Last Thursday night I had the good fortune to attend the Meet the Mompreneurs panel hosted by Big City Moms and Collective-E, a membership-based organization that supports and promotes women entrepreneurs. The panel included local mompreneurs Carley Roney of The Knot, Bump and Nest empire, Katie Danzinger of Nomie Baby, and Marni Konner of Little Maestros. I expected to hear interesting stories of the trials and tribulations of launching a new service or product, but I didn't expect to be so inspired! Did I mention that these women started their businesses while simultaneously raising 2-3 children each? Lately I've barely been finding the time and energy to post regularly, but somehow these women have been able to launch multimedia powerhouses, create soft waterproof fabrics, and train musicians for a new branch in Dubai, amongst other things!
Carley Roney got into the wedding business at the right time when she and her partners embraced the nascent media of the internet to launch The Knot and reach a new generation of brides-to-be. Now considered one of the foremost wedding resources, the brand grew organically when brides moved into their first homes, began having children and needed new types of information and message boards. The Nest and The Bump were created to meet these needs. I can't deny that I have used all three of these resources as my life has moved through these stages! The Knot is now a publicly traded company with over 500 employees. And did I mention that one or Carley's partners is her husband? This women seriously know's how to make things work!
Katie Danzinger and Marni Konner did what most moms fantasize about. They saw a gap in the mommyhood world that needed to be filled and took it upon themselves to make it happen. Katie Danzinger, creator of Nomie Baby, got frustrated trying to remove the cover on her car seat after her daughter soiled it. She cut holes in a changing table cover to fit on her car seat and before long her friends wanted her to make them covers too. Viola, Nomie Baby was born! By no means an easy road, Katie has finally gotten her award winning car seat covers to market and they have quickly become a media darling. Marni Konner, founder of Little Maestros worked in the music industry, and after the birth of her first child in 2002 sought a quality music program to sign up for. Feeling that the offerings for music programs at the time were lacking, Marni got a group of friends together and hired a guitarist to play by the hour for their children in the basement of the church across the street from her apartment. From these humble beginnings Little Maestro's has grown into a multi-city program licensed through Kidville, employing numerous musicians and dominating the children's music class scene in New York City.
Besides sharing their awe-inspiring mompreneurs stories, these ladies shared some wonderful wisdom. While most of these thoughts are directed at entrepreneurs, they can be easily substituted as advice for new moms! Here are some of my favorite thoughts from the evening (and I hope I don't misquote anyone):
Starting a business
- You can convince yourself not to do anything
- Don't be afraid to look stupid or ask for help
Selling your product
- Persistence is key, you have to ignore the humiliation of rejection
- Be willing to do anything for your business
- Be passionate about your product, nonchalant doesn't work
Being a working mom
- Work when you are working and be home when you are home (compartmentalize)
Starting a business
- You need to ask yourself what you can do, what you can't do, and find someone to help you do what you can't do?
- You may have a huge list of things to do, but none of them have to be done at the same time
Being a working mom
- Don't draft an email while doing a puzzle or playing with blocks
But my favorite quote of the night came from Marni Konner when she said "I haven't had a manicure since my Bat Mitzvah! " Unlike the other two mompreneurs, she brings her toddler to work with her. I think it sums up being a mompreneur perfectly! As for me, I've only had two pedicures in the 7 months since Pooka's birth and I'm not trying to launch or run a business.
Thank you Carley, Katie, and Marni for sharing your stories and advice! And thanks to Big City Moms and Collective-E for organizing this fabulous event!