Xza Louise Higgins

MommyCon Founder Xza Louise Higgins.

Calling all moms: MommyCon Chicago is coming to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont March 3-5.

MommyCon is a boutique-style convention bringing parents and parents-to-be together for seminars and workshops about everything from babywearing and breastfeeding to car seat safety and child-proofing. This series of conventions that focus on natural and organic parenting methods was founded by Xza Louise Higgins (pronounced “EX-ah”) in 2012 and now hosts more than a dozen events around the country every year and has reached more than 50,000 attendees.

“MommyCon started as a blog called The Mommy Dialogues, which I set up to document my experiences and self-education as a parent,” Higgins says. “The blog grew into regular meet-ups with like-minded individuals. The meet-ups expanded into large events including natural parenting advocates, supporters and exhibitors. As a new parent, I felt alienated from my circle of friends, and I needed a place to connect with parents that wanted to raise their children in a similar way. MommyCon was born out of the need to create a community based event that focused on an often-times ignored niche of the parenting landscape.”

The natural parenting philosophy has four main components:

  • Natural birthing
  • Normalization of breastfeeding
  • Benefits of babywearing for mother and child, including bonding, practicality, feeding and sleep
  • Eco-friendly living and holistic health for both mother and baby

“Natural parenting communities are growing larger each year,” says Higgins. “We wanted to make sure these growing communities had access to the highest quality resources, education, and experts right here in Chicago. Never before has such a richly diverse program been offered to families under one roof.”

MommyCon Chicago will combine the standard MommyCon convention with WEAR: A Babywearing Conference. Plus, the event will feature more than three dozen seminars and workshops and 30,000 square feet of exhibition space so parents can find the latest products, fashions and more. As always, there will be a Babywearing Lounge, Baby Gear Area, Baby Food Court, Baby Care Area, Cloth Diaper Resource Center and Baby Safe Play Spaces.

Guests speakers scheduled to appear at MommyCon Chicago include actress Angel Laketa Moore, who will share her female empowerment seminar Fall in Love With You, Cotton Babies Founder and CEO Jennifer Labit, and Super UndiesLaura Wojciechowski.

Higgins is just one of many women who are starting their own businesses. According to a recent AmEx OPEN study, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 45 percent between 2007 and 2016. She is also a finalist in this year’s NextGen Franchising Competition.

“I would encourage all entrepreneurs to start with a strategic plan and to understand that it’s a ‘living, breathing’ document that will change as your business grows,” Higgins says. “Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges and, given the point we’re at in society, we must fight harder. A solid understanding of where you want your business to go leads to a solid foundation on which your business will grow.”

She adds, “Someone very smart once told me that entrepreneurs are the only people who would trade in a 40-hour work week to work 80 hours. It’s important to take advantage of owning your business by taking breaks in your schedule to enjoy your family. It’s oftentimes easy to forget about that. A perfect example of this is taking time to make cookies for your child’s class … even though there aren’t enough hours in the day, carving out a chunk will make you feel good and make your kiddo so happy!”