Maryann Tsai is a visionary leader propelled by an unwavering passion for uplifting marginalised women and transforming their lives. Originally from Taiwan, she embarked on a remarkable journey to Perth, Australia, at 10. Her diverse experiences shaped her empathy and ignited her fierce determination to change.
After graduating with honours in Engineering from the University of W.A., Maryann’s dreams of owning a bakery business took root. Inspired by her mother’s struggles and driven by a profound desire to empower women, she established the renowned bakery brand Missy M Sweets in 2020. Through this endeavour, Maryann harnessed baking power to provide women financial security and independence.
In September 2022, she founded Reach Her Inc, a not for profit organisation based in Perth, WA which provides marginalised women comprehensive training in hospitality, business education, pre-employment mentorship & coaching and creative and mindfulness programs. Maryann is a true transformation architect who thrives on building ventures from the ground up with heart!
When did you start your business?
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
My inspiration to start Reach Her stems from my journey. Born in Taiwan, I migrated with my family to Perth when I was ten, witnessing firsthand the struggles of acculturation, especially for women.
When my father passed from cancer, I saw my mother, with no job experience or income source, trying to care for three children. The hardship we faced, while challenging, infused me with a fierce desire to make a difference.
I was determined to create a better future for marginalised women like my mother and empower them with skills and opportunities to find employment. Reach Her combines the personal mission with my love of helping women and making a difference in their lives a passion I’ve had for years.
Reach Her strives to unlock women’s potential, improve their mental well-being, foster community, and, most importantly, help them achieve financial independence. This purpose and the opportunity to positively impact our community.
What are you most excited about in your business?
To be able to witness the transformation of these vulnerable women’s lives from having not much confidence and self-esteem and to be able to obtain employment and become financially independent through our programs.
These women’s individual journey serves as a testament to the transformative impact of Reach Her Inc’s programs. Through our unwavering commitment to empowering marginalized women, our organization not only facilitates employment opportunities but also enhances the overall well-being and self-belief of its participants. Their story stands as a shining example of the profound positive change that can be achieved through dedication, support, and access to tailored training and employment initiatives.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
Our greatest challenge as a social enterprise has been securing funding. Getting our foot in the door has been challenging as a new organisation without much data or social proof. We’ve tackled this challenge head-on by implementing a membership program for the public, hosting fundraising events, and applying for grants.
We’ve managed to partner with community organisations and local councils, maximising our resources to ensure we can continue providing our services free to our women to remove the financial barrier. Our board and committee, made up entirely of volunteers, have been tireless in their dedication despite the constraints of time and resources.
We’re also exploring becoming a registered ACNC charity to enable tax-deductible donations. By entering the AusMumpreneur Awards, we aim to raise our visibility further, opening the door to additional grants to provide more programs that will benefit our women within the community.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Starting a business is a journey of constant evolution. Don’t be afraid to try new things; remember, you can always change strategies that aren’t working. However, remember that actual failure only occurs when you stop trying.
Conduct thorough market research before launching to identify genuine gaps your business idea can fill. Success won’t happen overnight—it takes years of hard work and dedication.
It’s crucial to identify and stay true to your passion and purpose; they will sustain you during challenging times. Choose a business idea that aligns with your values and motivation, not just for the prospect of financial gain.
Building a business purely for money might lead to unfulfillment in the long run. Build a robust support system to keep you grounded and inspired. Above all, embrace the journey and remember, the business world is your oyster, ready for the taking.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
By entering the AusMumpreneur Awards, we aim to raise our visibility further, opening the door to additional grants, build more network connections and raise our profile and as a result enable us to provide more free programs and workshops that will create more impact to our women within the community.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
The beautiful Ausmumpreneur community which are both inspiring and nurturing. I have met some amazing people within the community and have been inspired by these fellow mumpreneurs to continue to pursue my dreams of creating more impact in the Not for profit space.
What surprised you most about the awards?
It was an extremely easy process to enter! I’m so glad I’ve entered this year’s award as it not only allowed me to reflect upon my own business journey. It also reminded me personally of how far we’ve come along. Celebrating our wins!
How did the awards help you in your business?
Marketing exposure for our organisation by being recognised as an award winner for Ausmumpreneur awards 2023.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about entering the awards?
Please enter! I highly recommend this. Not only you’ll learn more about your own business but you’ll connect with alot of amazing likeminded mumpreneurs within this amazing community. You’ll 1be more inspired, encouraged and supported to continue to follow your dreams & passion.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
The greatest lesson that being in business has taught me is that creating something novel is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires perseverance, patience, and a solid ability to learn from mistakes.
There have been moments of overwhelm where I’ve contemplated giving up, but these challenging times taught me the importance of setting boundaries to prevent self-detriment and cultivating patience.
Mishaps are inevitable in this journey, but they are also invaluable teachers showing us what to avoid next time. Each hurdle overcome reaffirms my belief: if I can navigate these waters once, I can certainly do it again. This resilience, coupled with the lessons learned, fuels the ongoing growth of our mission at Reach Her. The best thing about starting your own business is that you are your own boss! The flexibility been able to do the school pick ups & drop off for my son and to be able to attend his school events while fitting in within my work commitments.
What’s happening next in your business?
We’ll continue to refine our existing workshops & programs to create further impact for our women within the community. Creating a strong business model which allows our organisation to be more sustainable long term.
What are your big plans for the future?
Our big-picture vision for Reach Her is establishing a ‘Community Hub’—a welcoming, safe space where women can access various resources. This hub will house a training facility, a commercial kitchen for our culinary programs, coworking spaces, and areas dedicated to networking and mentoring.
I plan to be present at the hub daily, guiding our dedicated staff in providing invaluable support to these women. Reach Her is my purpose, a conduit for making a tangible difference in the lives of many women.
The journey of personal growth and business development can be lonely; hence we aim to foster a community that empowers, supports, and uplifts, ensuring no woman feels alone or without resources, regardless of their financial situation. Our ultimate goal is to provide free resources and work placement opportunities, fostering financial independence for all women who walk through our doors.