Simply Necessary Incorporated was founded as a family owned business by Tangela, and is now run with the help of her daughter. With it came the unique idea and best selling product The Kushies GoPillow!
Serving a multitude of purposes, the GoPillow is a wearable cradle pillow, a breastfeeding pillow with a built-in cover, a pillow and swaddling wrap, a toddler pillow with an attached travel blanket… and can even become a travel pillow!
Its usefulness and versatility couldn’t have been invented by anyone other than a passionate mom. Tangela tells us all about her journey as the owner and creator, and she offers some great advice for any mom who finds themselves on a similar path.
What makes your business special to you?
Simply Necessary, Incorporated is owned by a mother and a daughter.
The Kushies GoPillow is a convenient way to cradle and/or nurse a baby at home or on-the-go. This plush pillow can be worn on the arm to provide extra comfort and cradling support. It can also be used as a swaddling blanket. The wearable design provides moms privacy during breastfeeding. It is lightweight and portable, made of cotton with a polyester fill. The Kushies GoPillow is machine washable. The Kushies GoPillow is perfect travel gear for domestic and international family travel. It’s compact enough to fit inside of a carry on bag. Kushies GoPillow is available in 100% bamboo.
Tell us about the “aha” moment that led you to launch it:
After my daughter was born, I breastfed her for two years. I had the idea for the GoPillow because she was born with a head full of black, silky hair. Each time I would breastfeed her, the back of her neck along her hairline would perspire and my arm would be damp. I decided that I needed an arm cover of some kind – not just for breastfeeding, but for cradling my baby.
The original intent of the pillow was for cradling babies for breast or bottle feedings. I also knew it would be an excellent travel pillow. The idea for adding the privacy blanket came later. It was added after I was caught in a crowded area during a rainstorm at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I realized that a privacy blanket or cover would separate my pillow from any other nursing pillow on the market. The blanket turned the pillow into a multipurpose wonder!
How did you get your first customer?
My first customers were two postal workers. They helped me select the best packaging for mailing out GoPillows to customers. Once they saw the product they each purchased one for loved ones.
How do you measure your success?
After struggling to gain exposure for my invention for several years, I was able to license my invention to Kushies Baby. I summoned all of my knowledge and expertise as an effective communicator. I sought the right company to work with me. After scouring the world-wide web day after day, my mom-invented product went from being a local novelty to being available worldwide thanks to a licensing deal that I made with Kushies Baby!
Ever felt like throwing in the towel?
I felt like throwing in the towel on a regular basis. But I didn’t want to disappoint the people who believed in me. I also didn’t want to disappoint myself.
One thing you wish you would have known before you started:
I wish I hand known more about how public relations and marketing worked. I had to learn on the job. I’ve learned many lessons.
Best advice you have for someone who is just starting out:
Anyone just starting out should make a decision about how they want their business or product to be represented. They should identify a target audience and focus their marketing to that audience. Successful entrepreneurs should know who their competition is and be able to differentiate themselves from competitors. All entrepreneurs should develop an “elevator pitch” that can be delivered during brief encounters.
What is the best advice you received?
Know when to unplug. Always make time for yourself and those you love.
Quite the entrepreneur, Kara Anderson founded Maids on the Run as well as several other businesses that have stayed successful for decades. The following is the spotlight interview that was originally posted in January of 2013.
1. Business name, description and what makes it special
I do so many things and that is the mind of a self employed person. I started Maids on the Run after I lost my job to just put food on the table and now we have 14 other cleaners that work with me and do about 100-125 homes a week, I invented The Bag Holder when I was a personal chef to make freezer meals easily with no mess and I wrote Santa’s Secret Elf while dealing with breast cancer. As my 5 year old sat on Santa’s lap all he asked for was to make his Mommy better. The next night I woke and wrote the story of Merryam and how she helps Santa with all those requests asking for things he can’t make.
2. Tell us about how you got your first customer.
Maids on the Run was easy to market. I offered free bathroom cleanings to everyone on my email list and if they loved us get rid of their housekeeper and keep me and if they didn’t just enjoy a clean bathroom. I got 4 new clients the first week in late 2008. The other product based things I do are not so much. People listen to other peoples opinions so trying to get someone to love The Bag Holder and the book and then share it is difficult. I need a group of friends to spread the word for me since that is on a tight budget. I can see how great it is and of course your first reply Yeah Yeah, everyone trying to sell somethings says that…LOL… but it really is 🙂
3. How do you measure success?
By how many people I make happy each week and how many activities I am able to enjoy with my family with out getting calls from the office. I f I don’t get calls that means all is going well and that we planned the week perfectly for staff and clients and fans.
4. Ever felt like throwing in the towel?
NO way! I had cancer at 39 so dying would have been me throwing in the towel. I have been blessed to be here so I better make the most of it and do as much as I can while I can.
5. One thing I wish I would have known…
I would love to have known more about connecting with others to grow and not just rely on myself and my research.
6. Moving forward…
I hope to have build a brand with Merryam and big things to come for families and to franchise Maids on the Run, we are ready just timing and The Bag Holder we still hope it will be a household kitchen item. We all store leftovers and this is time saving and less mess making.
7. The absolute best part of being self-employed is…
My schedule allows me to be available for all the activities my children have and knowing that something I created is making a difference in the lives of many.
8. The absolute best part of being a parent is…
Being the one person that shows my children that if you think you can do it. Never be the one to say I wish I could…. I will and I do.
9. I never imagined…
Getting cancer would give me the confidence to do all that I wanted not just dream about it. I believe God gives us a wake up cal now and then and we better make the most of it. I live life with sense of urgency and this is what I would like to share. Courage, confidence and commitment are the only three things you need to know. Courage to actually take the leap and follow through with the ideas you have, confidence that it will be successful and that you will make it happen, commitment that even on bad days you remember than any day that you are your own boss is better than the best day of being someone else’s employee. They are the Three C’s to Success in my book.
You can find Santa’s Secret Elf, Bag Holder and Maids on the Run on Facebook.
Meet Tania Mulry of DDx Media. Following is the story of her business, how it came to be and what the future holds for her and her business.
1. Business name, description and what makes it special
DDx Media is a mobile marketing agency, specializing in helping small, local businesses and experts create and launch beautiful, useful and profitable mobile applications to deepen their connections with their customers. We also created a wonderful, award-winning school fundraising app called edRover.
2. ‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching this business:
I was working as an executive at a larger marketing agency, helping gigantic retail brands with mobile marketing, when I realized I wanted to help smaller organizations and businesses take advantage of the benefits of a huge tidal wave of mobile marketing opportunities. Mobile is the fastest growing communication channel of all times, and you can just walk down the street, look around a restaurant, or glance around your own home to see the cultural and behavioral shifts we are all making.
Our phones are like a new organ of our body. We rely on them for contact with the outside world, with thousands of friends, family members, coworkers, and near strangers on social media. The help us keep time, schedule appointments and manage our To Do Lists. They entertain us with music and games. They help us find directions and choose where to shop. They can even help us save money, and now with edRover, raise money for our favorite cause.
I knew I could create a great mobile app that would serve both local businesses that needed foot traffic and sales as well as consumers who were tired of traditional fundraising methods like selling junk food and trinkets to friends and family. That is how the edRover idea was born.
Then I realized I could repeat this success for other businesses, and that’s how my agency was born.
3. Tell us about how you got your first customer.
With edRover, we started getting customers once our app was posted in the App Store. Keeping them coming was the big trick! We needed to do a lot of outreach on the web and in person to get more consumers to download the app and use it to benefit their school. We really hit success when we found a local champion that wanted to lead the promotion of edRover within their own school. Now we seek out those influential parents to lead the charge.
With our agency, we reached out to a few influential businesses in town and gave them great deals to be our charter customers. They’ve really helped us open doors to new business opportunities.
4. How do you measure success?
We are all about impact. Are we helping schools with edRover? Are our apps generating new business for our clients? We know if we are serving our customers well, they will be great referral sources for new business.
5. Ever felt like throwing in the towel?
Sure! The app business is actually really hard! It looks awesome and glamorous to have an award-winning app, but every day, you have to stay in the trenches to improve the app, respond to customer feedback, tweak the business model, find new sources of traffic to keep growing.
Then I remind myself that most people wouldn’t even know where to begin! That knowledge helps keep me going and helping other people realize their own app dreams.
6. One thing I wish I would have known…
You need to spend at least as much on marketing your app as you did on building your app to get the success you desire.
7. Moving forward…
I can’t wait to offer a new version of the edRover platform to other charitable organizations so that they can benefit from a new way of fundraising. This vision has me so inspired!
8. The absolute best part of being self-employed is…
The flexibility to participate actively in my children’s lives is priceless. I used to work for a big company and had a three hour commute daily, if I weren’t on an airplane to the far reaches of the earth most of the time. I had a nanny, a work from home husband and a live in grandpa helping with the kids, but I could never be there for school parties, for drop off and pick up, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I felt tremendous mommy guilt which definitely outweighed my desire to progress in my career, even though that was extremely strong! I knew I needed to follow a path to becoming an entrepreneur to reinvent my life, and I finally feel like it is paying off. My kids love having me at home when they are home, I have the best commute ever (strolling downstairs to my office), and I can help my kids in their classrooms, sports, church and scouting.
9. The absolute best part of being a parent is…
My kids are entering middle childhood (7, 10, 12) and it is amazing to watch them turn into funny, smart, disciplined, ambitious, helpful and sweet young men. I’m glad they still want to hang around with and hug and kiss mom although I know this phase may not last long!
10. I never imagined…
The feeling of seeing your app “baby” for the first time in the App Store or Google Play is such a thrill. The fact that your kids think you are cool for having an app is even better!
Meet StacyMcGuigan, Party Conciege!
1. Please tell us about your business and the service that you provide:
Special Events Company, provide invitations, theme ideas, centerpieces, favors, just ask and I will find (florists, caterers, DJs, etc…)
2. What motivated you to start your business?
I have been giving people party ideas for years as well as throwing great parties not only for my kids but for my husband and our friends, it was time to get paid for my creativity!!
3. What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field?
I was the PR/Marketing Manager and Special Events manager for The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.
4. What trends do you see in your current industry?
More home parties.
5. What are the most demanding aspects about your business?
Meeting your client’s budget and giving the WOW factor!!!
6. What are the most rewarding aspects about your business?
Seeing the person who the party is for, thier face when they see the event all pulled together. Seeing people have fun at the events I create and getting their feedback.
7. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours?
Be specific with what type of events you want to do and go for it, put yourself out there, be positive and know that it takes a while for people to call you, but once they do, they will keep calling.
8. What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?
Showing my children that if you have a passion for doing something, take the chance, work hard and you can be very successful and happy at the same time.
9. How have you been able to balance your time between work and your family?
It is very hard but I try to work when the children are in school or when they are in bed. If they can help me with a portion of the event, they do. We are successful together and support each other in our family.
10. What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself?
WORD of mouth and making “friends” with reporters in the local papers. Within one year of being an official business I have had 7 articles written either about me or thanking my company.
Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family?
As a new member, I hope more exposure for my company and potential new clients.
Shannon Wilburn is the President and Co-Founder of Just Between Friends Franchise System, Inc.
Just Between Friends, the Nation’s Leading children’s and Maternity Consignment event was founded in 1997 by two moms, Shannon Wilburn and Daven Tackett in a living room in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 2003, they formed Just Between Friends Franchise Systems, Inc. and began selling franchises. There are 109 franchises in 21 states. They have received national attention on CNN, Headline News, ABC News, Good Morning America, Inside Edition and CNBC’s The Big Idea. They have also been featured in The Wall Street Journal Online, Inc. Magazine, The Seattle Times, Sacramento Bee, LA Times, Daily Oklahoman and broadcast outlets in dozens of cities across the country including Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Denver and Seattle.
Please tell us about your business and the service that you provide:
JBF serves families in local communities by helping them save 50-90% off of retail on children’s and maternity items. Families can also sell their items and make 65-70%. Each franchise benefits, in part a local non-profit.
What motivated you to start your business?
We both had young children and were on a budget. There was a need and we found a way to fill it. We did not know that it would become a national company. We literally just wanted to save money on our children’s items. Tulsa really embraced the concept. When it was succeeding in Tulsa, others wanted to start it in their communities…and that is how the franchise system was born.
What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field?
I had sales experience, and had grown up on a budget. However, I did not have an ounce of business experience. In fact, my degree is Elementary Education.
What trends do you see in your current industry?
With the current economy, families are having to be creative in trying to find ways to save money. This is just a smart way for them to do just that.
What are the most demanding aspects about your business?
What are the most rewarding aspects about your business?
We love helping families. I tell people all the time that this is a “feel good business”. You don’t have to “sell” JBF because it sells itself. Everyone understands saving money and making money. It’s a win win win.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours?
Probably that it takes a lot of work. We tell applicants looking to purchase a franchise that we make it look easy, but that it takes time, effort and commitment to be in it for a while before you see some great ROI.
What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?
The example that I am setting for my kids.
How have you been able to balance your time between work and your family?
Is there such a thing? I don’t understand balance very well. My hubby has to help me see that sometimes. My kids are in high school and are very patient with my time in front of the computer. They also get to help me when I need help with business stuff. We like to vacation as a family so I count that as quality time…
What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself?
I use social media quite a bit. I also do a tiny bit of blogging. I wish that I had the talent to just sit down and write something out quickly, but it takes me forever to put my thoughts together. It is not a talent that I possess.
Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family?
The opportunity to bless others.
From OMM: Find Shannon on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.