my BIG NEWS: I'm in the very beginning process of creating Mezanmi Play Cafe. As of last week, Mezanmi Play Cafe is a legal LLC in the state of Michigan! Play Cafes are beginning to pop up all over the world. Just a year ago, play cafes were rarely found outside of Florida, California, New York, Europe and a few others scattered across the States. Today, people are realizing the importance and need for social, face to face interaction and options for indoor educational play.

When we were still living in Haiti, we started trying to come up with names for the business. We wanted to try to find a Haitian word that we could use. Morgan came up with Mezanmi. Mezanmi is a word that is used for three different things. First, when you are overwhelmed, or hear some crazy news and feel a little "crazy in the head." Kind of that feeling you get when your kids are driving you crazy. The second meaning is "Oh my!" or "Wow!" Like when you see something and you just can't believe your eyes. This is the feeling I want people to have when they walk in the door. A feeling of WOW, what a beautiful space. And finally, mezanmi also means, 'my friends.' Pretty self explanatory. This is a place for relationships and friendship.

One other part of my business that I'm really excited about is the small boutique that I will have. I'm excited to sell handmade Haitian products that will help moms in Haiti to provide for their families. How cool that moms in the States will be able to purchase products knowing that their dollars are helping a mom in Haiti feed her children and send them to school!?

So, here's where you come in! I've decided to start my online store now, while I'm working on everything else, so that I can find ways to bring in some income. This new business is a HUGE leap of faith and something that if I'm honest, makes me feel SO vulnerable and scared half to death! I'm so afraid of failure, but I also know that I have to try. I am passionate and I know I will learn so much through this journey.

So, on this "Small Business Saturday," I'm launching my very small boutique to get started. I'm working with a few vendors who I have visited personally and can guarantee that your purchases are directly impacting families in Haiti. I have 31 items in the online store. I would LOVE to sell through these items as you're Christmas shopping! If you're local, you'll be able to pick up the products here in Vicksburg. If you'd like to order something and you're not local, I'd be more than happy to ship to you once we figure out the shipping costs. Head over to my new website (it's still a work in progress!) and check out the boutique.

Other ways to get involved: I have a small Facebook Focus Group. These are mostly moms who have children, ages 0-5, who I share ideas with and ask opinions from. As I plan and move forward, I want to make sure I'm doing things that my target clientele will LOVE. It's been a little while since I've had a toddler ;) If you'd like to be a part of this focus group, click HERE.

I have a long ways to go. I’m shooting for a Fall 2020 opening date. If you're interested in hearing more, I'd love to sit down and talk with you. Please just send me an email and we'll find a time to get together!

I'm so excited (and crazy nervous) for this new adventure! Thanks for coming along with me!!


Bercy, HAITI

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The Janofski Family