Petawawa mom discovers she’s her own best ‘boss babe’


Ottawa Valley Boss Babes podcasts started out in Petawawa when Holly Molenaar, a bubbly, outgoing government employee on maternity leave, realized how badly local businesses were hurting during the pandemic.

“I missed going to my favourite stores and chatting with the business owner, whether at a boutique or even my dentist. So, I was like, ‘What’s a way I can help support local business?’ and I really wanted to do something different that wasn’t just saying, ‘Oh, here, I bought a gift certificate,’” explained Molenaar.

So, in November 2020, with no media experience whatsoever, Molenaar started OV Boss Babes podcast, a weekly talk show featuring local businesses. Within months, her one-hour Monday podcasts were garnering attention and generating income.

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“She has a great product, her podcasts are informative, she asks great questions and each episode has insightful content,” said Christine Mitchel, economic development officer with the Town of Petawawa.

Businesses that have been featured are equally enthusiastic about the podcasts.

“It was a really positive experience and Holly was very easy to talk to,” said Candace Tierney, owner of Oat & Mill Ice Cream. “She only just put the interview up, but we’ve already seen a nice bump on our social media.”

Molenaar’s podcasts are now attracting sponsorship from several local municipalities eager to have their businesses featured. Among them are the Town of Petawawa, City of Pembroke, Madawaska Valley Township, Town of Perth, Carleton Place, Mississippi Mills, Laurentian Valley Township, Pontiac Municipality, and Town of Arnprior.

“In our downtown core, the majority of businesses are owned by women and OV Boss Babes is a great way to showcase some of our women-owned businesses and also to showcase a new form of media – the podcast,” said Connor Renouf, economic development officer for the Town of Perth.

As the name suggests, the podcasts are geared to featuring businesses owned by women.

“During the pandemic, this is when I think we realized how much women do and did,” said Molenaar. “So, I was just thinking that women are movers and shakers and champions, while also making sure that everyone in their life is happy and content and looked after. I just really wanted to know how they do it all and what advice did they have for other women who are struggling or wanting to step out of their comfort zone and start their own business.”

OV Boss Babes podcasts now has 500 subscribers and has had more than 30,000 downloads.

Molenaar also expanded to a second, shorter OV Boss Babe Corner, and the Canadian Boss Babe series: Babe Beyond the Brand in response to demand.

In March this year, she launched Ottawa Valley Women in Business Events, which features guests that were on the podcast as keynote speakers at in-person events for business professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners.

“There’s a lot of synergy with OV Boss Babes and Holly understands the social media platforms, so it’s wonderful to support a business like this that has the knowledge and engages with and supports our local businesses. She’s also our ambassador for Startup Ottawa Valley – a community within Startup Canada that supports entrepreneurs,” said Mitchel with the Town of Petawawa.

Currently pregnant again and with a two-year old at home, all while working full time, Molenaar runs OV Boss Babes in the evenings, on weekends and “during my lunch hour.”

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