If you were to ask Ann-Marie Burton how she would describe herself, she would say that she’s a stay-at-home mom that stumbled into social media reports itbusiness.ca.

The Burlington, Ont. woman left a career in consumer packaged goods to stay at home with her first daughter more than three years ago. But she soon found herself missing her professional life and founded Momstown, a local group for mothers that combined real live events with a Web-based community.

“The idea was to create a more organized Mom’s group” at first, Burton says. “At first we didn’t realize we were building a social network, but we met a need at the right time.”

Today, Momstown is the “social network of choice” for many mothers, she says. It operates a business that combines paid-for memberships to access live events, meet-ups, and consumer offers with freely available content published to the Web. It has 5,000 paying members and has grown beyond its original Toronto-area suburb to a total of 18 branches – 14 in Ontario and four in Alberta.

The hobby project became a viable business thanks in part to Toronto-based Uptrend Media, Burton says. The company groups together niche content publishers and sells the aggregate page views to advertisers – passing on some serious revenue to firms like Momstown.

Screenshot from Momstown