This site is for YOU – the mom or mom-to-be who wants to start a business from home or grow your existing home-based business. On this site, we’ll promote women with home-based businesses, share expert advice on a wide range of topics to support you, and provide learning resources and materials to help you start and grow your own home-based business with a baby or small children in your midst. And check out our book! Let us know how we can help YOU succeed!
Kim Gellman is the entrepreneurial mom behind Artistic Sensations, a kids room design boutique for made-to-order products allowing customers to choose colors, furniture style and theme to fit any personality. She started the company when she was pregnant with her first son and is now celebrating it’s seventeenth year of business!
MomIncorporated: How did Artistic Sensations get started and how has it grown since inception?
Kim: I started my business in 1996 when I was pregnant with my first son out of wanting to find American, hand made, high quality products. I started out of my basement selling baby blankets, step stools and small hand-painted furniture items. I went to local shows at hospitals, country clubs, and mom’s homes selling my wares. My customers wanted more items. If they bought a step stool, they wanted artwork and bedding to match and so my business grew from 100 items to 500 in a short time. I decided to launch a website later that year. The following year I added another 500 items in bedding, bunk beds and more artwork and items for my customers from floor to ceiling. We continued to add and now have over 4,000 items.
MomIncorporated: How do you select which items to sell?
Kim: We select items that we would want in our own home. Quality materials that are hand crafted and mainly made in the USA are one of our criteria. We do buy some products that are imported but we try to focus our core group of products from the USA. A second criteria is products that are unique and that our customers will not find all over the internet. We pick lines that are not in mass merchant stores or chains.
MomIncorporated: How have you managed to juggle starting and running a business while also caring for your children?
Kim: It is a challenge to balance motherhood and entrepreneurship. I delegate as much as possible. I prioritize and try not be a superhero. I try not to over commit. I surround myself with amazing people who are smart, innovative and creative. I have learned to say no. I have dinner with my kids every night and family time on the weekends. I cherish our family times and know my kids are growing up fast. I have one that will be in college in two years which is coming up quickly!
MomIncorporated: Who makes up your team?
Kim: My team is my husband (who is my sounding board for ideas) and I. We have a part-time customer service manager, a part-time merchandising specialist and a SEO/Marketing manager we contract out. We have a social media manager and several college interns who assist us.
MomIncorporated: What challenges have you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?
Kim: We have had many ups and downs with the economy as retailers have suffered the past four years. I think the key is to surround yourself with good people and resources, stay focused and stay positive. You have to differentiate yourself and stand out from your competition. I think the key is showing your customers you are different and taking care of them by selling them a superior product at an affordable price so they will come back again and again and refer their friends and family. I think if you are passionate about your business and the products you are selling, you can face any challenge.
MomIncorporated: How do you define success as a mom entrepreneur? Kim: The tipping point when I realized I was truly an entrepreneur is the euphoria I felt when I had a network of vendors and relationships built with repeat customers. I love helping customers make their dream rooms come to life. I love helping our customers find solutions to fit their design needs. To me this defines success.
MomIncorporated: How do you market your business and what role does social media play in your marketing plan?
Kim: We market our business mainly through social media: Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and SEO for organic traffic. We have used ppc in the past on and off. We also have an extensive mailing list we email monthly. We are rebuilding our blog and guest writing along with promotions and contests through social media.
MomIncorporated: How have you used Mom, Incorporated as a resource in starting or running your business? What other resources do you use as a small business owner?
Kim: I have known [Mom, Incorporated co-author] Danielle Smith for a long time and followed her blog and career and am also a big fan of Aliza Sherman so when their book came out, I was excited to make the purchase. I find this website inspirational and insightful and enjoy reading about other small businesses and their successes and challenges.
MomIncorporated: What advice would you give other moms who want to start a business?
Kim: If you are passionate about a concept, do some research and see what competition is out there and their approach. Then take your own spin on it and go for it. Surround yourself with other business owners and listen and learn from them. Find resources such as books like Mom Incorporated and dive in and devour their content. You can learn so much from other moms and small business owners. Find a need and fill it.
Where there is passion, success follows.
By Allison Rice
More and more studies are emerging regarding the best way to incentivize employees to make them more productive and happy. From rewards and recognition programs to bonuses and perks involving both time and money, the simple truth is that the more motivated we are, the harder we work.
And who exemplifies self-motivation and hard work better than female entrepreneurs and professionals who are also work-at-home mothers? Whether you are blessed with a career that allows flexibility to work from home or are just starting your own business, there are certain principles to observe if you want to conquer the dual arenas of “work life” and “home life.” Here are five fundamental doctrines of the most productive and happy professional moms who work from home.
1. Learn to Love Lists
The List is the efficiency-expert’s number one tool for staying successful.
You won’t forget things. How many times have you gone to the grocery store without a game plan and gotten everything except what you actually needed for dinner that night? Not fun and not efficient.
You can prioritize and monitor your progress. When you have a million tasks to accomplish each day, few things are as satisfying as checking items off of your list. And when you can see a map of your day right in front of you, it makes it easier to do what you want to do when you want to do it and know that at the end of the day, it’s all getting done.
You can clear the clutter of your mind by writing down an item and then moving on to another topic. It’s made its way onto paper – it’s not going anywhere. Unless it gets lost in the wasteland that is your office; which brings us to our next point…
2. Play the Part
I know: one of the perks to working from home is NOT having to dress up in a corporate suit every day – in addition to the boatloads of cash saved on dry cleaning! However, studies have shown time and again that recreating a working office environment plays a major part in your daily productivity. This means:
Get dressed. There is a happy medium between your pajamas and a pencil skirt, so find it. Not only do you send your brain that much-needed jolt to get it out of schlumpy-mode, but you also alleviate some of the stress that comes with being unprepared when clients and visitors drop by unannounced.
Keep semi-structured hours. Much of the attractiveness of a work from home set-up is the ability to set one’s hours; however, try to maintain some sort of routine within your flexibility. This will also make it easier for your body to adapt a natural rhythm for work-time and relax-time.
3. Keep it organized
Organize your workspace, whatever it may be. Not only do you feel more on top of things mentally, but you also don’t waste precious minutes rifling through stacks on your desk. It also sends the message to the rest of your family that mommy has professional commitments in addition to the seventeen other hats she wears and helps them to respect your time spent working on those obligations.
4. Keep it separated
Whenever possible, try to create a workspace that is entirely separate from the rest of your home environment. Even if you do not have a dedicated home office that you can barricade yourself in – and close the doors to keep everyone else out – try to avoid setting up shop in your bedroom or living room where it will constantly beckon to you.
5. You’re only human, after all
Regarding the equal pull of work and family on female entrepreneurs and professionals, a wise woman once said, “It’s not about ‘finding balance.’ It’s a juggle.”
The idea is that once you stop trying to maintain an inherently impossible balancing act between your work/personal lives, and recognize the fallacy in that logic – that no one person can be everything to everyone at the same time – you will find more freedom and balance than ever before. Naturally, you will manage all of your responsibilities better because you are no longer confronted by that nagging pressure to attain simultaneous perfection.
The characterization of juggling is more appropriate (and more forgiving) because although everything is still in constant motion, you only have one item in your hand at one time and you need only devote your attention to your various obligations in individual stages rather than all at once.
In short, it’s about dropping the “all or nothing” attitude and embracing moderation. When you are spending time playing with your kids, actually be present with them instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by the 10 emails sitting in your Inbox. They will still be there when you’re ready to tackle them but now your children will feel valued (and thus, less clingy!) and you will be able to hand them over without the guilt and turn your focus to your work. Win-win!
What are some of the other practices you’ve developed along the way to feel more happy and productive when working from home? Do you have any other tips where your children are concerned?
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of customized pens to order and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.
Moorea Malatt is the Founder and Creative Director of Genius: A Baby Academy, an early education program geared toward newborn to 4-year-old children with classes in world language, sign language, gym and sensory exploration. Also a life coach, a parent coach, and a published singer/songwriter, Moorea founded Genius out of her home when her daughter, Iris, was just 22 months old. A few months later, she landed a prime storefront location in Seattle, Washington. Though Genius’ curriculum is currently only offered in Seattle, Moorea is planning to release online workshops for purchase by Fall, 2013.
Moorea is also a parent coach in the areas of potty, early potty, gentle discipline and sleep challenges over at Savvy Parenting Support.
MomIncorporated: What inspired you to start Genius: A Baby Academy?
Moorea: I knew I wanted to reach out to families somehow to let them know that many babies are longing for more sensory stimulation. I was familiar with the concept that if babies hear different languages before age one, they have set the neural pathways for learning languages easily as an older child or as an adult. For me, learning languages, including ASL, is the way to bring around world peace. I imagined creating this classroom that was all about celebrating diversity and supporting all parents.
The classes I had taken my daughter to didn’t feel like they were providing a sense of community. The curriculums felt too “one-size-fits all”, sometimes the classes had too many kids, and nothing was seemed geared toward parents’ desires and anxieties. So, at Genius, we create time and comfortable space for chatting with friends and feeding baby. We also offer prenatal workshops, lactation support and essential parenting workshops like Potty Savvy, Beginning Gentle Discipline and Back to Work Breastfeeding. We really want to feel like a community center.
MomIncorporated: How did you take the business from idea to up-and-running business?
Moorea: I had been teaching a world music and sign language class for tots in my home once a week and when the word Genius came to me, it suddenly exploded, all coming together in my head and then the idea would not leave me alone.
It took me 5 months of very hard work to create the business plan, secure the capital, land my dream space for the classroom, hire my teacher, advertise and then write all of the curriculum for the first quarter. I did it all out of a home office until March of 2012 when we entered the space. I already had a home office because I had a part time parent coaching practice. I knew how to operate a word-of-mouth business but I really didn’t know anything about having a real storefront!
MomIncorporated: You offer an extensive scholarship program. Why is supporting the community important to you?
Moorea: I could never imagine having a school without a scholarship program. Without one, we are only serving families who can afford to prioritize early education and the cycle institutionalized racism and classism and of familial lack of education continues. Some families are also less likely to join classes because of feeling different in some way and we strive for our scholarship program to grant those with language barriers, people of color, families with one working parent, LGBT families, and single parents to access the early education and parent education that we provide.
Recently more people have found out about our scholarship program and we have met every request but it is becoming more of a challenge to meet that need. I have been scrambling just to keep a new business afloat but having a scholarship program presents even more of a financial challenge- and yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Talking to our scholarship families about the great time they are having and hearing the thank- you’s is really amazing. Some families take videos of class and send them home to family in places like Malaysia!
MomIncorporated: How have you managed to juggle starting and running a business while also caring for your daughter?
Moorea: Not easily and with a lot of guilt! I have had to reconcile the fact that I am the type person who has constant ideas and wants to build community with my other desire to just be 100% there for my kid and never turn on a computer. Most of the time I feel like I am failing at one thing or another and I rest assured that many other working moms I know often feel the same way. I just hope that Iris learns that mom was giving to the community, loving other children, and flexing her creativity.
I’ve also had a lot of help. I make a practice of leaving my phone alone and doing whatever my daughter wants to do for one or two hours every day, no matter how busy I am. And I’m trying really hard to figure out how to be done with work at 5.
MomIncorporated: What kind of support do you have – both for your family and for your business?
Moorea: I have a very supportive working partner who is able to hold our household finances down and help me with some evening or weekend times I have to work. I’ve had a series of wonderful babysitters, and my daughter has also been able to attend classes at Genius, including our morning toddler preschool. We don’t have family around locally, but I have moral support from both parents and in-laws and I did use a loan (with interest!) from a family trust to fund the very first part of the start up costs. I have hired teachers, I have a web dude, I have a business coach and a therapist!
MomIncorporated: What challenges have you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?
Moorea: At some point within the first year, everything was a challenge. Finding the best employees and managing them in a way that is clear was a challenge. Panicking about money every mid-quarter and doubting my ability were challenges. Making the website work properly was a challenge, feeling burnt out at times, not having enough time in the day or the week are huge. Ultimately, I just keep reaching out for more help: I read business books, follow female business gurus, seek out business coaching, reach out to friends who have small businesses and try to learn from their mistakes, try to listen to my accountant, and even ask friends to do a bit of marketing!
Basically I try to see every mistake as a necessary growth opportunity. Then I read the Genius mission statement or watch our promotional videos and I cry remembering that it isn’t about me and I just take one day at a time.
Earlier this month we announced Mom, Incorporated authors, Aliza Sherman & Danielle Smith, joining the panel of judges for StartupNation’s fifth annual competition, “Leading Moms in Business,” sponsored by office supply superstore, Staples.
And the winners are…
The judging process has been completed and StartupNation has announced the winners of the 2013 competition:
1 – PJ Jonas of Goat Milk Stuff, which makes goat milk soap with the milk from their own dairy goats, a product that helps with dry and sensitive skin or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne or rosacea.
2 – Debra Baretta, Founder of Mama Baretta, an organic baking company specializing in food sensitivities.
3 – Sheri Atwood, CEO and Founder of Ittavi, an expense management and bill payment management system for child support.
Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to the contest sponsor, Staples, and to StartupNation for recognizing the achievements of mothers building and running successful businesses. For more information on the contest and winners, visit StartupNation’s Leading Moms in Business contest page.
Lindsay Joly didn’t set out to be a professional blogger. A talented writer who had a book published at the age of 17, Joly was no stranger to the written word. But now instead of fiction, she has taken to capturing the story of her life as a mom. Through You Are The Roots, Linsday Joly is blogging her way through first-time motherhood with photographs, personal anecdotes, product reviews, and giveaways.
Though she may not have intended to become an entrepreneur, Joly has found her hobby has now grown into a business that she can enjoy while caring for her now two-year-old son.
MomIncorporated: When you started your blog did you know right away that you were going to turn it into a profit-earning business?
Linsday: When I first started my blog, I did so as a means to document my first pregnancy in great detail, both for myself and for friends and family who lived out of state. It was a great place to keep the information overload from doctor’s appointments, weekly “belly growth” photographs and just my feelings in general to have to look back on and reflect. As my pregnancy continued, followed by my son’s birth and now his current toddlerhood, it sort of turned into something more. It wasn’t until my son was almost one that I decided to accept paid advertisements on my blog. Continue reading
Mom, Incorporated authors, Aliza Sherman & Danielle Smith, have joined the esteemed panel of judges for StartupNation’s fifth annual competition, “Leading Moms in Business,” sponsored by office supply superstore, Staples.
StartupNation is an online resource that provides information and support for small-business owners and entrepreneurs. Their contest celebrates the hard work and dedication of women who are taking care of their families and running a successful business. Danielle and Aliza literally wrote the book about juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship in their holistic guide.
“We are honored to be invited to participate on the panel of judges,” said Aliza. “Startup Nation is a stellar resource for business owners, and we love the fact that they are recognizing moms with companies, a powerful force in business today.”
Aliza and Danielle will be joined by four additional judges on the panel: Jeff Sloan and Rich Sloan, founders of StartupNation, veteran media executive, Carolyn Wall, and Kim Jarvis, President, C. Jarvis Insurance Agency.
This year’s competition received nearly 350 entries of mom-owned businesses from throughout the United States. The top 10 businesses as decided by a popular vote will be presented to the panel of judges to be scored on the following criteria: 1) Revenue growth 2) Innovation 3) Creativity 4) Future growth potential.
The prizes for the competition are:
• One first place winner will receive $10,000 from Staples
• The top three winners will receive a $1,000 Staples gift card towards their office improvement efforts, a complimentary workplace design consultation from Business Interiors by Staples, and a complimentary business growth consultation by StartupNation founders, Jeff and Rich Sloan.
The winners of the competition will be announced later this month. In the meantime, Aliza and Danielle share some of their wisdom and advice for mom business owners in an interview with StartupNation, The Art of Being a Successful Mom Business Owner.
Rebecca Batisto is the founder of Abask Marketing, a full-service marketing agency specializing in everything from social networking and website production to public relations and everything in between. She created the business from home while working a full-time job but as her “side” business grew she was able to leave that job to focus on running her own business full-time. And, just two weeks later she found out she was pregnant! She is now the proud mom to two children under three and is successfully running her business out of her home office in sunny South Florida.
She knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur and a mother but becoming both at the same time was more of a challenge than she had anticipated. Rebecca shares some of the lessons she learned through this experience and offers some guidance to help you along your journey. Continue reading
Minneapolis mom, Sonal Gerten, founded Tumblewalla, an Indian-inspired line of brightly colored organic cotton play wear for babies and toddlers, which she runs out of her home while caring for her now three-year-old son. Serious about play, she also created the Tumble & Tickle Movement, a philanthropical arm of the company that donates 5% from every item purchased to global nonprofit partners that make play happen for children around the world.
MomIncorporated: What inspired you to start Tumblewalla?
Sonal: When I was pregnant with my son, I, like most moms, wanted to find distinctive, colorful and cozy clothes for my baby but everything for boys was in brown and blacks or had skulls and cross-bones on it – not what I was looking for!
At the time, I was intrigued by this nugget of a business idea but it didn’t feel right in my gut yet. It wasn’t until after I gave birth when I found it incredibly difficult to just enjoy the moment, laugh and be playful with my son, that I realized I could stand for something bigger than just the clothes – I wanted to help families be more in the moment and celebrate the whimsy and joys of being a child. This led to the beginnings of Tumblewalla and our Tumble and Tickle Movement. I strongly believe every child has a RIGHT to play and enjoy their childhood no matter where they live or their economic situation and this belief is the vision that fuels my work each day.
A good conference can be inspiring, motivating, empowering, and a great learning experience for anyone, including entrepreneurs and small business owners. Sometimes that’s just what you need to get you from where you are now to where you want to be next. Conferences can be a great way for mom entrepreneurs to energize themselves and connect with others who have started or want to start their own businesses. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your conference experience. Continue reading
Are you a mom entrepreneur with advice to share or an expert on starting a business? Share your expertise, advice and tips with the Mom, Incorporated community by submitting a guest post for our blog.
The Mom, Incorporated community is made up of women who have or want to start and grow a business from home with a baby or small children in their midst. We are geared toward mom entrepreneurs and small business owners, or those considering starting their own business, who could benefit from personal stories and advice about home-based businesses and the work/life juggle. Continue reading