There is a delicate art to balancing the competing demands of motherhood and career, and it only gets harder for those women who decide to take the risk and bank on their small business idea. There are a few, however, who find it in themselves to not only be stay-at-home moms, but also entrepreneurs. The pressure of that kind of choice is extremely difficult to understand without actually experiencing it, but sometimes, the right small business idea and a lot of hard work can combine to make a “mompreneur” successful beyond even their wildest imaginings.
Here are ten moms who hit it big with their small business ideas:
1. Julie Aigner-Clark, Baby Einstein
It all started with an idea about exposing kids to something other than a purple dinosaur. What came after that was Baby Einstein, a series of books and videos made to teach children about music, art, poetry and language. What started as a small project in the Aigner-Clark basement has become a multi-million dollar small business idea. Not a lot of small business ideas can boast being worth over $20 million to the Walt Disney Corporation, after all.
2. Dr. Amy Baxter, Buzzy
It isn’t well-known, but the healthcare establishment has an unspoken indifference to needle pain. For adults, it isn’t a problem, but kids are often terrified of needles because of it. So when Dr. Amy Baxter started trying to design something that could vibrate enough to dull the pain but not enough to make it worse, she had no idea that her small business idea would end up worth a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The product, Buzzy, is a small toy-like thing that is designed to ease the pain of the needle while also giving kids a cartoonish bee to take their minds off their shots.
3. Candace Alper, Name Your Tune
Everyone likes to sing songs with their kids as a teaching aid and to entertain them, but then someone hit up on the idea of throwing the kid’s name into the song. With a couple of musician friends, Candace Alper started making a few songs with kids’ names and selling them at holiday fairs. The response was a lot stronger than she’d ever anticipated for such a small business idea. Then again, when the idea starts attracting the attention of names like Patrick Dempsey and Denise Richards, it stops being a “small” business really quickly.
4. Cathy Alessandra, What’s Up For Kids
Back in Chicago in 1995, there wasn’t a lot of literature available for children’s events. That changed when Cathy Alessandra hit upon the small business idea that would allow her to stay at home and be with her kids. After a lot of work, she printed the first thousand copies of “What’s Up For Kids,” a small newsletter that profiled children’s events in the area. As a mom by day and editor by night, she had to go through a lot of sleepless nights before the newsletter became a 32-page glossy with steady advertising revenues and an estimated 20,000 copies in circulation.
5. Carissa Brown, Carissa Rose
Some of the best small business ideas come from tapping into markets that big business sometimes doesn’t notice. Women with full-figures often have trouble finding clothing that fit, so in 2008, Carissa Brown started a clothing line that catered to women like her and her mother. Homeschooling her children took time away from getting the business started, but she stuck with it and began working on Carissa Rose during the kids’ recess and bedtimes. When the business started getting bigger, she found the right balance to keep in touch with her family and still manage all its aspects – even if she had to stop homeschooling the children. That doesn’t mean she has less time with them now, though; the kids are an active part of the business.
6. Michelle Tunno Buelow, Bella Tunno
Necessity and adversity are the parents of small business ideas more often than not. When Michelle Buelow found her salary cut in half and about to become a new mom, she decided to try and save money where she could. That included making small things she’d need for the baby, like changing pads and birthing cloths. When other mothers started asking where those came from, the lights came on and a small business idea started to sprout. When ten out of the 11 stores she showed her work to wanted what she had, she knew her idea was going to take off. At $1 million a year, Bella Tunno has certainly turned out to be a success.
7. Aileen Chen, Belly Armor
Belly Armor, as a small business idea, came about when Aileen Chen needed to start planning for her family and wondered how much her traveling and cellphone use might affect her unborn child. The research she found concerned her, and when she couldn’t find anything that could protect a growing baby against radiation, she decided to correct it herself. Thanks to her network of resources, she found an engineering team to create a breathable textile that also guarded against radiation. Despite the negative reviews, Chen persisted and Belly Armor is still going well. Small business ideas like this don’t often branch out from the US and into markets like Singapore and Australia without being undoubtedly successful.
8. Michal Chesal, Baby K’tan
When Michal Chesal’s son was born with Down Syndrome and low muscle tone, it was clear that most baby carriers weren’t up to the job. So she experimented with her own prototypes, which she gave to friends. They were the ones that saw the potential of specialized baby carriers as a small business idea. The company launched in 2007, despite being both parents and entrepreneurs. After some personal troubles in 2009, the company endured and now sells an estimated 80,000 carriers a year.
9. Sari Crevin, BooginHead
Sometimes, the best small business ideas involve marketing other people’s ideas. To an extent, that was what inspired Sari Crevin to start BooginHead. The first idea was a product called the SippiGrip, which is a cord that could be attached to a sippicup – something kids are notorious for losing. It would become the first in the company’s product line, which consists of a number of toddler and baby-oriented products, all of which were invented by mothers from around the US.
10. Lucinda Cross, Corporate Mom Dropouts
The hardest part about being a mother and having a career is balancing it out. Nevertheless, it isn’t exactly a common small business idea for someone to start coaching mothers how to repair the strained relationships with their kids that a full-time career can cause. Still, Lucinda Cross thought it was a good idea and she faced hard times at first, but once the word got out about what she was doing, the clients started to roll in. Her first book, “Corporate Mom Dropouts,” was published in 2009.
There isn’t any doubt that even with good small business ideas, managing a small company and being a mother is extremely difficult. However, as the above list has shown, it isn’t impossible.