Working Moms who Built Empires from Home

Working Moms who Built Empires from Home

by Michelle Kaminsky, Esq., December 2009

According to the Center for Women's Business Research, women own about 10 and a half million businesses in the United States, bringing in $2.5 trillion in annual revenue. For every business started by a man in America, two are started by women—and increasingly, more of these entrepreneurs are mothers.

For many moms, it's a rather natural transition from managing the home to managing a business as both require persistence, dedication, organization, and creativity. So all you need is that winning idea. Once you have a starting point, there are many organizations out there ready to help you out, but first, for inspiration, here are some moms who have built up empires while raising families:

Julie Dix & Danielle Ayotte

Julie Dix came up with the first Taggies™ children's blanket when her own son rubbed the satin edge of his baby blanket off, taking the material with it. When she fixed the edges, Dix decided to sew small satin tags, like those found on stuffed animals, all around the border and her son loved it. She started making giving them to friends as gifts and one of those ended up in the hands of Danielle Ayotte.

By 2000, the pair started selling the blankets at local craft fairs (always selling out quickly). But, when they eventually hooked up with Andy Bjork, a sales agent, the rest became Taggies history. These two moms scored a utility patent for the unique blanket, and in 2003 the company paired up with powerhouse Scholastic Books™ for a Taggies™ book line.

By 2005, the 25-employee company reported revenue between $2 million and $5 million.


Laine Caspi

Laine Caspi developed her baby wrap after traveling in Israel when her husband suggested she try a local custom of carrying her baby in a pressure-free wrap to alleviate her back pain. By the end of the vacation she was hooked, as were so many moms around Los Angeles when she got home began selling the baby wrap.

Her sales of The Ultimate Baby Wrap™ picked up after she hooked up with FAO Schwartz™ and later Babies "R" Us™ and skyrocketed after she hired a Public Relations person. On the heels of the success of the wraps, Caspi realized a need for an organization to help parents with ideas for items to help fellow parents, and she began Parents of Invention ™ in 2002.Parents of Invention™ is now a $1.5 million business that now sells a dozen different products and has been featured in People, Time, and the Wall Street Journal

Bette Fetter

Bette Fetter is the founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts, Inc. ™, a company focused on art education for children. The program is based on a step-by-step process to teach children how to draw—something that is said to improve, according to Young Rembrandts' ™ website, "spatial reasoning and fine motor skills, order and sequencing abilities, visualization, and self-discipline as well as fundamental art skills."

Fetter used her background in fine arts and childhood development to start this enterprise around her own Elgin, Illinois kitchen table in 1988 when she taught private art lessons to a handful of children; she then expanded into local schools and by 1992, Young Rembrandts ™ grossed $250,000 a year. When Fetter wanted to expand nationally, though, the only reasonable choice before her was to franchise, and she did just that. In 2006, fifty-seven Young Rembrandts ™ franchises earned $4.3 million.

So how does a entrepreneurial mom get her start?

Now that you have the inspiration and drive to get a company of your own off the ground, where do you start? Every female entrepreneur has her own way of doing things and no two businesses are developed in the exact same way. But there are some tried and tested steps to get your business off the ground quickly and to keep your motivation going strong, even during the occasional dips or "low" periods.


1. Write down your best ideas

It is not uncommon to have more than one great business idea. During your early brainstorming sessions, you may wind up with a handful of viable businesses. At some point, you will have to narrow your focus and the best first step is to write down your most promising ideas.

2. Check out the Competition

For each of your ideas, check out what your competition is doing. Visit the competition's website, check out their products in stores, and read up on their press. It's also a good idea to research where they manufacture their product and whether or not they are pursuing a patent. Then figure out how your product is different or better and how your product fills a void in the marketplace.

3. Select your best idea and discuss with your friends and family

Friends and family are often an entrepreneur's most valuable resource. They can help you choose your winning idea. Plus, you typically don't have to ask your mom to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Later on, you will want to widen the group to include people outside your inner circle so you can get as honest an opinion as is possible.

4. Build your brand identity

One of the most exciting first steps in any business is developing your company vision into something visually concrete. Creating a company or product logo is one of the best starting points for developing your brand. It also makes the whole entrepreneurial experience more real. And, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to develop a logo. For example, Legalzoom's partner, Logoworks, can convert your ideas into a variety of memorable logos in as little as three days.

5. Trademark your name

You company name and logo once developed are your two most valuable company assets. In a world where brand is everything, it pays to protect these two assets as quickly as possible by filing a federally registered trademark.

6. Incorporate or Form an LLC

There is no better way to make it official than to legally form a business entity. Forming your company is especially important to protecting you from liability but also for opening lines of business credit, contracting with vendors or conducting any official business. Legalzoom can help you incorporate or form an LLC in as few as 10 business days.

If these moms can do it, you can too!

These six steps are among the top ways many successful woman have chosen to jumpstart their business. But there are a hundred different ways to launch a business and no correct order for getting things done. Whether you've set your sights on building an at-home business or a large global brand, now is the time to act. Once you start the ball rolling, you'll be amazed at how quickly it picks up speed. Before you know it, you'll be in business. So what are you waiting for? Get to it!

For more information on starting your winning business idea today, click here.