Top 50 Mompreneurs, 2011
They cook, they clean and, between naptimes, they run kickass companies. For those who run their own mom-centric firms, the responsibilities of motherhood are only half the battle. Babble is running our first ever salute to the top 50 mompreneurs who pull all-nighters, suffer enormous financial set-backs, and balance business and baby every day to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. Here's how they did it.
- Christina Couch
49 / 50
Mary Waldner | Mary’s Gone Crackers
Company: Mary’s Gone Crackers
Location: Gridley, California
Children: Son, 25 â¢ Age: 59
Inspiration: “My son and I were both diagnosed with Celiac disease in 1994, but at the time there wasn’t anything on the market for us to eat,” Waldner explains. “The food that was available tasted horrible or had horrible ingredients or both, so I started baking.” Waldner took them to parties and restaurants where she and her son couldn’t eat anything else and they ended up being a hit.
Perspiration: Waldner, a marriage and family therapist, knew nothing about the food industry. She simply started making crackers in her kitchen and selling them, which wasn’t easy. “They’re very labor intensive,” Waldner says . “I was working at my job all day, then making crackers all night.” Waldner’s husband wrote a business plan for the company while she researched the manufacturing side. The couple invested their personal funds to get the business off the ground, without realizing how fast the money added up. “By the time my husband quit work, we were $120,000 in debt,” Waldner says. “It took a huge toll on our marriage, our personal life. My husband and I used to have so much fun going to the cracker aisle of the grocery store and watching what people were buying. Then it just got to be work.” With her relationship and family finances on the brink, there was no turning back.
Success: Mary’s Gone Crackers launched six years after Waldner first had her idea. Since 2004, the company has grown 40 percent each year and now distributes throughout the U.S. and Canada. Waldner credits the success of both the company and her marriage to the fact that she and her business partner/husband constantly assess their progress. “We realized that our whole lives were just this company, and we had to make sure we do a better job paying attention to our lives as people,” she says.