“I’ve been to hell and back...”

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed my voice could help anybody.

I was sexually abused at the age of one. That’s not the way childhood is supposed to start out.

I went through Children’s Aid and grew up in unstable environments. I found myself at the age of 11 living on the streets with no guidance. I believed that sex from anybody – father, friend or foe – was the only way to be loved by a man. I’ve been through drugs, dancing at the age of 15, dealing with everything you can imagine. I’ve been to hell and back. I’m not the only one.

Through perseverance, digging for resources, and never giving up, I found programs. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be sitting here today.

Walking into the doors of Momentum is honestly the moment I knew my life was finally going to turn around. I just needed an open door and a light at the end of the tunnel. And I found it. I had to take a leap of faith, but I found it.

I took the Accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, learning how to network, brainstorm with the other women, and find what I needed to grow my business. Last year, I had a $14,000 deficit in my cleaning business - this year I had an $11,000 profit. But the biggest thing I got from the program is confidence.

The fact that the program is just for women was very important – it helped me speak comfortably and not feel judged. In a co-ed situation, you get nervous, you get timid about what you want to say, you may not be completely honest. And you may not get everything you need out of that situation.

I would like to franchise my company – to be cross-Canada rather than just in Calgary. And I’d like to give back to the community, because I never want to forget where I came from.

If I could talk to young women who are in the situation I was, I’d say: “You need to reach down deep into your heart and take that little tiny bit that you know is there – the part that knows you’re a good person who deserves better – you need to grab that and hang onto it. And your strength will come. Don’t let them knock you down. Women are strong and we can do it.”

There’s a shred of confidence in everybody. Sometimes you can’t find it very easily, but it’s there.

Trust me, I found mine. And if I can find mine, anybody can.

Nichole Vessie, CEO, Won’t Miss a Spot Cleaning
Participant, Women’s Venture Accelerator Program, Momentum - A Canadian Women’s Foundation-funded program