#Mompreneur Interview Series

Mini-series on Mom Entrepreneurs

Jump to interview with @mushie founder
Jump to interview with @snugglemeorganic founder
Jump to interview with @yeahbabygoods founder
Jump to interview with @plumandsparrow founder

 

Hi! I’m Jess. I’m CEO and cofounder of Amara and those who know me best probably know my parents too. Those who really know me well may even know what my college thesis was about. Ok, so how do these two relate? Entrepreneurs. My parents are both entrepreneurs and my college thesis was about entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Nerdy right? That’s why here at Amara, we decided to dig a little closer and bring you a mini series of interviews with moms that are running fantastic companies, while raising little ones. Because let’s be serious, #momboss is akin to superhero in our book.

E N T R E P R E N E U R. Now the word is pretty trendy but I lived with “entrepreneurs” before we even put a name to it. Both of my parents worked around the clock – so much so that when I was filling out my college applications I decided to put my parents were “un-employed”. Needless to say my dad was LIVID but my 17-year-old self didn’t know the difference between “un-employed” and “self-employed”. Now a few years later, “self –employed” comes with a more glamorous title – “entrepreneur”. 

I’m here today to talk about when “entrepreneur” meets the word “parent”. Growing Amara has allowed me to meet the most amazing moms and dads that every day, bend over backwards to make the impossible possible for their kids. Through social media, I’ve had the unique opportunity to get to know a few of you, and to admire even more of you from a far. You are all truly super parents. And if that wasn’t enough, there companies out there that are run by entrepreneur parents. That’s parents, being super parents, AND running awesome companies. And that my friends, is what we are here to talk about today.

At Amara, we do these interviews because a lot of times starting a business can seem like a far out dream, but companies are just people like you and I, determined to bring their visions to the world. Whether you’re building a blog, an Instagram following or even just starting a family, we hope that these stories help to inspire you to bring your visions into the world and make them realities.


Interview with founder of Mushie Co

bibs usa pacifier amara baby food

Pacifiers, you didn’t think twice about them until you saw the bright colors and modern look of the @bibs_usa pacifiers and you decided you needed them in every color, right? We interviewed, Mushie, the mom behind this brand’s US presence and were captured by her honesty and her story. Mushie’s story is bit different than other founder stories we’ve had on our series but she is proof that there is not just one way to start a company and is an inspiration to hear from.

Tell me first about how you got started?

I was a teacher before I was pregnant with my second child but in my pregnancy I had hyperemesis gravidarum and my body just couldn’t function. I was sick all the time and was sensitive to light, standing long periods of time, it was awful. I had to stop working and it was a really hard time for me, both physically and emotionally. The minutes couldn’t go fast enough. 

At around 7 months of being pregnant I had a small relief from feeling sick and I was ordering pacifiers so I could be ready when he was born. I had found this company from Denmark that had cute pacifiers and had ordered them from Denmark because I couldn’t find them in US stores easily.

When we got them I loved the modern colors and the fact they were toxic free. I never thought I would do anything that is a business style kind of thing but I loved them so much that I looked at my husband and said, let’s start selling these in the US. My husband is an Amazon expert and it took a bit of convincing but eventually we approached Bib Denmark and became the US distributor and Amazon distributor of Bibs.

"I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD DO ANYTHING THAT IS A BUSINESS STYLE KIND OF THING..."

Tell me more about your Instagram, @bibs_usa  - what has it meant for the business and you?

Well, they first asked me to do an Instagram two weeks after having my son, and I didn’t know anything about Instagram. But, now that I finally wasn’t sick anymore, I had my baby, I decided that it was time to say “yes” to things. So I started the Instagram. The community it’s created has been a such a pleasant surprise. You start to realize with the product that we are really part of people’s lives.

Can you share a word of advice for someone that is looking to start a business?

Doubt less and do more. Part of the process is to fail and not have something go your way. Don’t be embarrassed, the worst that can happen is that you’re going to get a “no”. I think that after you have a baby; after living through the sleepless nights and going through the process of pregnancy and childbirth, you’re left with a kind of confidence than you’re unbreakable. If you went through that you can go through anything.

 "DOUBT LESS, DO MORE." 

What’s one of the big differences between your job as a teacher and now?

As a teacher I always had someone to ask if I didn’t know how to do something, I always had someone that knew. Now it’s a lot of asking others that have done it, or trying to see what works. You have to learn to be less scared of changes, less scared of failure.

 What does your team look like?

My husband and I started but now we have people that help. We have Alyssa that helps us with Instagram. The cool thing is that we actually met through the Instagram community and now she works with us at Bibs. We also work with my brother in law and sometimes more when we are really busy with packing!

Any tips on moms using Instagram as a means to share?

Instagram is really about relationships and community. Here are the things that have been most helpful for us in growing @bibs_usa

  • Sending product for free or with a discount in exchange for tags
  • Giveaways with other brands and shops
  • Relationships with other shops

Some people find that sharing personal stories also on Instagram is helpful, that doesn’t come as naturally for me but we are starting to. In the end, it’s getting your product out there and creating a community.

You have two kids, a running business and I am sure lots more on your plate. What’s your top tips for productivity as a busy mom?

Gosh, I wish I knew haha. I would say stop feeling guilty about “me” time. Know that everyone has a different way of doing it and it’s okay. When you have kids I feel like you can’t hope for it to be perfect because it never will be. I find that the mornings that I wake up and put on sneakers and workout clothes are my best mornings. Starting the day active even if I am working for home just changes my mindset.

You had a really hard pregnancy, can you share how that experience has changed you, or how it affects your day to day business struggles and life?

After making it through the sickness, my perspective on life changed. I felt grateful for every day, for my health. For my family. I realized that if you’re dealing with something that in 5 years won’t matter, don’t be upset about it for more than five minutes.

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A lot of times starting a business can seem like a far out dream, but Mushie is just one example of moms working to build their business. Mushie didn’t have an MBA or a curriculum of business experience, she just decided that she would say “yes” to opportunity and dare to dream.

Interview with Mia, Founder of Snuggle Me 

Blog Founder Snuggle Me

Mini-series on Mom Entrepreneurs

Snuggle Me is the dream child of Mia Carr. Mia not only runs an incredible company, but also does so with 7 kids AND while homeschooling them. We feel in love with her products a while back but when we realized who was behind it, we knew we wanted to interview her about Snuggle Me sensory lounger and a bit more about how her company grew into what it is today.

 

Being an entrepreneur can be a long road – can you tell us a bit about when you started and the moment you knew it was “going to work?”

We started our business in 2007.  It has been a long road! We learned so many lessons and it took a while to really mature enough as people to be able to make our business work. I would say, I always knew it would work, from day one I knew it would.  It didn't start really taking off until after I established a hardworking, supportive team around me.  That was when the magic started happening.

You’re in a competitive space – why Snuggle-me?

Snuggle Me is the first ever sensory lounger for baby and no other lounger is designed to hug baby.  We are committed to making all of our products in the USA with the highest quality organic materials, yet keeping all of our products affordable.  We are also all about community and support for new families and give value back to our customers in every way we can. 

How do most parents find out about you?

Parents have always found out about us by word of mouth.  We now are much more visible so parents are discovering us from many external avenues, but the message is always the same, Snuggle Me is THE best.

I remember seeing that you set a goal for yourself a year ago and you brought your following from 13k to over 393k today. What do you attribute that to? 

Our Instagram growth has been from myself taking over that space and studying how other large accounts have grown.  I saw quickly that influencer marketing was the fastest way to grow and I literally put all of our marketing eggs into that basket. I stopped all other advertising efforts and put all our time and efforts into it.  I am not kidding when I say every marketing dollar went into influencers.  We are now just starting to put money back into a secondary area, which is facebook/instagram ads.  But that is number 2.  We are a direct to consumer business and we are laser focused on doing only effective activities and dropping all other distractions. 

Secondly, I created a space that was more than just an advertising platform.  People follow our IG page and stay because we are giving our followers value, advice, and community which is why people go onto social media in the first place. 

What does your team look like now?

My team now consists of some of my most favorite people and trusted friends.  I have my own mom, step-father and husband as my closest circle.  My mom manages our customer service, my stepfather is our COO and my husband is our CFO.  I then have a good homeschool friend of mine as our Sales Director and one of my favorite former customers and friends as my content creator.  We then have a team of very positive and upbeat people who come in to build product and get our daily shipping out the door.  It is a busy, busy warehouse, but everyone is so excited and happy to be a part of what we are creating.  I cannot tell you how many people walk in there and stare wide eyed at what is going on in our little warehouse!

What recommendations do you have for other moms starting their businesses?

I would honestly tell them to study the emerging direct to consumer methods.  You can explode into a market with

  1. influencer marketing and an amazing IG page.
  2. A beautiful, optimized Amazon listing
  3. a shopify website that is focused on beautiful imagery.
  4. Facebook/Instagram ads directed at sales. and if I had to add one more, I would say
  5. a retargeting strategy  

Honestly, you can skip all other advertising and wholesaling altogether and create a multi-million dollar business in a few years time by doing the above.

With 7 kids and a booming business – can you share your top two tips for productivity?

This is the ever looming question for all working women, how do you "balance" being a mom and building their dreams out. We homeschool, so that adds another layer of craziness to the mix!  My biggest tip is to block your time and reduce the number of times you need to "switch brains".  For us, we are home and kid focused until about 1pm.  Then we change gears and are all business until nearly bedtime.  I used to go back and forth between school, work, cleaning throughout the day and that just made me super irritable. Now, we wake up, focus all on kids, school and house, close that down and focus all on business through the rest of the day.  This gives me permission to ignore phone calls and emails during the first part of the day and doesn't make me feel guilty for tell our kids, "no I can't play right now, I'm working" in the afternoon. Everyone has their time with me.  When I am in the kid zone, I go all in and vice versa.

If you had no obligations and could spend a month somewhere, where would it be and why?

I have no idea where we would go, but I love travelling around and seeing new places with our children. I just love the adventure of it.  I cannot even image going somewhere for a full month because as much as I like seeing new places, I also like being home! Maybe a week in a tropical place would be my first choice!

Interview with Mompreneur and Founder of Yeah Baby Goods

Mini-series on Mom Entrepreneurs

 

baby food high chair starting solids

The path for Katie to starting Yeah Baby Goods was not a straight line, but she – like many of the founders I get to interview – just knew it was right.  

How did you start Yeah Baby Goods?

My firstborn hated every high chair he ever met, until the day he sat in the IKEA Antilop. We were eating in the IKEA cafeteria and we couldn’t believe he didn’t scream bloody murder when we put him in. We bought both the highchair and support cushion that day. The pattern on the cushion was not at all my style, so I told my sewing friends to they should start a business making home décor-friendly covers. I couldn’t get anyone excited about the idea, so I started my own in April 2016. At first, it was just my family and friends who were buying, but then other people started buying on the Etsy shop and Yeah Baby Goods was born!

What do you sell now?

Cushions, placemats and footrests for the IKEA highchair. We also sell a Mama’s Must Have Restaurant Bag that includes a reusable silicone table placemat and food scissors in a cute zipper tote to make eating out with babies easier and more sanitary. 

What were you doing before Yeah Baby Goods?

I worked in market research for a few years after college, but it wasn’t for me. So I started my own business designing wedding albums in 2007. In 2012, my husband also left his corporate job and started a fitness equipment company. Once we got our first taste of small business life, we were hooked.

Was there one moment that you knew it was going to work?

I think for an entrepreneur it’s never this “one moment” that you made it – it’s more like an ebb and flow and sometimes it peaks. I think we learn to adapt quickly or move on to the next thing.

You and your husband both work on Yeah Baby Goods together, how do you manage that with the kids?

Oh gosh, the first couple years we had no schedule and were either both playing with the kids and not working, or the reverse. Coming up with a daily routine was a game changer, especially since we decided to homeschool.

Now, we all eat breakfast together then I go work downstairs while Brent, my husband, does homeschool with the kids. We all eat lunch together and then I get to be with the kids in the afternoon while Brent works downstairs.

Our focus and way of life really revolve around finding ways to combine business and work with our family – I can’t see us going back to corporate life. This just feels right for our family.

Was it always easy for you to make that decision?

No, it wasn’t always easy. We knew we wanted to be deeply involved with the kids and their day-to-day. When we both started working from home, it was a really special thing for our marriage, kids and family. But it did require some sacrifice. When Brent quit his accounting job in 2012, I said, “That’s fine, as long as we don’t have to sell the house.” That was kind of my bottom line. But then in 2015, we knew we either needed to downsize, or go back to corporate life. By that point, I had experienced three wonderful years of having his help at home, and it was an easy decision. It’s not always glamorous and there’s definitely been some sacrifice, but it’s part of the story and we love it so much. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

What does your team look like?

Up until recently it was just me and my husband. About a month ago, we hired my sister to help with order fulfillment. I usually spend my mornings catching up on Instagram and with our customers. For me, hearing the voice of our customers is really important and fuels my fire for Yeah Baby Goods. Plus, Instagram is still where the majority of our customers find us so I feel like it’s important I’m on there.

What was the big turning point for you as a business?

Last fall we started really thinking about what we wanted the Instagram community to be and look like. We wanted to know our customers better and we also wanted them to get to know us as a family. So we started getting more personal and showing our faces more. At first, it felt weird and we were nervous to show we aren’t a big polished brand in a fancy office with a bunch of marketing people behind us. Now, we embrace that. We are a family business that runs Yeah Baby Goods out of our basement. I think a lot of small businesses feel less-than because they don’t have the same resources as large corporations, but people want to see other people. We try really hard to show customers that we truly care about them and appreciate their support.

After really spending some time on Instagram, the community there really started rooting for our business ad family. When we launched our new highchair footrest, we sold over 2,000 footrests in 4 hours! It was crazy.

What’s next for you?

This year we’re focusing on moving from a small company to a larger company – analyzing our current systems and processes to see if they’re still best for the company the way it is now. We want to continue doing what we’re doing now, add more to the product line and do what we do even better and more efficiently.

Congratulations on such amazing growth! It’s so exciting. When you look back to those early days – what advice would you tell yourself? What advice would you tell someone that is looking to start something?

First, go for it. If you’re on the fence, it’s always worth a try. Don’t get discouraged by slow beginnings. Don’t compare, just focus on your business, your customers and how you can reach new people.

For us, social media has been super helpful. I focus on building genuine connections with people and influencers. In the beginning, I was just reaching out to anyone who had an IKEA highchair. Now we have followers who are so excited about the products and the family behind the business that they want to share about us too! It has become a very organic, two-way community.

So mamas, a lot of times starting a business can seem like a far out dream, but Katie started with an idea and then slowly grew it to a reality. It hasn’t always been easy and there definitely wasn’t anyone telling her how to do it – but, like motherhood – she just figured it out.

These months are a trying time for everyone. Our realities are shifting under our feet and it’s more than a little unnerving at times. But, together we can, and will, make it.

Interview with Founder Plum & Sparrow, Dianna 

For those of you who haven’t seen these beautiful baskets all over Instagram, Plum & Sparrow is a product and accessory lifestyle brand that makes hand-made moses and market baskets. They work with a community of weavers in Africa and every basket is truly one of a kind. Behind this company with a mission is Dianna, mom of three boys and one girl. We had the chance to talk to her about how she grew Plum and Sparrow to what it is today. 

 

Tell us a bit more about how and why you started Plum & Sparrow. 

I had just had my fourth kid and someone had gifted me a moses basket and I thought it was great, it allowed me to take her everywhere I wanted to have her. I would have used it for every kid if I had had one. They are really popular in Australia but in the US not really so I wanted to bring the moses basket to parents so that they could also have their babies close.

First, I started looking to find sourcing and someone that could do bold, bright colors but basket weaving was kind of a dying art because they weren’t teaching it anymore.

Finally, a year later I finally found the right people to source with and started. My first stock of moses baskets was only 8 baskets! 

Why the name Plum and Sparrow?

"Plum" because when the company was started my fourth daughter was just born and as a baby she had the cutest little plum butt, it was adorable. "Sparrow" because my grandmother was obsessed with birds and would always talk about how sparrows fly together and work together as a community. That’s how women should be, working together in community and kindness. So I combined both the inspiration from my daughter and the love for community and working together of my grandmother. That's how I decided on the name "Plum and Sparrow", it's from the women around me. In whatever you do, it really takes a village to build it.

Being an entrepreneur can be a long road – can you tell us a bit about when you started and the moment you knew it was “going to work?”

I hesitated for a while because you want to have all your ducks in a row and everything perfect before you launch. Finally, I was talking to some girl friends of mine and they encouraged me to just take the jump off the cliff. When I started I was hand making everything myself, the pom poms, the bed, everything. Then it just started getting so much traction so fast, I couldn’t get the orders done fast enough! 

How do most parents find out about you?

Most parents find out about us on Instagram. We sell mostly online and ship worldwide. We really have a global impact when you think about it; the basket starts  in Africa with the weavers but every basket touches my hands here in California. It takes a village to make it all work.

What does your team look like?

At the beginning it was really just me doing everything myself, and it’s so hard to delegate at first. Now, we have Amber in social media; Perry in customer service and my mom works in shipping! 

If you had one recommendation to someone starting their business, what would it be?

Looking back now 3 ½ years since we launched, I think it’s important to realize that where ever you are in each moment of starting your business is great and exactly where you should be. Whether you’re navigating Instagram, or figuring out the product – you are where you’re supposed to be at that moment. Every step is there for a reason. Even when we were just at 500 followers, I wanted it to go faster but it was at that moment when I realized I was starting to build something that was larger than myself. And of course sometimes you fall down and there is a rollercoaster of moments that are totally overwhelming, or heartbreaking or rewarding. But you learn from them and you navigate it all. Just know that where you are is okay and that every step has it's own pace. 

You have to be willing to reach out to people, there is a whole community of women that want to help each other. We really are our best ally and our best asset.

Where do you imagine Plum and Sparrow to be in 5 years?

Of course I would love to see the product lines growing but maybe most important to me is seeing it be more of a community, building out the non-profit aspect of Plum and Sparrow and giving back to amplify our impact.

Dianna has built this beautiful brand that is connecting the designs of African weavers with moms and dad's all over the world. Make sure you check her out at PlumandSparrow.com and on Instagram!


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