Shamini Dhana grew up in Singapore, a tropical island in Southeast Asia. The country has just over 4.2 million people today but no natural resources. Almost everything was imported, including water. However, she always felt she was connected to the Earth since her family spanned six continents. Later, her major in economics and philosophy drew her to explore how governments worked across the nations plus discover the lifestyles of communities across the globe.

Dhana quickly discovered her love for people, places and the planet and her aspiration to tie them all together. Some 20 years ago, after organizing the first non-profit conference after the Rio Summit in 1992, she caught a glimpse of what her calling was – to be an entrepreneur that would fuse the essence of our natural habitat together with the celebration of cultures and communities into a product.

What she did not know then was the actual product. But, she knew the acquisition of business, management and leadership experience were key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. And so, the journey began with one successful career after another – from academics to consulting, government to private sector and finally as senior vice president of a well known technology bank in Silicon Valley for seven years.

It wasn’t till Dhana had her daughter in 2005 that she realized there was a void in the market for an Eco Brand for tweens and that’s when DhanaEcoKids was established! The last piece of the puzzle finally came to being when her love for the arts showed itself in the prints of DhanaEcoKids apparel. By partnering with global artists, she tells a story each season of a place in our world that celebrates the natural beauty, reflects the richness of cultures and connects us all to our single common denominator Planet Earth. 

For the global mom who has traveled the world, enjoys flavoring the many cuisines, dwells in the excitement of music, theater and the arts, she wants her kids to enjoy the same pleasures of exploration, discovery and enchantment every day. It is just this that makes DhanaEcoKids stand out as a Lifestyle Brand Celebrating Global Connections – we are all Wearin’ the World! DhanaEcoKids empowers the global savvy eco kid and every season, it hopes to inspire the joy and spark the curiosity of kids to travel the globe and embrace life’s adventures and natural gifts. 

DhanaEcoKids Spring/Summer Collection is now available online and has been noted as one of the featured designers here. A unique and limited edition collection, this Spring/Summer Collection is already a big seller and is drawing much attention in the Eco World. All global moms are invited to visit their Facebook page and keep abreast of the upcoming runway shows during Earth Day in April and also to stand a chance to meet the global artist in Ireland by sharing your experiences. Here’s to Wearin’ the World!

About Dhana ECOKIDS: Apparel empowers the savvy global kid. Inspired by nature, created by artists, one season at a time. Sustainable. Organic. Fair Trade. Wearable Art.  DhanaEcoKids believes in treading gently on Mother Earth. Their Wearin’ the World™ Collection gives Earth-minded kids what they really want: a green lifestyle brand that carries a message of environmental awareness to the world. Headquartered in Mill Valley and run by a local mom entrepreneur!

Save! DhanaEcoKids is offering a 20% discount for EARTH MONTH in April for Market Mommy Fans! To redeem, visit their Facebook page!

Question:

Is it better to send kids off to daycare or a nanny while you work on your business, or should you just work around them? Will the business succeed or fail?

– Susan, owner of Splendipity Inc

Reply from Shara Lawrence-Weiss:

This question has no “one right answer.” Each family is different and each situation needs to be assessed within its own boundaries.

For instance: a single mother will have a different situation than a married mother. Those with money to spend on childcare will have a different situation than those on a tight budget. Mothers who have family members nearby to help will have an easier time than those who live hundreds of miles away from family members.

When I first began my book business I had just one child. He was in school full time and I was pregnant with our second child. I was working in a Preschool on Fridays, attending college at night and I would work on my home business Monday-Thursday while my son was in school. I had no childcare and no money for childcare.

Fast forward a few years and I was running two home businesses, my husband was running his web design business, I was attending college part time and was pregnant with our third child. My husband also worked from home and we took shifts with the kids so that we could each work/pay bills. My mother-in-law left us some money and we agreed to use that money to hire a full-time sitter – so our home businesses could flourish and expand. That worked! Our sitter moved on to college about 8 months later and we were left without childcare once again. Our businesses began to make more money and we then hired a live-in nanny to help us expand to new levels. Our nanny is currently here and works 7 hours a day (split shift). My husband and I continue to take turns with the kids, cooking, cleaning, errands, etc.

Our nanny is leaving soon to get married and again… we’ll be asking the question, “What should we do now?” I’m currently pregnant with our fourth child. I may need to cut back on my working hours or work in the early morning, while the kids are at school and after they go to bed, while the new baby is napping and so on. We’ll be looking into hiring a high school student for after-school and weekend help. Both my husband and I enjoy having our kids around and do not want to put them into full-time daycare. We prefer to find alternatives to that choice but of course – there are mothers who prefer daycare and want to utilize the option so they can work in quiet.

When I was a single mom I would trade days with another mother. That way, we each got a day to ourselves every week and no one had to pay for childcare.

Here’s an article I wrote about childcare options for moms who work at home: http://www.mommyperks.com/vip/?p=12613

Each family must assess their own situation and do what’s best for their home, family, children’s needs, etc. This may mean seeking in-home live in childcare or part-time day care or after school help from a teen/college student or co-op trades with another mother. It could mean working in shifts with a spouse or business partner or working early morning hours/evening hours after the kids have gone to bed. It all depends on your business needs, dreams, desires for meeting goals, financial situation, the needs of your kids and more. There’s no “one answer” for every home.

Sit down and write out your family goals along with your business goals. Compare the two and do your best to meet in the middle so everyone in the family feels heard, cared for and taken care of. If you notice that something isn’t working, modify!

Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in education, early childhood, special needs, freelance and marketing. She owns various websites including: Mommy Perks, Kids Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Pine Media (co owner). Shara is an active member of her town charity group and a Library Board Member. Learn more about her at Mommy Perks.

Dylan Glanzer started her business, Parties by Dylan & Company, in 1992 after working in children’s theater for several years. She provides fantastic musical birthday parties and events for children ages 1 – 5. A year ago, she expanded and hired and trained other talented performers. She plans to hire two additional performers by the end of the year.

According to the Parties by Dylan & Company website, “We are more than entertainers.  We are teachers, musicians, and parents. We understand how to motivate young children to feel like they can sing, dance, play, and just have fun being who they are.  We create a positive atmosphere that enables children to feel safe to play together enjoying games where everyone can be the best they can be.  We bring the energy and the inspiration – the children do the rest.”

Glanzer admits that balancing family and business isn’t easy, but it can be fun she said. “When Mommy is happy with her job, she can be in a much better mood when having to do the everyday things like cooking and cleaning and driving!” she said.

She advises other mom entrepreneurs not to do it alone! “We don’t have to be Super-Moms! Get help on anything you don’t want to do yourself! You can hire, barter or get volunteers.”

Glanzer also suggested getting professional help and learn from others about how best to do business. “I have an amazing business coach who has helped me grow my business and manage my time,” she said. She also recommends joining networking groups and spending time with those who have a positive influence on your life. “There are enough things in our busy lives that can drain our energy, so it is important who you “hang” with.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my last two articles on the new Facebook Timeline for business and I hope that they’ve provided some helpful suggestions. Now, as we inch closer to the mandatory switch over, you should have a better understanding of the new layout and how to navigate it. If you happened to miss those posts, they are here and here.

As promised, here is one more post about the new Timeline format and how you can best use it to benefit your business and online networking experience. These are some ‘secret’ or unique tips about how to make the most of Timeline for business. Have more ideas? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to share them in the comments!

  • Tie your profile image with your cover photo. Mine have a similar theme and ‘work together’. It’s all about branding! Here is a page of super-cool examples you might enjoy or find inspiration in.
  • The second box down in the right hand column of your Timeline is dedicated to a post that one of your friends has made about your brand. So, it’s imperative that you have friends that like your brand and who are talking about it! What does it say about your brand if your own friends don’t ‘like’ it?
  • With the disappearance of landing pages, custom apps have become that much more important. You need custom apps to set your page apart and engage your audience. You can customize their images {see my Constant Contact tab} and align them with your brand even more closely!
  • Apps are also important because you can link directly to them with paid advertising! You can’t make them your general landing page, but if you purchase a paid ad, you can direct your audience to that giveaway or special promotion.
  • You can adjust the order that your apps appear. While it’s great to see how many likes your brand has, why not move that down to the second row of apps to allow more room for custom content along the top? That would be more engaging to your readers than the number of likes you have, anyway.
  • Now, with the new page options, you have the ability to filter and screen every comment left on your page before it’s posted. You can literally block any negative or questionable content and only allow the positive to post. However, I don’t personally recommend that. Is that a fair representation of your brand?
  • Most importantly, tell your story! Insert the milestones that matter and set your company apart from the competition. That’s what Timeline is for! Why are you better? Why are you different?

Have you implemented any of these suggestions? Tell us about it!

By Amber Davis

Every few weeks I have coffee with this amazing woman. She and I are a lot alike – love the city, never desired to stay in small town America after high school (yet somehow we are both here, raising our families), we have a strong fashion sense (Ok…well she does) and marketing backgrounds.

We met through our local RFL (Relay for Life) and worked passionately on the committee for several years. Now we are both focusing on raising our families! She has an amazing blog  and consistently turns trash into some beautiful decoration for her home. I work my butt off managing my home based business directorship! Regardless, there is a little back story.

Recently, we have been discussing business ethics and if small business owners are getting off too easy! Many of them are not accountable for their actions and have no repercusions for poor service, no-shows’ for appointments, etc.. We have both had several situations recently where we have felt frustrated! Living in a small town our hands are tied in many ways.

My question today is: ARE YOU AS A BUSINESS OWNER ACCOUNTABLE & ETHICAL?!

Business ethics can be defined as written and unwritten codes of principles and values that govern decisions and actions within a company. In the business world, the organization’s culture sets standards for determining the difference between good and bad decision making and behavior.

How many people do you use weekly that are small business owners? Your hair dresser, your photographer, coffee house, direct selling consultants, massage therapist, nail tech, even a farmer’s market to name a few. Being in the direct selling industry I use small business owners whenever possible. Even Etsy and this website are comprised of small business owners.

Why are small business owners not held accountable for the same ethical and customer service standards as say….Bob Evans? Frankly, my expectations are HIGHER from a small business owner than from that of a corporation.

My recent experience gave me several ‘sick to my stomach feelings’. I want to share the drama but I won’t bore you with the details. My friend has had two similar ‘sick to her stomach feelings’ situations recently as well. All three from different local business owners! We will probably not use these businesses again.

A business owner with good ethics chooses to go above and beyond when a mistake was made. In our situations, we as the customer felt we were going the extra mile to accommodate for their mistake, miscommunication and disorganization!

It’s not just about good ethics but good customer service. Many can argue these are one in the same but search the net and you will become overwhelmed with choices of articles on each. My personal feeling is if you are in business and you want to be successful YOU MUST practice good ethics and good customer service.

How do you do this?

The Golden Rule as it’s called by Wikipedia or Also known as, Luke 6:31

Do to others as you would have them do to you

This rule alone is not only a good business practice but good life practice and can be applied to many situations!

If you are a business owner I beg of you to provide good, ethical service to your customers. Not sure how to accomplish this? Email me! I have 17 years in direct sales and was taught by the best teachers in the business! Many, many classes, articles and lectures on how to be successful! I’d be happy to answer your questions!

Everywhere you turn there is a startup business. Everyone buys a fancy camera and starts doing photography, some have a natural talent and are well suited for running a small business, others….not so much! Tons of direct selling companies keep popping up every day, I’m sure you know someone who sells something! The point is even if they are amazing at what they are doing still need to provide good, honest service to their clients.  My team worries there are too many consultants with our company but I remind them – Be good to your customers and they will stick with you. This doesn’t mean you bribe them or give them extra goodies for free. It simply means if you’re in it for the long run then take good care of your customers! Even if someone leaves for a bit they are likely to come back to you.

It is one of my goals and on my vision board in my office – Good Customer Service…Be honest and Ethical!

Please add it to your daily goals! You’ll be a better professional and better person!

Amber Davis is a 17 year direct sales associate with The Lonagberger Co. and currently director for at Thirty One Gifts.  Holding a degree in business administration and marketing, she previously worked in the business industry. After the birth of her second child; family took priority over work and she left her full time position. Now a mother of four, she believes firmly in direct Sales and the endless opportunity it provides! “I can’t imagine ever returning to a traditional 9-5 job,” she said. She firmly believes in doing what works for your family. She helps her husband on the family farm and writes her own blog: Adventures in Farm Life. This, she said, is a work in progress and mostly serves to share family photos. In her free time she loves to travel and enjoys volunteering.

Neida Joseph-Abel, master jewelry designer, artisan and founder of HipFusion Designs, is widely known for combining her signature fused metal clay and glass elements with other fun and funky components to create an extensive collection of imperfectly-perfect and endearing necklace and bracelet designs, including her nationally recognized mommy tag jewelry, for the hip crowd. 

The idea behind her business has always been a clear one for Joseph-Abel, which is to personally handcraft each and every piece of jewelry.  And she is widely known for her originality by creating unpredictable designs. 

“Instead of being conventional, I tend to think outside-the-box and take risks when I create my designs. I love creating layers, contrasting textures, including moveable parts, making asymmetrical looks, and giving each piece a unique feel, she said. “I find that when I’m creating, I’m living life to the fullest. It’s part of my everyday consciousness ~ designing and creating pieces of wearable art for my customers that not only demonstrate the results of my efforts in a loving and beautiful way, but keep my customers coming back for more.”

HipFusion Designs is unique because Joseph-Abel can design a completely customized piece just for you. She has a lot of flexibility in her design process and can mix and match components from different pieces that you like.  You can view her Gallery Page to stimulate ideas, or contact her directly with what you’re looking for.

Made-to-order jewelry and custom pieces have a turnaround time of 2-3 weeks. Ready-to-go jewelry on her site ships within 2-3 days.

In addition to her online storefront, you can also find HipFusion Designs on Facebook!

SAVE! Joseph-Abel is kindly giving FREE shipping to all Market Mommy readers this week! Simply enter code HIPMAMA at checkout!

*This is a sponsored post purchased as part of an advertising package by HipFusion Designs.

 

 

Heather Schoenrock started her business, Jack’s Harvest, in 2006. Her company manufactures frozen, organic baby food. Schoenrock credits her success to having a supportive network.

Her business partner is her brother, so he affords her quite a bit of leeway when it comes to meeting the needs of his nieces and nephew. “My kids are such big supporters of Jack’s Harvest that they also give me time to work when I need to,” she said. And, she has an incredible support network beyond that, she said.

According to Schoenrock, the balancing act between family and business makes her anxious. “It is a fine balancing act,” she admits. “There are nights where I am working at 2 a.m. because I absolutely couldn’t miss a school party, play or recital!” However, she said that she feels very blessed that her schedule is primarily determined by her and her children’s needs. “I don’t mind missing some sleep in order to be there for the important things with my kids!”

When it comes to advice, Schoenrock encourages mom entrepreneurs to love what they do, not just like it. “Your passion for your product/service is what will carry you through the inevitable road blocks and troubled times” she said.

Jack’s Harvest utilizes social marketing tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And, their PR agent does a nice job getting them a lot of local and national press attention. Schoenrock has also worked to establish herself as an industry expert by doing a good number of cooking demonstrations. These are all great marketing strategies!

Inspired by her daughter, Alexandra Thusy-Privat founded Peek a Green. Combine that inspiration with her motivation to find safe baby products and her entrepreneurial spirit (which was her determination) and a place to buy the safest baby products was born.

“When I had my daughter, I thought I could trust the manufacturers, the stores and the FDA to do their jobs and provide our children with safe products. But I realized moms and dads were on their own and had to do their own research!” she said.

Thusy-Privat spent hours looking for safer alternatives for her baby girl.  “I felt that I could help by handpicking the safest products. I also realized that safe for baby and safe for the environment were linked and that’s how I started Peek a Green!”

Peek a Green features baby-friendly items that are also eco-friendly. They’ve created unique gift sets for all occasions; baby showers, birthdays, holidays and every day gifts for babies and their older siblings.

The shop has a partnership with Trees for the Future which means for every item purchased a tree is planted. When you shop with Peek a Green, you are buying safer products for your baby and also creating a greener future for all children.

Thusy-Privat handpicks every item featured in her shop and everything must meet certain criteria. Here’s a look at her handpicking policy:

SAVE! Use coupon code MOMMY10 (not case sensitive) to get 10% off the entire Peek a Green store valid until 04/30/2012. In addition, they offer free shipping for all orders of $100 and more.

In addition to the Peek a Green website, you can also find them on Facebook.

 

If you build it, they will come does not work online. You have to go out there to hustle traffic to your online store and literally be a human sign waver online.

Participating in social media, pay-per-click campaigns, banners advertisement in relevant high traffic websites and blogs, running daily deals and search engine optimizations are all tested and tried ways to bring traffic to your online store.

Here is thing; the traffic in itself does you no good if they are not buying from you. You need the traffic first but the traffic in itself will not keep the lights on. You need some activity in your online cash register. Online marketers use the term conversion to signify a website visitor taking a desired action like signing up for a newsletter, downloading a form or completing a purchase.

While you would hope that everyone that comes across your online store is ready to buy from you, plastic in hand, this is rarely the case. The accepted wisdom is that an individual has to be exposed to a company an average of seven times before making a purchase from them, assuming the individual is within the company’s target market. This is even more apparent online. 

Here are 3 things you should be doing to maximize the traffic you already have to your online store.

1. Have an email sign up on your website.

The offer and the positioning is the key here. I used to have a sign up form in my online store that was waaaay down at the bottom of the page. No offer of any kind. I got a random sign up here and there. Then I had someone with a marketing background look over my site and he advised moving it up above the fold, visible without needing to scroll down and pairing it with an offer like a percentage off for first time customers.

Since making the change in the location of my online store’s sign up form and pairing it with an offer, I have been able to quadruple my mailing list within 6 months with the same amount of traffic. These folks already expressed an interest in what you have to offer and it would not take a lot of convincing to have them buy from you in the future even if they are not ready to do so now.

2. Have a “send to a friend” button on your product pages.

Your website visitors would have the opportunity to send targeted traffic your way. Imagine you are visiting an online store and while browsing, you find the cutest pair of kid’s shoes that will look amazing on your niece but you don’t know her shoe size. You hit the “send to a friend” button and fill out your sister’s email with a note from you. She sees it, likes the shoes and loves that her sister is so thoughtful and wipes out her charge card and buys a pair. These kinds of traffic are more likely to buy from you and sign up for your newsletter since they are finding out about your store from a trusted source.

3. Have a “like button” on your product pages.

If a visitor hits the Facebook like button on a product, it shows in their feeds for their friends and contacts to see. The “like button” is inferior to the “send to a friend” button in the sense that you will not be getting targeted traffic. It does help you build brand awareness.

If you have to pick 2 out of 3, I would say pick 1 and 2. They all help you get the most from the traffic you already get.

Bola Ajumobi is a mom of two young boys with a health care background and owns the online children’s bookstore; SlimyBookworm.com where busy parents or gift shoppers can take advantage of the complimentary gift suggestion service to find just the right books for the kids in their lives.  She loves interacting with other moms-in-business and exchanging insights on running a business.

You may have seen some recent outcry via blogs and Facebook about a mom inventor who basically had her patent-pending invention design stolen out from underneath her. You can read more about it here, but basically, it looks as though a larger company stole Peachy, LLC’s concept, design and even her custom advertising images! That is pretty terrible if you ask me.

But, beware, even if you’re not an inventor, small business theft is common. The above example sheds a bad light on larger businesses, but it isn’t always a larger company taking advantage of a smaller one. Other small, mom-owned businesses who are just starting out can also be the culprit. Sometimes it’s a result of naivety but sometimes it is just blatant theft. This is one more good reason to do your research before launching a business and make sure you’re not infringing on someone else!

Trademarks, copyrights and patents can help us protect what is ours, but sometimes it isn’t enough. And, sometimes protection costs more than new entrepreneurs can afford. However, these things are definitely something that serious entrepreneurs should invest in.

I know first-hand the difficulties that copycats can cause and how expensive it can be to legally fight trademark infringement. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. This is an issue that is more common than you may know and it comes in varying forms.

Kelly Russo, owner of Travel with the Magic, has had several instances of others using her designs and materials. “In the past year I have had around five companies steal the layout, colors, HTML coding from the home page all the keywords there and more from my website,” she said.  “I have also had people steal graphics and buttons made for my website that Travel with the Magic paid for.” Not only have her backgrounds, borders, fonts, frames and navigation bar been reproduced, but Russo also said her entire terms and conditions and privacy policy pages have also been copied. 

Russo’s strategy is to immediately contact the site owner, send them a cease and desist with proof and demand that the copied material is taken down within 24 hours. Everyone that Russo has contacted has then removed the materials. However, some companies have apologized while others have made excuses. “I try to be firm, but when someone apologizes I accept it and move on. I know how hard it is to build your own site but it is better to build relationships with people and then ask for help, rather than just take someone’s hard work.”

Issues like this can have an obvious negative effect on someone’s business. “Once, someone’s site looked so similar to mine I had a client contact me and ask if I had a new agent. She thought that person was a division of Travel with the Magic.” When there are strong similarities between sites or business names, it’s easy for consumers to confuse the two. “If the copycat agency is not offering good customer service or helping clients the right way, it can negatively affect our reputation,” she added.

Russo admits that it is a tough situation and can be intimidating to contact someone you believe is copying you. “However, when you build a website and put the time and effort into it, someone should not steal your hard work.”

You may not always know if someone has copied or stolen from you. But, you should keep an eye out for it. Be active in your niche and monitor competitors. You should also set up Google Alerts for your business name or other keywords so you know when someone else is using them online.

Have you faced issues such as these? What have you done about it? Join the discussion in our Forum!