I traded Prada for pacifiers when I became a stay-at-home mom for four young kids (all under the age of 5!)
I cannot lie. As a busy mom, one thing I missed about my old life was feeling stylish and pulled together. So, I took my 20 years of work experience and applied it to an idea I had for a unique shirt that would help me look good everywhere I go, from the grocery store and preschool, to birthday parties and book clubs.
I spent my 20's and early 30's single and singularly focused on my career. I enjoyed a 15 year fulfilling publishing career. I rode the Internet boom in the late 90's while working at one of the biggest online sites at the time, CNET. Then, I went back to the traditional publishing world to become a Vice President at a national news magazine.
At age 35 I began dating a really great guy. Two years later we got married and started our family. We had four kids in 4 1/2 years-- with no multiples– and I became a stay-at-home mom. You could say I traded Prada for pacifiers! Now, my life is full of diapers, giggles, hugs and kisses and many choruses of "mommy I DO IT!" as my 2 year-old tries to do everything himself. Of course, I experience lots of sleepless nights.
The working person's paradigm is this: the harder you work the more successful you are. In the working world when you burn the midnight oil, it usually pays off. You get the promotion. You nail the presentation that you spent all night practicing. But, as every mommy knows, endless nights without sleep do not make you a better mother, just a tired one.
Still, old habits die hard. Many nights while I comforted my children I thought to myself "Come on! You gotta think of a great business idea. All these hours awake have to pay off somehow." Try as I may to come up with an idea for a new baby gadget --- nothing!
One day I had my eureka moment. Egads! It was not a baby gadget. It was something for me. I was in my closet searching for a shirt and sweater combo, but everything I tried made me feel bulky and messy. Suddenly, an idea came to me. What if I com
bined my favorite collared shirt with my favorite stretchy camisole? I could eliminate the bulky body, but still achieve the put together look of my pre-kiddie days. It was so simple, but no one was producing it. From then on I spent many of those sleepless nights thinking about launching my product. Soon, I began telling a few people close to me the idea-- my sisters actually. They loved the idea. Then, I broadened my net. I began to show the product to people in the retail industry. They said they loved it too. My entrepreneurial venture had begun.
Now I need to find someone to design the product, arrange production, create a logo, find packaging, develop a website, and produce marketing materials. Easy, right? NOT!
Then the most amazing thing happened. Girl power.
My friend, Anne, introduced me to her friend, Alex. Alex had just left her job after 16 years as a designer for a major fashion company to spend more time with her family. She agreed to design my product. Then my friend, Kathy, introduced me to a graphic designer, Jodi, who designed the logo, packaging and website. Kathy also introduced me to Amy, who agreed to help me style the various looks for the product. Since I could never afford Amy's day rate she said she felt that she was "paying it forward" by helping me. I decided I needed a video to introduce the product. I called my friend Gabby, who put me in touch with her friend Jenny. Although I have never met Jenny, she has spent hours on the phone trying to help me with this effort. Even my young cousin, Dara, helped me early on to brainstorm and research the product.
Unlike some of the popular "reality" shows where the women engage in back-biting and sabotage I was blown away by how readily these women were willing to help me.
I have learned a lot, but more than anything I have learned that: Girlfriends Rock!
Also, I cannot forget my four little ones. After all, if they had not kept me up at night I may never have thought of my new venture!