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Meet Tania Mulry!

Meet Tania Mulry!

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 Shannon Wilburn!

Meet Shannon Wilburn!

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?

Time commitment.

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.

Meet Andrea Slominski!

Meet Andrea Slominski!

Married more than 20 years with 3 children, Tim & Andrea began baking for friends and family at the holidays and it proved so popular that they decided to offer McLaren’s for purchase as gifts for the Christmas and New Years Holidays. They continued to grow and now MacLaren’s products are available year round.

The delicious Scottish Shortbread has been a tradition in their family for at least five generations; both sides of their family have their roots in Scotland, through the McLaren & Forbes Clans. The family recipe was passed down from Tim’s great-great Gran who lived in Glasgow, Scotland. Each batch is hand-made, baked in clay trays and hand packaged.

In 2020, the couple retired and sold the business… and so the tradition of hand-made Scottish Shortbread, Curds, Jams and more continues! Faithfully using the same recipes and methods, the new ownership continues providing customers with the best products all through the year. This is an interview from 10 years ago, reposted!

1. Tell us about your business and the service that you provide:

McLaren’s is a specialty gourmet food business, focused on hand made foods with a Scottish, British or civilized flair, for afternoon tea, dessert or any special occasion.
We make all of our products by hand, with the finest ingredients available. Our products include:
Original Scottish Shortbread
Ginger Lassies
Lemon Curd, Lime Curd, Orange Curd
Specialty Jams, Jellies, Marmalades
Traditional Scone Mix
Maple Scone Mix
Old World Gingerbread Cake Mix
We sell individual products as well as beautiful gift baskets. We also offer corporate gifting, weddings favors and special event bids.
To specialize gifts we have an ever-changing inventory of new, vintage and antique teacups, teapots, biscuit barrels and more.
Product Descriptions
Original Scottish Shortbread-
Ginger Lassies (a spicy chewy ginger cookie, 2 varieties, hot or mild)
Lemon Curd, Lime Curd, Orange Curd- no fillers or thickeners, only eggs, sugar, butter and fresh squeezed citrus juice
Specialty Jams, Jellies, Marmalades- all of our fruit is purchased from local growers, fresh and in season (with the exception of one jam whose fruit comes from Oregon) We purchase from local growers, not only to assure quality and freshness, but to support our local farmers as well.
We also sell 3 mixes to bake at home.
Traditional Scone Mix- this makes a light fluffy proper scone, and should be eaten warm, the day it is made.
Maple Scone Mix- this mix is sweetened with pure organic Maple Sugar and includes additional Maple sugar for a glaze. This makes a light fluffy proper scone, and should be eaten warm, the day it is made.
Old World Gingerbread Cake Mix- Our Gingerbread mix makes a fantastic dessert or teacake! This is not a gingerbread cookie mix, but a gingerbread cake, best served warm with fresh whipped cream, or better yet topped with your favorite Jam.

2. How did you decide to get started?

I am a teacher in the CA Community College system and Tim is a mortgage broker, so…. 2 years ago, when the market crashed and my class load was severely cut, we needed to do something to make money to support our family. That first Christmas season, we knew that our cookies were popular with friends and family, so we put out a little email and BANG! We sold over 1200 lbs of shortbread with very little marketing. We decided to take his family shortbread recipe public and expand into a legitimate business. So we moved from our home kitchen into a commercial kitchen and off we went, into the world of farmers markets, serv safe, sampling permits, and Scottish Festivals.

3. What kind of background of expertise do you have in your field?

We had no commercial baking/cooking experience. We did know that we and our friends preferred fresh foods with no preservatives and no additives.

4. What trends do you see in your current industry?

Customers want delicious foods, made with real, fresh ingredients and are willing to pay more for great quality.

5. What things do you find to be most demanding about your job?

We go into the kitchen at night, after we finish our other jobs. We travel to Farmers markets, Scottish Festivals and Craft shows all year, it’s tiring.

6. What do you find to be the most rewarding about your job and your day-to-day routine?

One of the most rewarding things for us is that we are able to pick up our kids from school, and be home with them after school. Also, let’s not forget the look on customer’s faces when they try our products! They love them. One of the greatest rewards ahs been being able to keep our home.

7. What advice would you give to someone else who is interested in starting a business like yours?

First, get ready to work very hard, long hours. Find a product that you believe in and that you know other people like and will buy. Try to find a mentor in the same or a related business, do not ask someone who sells the same product that you want to sell.  Find out the laws and regulations in your sate and county, before you invest a dime! (CA- Take your Serv Safe class first, then get your DBA while you look for a commercial kitchen.)

8. What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?

I am very grateful that I have been able to be home for my kids and that my kids have helped out, learned to bake and cook right along side us. I am grateful that as a family, we worked together to build this upstart business and my children have learned the value of hard work.

9. How have you been able to manage your time between work and your family?

By soldiering on. It has been very hard to balance everything. Some days it is more work and some days it is more family. We do the best we can. The idea of balance is a myth, perpetrated by pundits and magazine writers who have no children. Life is more like a crazy pendulum, but it eventually will swing back the other way.

10. What has been the most effective way for you to promote yourself?

We have built our business on our reputation for the highest quality products and the customer satisfaction we have built at Farmers Markets and Scottish Festivals. We also use Constant Contact, have a web site, Facebook, Twitter and a blog.

Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family?

It saved our home and continues to provide a growing income for our family.