Each month we offer a dedicated e-mail featuring our favorite mom-owned businesses. This is a sponsored {meaning they paid for inclusion} e-mail and it goes out to everyone that receives our monthly newsletter. As an added bonus, we are featuring these great mom entrepreneurs on our blog today! Please check them out and see what they have to offer!

 

Babykakesink! – Home to the original “Alphabet Onesie & Tee” Even the tiniest babe can be the most stylish. These fun  and whimsical Onesie’s OR Tees are the perfect solution for that unique or extra special gift.

 

 

Growth Chart Art – Growth charts are a great way for families to create memories and Growth Chart Art brings you artistic designs the whole family can enjoy. Stylish designs include: a tree with black bears, red sunflowers, antique ski, baseball bat, American Flag and more!

 

**This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jessica, winner of the $50 gift certificate!**

When we redesigned Market Mommy over the summer we expanded and added services. Two of the major things we added were the free business directory and free forum. Many of you have taken advantage of the directory, but fewer have used the forum.

We want you to be interactive! The Market Mommy forum is set up so you can interact with other business owners, promote your specials, create partnerships, share ideas, etc.

So, to encourage you to utilize the forum we are running a special during October. You could win a $50 gift certificate from Market Mommy. Here’s how you enter: For every time you reply to a post on the forum you receive one entry. Every time you start a new thread you earn two entries. Simple enough.

Head on over and start communicating! I’ll be tracking posts and replies until 11:59 p.m. EST on Oct. 31. Good luck!

We are quickly approaching the most critical part of the year for your product-based business; the holiday season! Typically, this time of year can make or break a company’s bottom line for the year. So, how can you take advantage of the hundreds of holiday gift guides that will be floating around in the months to come?

If you subscribe to HARO, you already know queries for holiday gift ideas have been swarming for weeks, maybe even longer. Some publications are already finished putting their guides together, but many are still working on them. Of course, you can hire a public relations firm to help you do the pitching. Or, you can attempt to save a good bit of money and do it yourself.

Here are some tips that will increase your chances of being included: 

  1. Timing is everything! If you see a HARO query, you know they are still looking. Otherwise, it’s wise to pitch early. Many magazines work sixth months in advance of printing, newspapers work on average 2 months in advance and TV, Radio and bloggers generally work a month or so ahead.
  2. Pay attention. Make sure you aren’t pitching your baby apparel to a technology gift guide. There are gift guides for nearly every segment of the market and many that contain various categories. Be sure you pitch something appropriate or you will just end up looking silly.
  3. Dust off your press kit. Now is a perfect time to put that press kit to good use. {We recently talked about how to put one together.} This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your company, your products and what you have to offer. For holiday gift guides, editors will be especially interested in your high resolution images!
  4. Make yourself stand out! If you have a celebrity endorsement, or media sighting of them in/with your product, use that in your pitch. If you are donating a portion of holiday sales to charity, mention that! If your products have been picked up by a chain of retail stores, tell them.
  5. Don’t forget to follow up. A friendly e-mail reminding them of what you sent could make a big difference. As always, there are no guarantees, but if you present yourself as professional and easy to work with you can’t hurt your chances.

Good luck! I want to hear about the holiday gift guides that you’ve scored placement in!

Holiday Gift Guide pitching is time consuming and can prove difficult. That is why Market Mommy has created our own guide. You can feature your business for as low as $25 and get lots of exposure. Visit our Holiday Gift Guide page for all of the details. Hurry, early bird pricing ends Oct. 1!

Andrea Summers is also known as Momma In Flip Flops2. She’s a mommy blogger and reviewer who started her blog in the fall of 2008.

Momma in Flip Flops2 writes reviews and giveaways for those with family friendly products. “I also do paid advertising and love to connect and help get the word out there of what’s available,” she said.

Andrea said that she finds balance by always putting her family first. “My vocation is to be a wife and mother and if my family needs me, I need to be there for them,” she said. “If I need to stay up and get things done at night I do. Just doing a little bit here and there and staying on top of things keep things running smoothly.”

When asked what advice she has for other mom entrepreneurs, she said go for it! At first, she said, she wasn’t sure about starting to do reviews. “With much prayer I decided I’d give it a try. If it’s not working out then you know it’s not supposed to be, but take your time, do what you can and follow your dreams!”

In addition to the Momma In Flip Flops2 Blog, Andrea can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

When Jennifer Gault-Varner’s husband was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, she began living each day to its fullest. Describing this time in her life, and that of her family’s, as one of the hardest she’s ever been through, it was also these circumstances that motivated her to pursue her dream of launching an online maternity store. She worked late in the evenings from her kitchen table, and suddenly her business took off. The experience and success she gained through operating her web-based business led her to realize that she could help other women to do the same.

Today, not only is her husband cancer-free, but Jennifer has built a thriving company that specializes in helping first-time entrepreneurs create successful online companies using Pure eCommerce’s “businesses in a box” solutions. The experts at Pure eCommerce have already concepted the business idea, secured the domain name, created the website and logos, and researched and secured all inventory. In addition, each business comes with 40 hours of one-on-one consulting services, so burgeoning entrepreneurs can be sure they have guidance as they launch and grow their new company.

If one of the current sites that they have for sale doesn’t interest you they also offer custom turnkey packages. This is where you come to them with your own idea or concept and they will build a business  for you based on your idea or concept. You simply choose the services.

Starting an online business can be overwhelming. The goal of Pure-Ecommerce is to simplify the process while teaching you how to create, run and then grow your business.

Market Mommy::  How did you become a MomPreneur?

Jennifer::  My husband was diagnosed with cancer three weeks after returning from our honeymoon. He was given very low odds of surviving and we were told we would never have children. Despite what the doctors told us, we became pregnant three weeks after his surgery. While pregnant, I was so overwhelmed with the joy of being pregnant that my idea of starting an online maternity clothing store was born. Jeff’s cancer was one of the hardest experiences we have been through, but it has also been the most rewarding. So many blessings came out of our experience with cancer. People don’t go out on a limb when everything is going well. It usually takes something drastic to make us really evaluate our life and go after our dreams.

Market Mommy:: Your first  online store was a maternity clothing store.  What components of your business plan made it such a profitable business?

Jennifer:: We had very good margins on our inventory and a great selection within a defined target market. We really understood our customers and what they looked for in clothing. I ran the company for 3 years. I eventually moved it from my home and into a studio. Suddenly it was no longer a work from home opportunity but a large company so I decided I needed to sell the company.

Market Mommy:: Was it hard to sell the business.? Were you attached to it emotionally?

Jennifer:: No, I was thankful it sold and despite the mistakes I made, it was a tremendous learning opportunity. What I learned through my mistakes set the stage for becoming an ecommerce consultant and the creation of my new company, http://www.pure-ecommerce.com/.

Market Mommy:: What made you decide to start Pure-Ecommerce.com?

Jennifer:: After I sold my first company, I started out consulting with others interested in improving their online business. I also started a pajama website. After running the pajama site for two weeks, I knew I wanted to sell it – my heart was no longer in online retail. I sold the site and included 40 hours of consultation as the owner had never run a business before. She found the consulting tremendously helpful, and my idea was born.

For most people, the barrier of entry into the online world is easy but the actual ins and outs of running an online business are difficult. I was seeing others make the same mistakes I made. To prevent them from financial disaster, I designed a step by step consulting process that goes over every aspect of setting up, running, and then growing their business. We do this through weekly phone consultations and email support.

Market Mommy:: I love the fact that your sites come with 40 hours of consultation.  Do you think this is a big part of why your website business is so successful, because women can get the direct training they need from an entrepreneur to move forward with their online business?

Jennifer:: Yes, the consultation piece is critical. Not only is the client getting a complete, ready to go business but they have someone personally mentoring them through the process. Suddenly their dream of owning their own business is not so scary and overwhelming. It provides a safety net – knowing they will have someone holding their hand and teach them each important point of running an ecommerce business. Also, instead of just handing them 40 hours that most people wouldn’t know what to do with, we actually have this step by step process for them to follow that touches on every area of running a successful, profitable ecommerce business.

Market Mommy:: Do you think the current state of our economy affects the ability to create a successful online business.

Jennifer:: I think it is a perfect time to start an online business. Starting a business at the PEAK of the economy is not smart move. Competition has been going out of business and advertising costs are going down. Also, many brick and mortar boutiques are closing, forcing more and more shoppers to turn to online to find what they need. All of these facts make it the perfect time to start an online business. You have nowhere to go but up!

A good example is http://www.nursingpjs.com/, which we developed to sell products needed by lactating moms, such as nursing bras, nursing pajamas and nursing pillows. Melinda Felton bought the site last December and says sales are strong because she provides these specialty items that news moms need, but are getting harder to find as more and more traditional stores go out of business. The advantage with our online businesses is that you don’t need to carry inventory, as most items are drop-shipped directly from the manufacturer. It’s a modest upfront investment that can pay off in big ways.   

Market Mommy:: You have so many great ecommerce businesses for sale on your site; how does one go about choosing the perfect business to start?

Jennifer:: There is no easy answer to that question. I always suggest analyzing your lifestyle. Choose an industry that will fit your time constraints. Also, try to choose an area you will have a personal connection to which will help you drive that business harder. When I started my maternity site I had a degree in teaching not business but I was passionate about maternity clothes. That passion helped my business grow to one of the largest online maternity clothing companies.

Market Mommy:: Why do you think an online business is perfect for a woman trying to balance a family and being an entrepreneur?

Jennifer:: Owning an online business allows you to work from home on your own time. You can even bring your computer on vacation and not miss a beat. An ecommerce business allows you to work the best of both worlds – being a mom and a business owner. It really is a dream come true, but also a truly obtainable goal. In addition, learning how to run an ecommerce business is a tremendous boost to both your resume and your self-esteem.

For more information about Pure eCommerce and their “businesses in a box” and consulting services, visit http://www.pureecommerce.com.

 

This giveaway is now closed! Thanks for entering! Congratulations to Stacy R – the winner of the gift certificate, chosen by Random.org.

I was recently contacted by Martha at N-fini to see if I would do a product review and giveaway for their products and I agreed. I have to say that I’m very happy that I did. I was given the choice of any product and I chose the Cami Strapless shaper with built-in bra & underwire {pictured at right, but I chose nude instead of black}.

I have several tops and dresses that are either strapless, off the shoulder or have a wide neck. I’ve tried several strapless bras over the years and never have found one that was really supportive. I honestly don’t think I have to look any more.

Not only did this cami provide great support, it also was a shaper and kept me ‘pulled together’ nicely. I was very pleased. I wore it most of the day and was not uncomfortable at all. It never needed adjusted and fit perfectly.

I’m looking forward to wearing it to a couple of formal events this fall. In the past, I’ve always felt like I was tugging and adjusting my strapless bra. But, I don’t have to do that anymore!

Get it: N-fini has generously created a coupon code for Market Mommy readers! Enjoy 20% off of your order with code Marketmommy20. {Only valid one time and not good with any other coupon offer, expires Oct. 23.}

Win it: N-fini will be giving away a $50 gift certificate to one lucky Market Mommy reader! To enter, simply visit their website and sign up for their mailing list and/or visit their Facebook page and ‘like’ it. Please leave a comment here for each entry and be sure to include your contact information! Good luck! Entries will close at 11:59 p.m. EST on Oct. 23.

Thinking about a vacation aboard the Disney Cruise Line?  I did a 3 Night Bahamian sailing back in the spring of 2010 and was with two of my agents.  There were some experiences I really loved and I am going to briefly touch on those here and then add in a few tips that helped me when I sailed. 

The Disney Cruise Line has two ships the Wonder and the Magic and soon the Dream will be joining the Fleet.  The Dream looks absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to get a chance to sail on it.  Planning a vacation on the Disney Cruise Line can be overwhelming if you have never sailed before.  We spent A LOT of time in The Vista Spa and in the adult only areas on board and it was pretty awesome.  I found it relaxing and quiet.  I have two children so I do not get a lot of quiet.  There are areas for everyone on these ships so don’t worry about keeping busy if that is what you want.  There are kids clubs, spas, dining, sports bars, pools, shows, movie theatres and more. Yes there is still more! 

Picking your stateroom is important depending on how much time you plan on spending in it.  Disney offers a variety of options and there are even suites with concierge services as well.  We had a private balcony on our sailing and I loved it.  It was nice to wake up and go out there and just look at the ocean but also to see the ship docking in port was pretty cool. During your sailing they have a deck party and there is a fireworks show at the end of it.  We saw the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party and it was so much fun! 

There was music, dancing, and the characters!  If you are worried about your kids not seeing characters; don’t.  They have a schedule and you can view and add it to your plan.  Every time I walked by the lobby it seemed there were several there greeting and spending time with children and families.  

I have to admit my favorite part of the cruise was not even on the ship, it was on Castaway Cay!  What is Castaway Cay?  It is Disney’s private island and it is fun and fabulous!  We had the best time at the adult only beach.   The food was excellent, the service wonderful, and once again it was quiet and relaxing.  We took so many pictures of our time there and you can see them here.  The Island has an area for families as well so I find it best to get up have some breakfast and get off the ship as soon as possible so that you can get a good spot on the beach.  Disney Cruise Line does something no one else does and that is fireworks. 

Here are a few tips I love to share with families:

  1. Bring a pillowcase and permanent marker.  Drop them off at guest services and at the end of the sailing you get it back all autographed by your favorite characters and its free.
  2. Pack sunscreen it’s expensive on board and at the ports and depending on when you go you will need it.  Also if you are like me and BURN then bring a HUGE beach hat.  I did and it really helped me on the island.
  3. I used my IPAD to read emails and keep in touch with my family.  I had no issues for the most part and this way I could email them updates and use the CHAT feature to chat with my husband. 
  4. Order some drinks and snacks from Room Service and place them in the fridge so you will have them for later.  I loved doing this so you do not have to go up to the drink station for drink late at night.
  5. Pack a highlighter for the Navigators.  I pack several and assign a color to each person in the family and then highlight what is important to them.  This way I do not forget about things that people really want to see.

If you have any questions about a Disney Cruise Line sailing please contact us by e-mail, or visit us at Travel with the Magic. We offer FREE Disney Vacation Planning services and free on board credits with each Disney Cruise Line booking!  So choose us and let’s add some MAGIC to your vacation!

This guest blog post was provided by Market Mommy partner, Kelly Russo. She is a vacation planner and travel agent with Travel with the Magic.

Leigh Woods is the creator of Mumoocie, the first and only original body pillow curved so it can be snuggled close to the body, regardless of shape or size.

Woods started her business in 2007. Unlike other body pillows, Mumoocie retains heat and scent to create the feeling of co-sleeping. It also includes a mini voice recorder that provides an additional feeling of emotional security.

According to Woods, the pillow was invented and patented for children afraid to sleep alone and want a parent to sleep with them. She said that this is common in children ages 3 – 10.

Oftentimes, women struggle balancing their family with their business. That balance is the very reason why she is a business owner. “It’s very easy to balance,” she said. “As a business owner you have the ability to create your own hours and it is not like work when you position yourself with people who share the same interests and goals.”

Woods encourages research when starting and running your own business. “Look for companies such as Market Mommy that give you the opportunity to showcase your company and your products at no cost,” she said. “Develop a business plan in the beginning and determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Never give up.”

Mumoocie can be found online as well as on Twitter!

Do you have a press kit? Do you sell a product or service? If you have a business, big or small, but don’t currently have a press kit, you should seriously consider creating one! No matter its format, it’s one of the most important pieces of your marketing plan. I advise my clients to create one and work to keep it up to date.

Basically your press kit {also called media kit} should be a vehicle to share more information about your company with the media, potential customers or investors. It should be attractive, attention grabbing, and interesting enough to make them want to contact you for additional information.

There are many formats that you can use. There are services that allow you to create an online, web based kit, or you can put everything on a DVD or you can create the tried and true hard copy. Regardless, there are some crucial elements you should always include.

Background Info:: Write a letter introducing your company, yourself and the history of your business. Be thorough but interesting. List out what you’ve included in your kit and tell them why it’s of interest to them.

Product Info:: If you have a catalog, include it. If you have a brochure, include it. Include details about the products and/or services that you have to offer. The more attractive your product info is, the better.

Press Releases:: Include recent news about your company. Be sure to include any press releases that you’ve distributed related to new products or advances at your company. News articles or instances where your release was picked up and published in the media are also great.

Images:: You should always include high resolution images of your products and logo. Media are more likely to use your pitch if it comes with strong visual images. Your changes of attention-grabbing are much better if you can show off your products with high quality, professional artwork.

Miscellaneous:: There are many other things that you may want to include, if you have them available. Order forms, recent press coverage, frequently asked questions, testimonials, samples and upcoming events are always good to include.

Creative Packaging:: Now that you’ve gathered all of your press kit items, it’s time to package them. You are trying to stand out among the hundreds of other press kits arriving on media professionals’ desks daily. So, how do you do it? Think outside the box. Forgo that plain folder for a personalized graphic one. Or, incorporate your sample into the packaging. Sell coffee? Send everything packaged neatly in an oversized mug. Send information about your hair bow business in a package wrapped with one of your handmade creations. The possibilities are limitless, don’t overlook the importance of the first impression your packaging will make!

 

Jenny Finke is a PR and marketing specialist and owner of Red Jeweled Media, a full service PR agency for small businesses. We are thrilled to announce that she just launched a fabulous new company called HandleYourOwnPR.com. For anyone who is looking for a little DIY PR inspiration and tools, this IS the place to go. She has media lists available for immediate download. She also offers a free eBook, “How to Make the Most of your Media Lists” just for registering for her website!

We asked Jenny to provide 5 DIY PR tips for our Market Mommy readers – here’s what she had to say:

Tip #1::  Know the reporter::  Never pitch yourself or your company to a reporter unless you’ve done your research first. Google them, read their previous articles and generally get to know them before asking them to write about you.

Tip #2::  Personalize your pitches::  Write pitches that speak to the topics the reporter writes about. Stay on topic and never waste a reporter’s time with a pitch that is completely out in left field.

Tip #3::  Treat bloggers like reporters::  Bloggers can be a powerful way to get PR for your business. You must treat bloggers the same as reporters – after all, they can be just as influential as journalists.

Tip #4::  Get a great PR toolkit::  Your toolkit should include a power-packed media list, a rock-star pitch letter, and a full-on press kit complete with a fact sheet about your company/product, photos and other pertinent information about you/your company.

Tip #5::  Stay the course::  PR takes time and is something you earn. Stay focused and in the game – and I promise there is enough PR for everyone if you play your cards right!

Finke has also generously offered a discount to Market Mommy readers! Use code Mommy20 for 20% off your entire purchase through Oct 15!

P.S. See that super-cute button? Market Mommy designed it!