Inspiring Geelong creative Justine Martin defies the odds, earning recognition in empowering AusMumpreneur awards

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Inspiring Geelong creative Justine Martin defies the odds, earning recognition in empowering AusMumpreneur awards

Words by Mackenzie Pennycook

Justine Martin has defied the odds creating her own business empire and being nominated for 10 awards with AusMumpreneur, one of the largest women’s networking groups in Australia.

Thriving in the face of adversity and challenging stereotypes along the way, this Geelong mum of two and grandmother of six has not let a slew of unfortunate and serious health issues stop her from curating multiple successful businesses over the past decade.

Ten years ago, Justine Martin was hit with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis that forced her to give up the life she had become accustomed to as a successful career woman. As if the MS diagnosis wasn’t earth-shattering enough for Justine, she has also survived three different types of cancer simultaneously – melanoma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma – and had heart surgery three times in two years.

Her health problems were coupled with the devastating news from doctors that she would never work again, but she never saw that as an option.

“Giving up work was shattering to me,” she reveals. “I went from a very social position to staring at four walls. My personal independence and my financial independence were instantly taken away from me; certainly not a choice that I would have made.”

Rather than allowing her hardship to overcome her, she has used it as a platform to inspire and make a difference in the lives of others. About three months after being diagnosed with MS, Justine started a Facebook group for people with MS in Australia where she was inspired to share her story.

“I started the group because I couldn’t find anyone else that I could relate to. There were no other groups online either. I just couldn’t believe there was no support but I knew other people needed support, so where were they?

“I started sharing my story in the MS Group and then meet people who were going through the same. I found peers that I could relate to and could relate to me.”

Two years later. she became an MS ambassador and started sharing her story again in corporate situations to help raise awareness.

“With MS, I don’t look disabled, so raising awareness about the disease in the community and business sector helped to drive the message and more understanding.”

As well as using her own experiences of living with a disability to encourage others to take steps towards a positive future of their own by finding hope, overcoming adversity, and building resilience, Justine cemented herself as an incredibly successful artist, taking up art as a hobby as a means of therapy at the time of her MS diagnosis.

“I decided to learn how to paint which included finger painting, as there were times when I didn’t even have the ability to hold a paint brush. I soon realised that painting not only filled my days, but it also gave me sense of hope for my future.

“After selling my first artwork, I was encouraged to enter art competitions and have since became a multi-award winning artist, displaying my art and becoming a gallery owner myself.”

Taking control over her personal and financial future and becoming a resilience consultant, a professional speaker and of course a successful artist, Justine has built three businesses, including ‘JUZT Art Wellness Classes’.  The classes aim to help individuals like Justine who experience life-limiting illnesses and disabilities and aims to inspire people to use art as therapy.

JUTZ Art Wellness Classes quickly became about more than just making artwork, with Justine’s online resilience course and membership being born from the program. The resilience course was developed as a means for Justine to impact and inspire people, not just within her local community but worldwide.

Now Justine is being recognised on a national scale, being a finalist for TEN categories at the AusMumpreneur Awards, which showcase successful Australian businesses run by women. Being a finalist is a celebration of Justine’s work, as well as recognition that her businesses are making a difference.

The first time entrant is a finalist in 10 inspiring categories including Women Will Change the World, One to Watch, Overcoming the Odd, Service Business, Disable Business Excellence Award, Creative Entrepreneur Award, Business Pivot Award, Coach Award, Fitness & Wellbeing Award and the highly coveted People’s Choice Award.

“I was totally blown away that I was nominated… and nominated for 10 awards just blew my mind,” she explains.

“To be acknowledged by these award nominations and now being a finalist marks a huge milestone in my life. I have surprised myself with what I’ve been able to accomplish since being diagnosed 10 years ago with MS and being told that I’d never be able to work again. Recognition that I can do this and I can achieve continues to empower me.”

Designed to recognise the growing number of women who successfully balance motherhood and business in a way that suits their life and family, there have been over 2000 nominations this year to recognise the hard-working mums in the Australian community.

Celebrating her passion for fulfilling her entrepreneurial dreams as well as be a great mum, Justine says she finds her drive and inspiration in the form of mums everywhere, especially in her own.

“I look up to all mums in business! Mums in business are juggling, kids, grandkids, running a household, and their business. That’s a lot of balls up in the air!

“My inspiration comes from my mum. At age 40 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and then in 1997, when my own daughter was just 7 weeks old, my mum died of complications after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She was just 49 years old. There are so many similarities when I compare my life to hers and the one thing she has inspired me to do, is never give up!”

Justine attributes her successes to her ability to juggle multiple tasks and her love of socialising and networking.

“We [mums] are successful, we know how to multi-task, we know how to network, we know how to ask for help and we are strategically wired to be successful at multiple things at the same time.”

Justine continues to motivate and inspire not only herself but those around her and the nominations for such awards are further recognition of her hard work.

Justine offers this advice for anyone struggling to find their life purpose “find purpose in routine – get up every morning, get dressed, make your bed and then start the day. This is short, sharp but gives you direction.”

The 2021 Victorian and Tasmanian AusMumpreneur Awards will be announced live on Facebook from 8pm on Wednesday, September 8.

To follow Justine on her journey, and to find out more about her programs and the results of the MumPreneur awards, you can find her social media here.