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
25 / 50
Lynne Hefter and Marla Massel | Varsity Couture
Lynne & Maria’s Rankings
Company: Varsity Couture
Location: Northbrook, Illinois
Children: Hefter has two sons, 19 and 20; Massel has three sons, 19, 20 and 21 â¢ Age: Lynne, 51 & Marla, 48
Inspiration: Seven years ago, when Hefter’s and Massel’s sons were on the same baseball team, the two women found themselves freezing from the sidelines. “We were wearing blankets and down coats and one of us looked at the other and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something we didn’t have to hold?’ We ran with it from there,” Massel says.
Perspiration: The two spent more than 60 hours a week brainstorming the perfect product and researching how to market it, on top of their part-time jobs and mom responsibilities. The result was a fleece poncho, which went over well with local moms. Three months after having their “Aha!” moment, Massel and Hefter sold their first Varsity Couture products in local bookstores and developed a program that allowed local schools to sell their products as as a fundraiser.
Business grew until the market crashed in late 2007. “Retailers went out of business and high schools who had used our products as gifts for Boosters stopped giving gifts,” Massel says. “We had to reinvent our whole business model; we didn’t know if we were going to make it.” To make up for lost revenue, Massel and Hefter focused on direct-to-consumer sales through events like trade shows and ball games. The move saved their company.
Success: The company has steadily expanded to include hats, scarves, sweatshirts and capes, each in different school colors. Varsity Couture’s swing cape was also selected as one of the items in celebrity gift bags at the Academy Awards.