South Jersey mompreneurs take the helm and find success in business and parenting alike.
It sounds like something you only hear about in a late-night infomercial: A mom at home with her children is suddenly struck with an idea for a great new product, a “why didn’t I think of that” invention that becomes an overnight success.
While the truth is it’s not as simple as it may seem, some area moms are taking their ideas to the bank, developing products and businesses that are making money and getting rave reviews. The trick is balancing business demands with the full-time job of being a mom—or, in this case, a “mompreneur.”
Smelling an opportunity
Jill Levin always wanted to invent something. Thanks to a stinky car full of boys, she did. “They opened their bags after soccer, and the smell that took over the car was overwhelming,” said Levin, of Voorhees Township. “We were laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. I was like, ‘We have to invent something for this.’”
“Right there, we started putting the business plan together,” Levin said.
The plan was a simple one: to create something that could eliminate odors and absorb moisture, and do it well. Levin and her business partner, Annemarie McCartney, also of Voorhees, decided to create a sachet filled with a special powder that would draw out moisture and deodorize.
Those sachets, Skunkies, were soon being sold in area soccer stores in three different scents: baby powder, xtreme sport and candy. After lots of promotion, networking and traveling to a major soccer tournament in New York City, Levin and McCartney caught the attention of a major retailer. Today, Skunkies are available in several major stores, including Kids Foot Locker.
The friends initially invested just under $500 to get their business off the ground, working with a friend who knew how to sew and creating letterhead and a logo at a local Kinkos copy store.
Now, the moms, who have seven children between them, work hard to juggle their growing business and family life. Levin said she has learned how to be the ultimate multi-tasker. “We do so much, that the business is just one more addition to our lives,” Levin said.
Balancing work and babies
Dr. Kathleen Baumgardner didn’t want to be away from her two young children while she was trying to grow her chiropractic practice – so she brought the babies to the office. “We were in the middle of expanding my practice into a full-service wellness center...my team went from 7 to 20, not including the babies,” Dr. Baumgardner said. “So we decided the only way I was going to be able to keep my staff and myself happy while we were working moms was to build a nursery into the office.”
So she hired a nanny and set up a small employee daycare in her office, Health Goals Chiropractic & Center for Life Enhancement, located in Mount Laurel. “The moms could go in on their breaks to help feed or just for hugs and kisses,” Dr. Baumgardner said. “The benefits of having a happy staff and my babies close by made the stress of being a working mom a little easier.”
Today, the daycare is not needed, and Dr. Baumgardner has a nanny at home to watch her children a few days a week. “When I am home, I completely trust my associate doctor and staff to take care of the office so that I am 100 percent present for the children and my husband,” she says.
“The number one thing I have learned from balancing family, children, home and work is adaptability. The house may not be as clean as it should, my children may not be in a different organized activity every night, but when we are together we have incredible amounts of fun, read tons of books, have great tea parties and ride scooters up and down the street.”
Signs of an entrepreneur
Growing up with a best friend who was deaf, Jennifer Magee learned sign language at an early age. When Magee, of Mullica Hill, became a mother, she taught sign language to her daughters at just 3 months old. She was inspired.
“I was having such positive results teaching and communicating with them at an early age that I wanted to share my knowledge of sign language with other parents and teachers in a fun and exciting way,” Magee said. “So I decided to produce a DVD based on communication and self-expression, introducing basic sign language to young children.”
“My husband and I had no experience in video production,” Magee said. “We realized nothing is impossible, did some research, asked several questions and learned by doing. Passion plus commitment equals success.”
As a mom and an entrepreneur, Magee said finding balance in her daily life is her biggest challenge. “My daughters are 7, 4 and 2 years old,” Magee said. “I constantly remind myself that they will not be young for long and to be patient with my expectations for my business.”
For more information on the businesses of the women profiled here, visit their websites: skunkies.net, healthgoals.com and expressyourselfbaby.com.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family, Volume 1, Issue 3 (May, 2010).
For more info on Suburban Family, click here.
For information about advertising in Suburban Family, click here.
To find out where to pick up your copy of Suburban Family, click here.