Amy Maan 123 Petit Pas
Amy Maan, founder of 123 Petit Pas. (Credit: Courtesy of 123 Petit Pas)

Amy Maan is an educator by trade who worked as an in-school French teacher prior to the onset of Covid. When she became pregnant with her first child, she knew she wanted to stay home with her son – and that she wanted to raise him to be bilingual. It was during a Mom & Baby Yoga class that the idea for her business fully came to her. She had found the experience of learning something while simultaneously caring for her baby to be wonderful – what if she could teach French to both parents and their children? Soon after her moment of inspiration, Maan launched her education company, 123 Petit Pas. Today, the Ottawa, Canada-based mompreneur teaches virtual French classes to adults and their young wards across the globe through her company – all while working from home and caring for her own kids. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

I believe I am the only virtual French-language program that teaches both parents and children at the same time. I think this is such an important way to learn a new language for a family, because the practice can continue beyond class.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

Having taught over 5,000 households to date. I find it absolutely incredible to know that there are so many children who are now growing up to be bilingual because of 123 Petits Pas. Several parents have expressed that they would not have had the support or resources to learn French had they not found 123 Petits Pas – that is a wonderful feeling!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

I’m learning how important it is to not just create educational programming, but to learn the ropes of marketing my business as well, in order to spread the word. I have enrolled in several marketing education programs in order to strengthen  that skill. I am quite proud of how far I have come.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that affected your business decisions? 

Having baby number two. I created 123 Petits Pas after the birth of my firstborn, so this was the first time I was juggling running a successful business throughout pregnancy and the post-partum period.

There was a lot of preparation required in order to ensure everything continued on smoothly.And, I had to make several decisions that were not necessarily best for the business, but were best for my family and mental health. Now that my youngest is 2 years old, I can say proudly that I did a great job keeping the business going without sacrificing family time during the early days with my two babies.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

I wish I had learned to say “no” sooner, so as to not spread myself too thin. That was a very hard lesson to learn in the beginning. It’s important to honor what it is that you truly want to do, rather than catering to everyone else’s needs.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I have a folder where I keep all my favorite notes from clients. Whenever I’m feeling down, I read my “awesome emails” to pick myself up before I continue helping others!

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?

“Don’t Worry be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. I grew up listening to it with my parents when we had tough days. I still find myself singing it whenever I need to!

Who is your most important role model?

My parents are my role models. They are not business owners, but they are both incredibly caring, intelligent people who can always see situations from multiple perspectives. They taught me how to be the fun, loving, caring mother and educator that I am today. And, I continue to be inspired by the love they put out into the world. ◼

Instagram: @123petitpas
Facebook: @123petitpasinc
YouTube: @123petitpas

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