Starting your own business is not easy, but success can make it extremely fulfilling. And beginning a business venture that caters to moms or families comes with its own set of challenges, as three area mom-inspired entrepreneurs know all too well.
Cotton Babies founder and mother of three Jenn Labit works hard every day to achieve a work-life balance. However, with a flourishing cloth diaper and baby product company that employs 80 people and has three retail locations, balance is not always easy to come by.
“The hardest part is being away from my kids. I have a lot of responsibilities that pull me in many different directions, but my family needs to be my first priority,” Labit says. She focuses on that priority through small things like carpooling with the entire family to school each morning. “It’s an extra 30 to 45 minutes each day that my husband and I have with our kids.”
The success of Labit’s business stems from her experiences as a mom and desire to help other families both environmentally and financially. “While we want to prevent the waste that disposable diapers cause, we have a ‘bigger picture’ social goal: that families will be able to take adequate care of their children with the lesser expense of cloth diapering,” she explains.
Labit’s advice for moms who want to start their own business? “Take it one step at a time and get started somewhere,” she says. “But if you’re feeling pulled because you don’t think you’re giving your kids enough attention, you need to step away and figure out how to do that, so you can stay connected where you need to be connected.”
Fleur de Lis Bridal Boutique
Connie Lucks didn’t have the ‘big wedding’ experience when she got married in 1979. So when her daughter, Kristin Lucks Shelton, got married in 2008, she was thrilled to share in the planning. The time they spent gown shopping was particularly special, so much so that they decided to open their own couture bridal shop.
“We decided this is what we wanted to pursue after we could leave our corporate jobs,” Lucks says. “We thought this would be a great opportunity for us because we have a different set of skills that we could bring to the business.”
Their relationship enables Lucks and Shelton to connect to their customers when they come in for private appointments. “We want to make the wedding gown search a memorable and stress-free experience,” Shelton says. “It makes the brides and mothers comfortable to see a mom and daughter working together.”
The pair opened Fleur de Lis Bridal Boutique in late January, so they are still negotiating how to work together as business partners. “We complement each other, but we are learning to work with each other in a professional setting, versus mother and child,” Lucks notes.
While they may have to step away from each other once in awhile to take a break, they realize this is a unique opportunity to spend time with each other every day.
“I think it’s brought us closer together,” Shelton says.
“We’re learning to know each other again,” Lucks agrees. “I know Kristin more as an adult now than just as my daughter.”
For several years, Jessica Kester ran the youth and family educational programs at the Missouri Botanical Garden. She often brought in environmentally friendly toys that garnered not only the interest of the children, but their parents, as well.
“They were really interested in how these toys were not only good for the planet, but also educational and safe for their kids,” Kester says.
Inspired by the possibility of creating a business that offered all eco-friendly children’s products, Kester opened Verde Kids last October. While she isn’t a mom herself, she seeks parents out for advice to continually improve her store.
“I hear from moms about the ways they use items that I wouldn’t have thought of, just because they’re not in my house,” Kester says. “Moms are the best at creating inventions of necessity, and I’m trying to learn from them.”
From fleece jackets made out of recycled plastic to stuffed animals created from ‘up’cycled fabrics, the green product possibilities are endless because “there are creative people out there, problem-solving in a way that will make our children’s futures better,” Kester explains.
While her foray into business ownership has taken her out of the classroom, it still allows Kester to teach and interact with moms on a daily basis. “It’s really exciting to see that people are learning just by coming into my store,” she says. “Eco-friendly products are new and it takes time for them to get used to that, but it’s great to see moms start to think of these things as options for their kids.” LN