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Monica Curtis Is Reigniting the Passion Project. Here’s How.

An Interview With Brooke Bohinc

Monica Curtist's headshot

Meet Monica Curtist, the Chief Impact Officer of The Kindling Project, a media and event company dedicated to producing and distributing content that inspires women to pursue their passion projects.

Monica’s entrepreneurial journey started after discussing college applications with her son. The inspirational words she shared with him had her questioning herself and the dreams she herself had stopped pursuing. As a result, Monica and her business partner started The Kindling Project to empower GenX women to not let their dreams fall by the wayside. Today, she serves as a positive amplifier. Her mission? To help women embrace their inner passions.

We asked Monica about The Kindling Project’s founding story, the lessons she’s learned along the way, and what she’d share with her younger self.

Tell us the story behind The Kindling Project’s founding. What does the company do and what problem does it solve? 

It all began with a heartfelt conversation with my son about his college applications. I encouraged him to dream big. In doing so, I couldn't help but reflect on my forgotten dreams. I asked myself, "When did I stop dreaming for myself?" That's when I embarked on a journey to discover my joy. Enter Melissa Halpin, my fantastic business partner, who was also grappling with questions of purpose. Together, we realized many GenX women seek meaning amid midlife chaos.

Inspired by our own journeys, we created The Kindling Project—a haven for women seeking alignment and fulfillment. GenX women often feel drained and disconnected, with their dreams deferred and aspirations muted. Our mission is simple: reignite the spark within these women by providing space to fuel and fan their passions.

We offer unwavering support, whether starting a new career, rediscovering a lost passion, or focusing on well-being. At The Kindling Project, we provide spaces where women can reconnect with their passions and embrace new possibilities. It's never too late to pursue your dreams.

Encouraging women to embrace their authenticity and speak up is essential if we want society to resonate with our voices.

What makes The Kindling Project unique?

Our media and event company blends traditional and digital channels for personalized content experiences. We delve into the complexities of female identity and prioritize addressing important issues, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all solution falls short. We honor women entrepreneurs and those empowered through diverse paths, celebrating every woman's journey. Our core value lies in igniting the potential within all women, empowering them to prioritize themselves. We ask women what they want and what they need. This sparks the journey to unlocking their full potential.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

From a young age, I've been driven by a strong desire to impact and inspire positive change. That's why I've dedicated myself to creating businesses that empower women to find their voice and thrive. My journey of self-discovery has guided me to this purpose. It's deeply meaningful to me because I believe the world should reflect our true essence. I've observed a significant gap between reality and our potential, especially for women who have often played small without realizing it. Encouraging women to embrace their authenticity and speak up is essential if we want society to resonate with our voices. That's why I'm fully committed to amplifying women's voices in my mission-driven endeavors, aiming for collective impact.

Two women high fiving in front of a banner that reads "Dream Spark Ignite"

What were the most difficult and most impactful lessons you’ve learned starting and running a company?

I’ve learned not to fall for quick fixes. It’s important to learn to distinguish empty promises. You don't have to be an expert at everything in running your business but grasp the basics. Understanding is critical; blind dependency weakens your position. Avoid the comparison game and recognize your unique worth. Benchmarking is important, but pay attention to your special sauce. It’s also important to focus on communication—knowing your business internally is crucial, but transparently communicating that externally is equally important. Keep it simple: what do you do, and why does it matter? 

"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." Maya Angelou's insight applies to all aspects of life, including business.

Have you discovered any underappreciated leadership traits?

Two things come to mind. First, we are in the people business; it's not just about numbers, metrics, or tasks. It's about the individuals we lead. Understanding their needs, aspirations, and challenges is crucial for effective leadership. 

The other thing is that we’re contagious. Our energy as leaders sets the tone for the entire team; it rubs off on everyone else when we're positive and enthusiastic. Recognizing the impact of our energy on others allows us to cultivate a positive atmosphere consciously.

What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?

Dear younger dreamer: brace yourself for long hours, hard work, and moments of doubt. The results won't always match your effort and the journey may feel neverending. You'll question why others aren't on the same path. Rejections will hit you hard, but don't give up; it's a gift of redirection. Stay nimble; trust your instincts. If money is your sole motivation, you'll burn out. But if passion drives you, you'll always find a way. And don't forget, take a break, laugh, let loose, and recover. Life's too short for spreadsheets to smother you.

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