Millionaire Moms: Top inventions by stay-at-home moms

Millionaire Moms: Top inventions by stay-at-home moms

by Susan Funaro, December 2009

Stay-at-home moms are multi-tasking more than ever. In between childcare, cooking and cleaning, they are cranking out inventions that are making them millions. Women in fact start 424 new enterprises every day, more than twice as many as men. These mothers of invention have nurtured their creative ideas on their own domestic turf, outside the corporate box. Knowing how to stretch a dollar, these resourceful women started simple, by keeping costs down and production up!

Baby Einstein™

We have all heard about it. Yes, yes. It's the company that produces developmental media in the arts to engage babies and toddlers in the learning process. But, did you know that founder Julie Aigner Clark started the company with a home made movie? In her sixth month of pregnancy, Ms. Clark decided to become a stay-at-home mom to focus on raising her child. A secondary arts teacher, Ms. Clark wanted to expose her baby to museums and art. But, the baby market wasn't exactly flooded with teaching tools in the arts. Heading to museums was no better. Determined, she borrowed equipment to produce a video that would help parents expose their children to the arts. After convincing a baby retailer to test the product in six stores, it was smooth sailing. The response was overwhelming that she has expanded her business to catalogs and chain stores. What a genius!

These mothers of invention have nurtured their creative ideas on their own domestic turf, outside the corporate box. Knowing how to stretch a dollar, these resourceful women started simple, by keeping costs down and production up!

One Minute Manicure¨

Rosie Herman founder of One Minute Manicure beauty products was a new mom of twins, and $75,000 in debt. To compound her hectic life, she just couldn't find the right hand lotion. She wouldn't use over the counter hand products, fearing allergies for herself or her babies from perfumes and dyes. So, Rosie used her experience as a professional manicurist to create her own hand treatment in her kitchen. She passed her lotion around town, and an onslaught of requests followed. She elicited help from family and friends and five years later her manicure product sales now exceed $20 million. Her advice: "Start small, think BIG!"

Airborne Effervescent Health Formula ¨

Victoria Knight-McDowell, mother and second-grade teacher, couldn't afford to catch a cold—which is tricky when being surrounded by young students with the sniffles. After years of experimenting, she developed an herbal remedy she called Airborne Effervescent Health Formula¨ for the common cold. In the first year, her teaching salary was matched by orders. Last year, Airborne made $21 million. Yet, Knight-McDowell still only employs five people and proudly operates on a shoestring budget. She of course continues to teach but now does so without having to worry about catching a cold.

Mothers Work, Inc.

Rebecca Matthias is CEO and founder of Mothers Work Inc., reportedly the largest maternity wear company in the world. You may know the stores she owns: A Pea in the Pod, Mimi Maternity. Matthias was a 28 year-old mother-to-be looking for maternity career clothes and couldn't find a thing to wear. Shall we say the market for maternity wear was a bit lacking in 1982. So, Matthias decided to create her own maternity line. Today Matthias has a publicly traded company with 1100 stores in the U.S. valued at $500 million. She believes moms are natural entrepreneurs: "If you can raise kids, you can run a business." She sees homegrown businesses as a perk because you can organize your business schedule around your real priority - your children.

Umbrellas Plus, LLC

Deborah Rosado Shaw was single mother of three with a part-time job answering phones at an umbrella company, when one day, she posed as an account executive. She ended up selling $1,400,000 worth of umbrellas and landed herself her first full time sales job. She learned the business and started her own companies Umbrellas Plus, LLC and Dream Big Enterprises.

Harry Potter©

J. K. Rowlings was living on public assistance with an infant daughter, when she began writing the Harry Potter stories that have captured the imagination of children and Hollywood. Ms. Rowlings said she wrote Harry Potter when ""I was very low, and I had to achieve something. Without the challenge, I would have gone stark raving mad." Her first five books have been translated into 61 languages, distributed in over 200 countries, with sales of over a quarter billion books. Rowling now has the financial distinction of being one of five self-made female billionaires and the first billion dollar author. In addition to publishing, there are profits from movies, videos, toys and other merchandise.

The Increasing Presence of Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs have had an increasing presence in the business world that began in the 20th Century.Estee Lauder began blending face creams in her kitchen in the 1930s. Bette Nesmith Graham gave us Liquid Paper after being fired as a secretary in the late 1950s. Ann Moore brought us the Snugli baby carrier in 1969 straight from her African travels. And, Martha Stewart, well she gave us Martha as well as a whole new way to think about living and entertaining at home.

The Stay-At-Home Mom

In conclusion, creative stay-at-home moms are using their ingenuity to fill niches on their own terms. Some economic researchers are taking notice of the rise of this entrepreneurial group. They have asked these empresses of industry the reasons women start their own company. The surveyed response is 46% wanted control over their schedules, 23% were frustrated with the corporate environment, while 24% saw a niche and filled it. These successful stay-at-home moms all share a common characteristic: they think outside the box.