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.
Have you ever dreamed of a job where you could spend time with your family and earn money at the same time? Most traditional jobs don’t offer that. But, becoming a WAHM could be your ticket to your dream. But, before embarking on such a quest, here is some helpful information detailing what it’s all about.
Just what do these letters stand for? WAHM stands for Work At Home Mom. Over the past 20 years, more and more women have come out of the workplace and gone back into the home.
The decision hasn’t been an easy one. It became apparent a long time ago that men were the only ones being allowed to “have their cake and eat it too.” They could pursue a corporate career and still come home in the evenings to the family.
Women with careers had a different path to follow. Besides working longer hours to achieve the same pay and credibility as their male counterparts, they also had to contend with the housework and the kids. After a long day at the office and doing the household chores, the kids sadly got what was left over which was usually a very worn out mother.
That has since changed. WAHMs are proving everyday that women can contribute to the family financial situation and nurture their families. Both online and off, a network of support has been created for any woman who wants to consider an option that will help them meet their needs.
How to get started?
When you talk to your family about the possibility you want to have an idea of the direction you will take. Check out sites like justaddsweat.com, internetbasedmoms.com and wahmtalkradio.com. They offer helpful hints to moms getting started with a work at home enterprise and also a network of opportunities for connecting with other WAHMs.
If your income has been a big part of the monthly family finances, then switching to a work at home enterprise will cause your finances to take a hit. Be sure there is enough financial cushion in your bank account to weather the first six months of your new career. It will take time to establish your business.
First, figure out your interests and skills. WAHMs can find business opportunities to work for someone else doing everything from audio transcription to writing articles to accounting. Be aware that there are scams about and that legitimate companies looking for professionals won’t ask for money upfront from you.
Some WAHMs carve out their own niche and begin an online business. If you are skilled with crafting, you can create a website to promote your crafts and sell products. A blog is also another idea. Blog about your area of expertise and develop a following. Combine that with affiliate or search engine marketing to generate revenue.
Making it work
With new career comes the issue of balance between home and work. Just because you are home doesn’t mean you won’t need help around the house or time away from the kids in order to work. Consider these tips for creating a balance:
• Develop a set schedule for work and play on a weekly basis
• Discuss dividing up household chores between you, your spouse, and older kids
• Do pre-work such as fixing lunches, prepping breakfast, choosing clothing the night before
• Hire a babysitter once or twice a week
• Separate home office space inside the house
There are advantages to being a WAHM. Plan carefully and be patient. Support from your family makes all the difference.
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.
Organization can be a great challenge for some work at home moms (WAHMs). For others, it comes naturally. Still others wish they could be more organized but don’t know where to begin. Regardless, getting organized can really help you run an effective business from home. Here are some tips. The Calendar.
Your calendar can be a simple notebook, an online calendar, or a business day planner from an office supply store. Some WAHMs like a big desk calendar; others prefer an hourly rather than a daily or weekly approach. Choose what works for you – if you have trouble organizing yourself, a more hourly approach may help in the beginning. If you are naturally task oriented and ordered, a weekly calendar might work better for you.
The calendar is where you divvy up your time. It’s where you prioritize the urgent tasks and separate them from the less urgent ones. Your calendar is also where you note the time it takes for repeated tasks – making meals, running errands, doing laundry, bedtime routine with the kids, etc. It can really help to go ahead and write those things in just so you can realistically see how many hours you have to devote to work. Quick Meals.
Meal preparation can take some time, especially if you are concerned about your family eating fresh, whole foods made from scratch. However, you can cut corners on time and not necessarily on health. Here are some ideas for taking a load off of meal prep:
Have someone in the family go to the store for you. Keep your list specific and easy to read.
Divide up meal preparation among family members (this depends on the age and number of people in your family, of course, and does not apply to everyone). Let everyone in the family choose a day when he or she makes dinner, or helps make dinner.
Delegate clean-up to other family members as well.
Food does not have to be elaborate to be healthy. Pasta tossed with steamed veggies is quick and healthy, and lean meats like turkey can be popped in the oven and baked while you work. Save the gourmet experiments for the weekends.
Work at home moms like to share tips and tricks for helping each other succeed. There is no perfect formula or guarantee of a huge income while you do nothing (and anything that promises that is likely a scam), but those who have succeeded or know others who have succeeded have some good ideas. In fact, it is this networking and sharing that is success tip number one. Social Networking.
Join groups with similar interests. There are entire online communities dedicated to supporting the work at home mom (WAHM). Some of the online communities are free to join, some provide space for you to advertise for a small fee and some sites require a fee to join. As noted above, moms who work at home usually enjoy sharing success tips, and having a support community can really help when you have questions. You can also share your own tips and successful ‘moments’.
Another word on social networking – sites like Facebook are becoming increasingly popular among small home businesses. The Latest Technology.
Don’t be afraid of things like Twitter and online advertising. Success is more likely to come your way if you are connected and available. You might consider a mobile device so you can update people as to the latest information on your business, and so you can respond to clients and prospective clients right away. Love What You Do.
It’s hard to be successful doing something you dislike. You are likely to lose motivation if you don’t like the product you’re selling, the information you are writing about and so forth. Your passions and interests may not be conducive to a work at home business, but if you are really honest with yourself you can probably find something that interests you that would make a fulfilling business venture. Be Decisive.
One of the pitfalls that can happen with WAHMs is distraction. Another pitfall is uncertainty. If you aren’t sure that you want to do this particular business or even whether or not you want to work from home, then decide before venturing into business. You can research and ask before deciding, but it can be a mistake to do things halfway (such as starting a website but having no idea how to promote it or update it). Keep it Personal.
One of the things that business customers sometimes complain about is that they can’t seem to talk to a ‘live human’ in customer service. If you are courteous and take the time to answer people’s concerns, it ups your chances for success. Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.
This is one of those questions that work at home moms (WAHMs) often ask themselves – in fact, it’s often something potential WAHMs ask before they even begin working from home: how are you going to balance work, home and family? No one is perfect at this, and no one has the perfect formula. But, there are some good tips out there on how to balance these important elements of your life. Here are some of those tips. Organize Your Time.
As a mom, it can sometimes seem like everyone wants a piece of your time and attention every minute. It helps to look at time as a big pie – if you take out a piece now, that’s one less piece that you’ll have later. So, divide up the pie.
You can make a pie chart of your day if you want to, but a day planner or online calendar will work just fine. This might work best if you do it weekly rather than daily. And it does not have to be done in this order – just because business tasks are listed first here does not mean they are the most important. If family time is a bigger priority for you, then list it first.
First, list everything you need to do for your business that week, dividing it up into urgent priorities and not-so-urgent ones. Then estimate the hours that the urgent ones will take, and plug those hours into your work week. Those are the non-optional work hours. Then, plug in the less-urgent business activities – maybe using a different color – so you know those are not absolutely vital.
After that, make a list of household chores for that week – laundry, meals, errands, etc. Divide those up among the non-work hours. Take into consideration thinkgs like weekly events (religious activities, soccer games, etc.) that will require more laundry. If possible, set this weekly household task list up to repeat each week so these things will be on autopilot and won’t require re-scheduling each week. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel every week!
Make another list of family time. Do your kids go to school? Do you homeschool? What about family dinners and game nights together? What about a date with your spouse, or if your single, a date with a friend? Schedule in these social things into your calendar too, and rearrange accordingly. Maybe a non-vital business task can be set aside to spend some extra time with your kids this week. Give yourself time off.
People who work in an office get weekends off. While you may not be able to spare two whole days every week, set aside time one day a week where you can rest and spend time with family. Organizing your time is fine, but a little down time can be therapeutic…even if you have to schedule it in! Consider a mother’s helper.
Mother’s helpers can be such a help for busy WAHMs. Mother’s helpers come to your house rather than you having to drop your kids off with them. They are cheaper than a babysitter, and your kids still stay at home with you present. The mother’s helper can help out around the house, entertain the kids or even run a short errand. Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.