As a child, Janette Burke was told to reach for the rack.
At the tender age of eight, the Thornhill resident was advised to “stay small” at her father’s clothing store in Belleville, Ont. on a busy Christmas Eve. Never one to stick to the background, it was not long before Burke closed her first deal — with a bit of help from her new client.
“In comes this woman looking for a suit for her husband,” she recalled in a phone interview. “I sold everything — I got her the shirt, the tie, the socks.
“The only thing was that I couldn’t reach the rack, but she could,” she says with a laugh.
Starting her career in sales, marketing and public relations, the self-proclaimed “marketing mama” has never looked back.
Today, Burke channels her flair for sales into Your Marketing Magnet, a business that caters specifically to “fempreneurs”, or female entrepreneurs. She also speaks as a TV personality.
Burke helps women launch or provide a boost to their businesses by providing marketing services such as advertising, branding and coaching.
Statistics Canada estimates that women account for 80 percent of new business owners. Burke decided to focus on the niche group because she saw many women struggling to balance launching a business and having a family.
“Because they are often moms and have to juggle so many other things aside from the business, they have a shorter window of working hours to be productive in,” she said. “The key is to work smarter, not harder.”
Burke said she trains her clients for success by advising them to maximize their time and stay focused on a single business idea.
Though being a mother and businesswoman certainly comes with challenges, it can also teach women valuable executive skills, such as delegating tasks and negotiating, Burke said.
“Women don’t realize their natural ability to sell and negotiate is enhanced by being a mother,” she said. “Running a family can be similar to running a corporation.”
While Burke does not have children of her own, in a sense she sees herself as a mother to her marketing mavens.
“I’m kind of like a marketing mama.”
She says her clients have enjoyed successful careers in design, business and the media. She tells them if they work hard and focus on their passions, they will succeed.
Some may see Burke as proof of that philosophy, but it wasn’t always that way.
Originally wanting to pursue broadcast TV, Burke instead entered the field of public relations because she heard she wouldn’t get a job in journalism.
But after more than 15 years of feeling unsatisfied, she decided to follow her dreams — and her own advice.
“At some point I woke up and realized I hated being a publicist,” she said. “It wasn’t worth it for me anymore.”
Now, 17 years later, she is co-host of
Liquid Lunch, an Internet-based lifestyle show that appears on That Channel.
The program has featured guests such as Canadian singer Sass Jordan and British interior designer Debbie Travis.
For Burke, appearing on TV fulfilled one of her longstanding ambitions in life.
“I was doing so much work putting my clients in the media and I knew deep inside I wanted to be in front of the camera,” she said. “A part of me has always wanted to be on television.”
Burke got her start in TV by accident, when she was invited to appear on a client’s program,
MENSCHLife TV, a Jewish-themed talk show that airs on Jewish Life Television.
She also writes about entrepreneurship for the York Region Business Times and Women with Vision.