March 2, 2020 Exclusive Conversation with Sharon Vinderine to Celebrate International Women’s Day!
In honor of International Women’s Day, we interviewed the inspirational entrepreneur Sharon Vinderine, founder of Parent Tested Parent Approved. PTPA connects brands with parents using their Seal of Approval program, which helps brands stand out in a crowded market place and parents make more educated purchasing decisions for their children.
Sharon’s been running PTPA for over a decade and is considered a leader and innovator in her field, having done nearly 200 media appearances and even receiving the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award in the Micro-Business category. In today’s interview, we chat all about what inspired her to start PTPA, who she looks up to, what challenges she faces and her plans for the future.
What inspired you to found Parent-tested Parent-approved?
Sharon: I would say it was a number of things. I was a new mom at the time, and I really wanted to help. I was frustrated with the experience of trying to buy products for my kids, and not knowing how to make an appropriate choice.
I recognized that the best recommendations came from other moms – the best products in my household were the products that other moms had told me about. I thought that would be a brilliant way to help other moms or consumers make purchasing decisions. That was one half of the reasoning.
The other half was, from a young age I was always involved in fundraising for charities. A big goal of mine has always been to have a positive impact on the communities I’m a part of. So when I created the program, the idea was that on the one hand, we’re a for profit organization. But on the other hand, I wanted to be able to supply families with free products that we would ship at our cost to have a positive impact and establish a sort of pay-it-forward kind of environment.
What would you say is the biggest impact that you see as a result from the work of the PTPA?
Sharon: We have this amazing community of moms who will email us to tell us what a difference PTPA has made in their lives. When they feel overwhelmed with purchasing decisions, they love having an unbiased, trustworthy organization they can rely on, and they feel good knowing that other moms just like themselves have tested the products. They feel like they’re part of something much bigger, which is very rewarding as an entrepreneur.
Who are the women in your life who inspire you? And why do you look up to them?
Sharon: For me, it’s difficult to pick one or two specific women. I think that over the last decade, I feel that in my community of women there are so many people who’ve motivated me in different ways. I tend to be the most inspired by women who’ve overcome difficult circumstances and didn’t use them as excuses to justify their failure.
Within my friendship circle, I’ve had some friends who had to overcome ridiculous health-related circumstances. When I’m feeling particularly low or uninspired, or feeling like there’s an insurmountable task in front of me, I think about these women. As I sit there and think about what they’ve gone through and how they’ve overcome it, I always realize that what I’m dealing with is so far from insurmountable compared to their circumstances. Seeing them staying positive and making a point to get through life is really inspiring.
What advice would you have for young women who are now entering the workforce?
Sharon: I tell them all the exact same thing. Whatever you decide to do in life, make sure it is something you don’t just like, it’s something that you’re crazy passionate about – especially those becoming entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur is the craziest roller coaster ride, so if you don’t love what you do, it will make it so incredibly difficult to wake up every morning and do the work needed to succeed. It becomes really hard to ride the highs and lows if you don’t love what you’re doing.
How would you say you handle adversity and doubt?
Sharon: I would say that adversity and doubt are almost daily occurrences for me as an entrepreneur, and I handle them differently each and every time.
I think having a really good support system is incredibly important. I’m blessed to have a husband who is a fellow entrepreneur, who I always joke is my own personal sofa base board of advisors.
Outside of people, I’d say exercise helps the most. I actually exercise primarily for mental health purposes. I think these days people spend so much time comparing themselves to everyone else – everybody wants to be a unicorn business, everyone thinks they should be doing better because people post things on social media to make their business look super successful. For me, I try to ignore that part of the social media world and focus on what I believe my strengths are. Exercise helps to get out of your head, and it’s probably had the biggest impact on my ability to handle adversity and doubt, quite honestly.
What exercises do you like to do to improve your mental health?
Sharon: I am a morning person, so I’m at the gym between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. For the first half an hour I do cardio, and the second half hour I train with a trainer. By the time I get into the office at 7:30, I feel driven, passionate, and like I’m on an endorphin rush!
I’ve also taken up some meditation, but I have no attention span…so my meditation might last only a couple of minutes. But I still feel like it helps ground me!
What’s a non negotiable for you, Sharon?
Sharon: I’m going to say my integrity, and what I expect from myself and others. I’m demanding of people and I have high expectations of the people I surround myself with. People who know me well know that my character is one of somebody who’s honest, who’s empathetic and who stands by their word, and that’s something I expect from the people I spend time with too.
How do you balance your work and your family life being the entrepreneur that you are? You seem like a very busy woman!
Sharon: To be honest, I feel like I probably don’t! Every day is a new adventure of just trying to get through the day. For me, my family is always my first and foremost priority. One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is that if my family needs me, I can run out of the office and be there to support them in whatever they need. They’re always my priority. But by the same token, I might have to sometimes miss out on family time and be working in the evening. Or I’m not there when they’re eating breakfast, because the only time I can go to the gym is at 5:30 in the morning. It’s kind of a give and take relationship.
I think balance is the eternal goal, that is really, really hard to reach. I would say I don’t balance it all, but I try my best to give everyone and everything what it needs in order to keep the
What are your future goals?
Sharon: From a personal perspective, my goal is to try and be more present in my life. I want to find more time to enjoy my family, my husband and hopefully end up with a beach side house somewhere warm that I can go to every once in a while. That’s the dream!
From the business perspective, I think PTPA is still such an untapped opportunity even though we’re 12 years down the road. Our goal is to partner long-term with a bigger organization who can help us spread our message further, so we can have the impact on consumers that we really believe is possible for us.
Magic Bag: Well, we certainly wish you the best with those future goals! Thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on your path up until now.
Sharon: Thanks again for thinking of me guys!
We hope that this interview has inspired you, and that you take a moment today to appreciate all the important women in your life.