Grand Manan is one of the gems of our province. I often wonder how life differs for people in isolated or rural communities, and speaking with the next Ms New Brunswick was definitely an eye-opener. Tiffany Ingalls hails from the island, where she offers prenatal and postnatal doula services, in addition to running her shop, Evie Jane Boutique. It is no surprise that with a population of 2500, medical resources would be limited on the island, but it did surprise me how pregnant women are expected to go off-island for all prenatal care. I had assumed that there were workarounds in smaller communities in our province. Grand Manan is not the only isolated spot in New Brunswick, so I am very curious to know how other communities handle similar situations. It makes sense to me to offer alternative care in places with limited access to hospitals and doctors, but I know very little on the subject and am looking to be educated.
Going off-island for a routine checkup would be incredibly time-consuming. As someone who has experience trying to get to the doctor on my lunch hour from work, I wonder how these women are able to leave their jobs for an entire day. I would be really concerned that they are having to use vacation or sick days from work, or for those who stay home, having to find suitable childcare for any other kids. Tell me, how do you make it work?
Tell me about your business.
Evie Jane Boutique is the name of my retail shop. It focuses on holistic approaches to family planning with natural and organic products for all phases of family life. I run it in a separate space of my home, and am currently renovating to expand it to include a separate entrance. I keep regular store hours three days a week, as well as go to the Community Market on Saturdays. It sort of began in 2011, after I became a certified doula. I wanted to offer more services to Moms on our small island. I am really interested in natural and environmentally friendly products, and I wanted to make those types of things available to other parents. It can be difficult to even get diapers or formula here sometimes, so before I had the shop, there was nowhere to get natural baby products on the island.
How did you get started?
My husband and I started family planning in 2010, but sadly ended up having two miscarriages. As I was trying to recover from that, I came across an ad for a doula. I contacted her and received great counsel and information. It was just what I needed at the time. I became really interested in that type of work, and I ended up going with her to Edmonton to receive my own doula training. I decided I wanted to work with Moms to normalize miscarriage and infertility issues. I wanted to be able to offer support for breastfeeding or postpartum issues. I basically wanted to be a support for women in my community, where resources are really limited, especially postpartum.
We went on to have three children, but without experiencing those losses, I may not have been set on this journey, and I truly feel that I am living my purpose now.
Has the community been supportive?
Very much, yes. I have lots of people encouraging me. I can feel it especially at the community market – some people may not come to the shop because they think it’s just baby stuff but at the market they can really see the variety of products I carry. People here know the importance of shopping local, and so they support the small businesses here.
How can we support you better?
I wish there were more assistance for pregnant women on the island. The island is isolated, and the ferry only runs a handful of times a day. Women have to go to the mainland for prenatal care and delivery, and are generally encouraged to move to the mainland at 38 weeks as a precaution. It is a high stress situation for those who do not like the idea of induction, or who have to pay for a place to stay. It’s further complicated (and lonely and isolating) if their partners have to stay on the island, or they have other kids they have to take with them, or find alternative childcare for. In a community like ours, for a low-risk pregnancy, it doesn’t make sense not to have the option of a safe home birth. Even midwives in this province are regulated and must work out of a hospital, and I wish that would change. Grand Manan is such a strong and vibrant community, we deserve better options for prenatal care and delivery.
How do you balance work and personal life?
I honestly do not know. Every week is a new adventure. I am not run down or burnt out, but sometimes I look back at the week and I have no idea how we managed it all. People are really supportive of each other here. Moms are really understanding of my situation, and if there is a reason I have to reschedule or close up shop, they totally get it.
What piece of advice would you offer other women starting their own business?
I’m big on not going into debt and having a plan. Taking risks and pursuing what you love is important, but doing it responsibly is crucial. Do what you can, and definitely reach out to other like-minded business owners and ask questions. The small business community in New Brunswick is so supportive and willing to help. We are all in this together, and when we support one another we all succeed.
How can we get in touch with you?
You can get in touch with me about either the shop or doula services through my Facebook page!
What are you reading now?
The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.
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