It is rare that you meet someone who is able to successfully fuse their dreams and passions with hard work and results, but I get the impression Michelle Riddle is just such a women. In our brief interview, as she shared with me several of her latest ventures, I quickly realized why she was selected as Santa Cruz Socialites first “Woman of the Week.” She is a busy mom of three children (Eli, Zoey and Ari), who has somehow found time and energy to also achieve as an entrepreneur, give back to her larger community, and explore several of her passions and talents. Michelle is also an encourager of other women, and as we chatted I felt uplifted and inspired.
Michelle is perhaps best known in our community as one of the founders of Mama’s Night Out. She and Cara Pearson founded the annual event in 2011. Mama’s Night Out is a fun event for women, but it is much more than a social event. It’s a way to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer, a grossly underfunded cause. In four years, Mama’s Night Out has raised an impressive $175,000 for pediatric cancer charities. Businesses and individuals have flocked to help. Now, over 900 women have attended the sold out events and Michelle sees potential and power in each these women, hoping that they leave the event with dreams and plans of their own. Like I said, Michelle is an encourager and she is planting seeds all over our community.
Michelle tells about the humble beginnings of Mama’s Night Out, which sprung from a blog and a bake sale. It began when Michelle stumbled onto the blog of Gretchen Witt, the founder of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, whose son Liam was battling cancer. Michelle was touched and began following their story, realizing the struggle families with cancer face. When Gretchen wrote that her birthday wish was that people would hold bake sales for pediatric cancer, Michelle heard not just a wish, but a call to action. As she says, she is “not a baker” but she didn’t let that stop her. She approached her friend Cara Pearson, President of Pacific Cookie Company, who generously donated cookies. Cara was also moved to action for pediatric cancer and the two women founded Mama’s Night Out in 2011 after the death of Liam and the desire to raise more funds and awareness. The rest is history.
This event has beautifully snowballed into something much larger than Michelle imagined. Michelle recently handed over the reins of Mama’s Night Out to another organization, so they could grow it to other communities. This has given her the opportunity to step away and work on some other passions and pursuits. Pediatric cancer is a cause that will always move her and she will continue to be a force for good in the community. She hopes to use her talents to consult on event planning, marketing and more with the Santa Cruz Socialites during their many events and fundraising opportunities. Michelle is a also a talented writer and photographer and is currently working on reopening her blog. Perusing her old blog, I was inspired and encouraged yet again, not only by some of the posts about pediatric cancer, but also by Michelle’s open-hearted writing style. The photos on her blog are beautiful and attest to the fact that Michelle also ran a successful photography business.
Michelle also has an interest in Direct Sales. She loves the empowering model where women run their own business, network in their communities, work in a team, and earn money, while still retaining flexibility to care for their families. She sees the stigma attached to direct sales, and hopes to educate more people as to why it is such a great business model to join and support. After trying a few different companies, she found Limelight by Alcone to be exactly what she was looking for. Michelle was not only impressed with the professional grade makeup and skincare free of harmful chemicals, but by the mission, integrity and transparency of the brand.
The Santa Cruz Socialites could not have selected a better “Woman of the Week.” Michelle Riddle is a dreamer, a doer, an inspiration, and an encourager. She is a prime example of what women can achieve when they use their hearts and their hands in unison. When you see her around town, I hope you all give this humble woman the applause she deserves.
Thank you to our blogger: Julie Croghan