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All-Inclusive | Benefits of Keeping a Global Perspective in your Business

Iva 0:56

Hi and welcome to a new episode of the Mom Bosses Abroad podcast. We are here today with Michelle Pontvert and she is here to share with us how to really build a globally inclusive online business and always keeping a global perspective. So we're very, very excited to delve into this topic. And Michelle, welcome to our podcast.


Michelle 1:32

Thank you so much for having me. This is a topic very close to my heart. So I'm excited.


Desiree 1:36

Yeah. Michelle is a branding and website designer with 12 years of design experience specializing and working with moms and a mission to scale up their service based businesses so that they can spend more time with their families. That's why we love talking to you today. I mean, we all need that. So she started her professional life working in set design for film and TV in LA. And now her solid design background and a knack for creative problem solving shapes her business today. She's also gone through the DesignLab user experience bootcamp along with several branding, web design, SEO and marketing courses to round out her skill set. She now lives with her husband and adorable three-year-old in Paris. Far from her native Australia and adoptive home in America, she balances serving her clients and being a hands on mom. Michelle, thank you for being here.


Michelle 2:45

Oh, thank you so much. I really excited to chat with you both. I think we all probably have a lot to say about being abroad and how websites complained to them


Iva 2:56

Of course and as the name for podcast suggests we are all Mom Bosses Living Abroad doing all the things so it makes sense that when we are talking about our businesses, we want to make sure that they are- and I love the term that you use here- globally inclusive, not only in how we present it but also in how we are structuring or offers. But before we go into that maybe you can tell us a little bit how you got into into what you're doing right now and how has this experience shaped you in your life?


Michelle 3:35

Yeah, so that's always greatly shared. My background is in film and TV and I've always known I wanted to do something creative, but very practical as well. And I loved that experience working on TV shows me it's very exciting but the lifestyle was just never gonna cut it with very hands on family life, but I knew I also wanted to basically start again, after a couple of years working in the industry and I moved to France and ended up working with a bunch of small businesses run by women in their marketing departments. And just really fell in love with playing around on their websites and seeing how I could apply a lot of that design knowledge I gained from all my time in film and sort of practical problem-solving piece of that work, and really found that there's a great sort of mix of the left and right brain in a lot of what I do. And my background of having been so international growing up I moved house almost every year. I'm a very cool person has always colored how I present things, how I see things and how I encourage my clients to approach what they're putting out into the world because our websites aren't a local service. You know, it's not a flyer or putting up on a billboard it is something that is seen by people all over the world and needs to be approachable by those people if you want to serve them well.


Desiree 5:03

Yeah I love that because it's so true. We are everywhere. And it's so hard we can’t just base ourselves on one country right and say,’ Okay, this is how I'm gonna set myself up. Now this is sort of my m geographical audience’ but we are moving all the time as well. We are, you know, in different continents even and everything especially you right from Australia, to the USA and now in Europe. So it's really, really important that we that we present ourselves inclusive, and also I mean, it all starts with currency as well. How in the world do we display a proper way without excluding anybody without you know, shutting people out and saying, ‘oh, no, she's only marketing to the American market and the US dollars. She's only you know, talking to the Australians back home.’ And what about all the Europeans now and it's… wow, so where do you even start with that?


Michelle 6:16

Yeah, I do really love seeing particularly service providers displaying some form of pricing on their website. I think it's a very great indicator of how much they're trying to serve their clients, you know, starting even on the website to say, ‘look, this is what I'm offering. This is who it's for- you have this price range.’ We can continue talking. And by meeting people where they're at, by saying, you know, my currency is euros, that's what I personally charge and I have to put that out there. But I can also meet those clients that I tend to work with most by doing an approximate conversion, you know, conversion rates change all the time. So yeah, just sharing that, you know, very rough estimate of what it's going to cost. People who are my ideal clients that I work with frequently, just by having underneath your main price, and approximate conversion, and a link to a conversion calculator is a really, really great way to take some of that, that idea.


Iva 7:15

And the idea of the calculator, so objective, right, it's not because it's not static. So it's updating according to what the market fluctuations are. Whenever somebody's doing the calculation, and you don't know when they're going to do that it could be in a week's time or it could be in like one or two months, but at least you want to ensure that when they come to you with questions, possibly you save them and yourself the going back and forth of ‘is it this? Is it that?’ because they already do that on their own.


Michelle 7:46

Exactly. I think it's empowering people to answer the question themselves, you know, if I'm shopping for something and a currency I'm not familiar with- one of the first questions is: well how much is that? How much does that really cost me? If you answer that upfront, that's one less barrier to have in the sales conversation. But that's also one more thing that you're doing, potentially your competitors out there makes you feel much more inclined to add to that audience to know about that


Desiree 8:10

The currency is really good because it also shows your current audience how international you are, that you are really truly serving a global audience right? You're not just speaking to one but that you have really, that your business is expanded to all corners of the world. So that's really great.


Iva 8:33

And then you're also not really keeping other people from approaching you. Right? It's been done inclusivity that inclusivity aspect.


Michelle 8:46

Exactly. I think what you're putting into a small business for everybody is available to everybody.


Desiree 8:55

Yes. Yeah, exactly.


Iva 8:59

And also there is there another aspect where you can also demonstrate that global inclusivity in your website where you are in your offers?


Michelle 9:09

Yeah, I think one of the other big tripping points that I see with businesses that are trying to be global is time zones. You know, I'm sure you definitely understand the pain of time zone. If you have any live element to your offer, if you're having calls if it's a group coaching program, if there's any live component, just simply sharing, I'm in this time zone. If you have that call time at let's say 9am Your time, a rough guideline. Of a few of the other times, that your clients tend to be incredibly helpful and also just hints to those people like ‘hey, this is something I can participate in.’ As you know, I have a large group of people from Australia in my world, they often can't make any of the calls from US based businesses, right? And nobody even told them that upfront, when they are purchasing, well, if they just known upfront, they could make an informed decision and have that experience be correct. A bit more inclusive.


Desiree 10:07

Exactly. I mean, I mean, even as the three of us just getting on this podcast right now, right? We had to really, you know, see what time zones work because we're literally in three time zones, but it is possible and I guess like the key for us in this business is as well. We have to be flexible, and we have to make certain adjustments


Iva 10:29

And one of the things that I'm hearing, Michelle, from what you're sharing with us, is that at the same time that you are creating this advantage in what you're what you're offering_ making people feel and say ‘oh wow, she's taking me into account like she's at least giving me these tools where I can do quick calculations and conversions and understand where I'm standing with her. I feel it's also that efficiency aspect of saving the person a couple of steps because sometimes that also happens. 


And I'm going to say this out loud. Hi, I'm Iva, and I'm guilty of having. I don't know how many tabs open on my browsers at any given moment in time, but I know there's a lot and what happens is that when I move from one tab to the next because I need to look for a different information but I don't want to leave where I was right and then I look what I'm doing but then I might be distracted, something happens and then I don't even know where I was. I lose complete track and then you lost that person. Until eventually they go back or something, but you are helping them really streamline the process of deciding whether it is suitable for them to jump in with the offer because they understand in terms of currency, how much does it represent for them? But also, as you said, very concisely time zones, if it's if there's a live element, if I want to get on a call with this person, does her availability match with my with my own time?


Michelle 12:11

Exactly. I mean, I think all of our websites are to keep people on the website until their decision. Anytime we save that mental work, essentially, it is good customer service, you are serving that person, what they've come to figure out when they come to the website. They often come from Google or social media or a blog post, trying to find an answer to a problem. And the faster and easily you can answer that for them, the better they're going to feel you've served. So having all that information easily available to them on the website where they don't have to try to track it down and instead you get reviews of this great customer experience that you can just carry on into the service. It's a really great way to just make a great first impression and meet this a little more underserved when we are a global community, but we often have an American centric business sort of world. I think it's a really welcome seem to people who are in different countries different circumstances.


Desiree 13:16

Exactly. Do you have any tools as well that you use or that you could share that make working in these different time zones just a little bit easier, whether it's like for yourself how to keep track of where everyone is or even taking bookings or something like that. What would be your tips?


Michelle 13:37

Yeah, I think the sooner you can find a way to automate the scheduling piece of your business, the better. So whatever platform that is, whether it's something like Calendly that has a free offer or acuity, which is a little bit more advanced, being able to block out on your calendar, the times you're available, and then share that with people in their own time zones. You know, basically if I send you a link with my calendar, it shows up with your time zone. That's already a really great way to just shortcut that process of figuring it out. But I also love to include, hey, you know, if you do not see a time that works for you in your time zone, please get in touch. And that's when you can start to make those exceptions, or you can try and make those allowances for people who have challenging time zones from your business. So yes at the boundaries of when you want to work. But I think it is really important to have that caveat. Everything you do really want to be globally open and inclusive, to offer the opportunity for people who are seeing, for example, all your times set in the middle of your day. Or the middle of the night- that opens that door for them to have a conversation with you. And maybe it's not possible, but at least having that conversation is a great way to nurture that relationship and you'll leave those people with a much better taste in their mouth. Because you've tried to help them.


Iva 14:57

And I also feel from just that tiny phrase- It doesn't take a lot. It just means ‘hey, if there's anything that doesn't work with you, let me know.’ And I think that also brings in an additional layer of filter of somebody that actually does reach out and says, ‘Hey, none of these times work for me, what else do you have?’ Then you can see a real intention behind that because they are really taking the trouble of contacting you because they know that you have to also accommodate on your end so it's a higher level of commitment almost_ like that's even better because you know that they are making an effort to reach out and they know that they somehow are asking you to accommodate them with your mutual exchange.



And now do you feel that after you've moved to France, and I'm sure you have, you know, gathered a lot of clientele in France as well. Do you notice a lot of sort of discrepancies and language as well? Because we do operate in the now I guess mainly global language of English. However, when we go into other live in other countries there are a lot of people who may not be able to follow English or are just not as comfortable with using English, especially when it offers courses or something like that. How do you kind of bridge that?


Michelle 17:21

Yeah, I mean, I think it's a really interesting topic. And I picked up French as an adult. So I can speak fine, but I would feel a bit sort of dishonest to run my business solely in French because I can't communicate to the same level. So I'm quite impressed with I run an English speaking business and that is part of what I offer. But I do know a lot of people who are born and blessed to be much more valuable than myself and I really love serving those clients with options to help them lean into that bilingual nature that they already have, and offering the website in multiple languages or having options for their service in both languages that they are able to serve their clients and I think that's a really, really wonderful way to basically open up another market. But it is another market and it is a different offer. So I think it is important to really think through how you're presenting those two different things, not just making a perfect carbon copy of your website in say French and in English. You may be serving slightly different people in a slightly different way. 


Desiree 18:25

that's true. So what they're looking for are the way there may be learning or the way they're used to handling things or doing business may be different. You're completely right, because I was actually thinking that as well. I would like to, you know, introduce two more languages on my website. I'm like, ‘Oh my gosh, there's a lot of work’ but you're right, that it's maybe not everything that needs to be translated right. Only the things that are relevant. That's true. I was very German in my approach thinking absolutely everything- every tab, every word, every title, every subtitle, it's, I was a bit overwhelmed,


Michelle 19:10

It is generally my approach with websites. These are tools for people, you know, we need to serve the people. Well, yes, you can get into the technical side and you can get into all the search engine optimization, but ultimately, the goal is to get people on the website, help them figure out if they're in the right place. If you can help them take the next step forward, whatever the minimum amount of work is for you to create that is the amount of work you need for your website. So if you're making an offer, your business is in English and you're making one offer in German. You only need the pages you need to sell that one offer


Desiree 19:44

That is so true. That is very right yeah, 


Iva 19:48

That is a great mindset shift. Because you don't have to reinvent the wheel for everything. You just have to have to come up with the really relevant bits that people really want to read in their own native language.


Desiree 20:06

Exactly. I have a funny story, and then it's gonna lead to a question to you as well, but I asked, I wrote this blog post, which so many people were asking me about that specific topic. So I said, okay, at least this blog post I want to translate it and the two other languages. So it's like an easy tool to send out to people and because I needed it fairly quickly, I actually asked my dad.


I was like, ‘Dad, you have time, right? Can I ask you to quickly translate this article for me because I would really like to publish it.’ And he said, ‘you know, what, why don't you use Google Translate?’ because he loves Google Translate, and he has this little shortcut there. And I was like, ‘oh my God’, this is like my father telling me that this kind of thing works. And I hadn't even figured that out. And I was like, ‘Oh, my God’ was a little bit embarrassed, but I was like, ‘You're right, actually,’ by a click of a button, that article. Honestly, I couldn't have translated it much better than that either. And it may save you quite a lot of time as well. What do you think about tools like that? That's what people understand, to know, to use that feature on their browser to actually shuffle in their own language and it can then virtually be in any language, or do you think you still need to really go and figure out what is the content that is relevant and you do better translate those pieces properly?


Michelle 21:44

Yeah. I mean, there are fantastic tools out there and there's so much value in that. But I think ultimately, if the thing that at the end, they're going to purchase is in a certain language, and you're not translating that into all of the other languages you're offering. It's a bit of a disservice to kind of tease people with something that isn't gonna serve them well. So let’s say I translated my 1:1 service page into German. I wouldn't be able to meet that client in German and give them the service that they have basically got excited about and purchased from me. So there is a sense of being upfront and honest about what it is that you're delivering. So it depends on what it is, you know, if you're selling T shirts, the t shirt in German and the t shirt in French or in English is the same but if you're offering something that is some kind of informational product, anything where language is a part of what you're delivering, I think being thoughtful about how you're presenting it and being thoughtful about the language you use to sell it is an important piece of that puzzle. So it depends on the ultimate goal, but I think it is probably a lot of your audience. So the smaller businesses, whether it's something of ourselves, if it's a service or product that is information based. I think it's worth being conscious of that and making sure you can really deliver upon it the same way you would for your native language.


Iva 23:06

So a good rule of thumb would be that you feel extremely comfortable in both of those languages that you're choosing to target at the same time because you can think in both languages and you can express yourself fluently in both and so you can switch back and forth like there's no there's no hesitation, right? That the client wouldn't feel that you are trying to be more experienced in that in that language than in the other right because English speaker can pick up on whether someone is really really fluent or someone still has a bit of a hiccup. For the most part, people are understanding but as you said, the way that the read that article, or maybe the way that the read or that that blog post or offer was written, seem to come from somebody that the command of the language was at a certain level and they listen to you and they say, Wait a second, what happened here? Is that how you say we should be careful and look out.


Michelle 24:08

Being upfront, just like when we niche down, we we're not trying to serve everybody in the world with every offer that we have. So being really specific about who it's for and that can be somewhat to the exclusion of certain languages or certain, you know, time zones but being really upfront about that, I think is the best way to approach it so that you're not misleading people to think that they're buying something that you can ultimately deliver and in a weird way, by being really clear about who it's for and who it's not for. I think that's somewhat the best way to be inclusive of people who aren't your typical audience because you're explicitly telling them what it is you can do and what it is you can't do you’re being clear. And I think that clarity is going to be likely your best bet when you're trying to ultimately deliver the thing you're selling them -the product or service, whatever it is, but I do think if you are able to fully deliver the thing that they're purchasing, let's say it is t shirts, you're fully able to support selling and customer service of those T shirts in another language, go for it. I think that's amazing. And that could be a really great addition to the website to have that offer available to those people in that language. But you're doing them a disservice to kind of pretend that you can deliver something you can't just, if I was to suddenly tell you, I'm going to build your house when I'm by no means an architect. It's not going to serve anybody.


Iva 25:38

And would you say, Michelle, that product-based websites are a little bit more forgiving of this fact with the language that you can really design them in such a way that for the most part, it all works. So that the contact with you is at a minimum and so they are able to navigating in a different language because they you know, they receive the product and if anything, it would be mostly a matter of probably customer services if there's a complaint or something right,


Michelle 26:08

Exactly. I think it's really about you know, there is a bit more flexibility when it's not you who is offering a service that I think you want to make sure that whatever you're selling on the website, you can back up with the support that you offer, having your website translated into Swahili and then having absolutely no support in Swahili isn't quite customer service.


Iva 26:35

And, Michelle, what are you currently working on?


Michelle 26:38

Oh, that's a good question. So yeah, I've been really delving into some digital products the last few months and I have been adding in some other offers for people who aren't quite ready for the custom website experience when they're either earlier in business or just a small business trying to stay smaller. And so I've got a website kit, essentially, it's a template. It's got copywriting guide brand support. It's a very linked to that experience that I just recently launched. Yeah, so I've been really trying to work on how to meet people at different stages of business and at different price points because again, I think that's a part of being inclusive is not only offering the highest of high end, because that's what I want to do 1:1, I've opened up the office to people to be accessible at different levels. 


Iva 27:31

And that is also being globally inclusive. Right, in a way.


Desiree 27:36

Exactly, because a lot of people only think about exactly the topics that we just spoke about, but to really go that far and saying I want to be inclusive even to that people who are in different stages of their business people, who are just starting out people who are really well advanced and able to invest a little bit more as well. I think that's excellent. And again, such a differentiator. Not everyone does that.


Michelle 28:00

Yes, yeah. Thank you. I think I solve the same problem just in different ways for different stages. That's sort of how I approach it. So at the end, everything I offer gives you know, a website that's conversion focused, human focused, beautiful, easy to use, whether you want me to do it at the high end or you want to do it at these more affordable DIY sort of ends.


Iva 28:21

Wow, this is fantastic. And you have a freebie for everyone. Can you tell us it is?


Michelle 28:27

Well, thinking about conversion, that is sort of what we want. Ultimately, as business owners, we want to convert people into leads or into sales. So I've got a free training that is really, really action focused all about making websites that convert, we dive into the sort of key things that you need to make sure you have on your website that you make sure you present on your website to lead people towards the sale, if they're the right fit. They're in the right place, or is done you know with thoughtfulness and intentionality, but I really, really think it's a great resource to make sure you're getting the most out of your website. But also serving people the best way possible with your website.


Iva 29:09

I love I love how you are so, so very adamant about saying it's not only about what you do, but how you can be of service in every step of every offering that you're putting out there. Because yes, thank you. I love that philosophy because being of service is something that for example Desiree and I also resonate a lot with and when you bring that to the forefront and you make that like your North star on how you need to approach, how you're going to come up with the website and everything else? I think it does have a different type of energy to it as well. Ideally, people readily pick on that and say, ‘wow, you know, this person is really having a good time.’ Take a look at how it affects me and how we can benefit me.


Michelle 30:09

I definitely think it's a business tool, but they're also a tool for people to find the right offers for them. So definitely, I think that's a big piece of my philosophy sort of approach and I really encourage externalizing that it's not just about you, it's about that.


Desiree 30:32

It's about the entire experience as well that you're offering and that's essentially why people choose to work with you right or to buy your product or to work with you and to put their trust in you. Because of the service that they get. It's not just like, you know, clicking a Pay Now button and then there's no real help involved or like you said that real customer service- that hands-on help, that inclusivity, so I think that's a beautiful, beautiful solution. So yeah, I can't wait to check out this freebie.


Iva 31:09

I will as well. We want to thank you Michelle, for chatting with us today. And if you want to connect with Michelle, you can find her on Instagram and she has her Facebook as well as her LinkedIn links that we are going to share with you. And she also has her website and the link to her freebie. So make sure to check them out. And Michelle, it was such a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for being here with us today.


Michelle 31:42

Thank you both so much. This was a really really fun conversation. Hopefully we've shed some nuggets that are helpful for people. Absolutely.


Desiree 31:52

Absolutely. Thank you so much Michelle



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Michelle Pontvert

Michelle Pontvert is a branding and website designer with 12 years of design experience, specializing in working with moms on a mission to scale up their service based businesses so they can spend more time with their families. She started her professional life working in set design for film and TV in LA after getting her MFA from the prestigious USC film school, which gives her a solid design background and a knack for creative problem solving which shapes her business today. She’s also gone through the DesignLab User Experience bootcamp along with several branding, web design, SEO and marketing courses to round out her skillset. Michelle lives with her husband and adorable 2-year-old in Paris, far from her native Australia or adoptive homeland America, and balances serving her clients and being a hands-on mom.




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