Meet Christina Collura – a full-time Kindergarten teacher and mom of two (one diagnosed with ASD). One simple idea to help her son with fine motor difficulties and educational success turned into a product/products benefiting children of all needs and abilities! Bridging the gap between early literacy, numeracy skills, and printing!
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Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Christina Collura: When Luca was diagnosed with autism I knew that this was not a barrier, it was a learning curve! ALL children learn in different ways and I knew that I needed to find a way to make him successful in his learning! Started with his name and being able to learn to write it on paper in 4 weeks using our chalkboard base name puzzle! He couldn’t go out of the lines and his fine motor skills changed drastically with our puzzle! I took it into my kindergarten classroom and saw the same success with many other children! There was nothing like it in my class and I knew I had to reach even more students!
I applied it to the full alphabet and number puzzle, got a manufacturer, patent, and the rest is history! Our business exploded during the pandemic and we continue to branch out all across Canada, the USA, and Australia! The sky is the limit!
Was there somebody in your life that inspired you to take that specific journey with your business?
Christina Collura: My boys are my rock! The very person that inspired my product/business is the one that inspires me every day to keep going! Luca has overcome so much since his diagnosis and nothing inspires me more than seeing him persevere! My older son is his biggest advocate and together, they inspire me to want to continue reaching so many more students! OF ALL NEEDS AND ABILITIES!
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Christina Collura: Not reaching out and networking! Many are afraid to ask questions! One of the ways I have gotten to where I am is through the power of social media and networking! Not being afraid to reach out to the bigger entrepreneurs and asking questions. Ultimately all that does is build each other up, build an incredible network, and learn so much in the process!
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Christina Collura: The pandemic pushed my business even more! My first big skid of product arrived during the middle of a pandemic! So many people were working from home and teaching from home and used our products to assist with homeschooling! Nothing made me happier than to hear the impact we were having during such a difficult time!
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Christina Collura: My most important value/mission is to continue making a difference in the lives of all children! There is no gap in the way students learn, only in the ways in which we teach them! All children, diagnosis or not, have the means to learn and if I can provide a product/products that allow multiple ways of teaching….count me in!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Christina Collura: Three character traits that definitely benefitted me are :
- Outgoing; I am a people person! I love chatting with my clients, reaching out to people, hearing others’ stories, etc. I strive to build a relationship with the people I meet!
- Multi-tasker: Working full time and running a successful business is BUSY! I have a wonderful system going that allows me to stay on top of many items on my to-do lists. It’s ok to take a break too!
- Perseverance: There is always someone who is going to say NO! Just keep going! The ones who say NO now will be kicking themselves later!
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Christina Collura: I was nervous to put my son’s story on a product. More so thinking that it shouldn’t be there! I had a very wise toy industry CEO tell me flat out to get my story on the product! I wish I would have thought of it sooner! That is my story that makes the brand!
How would you define “leadership”?
Christina Collura: Leadership is the ability to inspire a team to reach a goal! Funny enough, it’s usually in the way we talk about business, but I have learned along the way that it is also how you influence, help others and inspire those to be themselves….their best selves! Anyone can be a leader! As a woman in business, I hope that I can help others to be their best selves and leading back to my autism connection; teaching my fellow mammas that we can inspire and assist our children in their learning as well!
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Christina Collura: I definitely think everyone has a path in life, however, you are definitely learning along the way! There are so many things that I have learned along the way through networking, fellow entrepreneur’s and even just simply placing new PO’s! The best advice is just go for it!! “Fake it until you make it”
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Christina Collura: “Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference” – Marie Forleo!
I remember reading this quote as I started my journey and it was right in line with my mentality it was kinda crazy! I remember meeting a mom at a park with a son who had special needs and as we spoke, all I kept thinking was “I have what she needs.” I ended up giving her one of our boards and about a month after she messaged me and was so happy her son was printing and recognizing his letters with such ease! You can’t put a price on that!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Christina Collura for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Christina Collura or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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