Juggling family and career themselves, these women created products and services to ease the stress in our everyday live.
Motherhood has been described as a juggling act but sometimes feels more like a three-ring circus. Here are five “mompreneurs” who have created products and services to ease the stress in our everyday lives.
THE MEALTIME MAGICIAN: MELISSA LANZ
Founder and CEO of The Fresh 20(thefresh20.com)
Location: Los Angeles
Company launched: 2010
Children: Alden, 8; Eliott, 7
Favorite part of the job: “The freedom to live life on my terms and the flexibility to enjoy my family. To me, those two things are what make being a mompreneur special.”
Three years ago, Lanz was the mom of two toddlers working nearly 70 hours a week. She rarely ate dinner with her kids, and her own evening meals consisted of frozen burritos and take-out meals. Fresh produce often languished, unused, in the crisper. One day, she had it; “I can do better,” she thought.
“I got tired of the waste in my refrigerator at the end of the week. I got tired of not having a plan, of coming home every single night and thinking ‘What’s for dinner?’” she says.
Mostly, though, Lanz wanted to strengthen what she calls her “family food culture.” Instead of the evening chaos, she wanted meals that centered on healthy habits, eaten together at the dinner table. She scoured the Internet for menu-planning services but couldn’t find one that provided recipes for healthy, unprocessed meals using a minimal amount of ingredients in efficient ways. So Lanz—who has a cooking background—started her own service. The Fresh 20 was born in April 2010.
Roughly 85,000 people now subscribe to The Fresh 20. They pay $49 a year to access weekly menus online, complete with a shopping list and recipes for five dinners. The five dinners are created from just 20 fresh ingredients (excluding pantry items like olive oil and spices) with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce. Most recipes are interrelated; leftover taco meat from Day One, for example, is used to fill enchiladas on Day Three. The method saves time and reduces waste.
Seventy percent of the company’s growth occurred during the last year, which Lanz attributes in large part to word-of-mouth recommendations from other mothers who use The Fresh 20. “When you’re a mom and you get the solution to something, don’t you just tell everybody?” she says.
THE POWER SAVER: AMANDA STEINBERG
Founder and CEO of DailyWorth (dailyworth.com)
Children: Dylan, 6; Maya, 4
Favorite part of the job: “I’m modeling for my kids what it means to live a life of no regrets.”
By age 30, Steinberg had made a mint as a computer programmer. The only problem? She hadn’t managed to save a dime of it.
She turned to traditional financial magazines for information but found them to be “really boring and inapplicable” to her life. And she knew there had to be other women in her shoes.
In 2009, Steinberg created a solution: a fun, female-focused financial e-newsletter and website called DailyWorth. And like a true multitasking mom, she launched DailyWorth the same week she gave birth to her daughter.
Modeled after the popular lifestyle platform DailyCandy, DailyWorth combines slick design with smart, engaging content that speaks just to women. The advertising-supported website has investment guides, self-guided virtual learning programs and advice for entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
It includes stories about women who have overcome financial obstacles and tips for families on saving money on vacations, clothing and more.
Steinberg was raised by a single mom who instilled in her the importance of being financially independent. Now a single mother herself, she wants to empower other women to take charge of their financial destinies and understand more than just the day-to-day budgeting.
“For many women, money is a source of deep anxiety,” Steinberg says. “What I want them to do is to take ownership of money and to stop saying, ‘I’m bad with money.’ I would love for women to say instead, ‘I’m learning how to become a money manager.’”
Steinberg’s money-wise tips
• Fix your budget for all purchases. Steinberg has one checking account to pay her monthly bills. She then puts $1,200 into a different checking account to pay for variable expenses such as groceries and shoes for the kids. She checks the account on her smartphone, so she always knows exactly how much she has left to spend.
• Expect the unexpected. In addition to an emergency fund, every woman should have a ‘curveball’ fund that should be used for unexpected expenses. Put $500 in a separate bank account dedicated to this purpose. Use the money to pay for things like dental bills or summer camp, and replenish it as soon as it gets wiped out.
• Track everything you buy, from a car payment to a cappuccino, for one week without judgment. Once you identify where your money is going, you can rein in unnecessary spending. Challenge yourself to take it one step further by not spending anything—not a single penny—for a whole day, or even a whole weekend.
THE CRAFTY CEO: JESSICA KIM
Founder and CEO of BabbaCo (babbaco.com)
Company launched: 2008
Children: Kayla, 6; Grant, 3; Brandon, 11 months
Favorite part of the job: “To help make me a better mom and to help other people feel like they can be better parents; that’s just amazing.”
We all want to spend more quality time with our kids, and Kim was no exception.
“There’s a lot of things you’re doing for your family. And then days would pass by and I’d think, ‘Wait, what did I do with them?,’” she says. Adding, “There are so many things you can buy for your kids, but what you do with them is what they’re going to remember.”
Like other moms, Kim was busy. Really busy. She had founded a company that made infant products, she had two kids, and a third was on the way. Wouldn’t it be great, she thought, if a box full of fun, creative activities for kids and parents to do together was delivered to her house each month?
She liked the idea so much she decided to launch a business around it. BabbaBox was born in September 2011.
Each BabbaBox (which starts at $6.99 a month) has a theme (recent ones were Kitchen Science and Backyard Birds) and includes hands-on, interactive art and science projects and a book. The activities are geared at developing children’s critical-thinking skills. They range from crafts that kids can do by themselves at the kitchen table while parents make dinner to projects the whole family can do together on leisurely weekend mornings. And they’re simple enough for any parent to figure out; you don’t have to be especially crafty or have an engineering degree.
“That’s really why I started BabbaBox,” she says, “to facilitate that special time you spend with your kids.”
THE FOODIE ACTIVIST: SHAZI VISRAM
Founder and CEO (and “Chief Mom”) of Happy Family (happyfamilybrands.com)
Location: New York City
Company launched: 2006
Children: Zane, 3
Favorite part of the job: “Being able to put my heart and soul at home and at work into doing something that I absolutely believe in to help the children of the world and their parents.”
In 2003, Visram was alarmed by what she calls the “health crisis” facing American children: increasing rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, food allergies, ADHD and autism. A common denominator in all of this was food, and baby food seemed like a good place to start correcting it.
Visram learned that the baby-food industry hadn’t innovated much since the 1930s. She set out to start a company that made nutritious, convenient, affordable and organic products. Three years later, on Mother’s Day 2006, Visram launched Happy Family “as a gift to moms,” she says.
The product line started with frozen baby food and has grown to include food and snacks for children of all ages, including popular, portable pouches filled with pureed produce in flavor combinations such as kale, apple and mango.
The snacks are tasty, organic and have fun packaging, but they’re far from a fad. From the start, Visram explains, Happy Family has been focused on nutrition, sustainability and social consciousness, above all else. This past Mother’s Day, the company announced its acquisition by the French food corporation Groupe Danone. Visram will still run Happy Family and says the partnership will amp up her company’s research and development capabilities. She calls this her “second gift” to mothers.
“It’s a very rewarding position to be in to have envisioned creating this revolution in baby food as a way to change the world and as a way to change how children are fed in this country, and 10 years later, start to see it becoming a reality,” she says.
Visram’s healthy eating advice
• Read nutrition labels. Avoid foods with added sugars (not to be confused with naturally occurring sugars from fruits), salt and artificial ingredients.
• Whenever you can, go organic. If organic doesn’t work for your budget, avoid the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and buy produce off of the Clean Fifteen list.
• Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times. This will squash the urge to buy junk food out of convenience or desperation.
THE CAREGIVER: SHEILA LIRIO MARCELO
Founder and CEO of Care.com
Location: Waltham, Mass.
Company launched: 2007
Children: Ryan, 21; Adam, 13
Favorite part of the job: “Being a mom has helped me grow to be a more effective leader, and being a CEO has allowed me not to sweat the small stuff and be a better mom. I love that we are raising two boys who value having strong women in their lives.”
As the daughter of entrepreneurs in the Philippines, Marcelo always knew she wanted to build her own business. As it turns out, her parents inspired her in more ways than one.
Marcelo and her husband became first-time parents while they were in college in the U.S. They had no family nearby to help, and they struggled to find care for their son while they finished school.
A few years later, Marcelo’s parents came from the Philippines to help her as she juggled a full-time job and now two sons. Soon after, her father suffered a heart attack. “I became a young mother of the sandwich generation, looking for care for my children, my father and my mother,” she says.
Pairing her technology experience and know-how with her own family’s needs, Marcelo established Care.com. The subscription-based website helps families find qualified caregivers for their children, aging relatives, even pets and homes. “At some point,” she says, “every person needs help with care.”
Marcelo’s goals for the company are ambitious and rooted in her own family’s struggle. She wants Care.com to enable women to return to or stay in the workforce by offering them peace of mind that their loved ones are being well cared for. Likewise, she wants Care.com to be a one-stop shop to find caregivers for all stages of life and to fit all families’ unique needs.
Referring to that other behemoth Internet marketplace, Marcelo says, “We aim to be the Amazon of care.”
BE A MOMPRENEUR
Following your passion may be easier than you think. If a career change or the launch of a business is in your future, consider this fab advice from our mompreneurs.
• Just do it. If you want to start your own business or make a career change, take Nike’s sage advice, says Sheila Lirio Marcelo. “It will be scary and exhilarating and at times not at all what you expected, but if you’re following your passion, it will also be one of the greatest things you ever do,” she says.
• Talk about it. Have an honest conversation with your spouse or partner about what this will mean for your family. “Remember, nobody does it alone,” says Marcelo.
• Take the first step. A lack of sewing skills didn’t stop Jessica Kim from making a prototype for an infant car-seat cover. She watched sewing how-to videos on YouTube and used staples and duct tape to complete the parts she couldn’t sew. “Do that first step to see if your idea even has legs,” she says. “When you do that, that always triggers three more steps.”
• Go from zoning out to zoning in. Locate times in your day when you’re wasting time, says Melissa Lanz. “I could spend two hours watching Dexter or Game of Thrones, or I could spend two hours doing something that tomorrow will put me further along in my dream.”
• Redefine “balance.” Kim knows she will not achieve a perfect balance of work and home every day. Instead, she evaluates several days at a time. “Sometimes I’ll have a lot of meetings and things I need to get done, so the focus will be more on work. But once I get past that, I’ll say, ‘Now let me shift it a little bit,’” she says.
• Adjust your schedule. Kim owns her own company, so she has the flexibility to set her own hours. She wakes up between 4:30 and 5 each morning, gets in the office before her staff and then leaves work by 3 p.m. The lack of interruptions in the quiet office has actually allowed her to become more productive.
• Know you got this. “We women are very powerful,” says Shazi Visram. “The most creative thing you can do is have a baby. The second, in my opinion, is start a business. If you’ve already done No. 1, the second is within the realm of possibility.”
Courtesy of USA Today