Once upon a time, many had the mindset that raising children is such a busy job in and of itself that stay-at-home mums couldn’t work steadily. And busy mums will agree that there’s some truth in the thinking – kids are incredibly demanding, and finding time for anything else can be a tall task. But if you’ve heard the term “mumpreneur” in the last few years, you may be aware that the common mindset is shifting!
In recent years we’ve seen an unprecedented wave of female entrepreneurs, many of whom are also busy mothers. “Mumpreneurism” is producing innovative new products and businesses by the month – and the inspirational women discussed below demonstrate the trend.
Wendy Tan White
Wendy Tan White is unlike some of the examples to follow, in that she launched a successful business before becoming a mother. Fresh out of Imperial College, White gained a position helping with the development of Egg.com. She eventually branched off (with her husband) to form the popular UK-based web design platform Moonfruit. The company grew quickly in the early 2000s, and, if anything, White accelerated its progress while on maternity leave in 2004. With her husband running the day-to-day company, White turned her focus to design school and social marketing in an effort to fine-tune Moonfruit and continue its expansion. In 2009, White returned as CEO, and the company was ultimately sold for £23 million—in large part thanks to the work Wendy Tan White and her husband did from their home, with Mrs. White in the early stages of motherhood!
Wendy Shand is a mumpreneur who provides an excellent example of how a mum can not only create a great small business, but do so specifically for the benefit of children and families. A mother of three, Shand had the idea for her business after a family vacation, which saw her young son endangered (but thankfully not harmed) due in part to a hotel’s lack of precautions suitable for young children. Thus, Tots To Travel—a family holiday planning site with an eye toward child safety and baby-appropriate destinations—was born. The Guardian did a nice write-up on Shand, including how the business netted £4 million in just seven years of operation!
With a background in clothing design (for such brands as Hilfiger and Roxy), Kate Pietrasik had an invaluable foundation of experience that she eventually used in launching her own business. A mother who had spent many years living in France, Pietrasik was struck (upon moving to England) by the fact that any sort of fashionable children’s clothing featured in stores tended to be segregated. Using her own background as a designer and a very hands-on, family-oriented approach, Pietrasik launched kidswear company Tootsa from her home in 2011. Since then, it has grown it into a very unique fashion brand. The company strives to create comfortable, fun, fashionable, and above all unisex clothing options for young children. Pietrasik is a wonderful example of a mother keeping her skills and passions alive in a profitable way despite the obligations of running a family.
If this name sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve seen Ms. Krumins on the popular American entrepreneur investment show Shark Tank. Krumins went on the show in 2009 to pitch a product she’d designed at home while raising a young daughter, and she’s since become one of the most popular mumpreneur success stories over in the U.S. The product was incredibly straightforward, but also incredibly effective: a small, friendly elephant whose trunk acted as a medicine dispenser. The idea was to make medicine more fun, or at least more tolerable, for young children. Granted, Krumins had the substantial boost of a $50,000 Shark Tank investment from Barbara Corcoran, but the success of Ava The Elephant still shows how a simple homemade craft can ultimately become a business.
Though her product is nothing remotely similar to Ava the Elephant, Sally Marlow can be viewed as something like a UK version of Tiffany Krumins, in terms of having a very simple concept born of need that spawned a small business. In the case of Marlow, that concept is My Car Step, a tool to help young children climb into their car seats without assistance. She realized the need for the product while dealing with trying to situate her own young daughter in the car. As any busy parent can attest, there is a serious potential benefit to making sure your little ones can get seated without assistance! Marlow won an award for “Best Mumpreneur Product” last year, and this business only figures to keep growing in time!
The best part is, this is only a small sampling of the success stories that are out there. It seems that every time a mumpreneur business makes headlines, five more spring up in the next month. The success not only of stay-at-home mums but of homegrown businesses in general gives us all a little bit more confidence to follow a dream or take a talent to the next level.
Shelly Stinson is a freelance writer, originally from the UK, and now based out of Colorado. She covers everything from health and fitness to business and entrepreneurship. Her hope is to one day cover these topics on her own site.