Market Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Victoria:: My father founded All in the Cards 20 years ago, and I joined him in the business more 10 years ago. He is now semi-retired and I run the family business. My sister and brother have also joined me in doing so.

Market Mommy::  How long did it take before you felt successful?

Victoria:: Hmmmmmm! I will let you know! Still working on that one!

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Victoria:: To be able to balance business with family and personal life – being happy in both- simultaneously.

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Victoria:: It’s challenging. There is always the pull…being organized. Being organized with time, everything is on a schedule….my calendar and my lists! Any extra time I have is with my family and my children. Knowing in business there is always tomorrow, but if you miss a ballet recital – there isn’t!

Market Mommy:: When did you break the six-figure threshold?

Victoria:: Before I worked for my family business, when I was an assistant to a president at a major dept store in NYC.

Market Mommy:: What business strategies contributed to your success?

Victoria:: Building a strong team. I am blessed to work with a very dedicated and talented team. You are as good as the people who surround you!

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you? 

Victoria:: Word of mouth….bringing great product at a great value, keeps our customers coming back, and sharing AIC with their family and friends….sending our cards to them for special occasions and birthdays!

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Victoria:: Love what you do. Be passionate about it! Work hard and love what you do. It’s the key to my success!

 

This post is part of a new series on Market Mommy, Achieving $uccess. These posts detail the journey these mom entrepreneurs have taken to reach sales of six figures and beyond. How do they balance it all? What strategies have worked for them? What advice do they have for you, the new mom entrepreneur? Follow our blog for many more Achieving $uccess stories in the near future.

 

Shopping online today? I am! Here are a couple great deals from our 12 Days of Christmas Sponsors! Wishing everyone a happy and profitable Christmas season!

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Pam Grimes and Melinda Tomasello are the co-founders and moms behind Persona Designs, Inc. Although they’ve been working on product development since 2008, they officially launched online this April.  

At Persona Designs, Inc., we are driven by the desire to bring innovative and creative products to the marketplace,” said Grimes. The two spent 10 years as co-owners with the corporate gift design studio Originality, Inc., before feeling the need to branch out into the consumer market by filling a niche in the gift industry. “Our first product launch is the Persona Gift Pail, a never-before-seen kit that’s fun and easy to do. It not only makes a unique personalized gift container, but also a creative centerpiece and a fun parent/child holiday activity,” she said.

The Persona Gift Pail comes in seven different hair colors and two junior pails – that’s 63 pre-designed characters. Or, you can mix and match the stickers to create your own Persona. For the 2010 holiday season, they will be offering a free sticker sheet with every on-line pail purchase to create one of eight different holiday characters such as North Pole Nick, Mistletoe Molly and Snowlady Sadie.

Even though Grimes and Tomasello live in two different states, they are fortunate to maintain two home office studios and are able to work together. “This provides flexibility in our scheduling, but you might also find us working until midnight!” Grimes said. “Mom entrepreneurs must strive to achieve balance, but remember that family comes first. One way to accomplish this is to get the family involved…ask their opinions and let them help with age appropriate tasks. All of our kids have helped with the business(s) over the past 10+ years, from filing to helping with our launch party to assembling products,” she added.

The friends and co-entrepreneurs had several words of encouragement and advice for fellow mom entrepreneurs. Above all, they said don’t give up and be patient. “Success doesn’t happen overnight; it requires hard work and determination. Be ready for what we call the “zigs and the zags.” Mike Michalowicz, author of Toilet Paper Entrepreneur equates entrepreneurship with sailing a boat. You start out in a certain direction, but you might encounter shifting winds, sandbars and other obstacles. Owning a business comes with a lot of those zigs and zags – you just need to recognize them, be flexible and make the necessary changes,” Grimes said. They also encouraged moms to take advantage of all the resources available from online webinars to local non-profit organizations. “Never stop learning,” she said.

She concluded with this advice; “As mom entrepreneurs, it’s so easy to become obsessed with our business goals.  Schedule “me” time. During your time off, find other hobbies and read books that don’t pertain to the business. Keep in mind, sometimes great ideas and inspiration come when you are enjoying your life!”

In addition to their online store, Persona Designs, Inc. can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Market Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Sandra:: I yearned to avoid the throw-away plastic baggies, the plastic Tupperware food containers and the plastic/vinyl lunchboxes sold at the big-box retailers that are so ubiquitous. But as I searched high and low in sporting goods stores, big-box retailers and online, I was unable to put together a lunch kit that met my needs. I wondered, “What is the best way to pack a lunch?” That was when, about five years ago, I resolved to develop a lunch kit for kids ages 3 to 103… Something healthy for people and the planet.

What I’ve come up with is a back-to-the-basics solution. The kit starts with a 100 percent cotton, machine washable bag with matching cloth napkins. Inside the bag, which can be converted from shoulder bag, to sling bag to backpack, are reusable bamboo utensils, and a two-level stainless steel ECOlunchbox sized to fit a sandwich. What have I left out? Plastics. Disposables. Vinyl. PVC. Lead. And, of course, the lunch. That part is up to you!

Market Mommy:: How long did it take before you felt successful?

Sandra:: I felt successful when I completed the final design of our ECOlunchbag + 3 napkins and realized that the backpack-style bag designed to fit our napkins and stainless steel lunchboxes would be a unique addition to sustainable lunchware offerings internationally. I was happy with my idea. And I felt successful even though I hadn’t sold even one item yet! Positive thinking is so important for entrepreneurs when starting a new venture. Always believe! And it’s never too early to celebrate successes.

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Sandra:: The definition of success is constantly changing. I felt successful to some extent when I sold the first 100 handmade cotton ECOlunchbags + 3 Napkins and the first 100 stainless steel ECOlunchboxes. Celebrating successes, no matter how small, is crucial to firing the engine for great successes. No success is too small to celebrate. But it took about 18 months before the business was operating in the black and that felt like an important a marker of success. Now I seek to achieve more success in increasing our distribution nationwide and internationally. We have distributors in Canada and Australia, but I’d like to find an eco products distributor in Europe to help us reach those markets, as well. That would be success, too!

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Sandra:: I’ve worked from home in various capacities over the last 10 years and it was natural I would do the same with ECOlunchboxes. I am a working mother and balance my business and home responsibilities. I like to be present in the children’s lives and available to volunteer at their school. This spreads me thin, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My staff and my husband are a big part of making this juggling act a success. Yes, I do need childcare help, but because I’m my own boss I set my own daily schedule as well as vacation schedules so I can spend time with my family. And just as importantly, I can change my company headquarters and run my business remotely from a vacation home during school vacations or wherever since I have set up ECOlunchboxes to function effectively using cloud computing services and remote network access.

Market Mommy::  When did you break the six-figure threshold? 

Sandra:: 2010 has been an amazing year! There’s an appetite out there for sustainable products and ECOlunchboxes has benefited from this growing consumer awareness as well as an overarching desire among so many families to make an environmental difference by greening their lifestyles. I only see this trend growing in the years ahead, but ECOlunchboxes also has to be prepared for increased competition as this consumer products category continues to grow and attract more interest.

Market Mommy::  What business strategies contributed to your success?

Sandra:: I’ve kept our overhead as low as possible for as long as possible so we can re-invest the savings in the growth of ECOlunchboxes. This is one of the reasons I’ve chosen to keep ECOlunchboxes a virtual company and use cloud computing services and outsource fulfillment services. I’m not seeking to grow a big organization. I’d like to keep our company light on its feet and as scalable as possible, especially since our product is seasonal and we have big spikes in demand in during back-to-school lunchbox season.

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you?

Sandra:: Public relations. Tell your story authentically. And if you’re not sure what your story is find out by sitting down with a friend or two and ask them to listen to you tell your story. Make a recording of what you say and listen to it later. You have a story… find it and tell it.

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Sandra:: Dream. Believe. Then, get Real: do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and listen to what the data shows. Once you begin, you will find strength to persist as you “dream,” “believe” and reflect on your “SWOT” analysis.

ECOlunchboxes can be found online in several locations. In addition to their website, they also are on Twitter and Facebook. Read about Ecolunchboxes in the news and why you should green your lunch!

 

  

This post is part of a new series on Market Mommy, Achieving $uccess. These posts detail the journey these mom entrepreneurs have taken to reach sales of six figures and beyond. How do they balance it all? What strategies have worked for them? What advice do they have for you, the new mom entrepreneur? Follow our blog for many more Achieving $uccess stories in the near future.

 

When I was in NYC for the Super Mom Entreprenur Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting the ladies from Moms and The City. I sat in their session and listened to some great advice on pitching, since they all three have a fabulous background in journalism. And, guess what?! They are always looking for great pitches from mom business owners like you!

Here’s a little more about Moms and The City::

Moms and the City is all about the real, honest and sometimes controversial opinions of three very bold  moms.  Comprised of three award-winning journalists — Denise Albert, Melissa Gerstein and Raina Seitel Gittlin — the women cover parenting issues from the trenches as they trek through the joys and dysfunction, the exhaustion and exhilaration that motherhood brings.

Moms and the City is a multi-platform brand with exposure on the web, television and in print. 

Specifically, the women of MATC co-host a half-hour TV show, Moms & the City and A Dad Named David, seen weekly on WNBC, New York Nonstop and other NBC properties.  Moms And The City is also running now in DC, Philadelphia and Chicago. The women also appear as experts on other TV shows and radio programs around New York. 

Specifically, the women of MATC co-host a half-hour TV show, Moms & the City and A Dad Named David, seen weekly on WNBC, New York Nonstop and other NBC properties.  Moms And The City is launching in other cities/markets by the end of the year.  The women also appear as experts on other TV shows and radio programs around New York. 

In addition, MATC writes and produces daily content which can be found online at the New York Daily News, www.nydailynews.com/moms the nation’s 5th largest newspaper website.   Content includes first-person accounts on all topics motherhood and videos and interviews showcasing celebrity moms.

MATC recently launched with BabyCenter, the most trusted parenting and pregnancy site.  Now the Web’s #1 global interactive parenting network, it has nurtured more than 100 million parents since its launch in 1997. BabyCenter reaches over 78 percent of new and expectant moms online in the United States, and 7 in 10 babies born in the United States in 2009 were BabyCenter babies.

Want to send your pitch? Do it!

Have you visited Living My MoMent lately? Abbey has a great holiday giveaway going on. There are more than 25 prizes up for grabs with a combined value of over $1000! You don’t want to miss this!

2010 Holiday Gift Extravaganza & Giveaway

You’ll also be interested to know that Market Mommy has donated a prize. We are giving away advertising space, including a button on our blog and advertorial in our newsletter.

There are also a lot of other great prizes that I’m sure you’d love to have!

The contest ends tonight at midnight, so hurry over to enter. It’s open to US and Canada residents only.

People say I have an interesting job and who am I to disagree. I work as an Outreach Educator for the Center of Science & Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio. My main job is to bring hands-on science programs to elementary schools around the Midwest. My typical day begins with training 15-20 parent volunteers, performing a 45 minute assembly for the entire school, and then supervising up to eleven different hands-on experiments that every student gets a chance to try. My days end with packing everything back onto one of our COSI On Wheels trucks, driving it to my next school, unloading it, and setting everything back up to do it all over again the next day. In short, it’s kind of crazy… but the good kind of crazy.

At COSI On Wheels, we have twelve different Outreach Educators and each one of us seems to have their own style when it comes to presenting programs. Some of us are the nurturing, motherly types and some of us are more straight-laced, teacher types. I, on the other hand, refer to myself as “the crazy uncle” type, who shows up, has loads of fun, and gets the students excited while teaching science.

With that in mind, one of my favorite jokes to say during assemblies is that, “I will do (insert cool thing here), but ONLY because I am SUCH A NICE GUY… no matter what my ex-girlfriends keep trying to tell people.” It gets a chuckle the first time and by the third time (because I fully subscribe to the comedic “rule of three”), it’s riotously hilarious.

A few weeks ago I had just finished my assembly, complete with three “ex-girlfriend” jokes, and was starting to facilitate the hands-on sessions. At the beginning of each hands-on session, I give the group five rules to follow. The five rules are:

1) Try each station once before you repeat a station a second time.
2) Maintain a three miles per hour (walking) speed limit.
3) When the session is over, come back to the center and have a seat.
4) Every student must learn something new.
5) And the biggest, the most important rule: every student must have fun.

While I say these rules, I try to keep humor infused; usually by doing a funky walk to demonstrate three miles per hour and telling the students if they don’t raise their hand indicating that they‘ve learned something new, I’ll be forced to think that they actually have smelly armpits and will call them “stinky” for the rest of the day.

This leaves the final rule, which I build up by saying it’s THE biggest, THE MOST IMPORTANT rule. As I’m building up this final rule, there’s usually one student who jumps the gun and blurts out, “HAVE FUN!” Since this occurs regularly, I’ve begun to make a big joke by saying, “Since someone couldn’t wait and HAD to interrupt me, Rule 5 is now ‘no fun’ and if any of you have fun, I will send you straight to the Principal’s office!” This usually gets a big laugh.

This school, however, was a little different thanks to one adorable little second grader. Upon telling them, “no fun!” she shouted,

“You’re ex-girlfriends were right about you!”

…and I almost fell over laughing.

This is a guest blog post written by Jonathan Barnes. To learn more about him, visit his Linked-In profile!

I recently received a new pair of earphones, courtesy of db Logic. The new product uses a healthy-listening technology and they asked if I would like to give them a try.

All around, I was very impressed. The first pair I received in the mail was damaged, most likely during shipping. The company was very sympathetic and quick to send a new pair. I most often wear earphones while exercising at the gym. Sometimes I have difficulty with them staying in place or being comfortable. Not with the db Logic earphones, they were comfortable and stayed in place wonderfully.

According to the db Logic press release, the product is made with the company’s SPL2 technology and delivers superior sound, style and comfort. The earphones require no battery and offer ultra-low distortion and limit sound pressure levels.

SPL2 technology works by placing a tiny monitoring circuit between the MP3 player and the ear piece that regulates the volume where needed, while still providing great stereo sound.

The product is versatile and comes in a variety of colors. They are also very portable and compact. In addition to the earphones that I received, they also offer headphones.

Db Logic’s mission is to provide consumers – teenagers, adults and children – with the ultimate personal audio experience with less risk of long-term damage to their hearing. More information on the company and their products can be found online at their website.

Db Logic provided the product to me free of charge, however all opinions are my own.          

The Tiny Hiney, what a cute name for a children’s clothing boutique. The moms at The Tiny Hiney recently contacted me about reviewing their products. They were kind enough to send me one of their studded motorcycle burnout tees, see cute boy wearing such shirt at right.

It was a hit with mom and boy. He thought he was uber-cool sporting the shirt because his papa has a motorcycle. And, he loved the studs, which made the shirt shiny and attractive.

There were several things I liked about it. First, it just looks cool. The Tiny Hiney puts its burnout fabric through an extensive process to reveal years of authentic weathering and a cozy vintage worn-in feel, so no two shirts are exactly the same. Another plus, it’s made in the USA.

The shirt feels great, looks great and is fun. According to their website, The Tiny Hiney products use the highest quality fabrics on the market. They also are happy to accept new design ideas and custom orders!

After wearing, I followed the website’s instructions for care and washed the shirt inside out in cold water. I then dried on low. It washed up great, with zero sign of damage or wear.

The Tiny Hiney clothing can be found at a variety of retail locations, as well as on the company’s website. And, they are available by wholesale. You can also find them on Facebook, where you get exclusive deals for being a fan!

 

The Tiny Hiney provided the product free of charge, however all opinions are my own.

 

Candy Dye joined Apriori Beauty in June of 2009. Apriori Beauty’s skin care and beauty products are based on the newer science of how special nutrients can help your skin become healthier and look beautiful. 

Apriori’s first line, Celloxylin Skin Care, affects the process of aging from the inside out working together with Lifeoxylin an elixir equal to six servings of fruit and veggies each day. According to Dye, the company released its first line of skin treatment products a few months ago, called Celloxylin MD, with an in home 20 percent acid peel. Soon, another line, Prodermalin, will be released and include treatment for acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

In addition, they offer an in-home beauty gadget called the Derma Firm Illuminator. It utilizes galvanic, far infrared light, ultrasound and vibration to help with deep pore nutrition and cleansing, activate skin cell rejuvenation and helps with scar healing, wrinkle improvement and facial tightening/lifting.

Dye said it’s a day to day balancing act to juggle her business, her family and her part-time teaching job. “There’s a lot of juggling and schedule coordinating that goes on between my high school and college student kids, my hubs, and my business,” she said. “I usually check my online activities early in the morning, before everyone is up, sometimes mid-day and later in the evening when the kids are doing homework.” Dye also said she uses the days she’s not teaching to network. “I network with coffee or lunch locally with potential clients, consultants and other business women to see how I can help them,” she said.

Faith plays a large role in Dye’s life and in her business. Her advice to other mom entrepreneurs is to, “rely on the Lord for everything! He will make you path straight and bring special people into your life!” She also said it helps to surround yourself with positive and encouraging people who will support and strengthen you. “Never give up, set your eyes on your goal (with lots of smaller goals to achieve on the way to the big goal) and allow yourself to make adjustments as you go along. Keep learning, keep improving, and make sure you “unplug” frequently to enjoy your family!”

In addition to her Apriori Beauty website, Dye can also be found on her blog and on Twitter.