Voices Of Conscience – Nonprofit Helps Military Spouses Start Own Businesses

By Si Cantwell
Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.

WILMINGTON

Elizabeth Boardman was hiking with a friend when they came up with an idea. Both were wives of service members and both were entrepreneurs.

“Wouldn’t it be great to start an event to help military spouses?” they thought.

The result was Embark, a conference held once a year to support military spouses who start and run their own businesses, and the Milspo Project, the nonprofit organization that supports the conference and other initiatives.

Resources available to Milspo members include access to a network of legal professionals who help military families, educational opportunities, advice on marketing and branding, referrals to useful books and websites, and events such as Embark.

Last year’s Embark conference, the second one, was held in Southern Pines and the 2016 event will be in Norfolk, Va. They take place in September.

Boardman’s business is called Southern SloMo Party (www.southernslomoparty.com), popular at weddings. It offered a photo-booth type experience, only with slow-motion video.

“We’d tell people it’s a slow-motion booth so they got in and started going sloooww,” she said. “We’d say, ‘No, no!'”

A journalism major from Missoula, Mont., she moved around a lot with her husband, Jeff Boardman, a Navy corpsman now working with the Marines at Camp Lejeune.

“We moved seven times in five years,” she said. “I’m hoping to call Wilmington home.”

She got her real estate license in April and is a residential real estate agent with Lanier Property Group.

The local Milspo chapter of about 15 women meets in Hampstead about once a month.

Nationally, Milspo has some male members, but she said the majority of military spouses are women.

Its mission is to empower and educate spouses who are business owners.

“So many military spouses are business owners,” Boardman said. “Nobody celebrates the fact that we’re business owners, nobody celebrates our situation.”

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