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10 Mompreneurs Who Made It Big {Part One!}

Moms. We wear many hats. And well, we are pretty much superheros at times. But some Moms wear even bigger hats. Not only are they ringleaders of their family but they run their own business too. We know what a tough job this can be.  The other “baby” if you will. And well, it takes a special kind of person to have the drive, passion and heart to become a MOMpreneur. Not everyone can “make” it. Not everyone can quit the corporate world to follow their dreams. Not everyone can be successful. But for some – they have. And well, they are somewhat brilliant{and super-successful} in doing so.

In fact, I recently sat down with a few very special mompreneurs who have accomplished their dream of making it. Lucky for you, they are sharing a few pretty great tips while getting to know the face behind the names too and a little peek into their world.

 After the jump, browse through five amazing companies founded by Momprenuers and the ladies that made it happen. See just how they made it big. Introducing some pretty FABulous mompreneurs…….

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  • Jennifer Berson of Jeneration PR 1 of 5
    Jennifer Berson of Jeneration PR

    Meet Jen of Jeneration PR who has two little boys under 3 and is one powerhouse PR gal. Read on to get some noteworthy advice from the genius herself and see what was her best investment ever made. She is one oh-so-wise business lady.
  • Anna Ryan and Selena Srabian of Annie + Isabel 2 of 5
    Anna Ryan and Selena Srabian of Annie + Isabel

    Anna and Selena of Annie + Isabel aren't just mompreneuers. They both are registered nurses and sisters! They are two very inspiring ladies in biz. After all, the amazing Anna just battled thyroid cancer and well, they are just one-of-a-kind. Read on to see how they got started!
  • Nina Restieri of momAgenda 3 of 5
    Nina Restieri of momAgenda

    Nina of momAgenda is not just a business woman, organizational expert and founder of a multi million dollar company but she is also a mom of four. Read on to see when her "wow" moment was as a successful mompreneur.
  • Tiffany Harris and Wendy Estes of Layla Grayce 4 of 5
    Tiffany Harris and Wendy Estes of Layla Grayce

    Wendy + Tiffany of Layla Grayce founded the amazing shoppers delight we all know and love, Layla Grayce. The e-commerce site is full of never-ending eye candy and their blog is fun to follow for loads of design ideas and inspiration. Let's not forget Zinc Door - the gals latest project, another e-commerce one stop shop for the modern lifestyle. Savvy, stylish and well, just so sweet, these girls are always on top of their game even when chasing their littles! Both Wendy {mom of four} + Tiffany have twins!
  • Katie Richardson of PUJ 5 of 5
    Katie Richardson of PUJ

    Katie of PUJ has come so far. From hand building their booth at a well known baby expo to now having a huge warehouse. Katie took her "mom" idea and brought it to life and now it's one brand we see everywhere, including The Ellen Show. See just how she did it!

Jeneration PR:  Jennifer Berson

What made you want to start your own business? How did you make it happen?

I was a civil litigation attorney for four years and was working incredibly long hours for a big law firm, and had no time for myself or to pursue a relationship.  I looked around and didn’t see many female partners who had families, and I started to think that I was on the wrong path for myself, as I knew I would eventually want to get married and have children.  Also frustrated with the lack of creativity and the incredibly slow pace that my work seemed to have in litigation, I was inspired to make the switch from law to PR.  I had always had a passion for the beauty and fashion industries, and began promoting a fragrance collection I loved–creating marketing materials, securing press mentions, and developing celebrity relations–all while still practicing law!  I enjoyed the work so much, it served as a catalyst to leave my career as an attorney to pursue a full-time career in public relations & marketing.

My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, helped me feel completely confident, and he 100% supported my decision to start my own business. That was more than 7 years ago, and the economic climate was much different then, so the risk didn’t seem as great.  I always felt I had my legal career to fall back on, but I am so fortunate that my business has been profitable from day 1, so I’ve never even considered returning to my career as a lawyer.

PR, marketing, social media, and running my own business, are such a better fit with my personality.  Once I “discovered” PR and realized it was a valuable service that tremendously benefitted brands, I knew it was a no-brainer decision that this is what I should be doing with my career.

Start up cost vs. revenue now? 

When I first started my company, I invested about $4K to develop a cool & memorable brand identity suite (logo, business cards, letterhead, press kit, etc.) and build a great website to reflect our services and the types of clients we work with.  The website has been the best investment we ever made, as we still receive tons of new-business inquiries directly through our website.  Our revenue is in the six-figures, and I’m so fortunate that I am now making more than I ever made as an attorney, working for myself in a career that I love.

What was your “wow, is this really happening moment”? 

After several years of running my business, I had three clients on National TV, all on the same day.  In the morning, I watched my client Jennifer Sbranti from Hostess with the Mostess make her TODAY Show debut (she nailed it!), and in the afternoon, I took two of my clients, Little Giraffe & Puj, to the Ellen Degeneres Show to watch their products on the coveted “Mother’s Day Giveaway” episode.  As I’m sitting in the Green Room at Warner Bros with both of my clients, watching Ellen rave about their products in front of millions of people, I had a moment where I thought, “Wow… I guess I’m not just ‘lucking out’ at my job anymore.  This is a pretty incredible day!”  I was very proud.

Another accomplishment I am truly proud of is having my business featured in an extremely cool profile on Apple.com.  The Apple marketing team followed me around Los Angeles for 2 days to see how I use my iPhone as a publicist “on-the-go,” then they created a super-slick video montage of me, along with an interview, and posted it on the Apple website for about 3 years.  Being recognized by Apple’s marketing team was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me, and I received several business referrals from my company profile on the Apple website!

Your #1 tip for other Mompreneurs trying to make it big?

I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one, so I’ll share my top 3 thoughts:

Brand Yourself:  At the outset of starting your new business, spend some time and money on your branding & marketing collateral.  Invest in making it beautiful and memorable, so it adequately conveys the feeling & tone of your company and will help get you the attention you are seeking

Promote Yourself: Social media is an obvious, inexpensive and easy way to gain exposure for yourself and your new business.  Moms trying to start their own businesses should try to establish themselves as experts in whatever field they are interested in, staying on top of industry new & knowledge and authoring blog posts around that field.  Also, share your passion for your new business with anyone who will listen to you.  I truly believe when you are passionate about what you are doing, and you ask for the help you want from people, they will go out of their way to provide you with that help, because your passion is so genuine.

Go Easy on Yourself:  It’s practically impossible to be completely balanced in your personal and professional lives, so I think the most important thing is to realize you can’t be perfect, and you have to accept that sometimes “the best you can do”  is probably good enough.  That said, I always try my best with everything I do, so at least I can feel good about the effort I’ve made and set a good example for my children.
Like all working moms, I get a lot done at night when they kids are asleep.  8 p.m. to midnight is often my most productive time, since there are fewer family interruptions and less email coming in to distract me.  I set goals for myself each day, and try to accomplish at least one big thing every day.  Some days are harder than others, so I don’t kick myself when I’m not as productive as I hope to be.  When you’re a working mom, it’s easy to feel guilty that you’re not giving 100% to your work or to your children.  Don’t be so hard on yourself!  Balancing work with motherhood is challenging enough without unnecessary, self-imposed guilt.  Do your best, and be proud of everything you do.

Annie + Isabel: Anna Ryan and Selena Srabian

What was your “wow” is this really happening moment?

I think we’ve had a few “wow” moments since we started our business in 2010.  When we first started our business, we were largely selling to women who were pregnant or to customers buying for their pregnant friends or family members.  Our designer hospital gowns continue to be popular among pregnant women which has been fun because we absolutely love seeing new moms deliver in style and enjoy the comfort of their own hospital gowns. With our nursing background of being ER and ICU nurses, however, we also always knew that our gowns would be great for women who were sick in the hospital or dealing with difficult diagnoses. In our second year of business we saw a big shift in our sales to people purchasing our gowns for women sick in the hospital or customers buying them for themselves for upcoming surgeries or cancer treatments.  This has been a “wow” moment because our belief that our gowns could bring great comfort and dignity to those sick in the hospital is being proven by the increased sales and testimonials we receive from these women.  The rewards of hearing the stories of women who share how their Annie & Isabel gown provided them with comfort during the delivery of a baby, to helping other women get through tough surgeries, to other women wearing their gowns during difficult cancer treatments, to family members describing how comforting an Annie & Isabel gown was for their dying relative are extremely rewarding and the biggest “wow” for us.

The second and most exciting “wow” moments for us happened over this last year.  A year ago we received two large orders from the national television show, “Private Practice”.  This was a huge “wow” moment for us because we had no prior connection to the show or to anyone connected directly to the show.  They found our company on their own and loved our gowns so much that they purchased a large number of our “Isabel” designer hospital gown to be used on the show!!!  They debuted on 4 shows last year and we were so excited to see our Isabel gown debut again on the season premier of “Private Practice” this last week.  In addition, our gowns were also worn by Kathy Lee and Hoda on the Today Show recently.  Again, we were contacted by the show because THEY found our company and wanted to use our gowns. These two things really further confirmed to us that we aren’t just a small little company anymore.  We have been nationally recognized and that feels great!!

Start up cost vs. revenue now? 

When we first started Annie & Isabel, we both contributed a small amount of our own money and received some money from our parents to get started.  We have been able to use those investments to grow our company enough that we have not had to borrow any money since then!!

Your #1 tip for other Mompreneurs trying to make it big?

Be passionate about what you are going to sell and provide excellent customer service. If you are not passionate about your product, you will have a hard time succeeding because having your own business is a LOT of work.  The passion is what keeps you going.  Also,  invest in your customers and you will not only be rewarded by their stories but they will become your best advertisers!

What made you want to start your own business?  How did you make it happen?

We are both nurses and we were sick of having to put the horrible standard hospital gowns on our patients.  These gowns often don’t fit, have holes and are just undignified.  They are the #1 complaint of patients in the hospital and rightly so.  For a long time we both talked about the fact that we could come up with a more dignified, comfortable, stylish hospital gown.  We knew we could make a big difference in a patient’s experience by providing them with their own dignified hospital gowns.  Over a year after we first started talking about designing our own hospital gowns, we finally decided to take the plunge because we knew if we never took the chance to start our business, we would always regret it.  We made it happen by taking baby steps.

First, we decided to get help to come up with our hospital gown design.  Once we designed our gown we had samples made and when we knew we were happy with our design, we got the ball rolling on starting our business. Taking baby steps was key to starting our business because  it made it a little less overwhelming and attainable.  We are excited to continue our growth with the addition of a men’s line coming soon!!

momAGENDA: Nina Restieri

What was your “wow” is this really happening moment?

The first week we launched, at the National Stationery Show in May 2005 was definitely my “wow, this is really happening” moment. We sold out of our entire inventory, inventory I thought would last us through the end of the year, in 3 days. I was overwhelmed and in complete shock.

Start up cost vs. revenue now? 

My startup cost was high but revenue now is in the multimillions annually.

Your #1 tip for other Mompreneurs trying to make it big?

My #1 tip is to hire the best people, and let them do their jobs. I only hire people who are smarter than me, and who are experts in their fields. That way I can focus on what I do well, and have other people focus on everything else.

What made you want to start your own business? How did you make it happen?

I always wanted to have my own business, since I was a teenager. How I made it happen was, by taking baby steps. Each day I put one foot in front of the other and did what I had to do that day. Focusing on small steps each day kept me from getting overwhelmed of the task ahead, while I was building the business.

Layla Grayce: Wendy Estes + Tiffany Harris

What was your “wow” is this really happening moment? 

The first time we were featured in Daily Candy our site crashed eight times. We totally freaked out from stress! When everything was finally up and running smoothly, we realized wait maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. We must be doing something right if that many people were flooding Layla Grayce at once. It was an exciting moment for sure, especially because we have so much respect for Daily Candy.

Your #1 tip for other Mompreneurs trying to make it big?

Believe that you will be successful, but know that the journey is not going to be easy, perfect or ideal every step of the way. There will be nights when you miss a family dinner because you’re needed at a business meeting, but there will be mornings you get behind on email for the chance to walk your kids to the bus stop. Throw the idea of “balance” out of the window, take it day by day, don’t beat yourself up and do the best you can. Oh, and get organized! It makes all the difference.

What made you want to start your own business? How did you make it happen? 

We realized the market was lacking in term of truly unique, well-designed, high quality products for both the home and children. We were also fully aware that women were leading incredibly busy, fast-paced lives, and needed access to design solutions at the click of a button. We have backgrounds in both business and design, and the idea for Layla Grayce grew so organically we couldn’t help but make it a reality. Our beginnings were humble, but we dove in, worked hard, learned as we went and did our best to stay ahead of the game. Beyond that, we relied on a collective passion as a driving force. Marrying a passion with a need fueled us, and believing in something as much as we believed in Layla Grayce kept us striving to be better each and every day.

PUJ: Katie Richardson

What was your “wow” is this really happening moment? 

In the fall of 2009 my husband and I put it all on the line and took our first invention, the Puj Tub, to the ABC Kids Expo to launch it into the baby industry. We spent two days hand building our little booth that we had designed just weeks earlier.  We were surrounded by large companies that spent tens of thousands of dollars on massive trade show booths. It was a very intimidating situation but I knew we had been clever with both our product design and our booth design. My “wow, this is really happening moment!” happened as soon as the doors opened the first day of the trade show and buyers started pouring in to our booth. For 4 full days our booth was filled with buyers from all over the world placing large orders for the Puj Tub and excited about the company. Those years of hard work, late nights, product development, brand development, and filing patents were finally paying off. From that point on we knew that Puj would grow both nationally and internationally into a successful business.

Start up cost vs. revenue now? 

When I started the company it was just me working on it. I was a mother of three boys all under the age of 5. My husband was extremely supportive and encouraged me to go for it. I leveraged the power of Mom blogs to get my products out there. Mom’s love to talk and if they love something, then they will tell everyone they know about it. Very quickly I was getting orders from Holland, France, Australia, the UK, etc. for the Puj Tub. They were spending $100 on the product plus another $200 in shipping just to get it. I was shipping out of my garage and convinced my husband to quit his job and come help me. Word got out and our product was shown on the Rachel Ray Show, the Ellen Degeneres Show, and celebrities like Mario Lopez started tweeting pictures of their baby using the Puj Tub. I did over $1 million in sales that first year and we have had continual growth every year since then. And now, instead of shipping out of our garage we have a world-class warehouse and a 9,000 sqft design studio that serves as our world headquarters.

Your #1 tip for other Mompreneurs trying to make it big?

The only way your dreams can come to fruition is if YOU make it happen. No one will do it for you. Put your fears aside and take that first step forward. Most of the time your path is not clear, but as you step into the dark you begin to see the next step and where you need to go. I start my day early at 5:30am and bike, run or swim each morning. This way I have some time to myself before the kids even get up. When it comes to making meals, I keep dinnertime healthy but simple.  The Crock-Pot is my secret weapon.

What made you want to start your own business? How did you make it happen? 

When I came up with the idea for the Puj Tub I wanted to share it with every new mom who had experienced the same frustrations I had with the traditional bath. I knew I needed to patent the idea (which costs money) so to generate revenue to help pay for the development of the Puj Tub and its patents, I started selling another problem-solving product I had created called the Go Sling. It was a simple product to manufacture and with the revenue from that product I was able to fund the patents for the Puj Tub. I would go to small boutiques in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco and sell directly to the store owners. It was a great way to get my brand out there and to start making sales.

Stay tuned….we are sharing five more amazing MOMpreneurs this week. If this ladies don’t have you inspired to follow your passion, I don’t know what will. 

A big thanks to Citi for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Read more from Casi & the cupcake team on cupcakeMAG + cupcakeMAG Littles.

For more updates, follow Casi on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

See all of Casi’s Being Pregnant post here, check her out on Spearmint Baby and find her on The Party Dress. Want more? Get to know 25 things about Casi.

MORE FROM CASI ON BABBLE

 

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