MCGC Nutrition

Female entrepreneur: a challenge worth pursuing

Marie-Claire Gahel-Calouche

Being an entrepreneur can sometimes feel like a football game. Holding a prized item in hand, you have no choice but to go up against numerous adversaries. Though being knocked down multiple times, you slowly but surely become aware that you are getting closer to your goal 

And even if they take the ball from you, your focus remains intact as you revise and tweak your strategy. What matters, in the end, is three fundamental pointsa) having strong team players b) learning to adapt in the face of adversity and c) having a whole lot of grit to make a touchdown. 

Let the adventure begin 

When I started my journey years ago, I was a new mother and, I was newly pregnant with my second child.  Fresh out of University, I needed a way to be ambitious all while being a parent. That is when I started consulting, which was supposed to be on a part-time basis. I never imagined that I would one day become a business owner.  

My mother was my first inspiration for female empowerment. With a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, embodying the true meaning of empathy, kindness and generosity, she was a special education teacher and my first mentor. She showed me the power of education and the meaning of giving back. She taught me that teaching is means finding them a floor to walk on when they have never had one and meeting people where they are rather than from your point of view.  

Being a dietitian is being a teacher. It is patience, embracing the uniqueness of each person’s situation and innovating a solution that will put them back on their feet. 

My mother was also the reason I graduated with my second University degree. Pregnant my last theoretical year, breastfeeding during my last internship, my mother helped me navigate being a 1st-time mom all while studying. This also meant learning to cut time on cook preparation, singing the Krebs cycle (how we turn food to energy) during Yasmine Eva’s infancy and tasting recipes as part of playtime in her toddler years. 

Change your perspective, change your view  

After delivering my second girl, Mia Ellie, I felt that my brand could have more purpose than just being a consultancy. I would watch my eldest sing and play with the little one and encourage her to eat with enjoyment. That is when I realized that this is where it all starts. Childhood. The moment when you felt the love of food but were not tainted by erroneous social messages and the overwhelming desire to follow diet trends. Just enjoy eating.  

Social media could be a portal to model healthy behaviour, especially for girls, and show through peer-to-peer modelling what a healthy relationship could be from childhood onwards. MCGC Nutrition was born: a place where there is no judgement, lots of empathy, positive health behaviours and a pure love for food.  

Now, what about the challenge… 

Working by day, caring for two under-school-aged kids, studying to gain a certificate in Business Finance at HEC Montreal in the evenings and then nutrition consulting on the evenings I had left (and sometimes even on the weekends). My mother was my saviour! She would show up with a pot of food, sit with the kids, fold laundry and give me a hand at anything I needed. She too studied with children and understood my ambition. She also knew what it meant to have a difficult schedule.  

Working hours are never great but, I get by. Understanding a healthy work-life balance is one thing. Living it is another. My girls have grown up within the brand, as they still do, and rebel in it. It is as much a part of them, as it is a part of me. Truthfully, they are part of the creative inspiration of everything I do. I think of the impact of advertising on young minds, I think of body image and, I strive to give my kids an outlet where we can change for the better what being healthy should be. We then got the idea of a brand that would place a positive body image while encouraging the importance of physical activity and giving back to the community. This brought forth the boutique: MCGC Athletics. They even are responsible for some of our designs and more to come!  

They have also participated in recipe development, test-kitchens and best of all tastings! They were truly my first brand ambassadors and will always and still are my favourites. Even by incorporating my life and my work in unison with my kids, having them participate in most aspects this experience has also been a lesson of female empowerment to my daughters.  We can do anything, achieve anything and innovate our hearts’ desires. We can give back and pay it forward and let that fuel inspiration and be a compass guiding our efforts. Empathy is important and, so is generosity and giving back to your community.  

Together, everything is possible 

Proudly, when I federally incorporated in January 2020, my daughters felt the achievement as much as I did. Hiring employees and the sport of being an employer. Not easy, but I am still here despite starting this new chapter in my career during a pandemic. If I am still here, it is thanks to my children, my parents and all those who have supported me over the years. As long as I am here, I will work towards cultivating a company that will pay it forward and give back to the community. 

I am proud to have been on the receiving end of female empowerment as much as I am proud to be a source for my children. Women need to be role models to their families, coworkers, community that everything is possible and we need to pave the way for those who come after us. Thanks to my mother, I never felt like I was under a glass ceiling (though the workplace might show a different reality) and any challenge is only an opportunity to rise above it. I hope that this upbringing will be passed on to my girls, throughout every initiative by my company and paid forward to the next generation. 

Being an entrepreneur is truly like playing football. You look at the field, knowing that many giants stand in your way, but with my girls by my side, my mother’s wisdom flowing through my ears and a few strong teammates pushing me forward, I find the grit to keep going. Touchdown: I have more than I ever thought possible.  

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