Although, Lacy Arnold struggled with becoming a mom and with her weight, she candidly shares her journey that led her to win a bikini competition and a thriving wellness business as a mom.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I grew up in a large family and I always wanted babies from the time I was about 2 years old. My biggest dream in life was to be a mother, but that didn’t easily happen for me. I had years of struggle and infertility. But now I am a mom of 3 wonderful kids.
One of my passions is health and fitness. I have a degree in Health and Wellness and I am certified as a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.
I was always interested in that field. I love being in the outdoors and being really active.
I own LeanMoms.com, which is a company for moms that provides a holistic healthy lifestyle program. And I’m also a co-owner of a meditation company called, Sculptations.com, a scientifically engineered audio tool that anyone can use to sculpt the life he or she wants. I help write the scripts for the guided meditations.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY THAT LED YOU TO CREATE YOUR HEALTH AND WELLNESS BUSINESSES?
It was kind of a long process. Before I had children I got into the health field, earned my degree and certifications. I was fascinated about how women’s bodies function differently and why they need special care, especially after they have children.
For me, after undergoing through years of infertility treatments, it took a toll on my self-esteem as well as my body image. I’d gain 10-20 pounds, then I’d lose some and then gain them back. Finally, after 5 years, I finally got pregnant.
During that time, I wanted to make sure I did everything right, even though I wasn’t sure what that was. So, I ate a lot, because I felt I needed to feed the baby also. I ended up gaining an additional 65 pounds through that pregnancy.
At that time, my main focus was to get pregnant and have the baby. My perception of a mom growing up was that after you have a baby, your body is just shot and you would be fat forever and that’s just the way it is.
Even though I was so ecstatic to be a mom, I remember looking in the mirror one day and just feeling depressed with what I saw. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t have enough energy and I wanted more. Then I felt guilty for feeling bad, because I wanted to be a mom so badly and I had what I wanted.
I started researching and doing different weight loss programs. A lot of them were unhealthy ways. And as a mom, I was stressed out and displayed a lot of emotional eating behaviors.
Then I went on to have two more babies through IVF. As a result, my body was just shot by the time I had my third baby. I felt like I was 60 years old. I really wanted real and lasting change. So, I just took the bull by the horns and decided that I needed to create a way for moms to feel better.
I formulated and followed a health and fitness program, competed in a couple of bikini competitions and won one of them, which was huge for me because I started at over 200 pounds and ended up winning an NPC bikini competition!
So, that stirred up my passion and showed me that moms can be fit, lean and sexy. The question was how to balance it all correctly. It doesn’t have to be something that takes you away from your family or is another task on your to do list per se. You can incorporate all these things that I teach in my Lean Moms program into your everyday life.
WHAT DOES LEAN MOMS OFFER?
Lean Moms is a company based on a holistic program for busy moms. We are just in the process of launching a new program, which has 4 parts and starts with resetting their bodies by doing a detox cleanse. The second piece is reintroducing nutrients for moms specifically, because their bodies get so depleted through childbirth and everything. It’s based on following a whole foods meal plan. Thirdly, there are 15 minute fat- burning workouts you can do at once or break it up throughout the day for amazing results.
My philosophy is going back to our primal state when fitness was incorporated into people’s everyday lives.
Lastly, my favorite part is the mindset component, which is one of the pieces that gets overlooked when striving for a healthy lifestyle. The mindset component is meditation based on MRT Technology to retrain your brain. I have one on emotional eating, ideal body image, as well as, a relaxation one before going to sleep and when you wake up.
TELL US ABOUT SCULPTATIONS.COM.
My business partner and I create audio meditations using MRT technology, which is a unique combination of binaural beats, heartbeat, and breathing technology along with empowering music that are all specially engineered to train your brain for success.
Each MindSculpting Track is scientifically proven to affect brain wave patterns to induce positive effects. This includes laser-like focus, enhanced creativity, greater problem-solving capabilities, and an accelerated learning capacity.
My business partner writes the harmonic meditations and I write the scripts for the guided meditations. We launched the company, because we felt that a lot of people didn’t really understand the benefits of meditation and we wanted people to benefit from this type of technology.
We offer various types of guided meditations for every aspect of your life, such as wealth, health and relationships. And we also have a kid series, which I’m very excited about, because I’m passionate about finding different ways for kids to feel healthier. My own kids had anxiety issues and so meditations help with self-esteem and relaxation at night.
WHAT TOP ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH MOMS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH GETTING HEALTHY AND/OR FEELING GOOD ABOUT HER BODY AND HERSELF?
My best advice is to just start. Just to do one thing. It could be no soda this week. Sometimes starting an entire health regimen can be so overwhelming. I know about that because I’ve been there. However, a little bit of progress is better than no progress. Set short time goals.
You can start small and as you start to see some results, it’s going to change the way you feel. You’re going to like it and continue doing it. Many of us just tend to dive in where we have to do something perfect or nothing at all. I always tell my clients that if they mess up, like eat something
they weren’t supposed to or didn’t do that workout, to start over right then instead of waiting to start again on the next Monday or tomorrow.
People say everyday is a new day, but my philosophy is it’s a new hour. You always have the new time in front of you to shift, forgive yourself and get back on track.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A MOM WHO JUST HAD HER FIRST BABY AND IS STRUGGLING WITH HER BODY IMAGE?
I would say to be patient with yourself, but do something. You can start slow and know that your skin will return somewhat normal. You’re always going to have some scars or marks from pregnancy, which I call badges of honor. Your body is just different after having a baby.
My new program is based on what happens after you have babies. Your fat cells multiply and your hormones shift. So, you’re more apt to store fat. Some moms lose weight when they are nursing, but they also need to be more careful when they stop nursing.
There’s a way around it where you’re not starving all the time and you don’t need to work out for 2 hours a day. You can have a lean body after your baby.
Be patient and love yourself. Be proud of the accomplishment you did with having your child. Enjoy that time.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO LIVE A MORE BALANCED LIFE?
There are a couple of things to avoid entrepreneurial meltdown or Mommy meltdown. Make sure you set boundaries for yourself. So often we just let everything happen.
Some of my boundaries are no technology or electronics on Sundays. We’ll spend time reading together, go on hikes or go to the Farmer’s Market. I admit that it’s hard for me to go without technology, but I learned the hard way.
My other is that I refuse to miss my workouts. Maybe I’m strapped to the computer all day, but I’ll take breaks every hour and do 50 squats or 25 push-ups. I have to fit it in my daily life.
Also, I make sure I’m present when I have dinner with my family and to tuck my daughters in bed at night. These are things I refuse to compromise on no matter how busy I am or what’s going on in my life.
SHARE SOMETHING DIFFERENT OR UNIQUE ABOUT YOU THAT MAY SURPRISE PEOPLE WHO KNOW YOU.
When you’re in a health business, people always think that you don’t have moments where you don’t eat well, but pizza is my huge weakness.
My weight fluctuates too. I don’t let it get out of control, but there are times where I just let my hair down. I don’t always look as perfect as I do on my website.
After a 4am wake-up call from an idea, Shelly Ehler shares her journey on how she never gave up and carried her invention from a prototype to a feature on The Today Show and Shark Tank.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I grew up in Orange County, California. I went to the University of Arizona and studied to be a schoolteacher. I married my high school sweetheart shortly thereafter and we have two sons who are now 12 and 9 years old.
I invented a product called ShowNo Towels, which are the perfect bath towel that kids can use to dry off on their own. It is a cover-up that keeps them warm and protected from the sun and it is a changing towel that kids can put on and change their clothes underneath in privacy. It is also the perfect beach towel, because it can lay flat on the sand.
SHARE WITH US YOUR JOURNEY THAT LED YOU TO YOUR INVENTION.
I got the idea when I was at the pool with my sons. When it was time to leave and they wanted to change into their dry clothes, my older son asked me to wrap a towel around him so that he could change in privacy. When I was holding his towel, my younger son started to get impatient because he wanted me to hold his towel.
As my younger son started to have a melt down, this situation got me thinking that there should be something that I could throw over both of them and they could change on their own without me having to hold anybody’s towel.
I always think of different ways for kids to be more independent, as well as ways to make my life easier. As I thought a little more about it, nothing really came to mind. So, I slept on it that night until 4 in the morning when I just shot out of bed.
I literally sat right up and thought, “why not just put a slit in the towel and make it like a poncho that would cover their front and back?” It was such a simple idea. So, I jumped on Google and searched for something like that. The only thing I found were little hooded towels for babies and nothing for kids after the age of 4 years. When kids are that young, they still don’t really know how to manipulate a towel to dry themselves off and wrap it around themselves.
Once I saw there was nothing available, I thought about it and immediately started to work on my idea. I got a towel and cut a hole in it. When I put it over me, I thought, “Oh my gosh… I think this can work!”
I couldn’t wait for my kids to wake up that morning. I already had my first prototype done by the time they were out of bed. I put it around both of them and told them to change their clothes. They thought I was crazy, but they did it anyway. And it worked!
When we went to the pool that day, I had at least 5 people come up to me and asked what my boys were wearing and where I got it from. From that moment, I knew that I was on to something. It was such a simple idea and when I looked around the pool, I saw that every kid needed it. All the kids were covering themselves with a towel or changing in public. I saw a need for this type of towel.
And that’s really how it all started.
WOW! YOU DIDN’T WASTE TIME!
I didn’t waste time with the idea, but then I sat on it for months and months, because I didn’t know what to do next. I felt the typical fear and didn’t really move forward because of the same reasons why so many people don’t start with their ideas. I just kept listening to the voice in my head that said it was going to be too hard; you won’t know how to do this; you don’t have any money.
However, when it finally came down to it, my heart just kept whispering louder and louder to me and it wouldn’t go away. Finally, I heard this voice in my heart say, ”Anything is possible and your “how” will appear when you take that leap of faith and go for it!” So, I just went for it and things started showing up exactly when I needed them to make this product a reality.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR PRODUCT FEATURED ON TV SHOWS AND TO THE BIG MARKETS?
The first big step was getting on the Today Show. I got that by sending the Today Show some towels.
I think so many times people think that it’s too hard or they’re not important enough. But you will never know until you try. You’re going to get so many “no’s” as an entrepreneur. Sometimes you’ll send a dozen of emails each day and hear back from no one, but you have to keep sending them. It’s just the risk you take.
One of my goals on my list was to be on the Today Show. Every morning I would light a candle and just close my eyes and call for it in my mind. I envisioned it happening. Within a few months, my towel was on the Today Show.
I strongly believe that your intuition will guide you. So many times people will dismiss that small, little voice in their head, but I don’t. I listen to that voice. It is what guides me now. When I hear that little voice telling me to send the towel to someone, I follow in faith and do it. A lot of times it works out.
HOW DID YOU MAKE IT ON SHARK TANK?
We aired on the Today Show in the beginning of June 2011. It was funny because I didn’t know what to expect. I thought we were going to blow in sales and I was going to be swamped. I was the only person here making the towels and I only had 20 in stock. I was worried my website would crash and I was in panic.
When it aired, none of that happened. I sold about 20 towels that day. I remembered just feeling like such a failure. I had this huge opportunity and I turned it into just 20 towels in sales. It didn’t look like I thought it would be. I was really disappointed and upset.
I told everyone in the world that we were going to be on the Today Show. And now everyone was calling and emailing me and asking how it went after the show. I felt so unsuccessful.
But I got quiet and kept on asking WHY. Then I heard in my mind, “Look. Your product was viewed today by millions of people. Are you going to say… Is that all or will you say thank you? One of those thoughts will lead to a door where anything is possible and one of them will close it.” I gave myself 5 minutes to be mad. I set my timer and I cried. Then when I was done, I chose to be grateful for it.
The next day, I got a phone call from the operators of the largest water parks in the country, who kept on saying no to me after numerous emails and calls. They saw my towel on the Today Show and wanted to establish me as a vendor in their parks.
This is where I got my big aha moment. The results of being on the show can look so different. It can look so many different ways! Just because it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to be, doesn’t mean it was a failure.
On Facebook, I posted to all my friends to share with everyone that I was on the Today Show and to share the link. One of my good friends posted the link and it reached someone who did casting for Shark Tank.
I was invited to an open casting call the following week. Prior to this, everyone was telling me to get on the show, but I had no interest in being on Shark Tank. It gave me anxiety. I didn’t want to be on a national TV show and look like a loser. I had to really think about it.
However, one thing I learned is when something continually shows up in your life, it’s really the universe sending you a message. So, even though I was terrified, I said yes to being on Shark Tank.
It worked out better than I could have imagined. I heard within a week that they were casting me. I started working with the producers immediately and within 3 weeks I was pitching to “the sharks.”
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEING ON SHARK TANK?
It was crazy! The 3 weeks preparing for the show were the most nerve wracking of my life. I have never been that nervous. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was sick to my stomach.
When the day arrived, as terrified as I was, the minute I walked in there, I felt peace. I can only attribute it to the fact that I just told myself that I’m letting go and I’m just going to let it work out the way it’s supposed to be. I just asked God to work through me, to speak for me and just to take over, which is exactly what happened. It felt like an out-of-body experience. I spoke every sentence beautifully. I didn’t stumble a word. I answered every single question clearly and I was precise. I got my point across.
I left there with a better deal than what I was asking for, which happens very rarely on the show. I was the first entrepreneur on the show that was given a check on the spot.
To me, that was just divine. It all worked out in such an incredible way. I felt so blessed. And I was in shock for several days. I couldn’t believe that it all happened.
Not only that, but I was seen by the largest towel manufacturer in the country who licenses towels. They approached me, because they wanted to take on ShowNo Towels and design them with licensed characters, such as Dora, Spiderman, Spongebob, etc. So, this spring we should be in Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and other big stores.
WHAT TOP ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH A MOM WHO HAS AN IDEA AND WANTS TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
You have to find that still quiet voice. Get quiet, find silence and connect with that small, small voice inside of you. We don’t easily hear it, because our world is too loud. The TV is always on. We’re on our devices, the internet and all the social media channels. It’s all too noisy.
Find a quiet space and learn to listen and connect to your voice. It’s that voice that will guide you every step of the way towards your divine destiny. It’s not something I think. It’s something I know to be true, because it has guided me all along. And when I’m lost, I just quiet myself and I find it again. And almost instantly people start showing up to help you along your path.
Follow that voice in faith. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you don’t have a dime or if everyone else thinks you’re crazy. Who cares! You put one foot in front of the next. Don’t try to figure it all out. It will overwhelm you and bog you down. Just figure out today. Pick one step to do today.
It’s not all going to happen overnight. I think a big mistake that people make is they don’t realize the challenge that goes into something like this. And that it does not happen overnight. It takes time and patience. If you don’t have the strength, the faith and the patience, you will get burned out very quickly.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU LEARNED AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my journey is that when you follow in faith, it’s all going to work out. You have to believe it will all work out the way it’s supposed to.
Just because things don’t appear the way you think it’s supposed to doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is that we feel disappointed when things don’t go the way we think they’re supposed to go.
But what you don’t realize is when you keep following in faith you’ll see how it all unfolds. You’ll see how all the twists and turns and the closed doors actually work to your advantage. But if you stop, like so many people do, they just get discouraged over the closed doors and think it’s never going to happen.
The truth is when a dream has taken root within you; it will always manifest the way it’s supposed to if you continue to follow it in faith. So, my biggest advice is to not get discouraged when things don’t look like they’re supposed to. That’s when you must keep going.
Say thank you for the things that happen the way you want and also to the things that don’t happen the way you want, because you’re being protected. The best thing you can do every single day is to say thank you.
WHAT DOES BALANCE MEAN TO YOU?
It’s not always easy for me to stay balanced a lot of times.
The things that keep me happy, at peace and feeling balanced is 10 minutes of meditation in the morning. This makes a huge difference for me. It’s the way I focus my day.
I also get some form of exercise each day. If I don’t make it to the gym, I just take my dog for a walk. I just get out in the fresh air and get some form of exercise, which always helps me get out all of my nervous energy, get centered and ground myself.
Back to school typically means back to structure. As Moms, we tend to breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment once the kids are off to school. And, many times, we need a vacation from our vacations! So, when the kids excitedly or drudgingly go back to the classrooms, take this time to reward yourself.
I say, within the first week of school, do something for yourself… schedule a massage, mani & pedi for your nails, take a different yoga or dance class you’ve never done before or read all the inspiring stories in The Balanced Mom Magazine! Do something for you.
Not only will you and your soul enjoy the time, but it will also prepare you for the school year. I see it like a trade-off. The kids get school supplies and new shoes, while you get pampered by doing something just for you.
Here’s to the next school year! Remember to breathe, love yourself, prioritize and pick your battles.
Enjoy your Fall issue!
Let’s explore a typical day for the mom who works outside of the home. Her “To Do” list includes: waking up, getting herself ready, wakes the family, makes sure the lunches are packed, homework is finished, paperwork is signed, gets the kids to school, puts in a full day’s work, runs errands on her lunch hour (with lunch usually on the go), picks the kids up from school, drives them to their sporting event, remembers that she is scheduled to bring the team snack, runs to the grocery store, runs back to the sporting event, gets everyone home, prepares dinner, makes sure that the kids do their homework, makes sure everyone has their bath, takes out the trash (because she is tired of reminding someone else to do it),cleans up the kitchen, does a load of laundry, puts the laundry away, cleans the house, maybe has time for her favorite TV show, falls into bed and wakes up and starts all over the next morning.
Let’s explore a typical day for the mom who works from home. This mom has her own business and is believed by everyone to have the best of both worlds! She is able to schedule time off to attend her child’s school play, dentist appointments and doctor appointments. She can help in her child’s classroom and volunteer to attend school field trips. By many, she is considered the “Have It All Woman!”
Let’s look a little more closely at the mom who works from home. Her “To Do” List includes: waking up, getting herself ready, wakes the family, makes sure the lunches are packed, homework is finished, paperwork is signed, gets the kids to school, drives to her home office, puts in a load of laundry, exercises, checks emails, responds to emails, checks with employees to see what matters need addressed, attends a networking function (a two-hour function with a half hour drive time to and from), gets back to her office, takes care of the work at hand, puts in a full day’s work, runs errands on her lunch hour (with lunch is usually on the go), picks the kids up from school, drives them to their sporting event, remembers that she is scheduled to bring the team snack, runs to the grocery store, runs back to the sporting event, gets everyone home, prepares dinner, makes sure that the kids do their homework, makes sure everyone has their bath, takes out the trash (because she is tired of reminding someone else to do it),cleans up the kitchen, does a load of laundry, puts the laundry away, cleans the house, maybe has time for her favorite TV show, falls into bed and wakes up and starts all over the next morning.
If you are a working mom, can you relate to any of this? If so, my question to you is this; “Where do YOU list yourself on your To Do list?”
When do you schedule:
• Your doctor appointment
• Your dentist appointment
• Your lunch hour
• Your break time
Or, when was the last time you:
• Had a manicure/pedicure
• Got your hair cut with an updated style
• Updated your wardrobe
• Talked on the phone (because you had time to chat)
• Had a leisurely lunch to yourself
• Had a leisurely lunch with a friend
• Had time for a date with your partner
• Saw a movie that wasn’t animated
• Went out to dinner somewhere with cloth napkins
Are you starting to get the picture? Too often, moms forget to put themselves on their own “To Do” list and then wonder why they feel tired and burnt out. From the day we become moms, we begin to put the needs of others before our own as we find ourselves doing “just one more thing”. Before we know it, gradually, over time, we have lost ourselves to the demands of others in our life. Yes, we are happy to be a mom, taking care of our babies, our children, our partners, the house, the job, the cleaning, the laundry, the grocery shopping, and the list goes on. Over time, we find a way to “Do It All” and find we have lost our “SELF” somewhere along the way.
When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant will announce that; should cabin pressure drop and the need for oxygen masks become necessary, you should place your own mask on your face before you place the mask on your children’s faces. At first, this may sound backwards because, as a mom, we always think of our children first. But if you think about it, if we pass out or become unable to care for our children, we are no good to anyone. The same thought process holds true in your everyday life. If you never take the time to put YOU on your To Do list, how can you possibly be the best YOU that YOU can be? If you are tired, run down, unhealthy, out of energy, have mood swings, don’t like your body, or sick and tired of being sick and tired, what value are you to yourself, your clients, family, or the people in your life? How can you create a successful business if you lack the energy to cope with simple day to day tasks?
All women have a fierce strength may not even realize inside of them and it. From the time we get up to the time we go to bed, we’re always doing “one more thing”. Whether it be for the kids, the boss or the brownie troop, we have a resilience inside of us that keeps us pushing on, and we don’t even know where it comes from. We don’t look at this kind of tenacity as strength, but it is! Every woman has an Inner Strength, that strength that she pulls from to be the Have It All Woman.
For some women, putting herself before others may seem selfish. Let’s begin by changing our thought pro- cess and substituting the word “selfish” with the word “self-preserving”! You can Have It All, simply consider the fol- lowing statement: “to remain the Have It All lifestyle I have created, I will be self-preserving and include “ME” at the top of my daily To Do list!
Founder of Tiny Oranges, the ever popular community blog for OC families, Jennifer Scheumann shares her journey that allowed her to turn her passion into a thriving business.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an Orange County, CA native, wife and mom with 2 young girls who are 7 and 4 years old. I have a background in Sales and Marketing and after I got married, I found that I had a passion for event planning. So, I started my own wedding coordinating business, which I did for about 6 years and absolutely loved it. One of the reasons I had the business was because I knew when I started a family, I wanted to do something where I would work for myself and have a flexible schedule.
However, when I had my first daughter in the middle of having this busy business, I didn’t quite realize what it took to run a small business with a small child at home. I was away on the weekends and worked long days. It was not the lifestyle I was looking for when I became a mom.
At the time, two friends in the wedding industry started a wedding blog and I absolutely loved their format. This was about 6-7 years ago when blogs were really up and coming. My daughter was 2 years old at the time and I was still doing weddings, but I felt that I wanted to do something else. I just didn’t know what it was.
When I became a mom, there was this new world that opened up for me in Orange County, CA. I never knew what parks people went to or what restaurants were family friendly. There were all these things out there for families that I didn’t know about. As a young mother, I felt a lot of joy when I was sharing information, tips and cool places with friends, which ultimately inspired me to start my blog called, Tiny Oranges.
I loved what my two friends did with their wedding blog and I wanted to do something similar for Orange County moms.
Since the beginning, we have grown slowly and totally organically through word of mouth. Recently, we’ve seen exponential growth with the explosion of social media. We are now celebrating our 5th year anniversary this summer and have about twenty thousand visitors each month!
Was your goal from the beginning to make your blog a profitable business?
Yes, I did or it would’ve been a very expensive hobby. When I started, I invested money on getting the website professionally designed and built. My goal was to attract readers to the site based on high quality and valuable content that was helpful, entertaining and fun. Once the readership was strong, my next goal was to get local businesses that wanted to get in front of those readers and have a great opportunity to market through my site.
It took about 1 good year for my blog to become profitable. In the beginning, I just wanted to focus on building my readership, because I didn’t have anything to offer. The benefit of having a blog was that the overhead was fairly low. So, it really didn’t take that long for the blog to be profitable.
What main challenge did you face building the blog?
Once I took the steps to hire a sales director and eventually two contributing writers, it freed up my time to be able to look at my big picture goals and work on growing my business. My piece of advice for anyone growing a small business is to recognize when you are getting too busy and take the steps to get great people in place to support you!
What do you love about your blog?
Oh, I love it all! I joke that my blog is like my third child. I love helping moms. I love that I’m sharing, even if it’s a fun product that I liked and someone tells me that it has made a big difference in her life.
The most rewarding thing for me is that I help to make family life a little bit more fun. And through my blog, I’ve written about personal experiences and parenting challenges as well. I had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy and I was able to talk about that with my readers. My newborn had reflux and colic and I was able to talk about that.
In my most recent blog, I shared a new diagnosis called, EoE, where I was having a hard time swallowing food when I eat, which is likely caused by certain food allergies. And one of my readers commented and shared that her mom experienced the same thing, but found it to be an environmental allergy.
One of my favorite things is feeling that sense of community when readers comment and share their experiences. As moms, I feel like we are all on the same club and it’s an inspiring feeling that we are part of this sisterhood together.
What top advice would you share with a mom whose goal is to build a profitable blog?
Look at their blog as a business from the get-go. If start-up budget permits, I suggest looking into hiring a graphic designer to design your blog. Many designers are more affordable than you might think. Starting out with a professional looking site will make your blog more attractive to potential advertisers looking to market their business on your platform.
However, this is not to say a professional designer is necessary. When designing your blog site, no matter how you go about doing it, the more professional and clean the look, the better!
Another big piece of advice is to be authentic. From the very start, I have made it my mission to only talk about companies on my site that I would personally recommend to my girlfriends. I have to believe the company is of value to my readers, or I will not write about it. If you are authentic and genuine in your content, it will shine through, and you will gain the trust of your readers. In the long run, this is better for your readers and the companies you partner with.
The next important advice is to get involved in blog conferences. There are amazing conferences for bloggers where you can go and meet other people doing the same thing, to learn from them, network and build your community.
Lastly, be patient, because success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work to build your readership. It happens slowly, but I think if you have the passion and feel inspired by what you’re doing, then it’s worth taking the time to invest in it.
While you’ve been building your blog as a business, what have you learned about yourself?
Oh my gosh, so much! The number one thing was recognizing how valuable it was to have this business for my personal fulfillment. There is so much that I get out of the business. It feeds the side of me that loves to help people. And I love the business aspect of brainstorming and thinking of different ways to make it bigger and better. There are so many parts of me that get fulfilled by what I’m doing.
It also helped me focus on keeping our priorities in place in the midst of our busy schedules and the demands of the business.
What does balance mean to you?
Finding your Mommy-Mojo where things are in-sync and operating well. I think it’s almost impossible to be totally balanced. At the same time, there are times in life where you will definitely feel like family life is in a good rhythm, and there are times where you’ll feel out of that rhythm causing you to feel overextended, stressed or overwhelmed.
But I think those experiences are a blessing, because in those times, I really had to step back and see how things aren’t working, what is stressing me out and figure out what I can do to make changes and get back to that Mommy-Mojo again.
I think it’s evolving. I think balance is not something that you attain and it’s good forever. It’s definitely cyclical in parenthood. When you’re in it, I think it’s awesome and you should enjoy
it, but when things shift and it gets harder then you make the changes you need to find it again.
What do you do to maintain balance in you life?
My biggest thing is exercise. I’ve been exercising regularly for about three years now and it has been a big life changer for me. I think it’s important to find something you love to do at a time that works and stick to it. The benefits you will see are not only physical, but mental as well.
In addition, finding different things that I enjoy, such as a new hobby, a date night with my husband or signing up for a local 5K run. It helps me feel a little bit more complete, because I feel like I’m working on myself at the same time.
Creator of the Baby EinsteinTM phenomenon, Julie Aigner Clark candidly shares her journey to amazing success from her basement and how she courageously battled cancer twice.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a mom of two teenage girls, 18 and 16 years old. I think I’m so lucky, because they are such incredibly bright and great kids. My oldest starts college in the Fall and my younger daughter will be a Junior in high school. I’ve been married for a little over 20 years and currently live in Colorado.
I grew up in the Detroit area of Michigan. I went to Michigan State University and I studied English and Education. I knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to become a teacher in high school. I really loved literature and art.
In 1988, when I graduated from college, I went into teaching. After I got married and became pregnant with my first daughter, I left teaching and decided to stay home with her. I always knew that once I had kids, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.
About 6 months into her little life, I started thinking about the idea for Baby EinsteinTM, because I missed literature, art and what I had been doing in the classroom. However, I also knew that I didn’t want to go back to teaching, because I still wanted to stay home with my daughter.
During this time, it occurred to me that there was nothing available for babies. I wondered why kids were only given things like BarneyTM or “I’m a little tea cup”. Why do I constantly have to sing little kiddie songs to my baby instead of playing some of the timeless, classical music I enjoyed and appreciated? That was how the idea of Baby EinsteinTM began.
What was your journey to get Baby EinsteinTM as a household name?
I had the idea for one, but I didn’t really know how to start a company. I would have to say that it is real critical to always give credit to my husband. By nature, he really is an entrepreneurial guy. When I shared with him my idea, how it was unique and how I really wanted it, he was instrumental in being an amazing support, which is what we all need when we’re starting something. We need somebody who really believes in us and encourages us.
My first concept was to just make a video board book, which typically has images and not words. I would then add cool photographs on the screen with moving images that my daughter liked to look at. Then, I wanted to add an audio component of music that I loved and wanted my daughter to love as well. Since music is international, the video would reach families across the globe, which was a cool thing.
Next, I started purchasing things that my daughter liked looking at and toys she like playing with. At this time, she was about 1 years old and we would go to the mall and find things that would keep her attention. One thing she loved staring at was a lava lamp, which was incorporated into the video.
I would take photographs of outside nature, like flowers, and the things she ate, like a banana or peas and our pet cat.
I did all that with borrowed video equipment from a friend’s husband who was a videographer. He showed me how to set up light and I filmed everything on a table top from our basement.
After I had all the photos and video footage I wanted, I figured out how to edit everything from my home computer using a very old version of Adobe Premiere®.
I did all this while I was home with my baby and my husband was working elsewhere. I would do some work while she was taking naps and at night. In the end, this whole process took about a year to really get it all done. I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure that this was going to be anything more than a cool thing I was just making for my daughter.
So, when all the editing was done and I had a video, I really needed some audio to go with it. This was when the first really big investment came into play. I had to hire a musician to reproduce all of the music that I loved, but I wanted to do it in a different way. I didn’t want to just put a recording of the London Symphony Orchestra playing a Mozart Sonata. I wanted it to be baby friendly.
So, I called a friend of mine, who has since done all the music for Baby EinsteinTM. He is a great musician and produced the sound track, which cost us some money.
People often ask me what really made me go after my idea and make it into a reality. I always say, once you make a financial investment in it, then you kind of panic to make sure you at least make the money back. I drew the logo for Baby EinsteinTM myself and then we had to package it and create the content for the back cover. It was all a learning process.
After I got the first video done, I didn’t know how I was going to get it out into the marketplace, but I knew that I now had something that I invested in. And again I just wanted to make that money back.
In the end, that first video cost me about $15,000. Remember, I was a teacher making about $20,000 a year. So, that was a lot of money for us.
I knew I was my own customer and I thought of the places where I liked to shop. At the time, I mostly shopped at The Right Start©, which was mostly a catalog company. They didn’t have a retail store where I lived.
I was trying to figure out how to get into The Right Start. I sent them a copy of the video, but never heard back from anybody. I didn’t know how to market anything, but somebody suggested that I go to a tradeshow, because I was more likely to meet people who may want to see my video and I could easily hand it to them.
So, I decided to go to Toy Fair in New York. I just went as an attendee and walked the floor of the show literally looking for somebody with a Right Start nametag. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it worked out in my favor. It was like one of those lucky, synchronicity moments.
I saw a group of ladies from The Right Start and was able to get a copy of my video in the hands of one of them. They had 10 retail locations across the country and they decided to try it in their stores. They bought 100 videos from me and I was so beyond excited!
I had two things in my favor in terms of just being on the shelf at their stores. One was that I had a great name. I always tell people that it is key to have a name that people will instantly be engaged with or attracted by.
The other thing that worked for us was that it was totally unique. There were no baby videos in the market at the time. In addition, the content was special, because it was classical music and beautiful real world images.
So, those two factors encouraged people to first of all pick it up from the store shelf. It wasn’t too expensive, so people bought it. And most importantly, when they played it on the television, their babies loved it. That was the most key thing, because babies never lie. Also, word of mouth really spread quickly. I had wonderful support from moms who trusted me, because I was just like them. I was just a mom who wanted this video for my own child and not this big corporation trying to make a buck.
How did you connect with The Disney Corporation?
I had a one-year exclusive with The Right Start. After our first year of success, I made another video called, Baby MozartTM and I had two little girls at home, because my second daughter was born. We just continued making more and more titles.
For the second year, we branched out to other stores, but remained in the specialty retail markets. The whole market has changed since then. In the late ‘90’s, there were these really beautiful specialty stores that you wanted to just hang out in with your baby, like Zany Brainy© and Imaginarium©.
We continued to see more and more success. Now, it was not just moms talking about it anymore. People magazine called and did a story about it. We started to get publicity and really nice reviews, which was pretty organic, because I didn’t have a PR person. I was still doing all of this from my basement.
In our third year, I got a call from Disney Publishing and they asked if we were interested in moving into books. I became so excited, because I had been an English teacher and for any writer, you always want to be published. So, they basically licensed the Baby Einstein name and I wrote the books.
In our fourth year, we moved into providing math content and were no longer just available in specialty stores. We were available in big stores like Costco, Target and WalMart. An interesting side note during the fourth and fifth year was we only had 5 full-time employees. We were such a tiny company and yet our sales were phenomenal. In 1997 when we first started, we had about $100,000 in sales and by the 5th year, we did over $20 million in sales.
During the 5th year, we sold the company to Disney. When we first started the company, we had no competition, because we were totally unique. As we became successful, more people started jumping on board making baby videos. Even though they were not as successful as we were, our feeling was if we continued to run Baby Einstein the way we had been, we would definitely see ourselves run over by one of the big companies. We felt like with our success, one of the big production companies, like Sony, Nickelodeon, Disney or Warner was going to take over this field. And we would no longer be able to sustain our company with just 5 employees.
So, my husband and I asked ourselves if we wanted to be playing in a game where we had to grow, start being cut-throat and do all of the things that large corporations typically do. Or did we want to excel and be so happy and amazed that we had even done all this and continue to be so proud at what we had created. Not only because it was a financial success, but also because we were exposing these little kids to this beautiful content. We really believed that these videos made a difference in the lives of a lot of families.
Ultimately, we decided to sell. Since we had that relationship with Disney already, it was very natural to approach them first. We called Disney and proposed an offer to sell the business to them and they ultimately accepted.
Throughout the success of Baby Einstein, what major challenge did you experience?
I’m not a business person. I’m more of a creative person. I don’t see myself as a person who likes to play the game of business. I feel like I operate from my heart and my gut. And I don’t like the stress that is caused in me by people who don’t always have the best motive.
I felt it was very stressful for me to deal with companies that were coming on board and stealing some of our ideas. For example, we had to file a lawsuit against another person who had come into this game and had literally duplicated ninety or so scenes from our videos. That was just so awful for me.
I don’t like that feeling. I try to live my life from my heart and that was extremely hard for me. And I’ll tell you; I think that really contributed to the disease that I later developed. I think stress was a huge contributor to that.
In addition, another reason I wanted to sell is that it had been very important for me to stay home with my daughters. The busier we got and the more successful we became with Baby EinsteinTM, the less time I was able to spend with them. I felt too scattered and that was not for me.
What top advice would you share with a mom who has created a product and wants to get out to the marketplace?
First of all, presentation is key. If you really are behind what you’ve done, you need to package it in a way that looks super professional. For example, I put the first Baby EinsteinTM video in a lovely sleeve with a great design on the package. Don’t send or hand something out that doesn’t look really good.
Secondly, find a tradeshow that would be a place where a buyer would be interested in your product. Go online and look up tradeshows for what your product is all about and you’d be amazed on how many you find. You may even locate one in the state you’re in.
Finally, surround yourself with people who believe in your idea. People who are the pessimists and naysayers have no place in an entrepreneurial world. We are all keeping our fingers crossed and just saying our prayers that our idea is going to be the one. Unfortunately, a lot of wonderful ideas don’t make it and it’s not because they’re not incredible and amazing ideas that could be world changing.
For example, my older daughter has written her first novel and she is trying to find her first agent who will take it on. It’s a beautifully written piece of literature, but she’s really sad because
she sent out ten query letters and she hasn’t heard back from anybody yet.
I told her that it didn’t mean it’s not great. Look at JK Rowling, who went through a lot of rejections herself!
So, when you’re an entrepreneur, you need to recognize that it’s not easy and you have to pat yourself on the back all the time that you’re even doing it at all.
When did you find out you had cancer?
We sold Baby Einstein in 2001. And then for a year and a half, we just sort of did a jig. We were so happy and couldn’t believe what all had just happened to us.
Then I started thinking what my girls were now going through as they were in elementary school. Now, they were a little bit older and starting to go to friends’ houses, camp and playing outside more. I realized that the most important thing to me was that they were safe.
So, I started another company called, The Safe Side, which is a non- profit organization. I partnered with John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted and we produced two videos and a music CD. All of our proceeds went to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It was a way to teach kids how to stay safe with family members, strangers or if they were in a situation that was uncomfortable for them online.
In 2004, I was in the midst of wrapping up that first video when I discovered a lump in my left breast. It was a miracle that I found it at all, because it was so small (under a centimeter).
I actually found it by accident. I had been exercising a lot and my arms were sore. When I was rubbing that muscle under my arm, I felt a teeny, tiny, little lump. I didn’t think it was really anything, but it nagged at me for a couple of days. I finally went to my doctor who didn’t think it was anything either, but she wanted to get it check out anyway.
After my mammogram, they found it to be Breast Cancer. Within 1-2 weeks, I had a double mastectomy, because I was so freaked out and I did not want this to ever happen to me again. I told them to take all of the breast tissue out. I didn’t do chemotherapy or radiation, but I went through this extreme, horrible surgery. However, I came out of it feeling confident. After my next PET Scan, everything came out clear and the doctors told me that the chance of it coming back was just 3%.
After my recovery, I went back and continued making The Safe Side videos. In 2008, my husband and I decided to take our kids out of school and travel around the world for a year. We home schooled the kids and spent the year together as a family traveling to Iceland, Scotland and England. After 5 weeks, we went home to repack for our trip to Asia.
On our flight home, I had a very strange sensation that I cannot explain, other than to tell you that I believe in a higher power. This sensation was in the same area that my tumor had been, but I couldn’t feel anything there. I just went to the doctor the next day and an ultrasound determined that it was cancer again. Even though I had a double mastectomy, they can never get it all out. They tried, because it looks like there’s nothing there, but there are always a couple of bits of tissues left. So, it turned out that I was one of the 3% where the cancer returned.
The most terrible news of all was that it was diagnosed as Stage 4 cancer. The primary tumor was in the same place, but it had moved into my lymph nodes and my liver. I ended up having 12 lymph nodes and my ovaries removed.. I went through 6 rounds of chemo and was put on another treatment called, Perceptin, which I still receive every 3 weeks. It’s a targeted therapy for a particular type of cancer called HER2+ Breast Cancer.
When I was diagnosed this second time, I decided to get another opinion. I went to the top hospitals in the nation that treat Cancer. The doctor told me that I had so many tumors in my liver; they will never all go away. He then told me that I really need to go home and get my affairs in order.
When I returned home, I decided that I wasn’t going to get my affairs in order. I was 42 years old and I was not ready to do that. I might end up there, but I was not going to start there. So, I just went to my oncologist in Colorado and told them I was going to fight it. Even though it was Stage 4, I wanted to see what we could do.
Finally in February 2009, after all the treatments and surgeries, I had a PET Scan that showed I had no evidence of cancer in my entire body, including my liver. My last PET Scan was literally 4 days ago and it still showed no evidence of cancer.
In October, it will be 5 years of being cancer free.
I am on cloud 9 every second of everyday, living in a state of gratitude. I have no idea why I got so lucky. I know it wasn’t because I prayed more, even though I prayed a lot and many people prayed for me.
If I could say anything good about all of this, it taught me a lot. I wrote a book that was published in 2010 called, You Are the Best Medicine. It’s a beautiful book that teaches children the importance of giving their mommy a lot of love when she’s going through treatment and what to expect. I wanted a way to explain to kids all the things to expect when someone goes through cancer treatment and to let them
know that we fight for them. Nothing made me fight harder to overcome this disease than my children.
In addition, 100% of the proceeds of this book go to Breast Cancer Research. It’s been a really great giveback in a way, because I’ve been able to do something good with it.
I truly believe that being under so much stress like I was caused the disease. Now, I meditate everyday and really try to take time to be outside in nature, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I take time to sit with my cat on my lap and be okay when I’m not checking my emails or Facebook every few minutes, not answering the phone at that moment or not be connected through technology for a short time each day.
What is your new venture, Baby Bytes all about?
When Disney acquired Baby Einstein, it was great for a couple of years. However, for whatever reason, the business of Baby Einstein started to fall off the radar screen as they focused on other things. So, we watched from the sidelines with great sadness that it didn’t have the kind of exposure that it had and we weren’t seeing as many children who were being positively affected by it.
Today is such a different world. People are so connected online with various devices and the Baby Einstein content was not being produced to work on those kinds of devices, such as iPads or other tablets.
So, we started thinking about how kids could not only see great content on an iPad, but also be able to interact with the screen in a way that they couldn’t before.
Baby Bytes is a company that is making really cool apps for babies and giving parents this really neat
feedback on how their child is progressing.
We just produced a video called, Show Bytes. It’s Beethoven music with gorgeous video and photography. It allows kids to not only watch it, but also play and interact with some of the visuals in the video.
We also have this beautiful product called, Lullabytes. It’s our very first app that you can download for free right now. It’s a collection of classical music that is meant for bedtime. You would download it on your phone or iPad, play the app as you get them ready for bed and it continues to play as your child falls asleep. The music gradually gets softer and softer until it stops after the 10th song. When the baby wakes up during the night and starts crying, the app detects your baby’s cries and it turns the music on again.
The other really neat thing on the back end is that the parent is also given a feature called, the Sleep Keeper, which basically lets you know through a graph how much your baby is sleeping. So, when you go to the pediatrician, you’ll know your baby’s sleep patterns.
In addition, I want to share something new that I’ve done on my own and feel really proud of. It’s an app called, Happy Appy. It will be available by the end of July 2013. It’s an app that sends you a funny video to make you happy everyday. It’s never rude or crude or nude. You could watch it with your 5 year old and with your grandma. It’s basically a whole giant collection of videos that I found on the internet where I redirect you everyday to a short, funny, sweet video that will make you smile.
There’s a free version and a 99-cent version, which has an alarm clock feature and allows you to easily share the videos with a friend, rate it and save to your favorites among other cool things.
Everyday we see so much bad garbage in the news and having gone through all that crap I went through with my health, there’s just nothing more powerful than being happy. With this app, I could make someone smile and happy everyday. How cool is that!
What does Balanced mean to you?
In every stage as a Mom, I’ve been searching for balance. Mostly to me it means being okay at the end of the day and feeling or remembering that I’ve done my best. A lot of times I think we beat ourselves up with all the things we should’ve done that day.
I could only do my best. That’s all I can do. And if it’s not what everybody thinks I should’ve done… well sorry and that’s the way it is.
What do you do to live a balanced life?
I try to go to yoga everyday. I love yoga and meditation. I was not always good at meditation and sometimes I find myself really needing to make myself do it, but when I meditate I feel so much better.
If people have never meditated, there’s a really great program that I found on iTunes® called, Hemisync. It’s a type of meditation where I can just take my iPod and put my earbuds in and meditate for about half an hour to this particular guided meditation. I totally recommend it to people who have never meditated before.
Also I love yoga, because I think it’s a lot like meditation, because I’m so focused on maintaining a pose and it gets me out of my environment.
Like a lot of other entrepreneurs, I work from home which means you’re never really away from your work. So, getting out of your house is really important whether it’s to go to an exercise class or ride your bike or walk your dog. I walk my dog everyday and that’s like meditation for me.
by Stefanie Ryan
(Photos courtesy of Grace Photography)
I am married and have 2 kids. I work a job and am involved in lots of activities around my kids and community. I am a leader for one of my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and my other daughter is actively involved in her troop. I am on the Children’s Hospital of Orange County’s (CHOC) Parent Advisory Committee and I volunteer there. I am also on the board of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Tell us about your special needs daughter.
My daughter has Spina Bifida. She goes to school with a one-on-one aid that I trust now after quite a long time. She also attends a good after school program that is available until 6:00 pm, which is important to me. If I need to work until that time, I know she’s in a good place.
I started a chapter for Spina Bifida and had a walk two weeks ago. I set up volunteers for it. I also work for New York Life Insurance where I am able to run my own business and work 1 or 20 hours. That flexible schedule allows for other activities and I am able to work and fit in what’s important.
So what is Spina Bifida and what does that mean for you and your family?
Spina Bifida develops in the first month of pregnancy. It is the number one defect at birth and because of it, my daughter is in a wheelchair.
When she’s with me, I call it the rubber band effect. The rubber band doesn’t stretch too far because she doesn’t like to be too far from me. When we’re at home, she has chores, does what she can at home, puts away silverware and puts towels away in the laundry room. The other day I asked her why she didn’t take the plate off the table. She replied that she didn’t want to pick up the plate because it’s made of glass and she didn’t want to break it. She’s very funny.
She has a medical procedure that has to happen every 3-4 hours every day and procedures every other night as well. It makes it hard to plan family outings, because we need to be conscious of her medical schedule. We have to plan things out and not let it hinder what we’re going to do. I’ve worked with her medical doctor to ensure that she can be involved in an activity without being hindered by her medical procedure. Sometimes they’ll tell me about new medications or procedures and they say a certain product can allow her to go all day. So now she can go on school field trips.
She is very knowledgeable of the world and how to make her life easier. A while ago we went through and made things easier for her in the kitchen. Everything has handles so she can do the day-to-day things. We really wanted to keep it functional but pretty too.
Once the kids are in bed, 9-11pm is my time since my husband works the night shift. I like to read and make jewelry. My oldest daughter and I make jewelry together. It’s one of those things that allows us to spend time together.
People often ask me how I handle it all. It is a lot of work, but when I have a bad day I think about my friend that has children that don’t speak or others that have more physical disabilities. I put myself in their shoes and think my life is not that bad. It’s pretty good. Everything’s a gift.
If we lighten up a little bit and don’t have to be a perfect mom or wife all the time, I think we’d all be a little bit happier. We don’t have to be Mrs. Cleaver!
Each person needs to take 10-15 minutes to breathe. To do things that make you happy and what satisfies you at the end of the day, such as getting a massage or doing yoga everyday. We’re unique and we have our own thing that will let us relax and not have our mind in overdrive. I like to have my time at night so I can sleep better after I’ve relaxed, instead of running around the house right before going to bed. When I do that, it takes me so much longer to fall asleep. That’s why I read and calm things down before I go to bed.
What advice would you give moms who are struggling to find balance between their work and home life?
My daughter has allowed me to focus on how precious everyday is and to not let the small things get to me. Sometimes people drive around and get so angry. If someone cuts me off I just think to myself, “I hope they get to the hospital a little bit faster.”
Look at things through someone else’s eyes and maybe your situation isn’t as crazy and hectic. Life can really be simple if you let it be.
(Photos courtesy of Grace Photography)
by Stefanie Ryan
Give us a little snapshot about yourself.
As an entrepreneur, I wear many hats. I’m the Market Director and Franchise Owner of Ladies Who Launch in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. I’m also a CRAVE Los Angeles partner and a co-owner of Back 2 Our Roots, a business development and consulting company. I’m a TV host, a professor at FIDM, an author, a budding artist, a wife and mother to two adult daughters.
How did you get involved with Ladies who Launch?
I’ve been involved in entrepreneurial pursuits all my life. I grew up with an entrepreneur and then married one. As an entrepreneur, I was always thinking of ideas. I had my own company with my husband and several other businesses. I was really involved in interior design.
At the time, I lived in Boulder, Colorado. I read about Ladies Who Launch and it sounded so great that you had the opportunity to be with other women to share ideas and resources, get inspiration and find that support. I’ve always worked on my own and even though it worked okay, I liked having my girlfriends around. But even when I had girlfriends, they didn’t necessarily always understand what I was doing. After reading about this group where you can flush out ideas, get support and resources, I signed up to take the workshop. I also signed up my oldest daughter who had a couple of ideas of her own. We took it together and it was amazing to have that kind of environment, an incubator to work through your ideas and to get clarity.
At this time as I was working on my idea, my younger daughter lived in Los Angeles, California to pursue acting and I wanted to find women in LA that are like the Ladies Who Launch group in CO. About three years ago, I found an opportunity to get involved in a much bigger way. Since I had started a business with my sister providing consulting, sales and marketing services, I thought this Ladies Who Launch opportunity in Los Angeles and Orange County would be the perfect fit. And it worked out really well.
When you go out and speak, what is the top question women ask you?
Where do I start to get my business going? How do I get the money? How do I find out what it is that I need to do?
The best place to start is with an idea. The next step is to flush out that idea to make sure it is solving a problem and/or filling a need. T his is something very important because their idea must be marketable.
Once they get clear on their vision and ideas, the most important thing is to take action. There’s a lot of talk and dreaming at this point. But the next important step is to take action. To put one foot in front of the other and do one small thing so that the y can actually accomplish this goal at some point. I also help them find resources to get them what they need. My workshops are reciprocity based where people help each other because you never know who knows someone that can help with what you’re doing.
Is it difficult to find time for home and work life?
That is the age-old question. I think recognizing that all those things are super important and if one isn’t working then it’s going to be the domino effect. It’s all going to eventually fall. So it’s important to take time and carve out that time whether it’s for yourself, your family, husband, friends and work. Whenever you put everything into just one thing, it burns out .
I have my hands in a lot of different things and I enjoy all of them. But I also make sure that I take the time to focus on me as well as the other people in my life. Even if it means that I take a walk for 30 minutes every morning, which gives me a chance to clear my head and really be by myself. I take time to be with friends and have fun. I also watch mindless TV sometimes and I go out with my husband on a date. I also spend a great deal of time with my children even though they’re all grown up.
What advice would you have for moms who are struggling to stay balanced?
Many times we just feel like our children are everything. Growing up, my mom made her children her priority and I loved having that attention but it also made me r ealize that she didn’t put herself first at all. And sometimes it’s a burden for children to have all of that attention on them. When that’s all you’re focused on, that doesn’t make you a very interesting person or as interesting of a person. In the end, when you make yourself a priority and do things for yourself, that will continue to replenish you and help you be a better mom, entrepreneur, wife and friend.
Balance to me doesn’t mean giving everything equal time because some things take more time than others. But recognizing that it’s so important to carve time out for all those things in your life and assign them the necessary time for you to get what you need. If not, essentially you’ll burn out, get resentful and feel like you want to jump off a bridge or something.
Set a time for yourself, whether it’s a date night or every night, no matter what, you’re going to have dinner with your family and every Saturday you’ll go to your son or daughter’s soccer games. When you make those priority-type things, then you’ll learn to schedule around it with your work and family.
Every woman can be what they want to be and I don’t look at it as being a “Super Mom.” We are able to have it all. It’s like someone saying she wants to have chocolate while doing all these other things. The thing is you don’t have to have the whole chocolate bar at one time. You can have a bite everyday and you’ll still doing great. Just don’t overindulge in one thing. If you don’t overindulge in any of it, then you are able to have it all and that’s the way you maintain that balance.
A mom of one beautiful 2 year old daughter, Kim Fuller has made it a mantra to power through difficult life experiences. After the death of her husband when their daughter was only 10 months old, Kim unexpectedly realized the gifts of accepting and asking for support from people around her. She shares some important advice for other moms who have experienced a similar situation.
Kim shares candidly about how her journey led her to create her business, Fuller Life Concepts and speaks to the challenges and rewards that come with being a mom entrepreneur.
I am a life coach and owner of Fuller Life Concepts. As a life coach, I provide assistance to women, usually between the ages of 25 and 55 who are dealing with transitions in their lives. Those transitions can be a new child entering their home and now they’re trying to balance children and work life. Or it could be that they were terminated from their job which could result in a career change. It could be marital problems and figuring out how to deal with relationship issues. I do most sessions through telephone and I also host free workshops and trainings as requested that typically address topics such as time management, stress management, procrastination and how to communicate more effectively.
What was your journey that led you to start your business.
I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. When I was an intern, I decided I really wanted to work with people who were eager to work with me. At that time, I was working in the mental health field at a non-profit organization. Most of those clients were referred by another social agency, like DCFS, probation, etc. They were not exactly excited to come see me and work for their future goals and aspirations.
I started the business back in 2007 and went full-time in March 2011. I believed with life coaching, people would be more interested in their future goals versus the past. People who are typically ready for life coaching have somewhat foggy days (instead of a foggy life) and are looking forward to having brighter days. I use the metaphor of weather to help explain the difference between someone who may have concealed mental health issues and therapies versus someone who would be a great candidate for life coaching.
What do you love about your business?
What I love about what I do is that I am a part of someone’s life during a time when they make significant changes and transformation. I help them realize that they already have the strength, power, and courage to make those changes. When people have epiphanies and awareness, that is really exciting to me and I love every moment of it. I think we all have the capacity to change ourselves and sometimes we just need somebody to encourage and support us.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your business?
Some of the challenges that I have being a life coach would be basically the credibility. Often times, when I say “life coach” to someone, you can see it in their face that they are confused because maybe, they don’t really find that to be a viable career. I think it is a big hurdle to transform people’s ideas of what a life coach is and to highlight the credentials that I have in terms of mental health.
Your husband passed away from Leukemia shortly after the birth of your daughter. How did you deal with the hardships during that period of time?
He was sick for a very long time throughout our relationship and one big challenge about that was he was a very private person. So only a few people knew of his illness and that was already a stressor [for me]. After he died, I did the normal grieving process, which I’m probably still involved with in terms of crying and the “woe is me”. I went through that like most other people. I [depended] a lot on my family and friends and I sought a grief coach for myself. Those three elements have really helped me to stay available to my child and people in general, to be an open and productive person in society without falling into the doom and gloom.
I also got a lot of strength from my mother and father who have suffered their own hardships in life and I’ve always seen them power through the challenges. That was the model I took – power through. Each day, it will get easier, it will get better, and there will be less pain, less frustration and less anger. I remember all the good things and really just enjoy my daughter every moment because it goes by so quickly.
What words of advice could you share with other mothers who are dealing with the same type of loss?
One of the things that seem most important to me was the willingness to let other people help and provide support. I have come from a place with the thought process that I can do it all. However, during this whole process of starting a new business, having a new baby, and having my husband die let me know that I don’t have to do it all. There are other people out there who are willing to help.
The really big piece of advice I’d give is to be open and accepting of other people’s assistance. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help. It is difficult to be vulnerable and to open yourself up to potential neglect and rejection. However, at the same time, it is also a wonderful thing to open yourself to people by asking for help. I think receiving and asking are two wonderful gifts that came to me during this process.
How do you find balance between being an entrepreneur and a mom?
One of the strategies that I use to find balance is to maintain some sense of structure and routine in our lives. I’m an early riser so I often get up around 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning and my daughter does not typically wake up until 6 or 6:30. So that gives me up to 2 hours in the morning to exercise, make breakfast, shower, do paperwork, answer e-mails. The two hours in the morning is my time and then I have a wonderful nanny who helps take care of my daughter. In the evenings, we have playtime and reading time but I’m really focused on making sure she has a regular bedtime because that also gives me some time in the evening.
Keeping a routine and structure has allowed me to have balance because it gives me time in the evening to be social with my sisters, talk on the phone, be out and about. There are also many times when I want to just go to bed early. If my daughter goes to bed by 8pm, I can go to bed by 8:30, which is wonderful. It doesn’t happen very often but it’s wonderful.
One of the things that I really love to do and where I can completely focus on me is working out. I am an avid runner. I like to do half marathons. I did my first marathon last year. I also enjoy doing triathlons and just being active and engaged in sports. I am a member of many different organizations that are social and related to activities, such as a sailing club, ski and a snowboard club, and I really enjoy doing those kinds of activities. They provide me with the kind of external nourishment as well as the mind, body, and spirit wellness.
What advice would you offer to mothers who are thinking of starting their own business?
Don’t be afraid to take the risk to do something that you can enjoy and love. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re a better mom, sister, wife because you are more satisfied with who you are.
One of the resources that I used in Lakewood, California was the Small Business Development Center. It is a non-profit agency that provides a lot of resources to help and develop businesses. They help with legal, creating a business plan, marketing, and online media management. If there is any legal requirements based on the business that you want, going to a resource like the development center would be my second piece of advice.
The third piece of advice would be to check into your resources of courage because we all have that within us. Also, when people don’t seem to be supportive of what your goal is, dig inside yourself and use your own resources of courage to take the risk to try it. If you don’t try it, you will always be wondering whether you could’ve been successful with it.
Share something about yourself that would surprise people who know you.
I secretly want to be a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson. My family and friends know that I enjoy dancing but they may not know that it would be a really exciting career for me. I would be a back-up dancer for just about anybody who does hip hop, R&B, and pop music.
Recently, I have been into self-reflective and predictive elements, such as, tarot cards, astrology and selfreading which is definitely something that nobody in my family is aware of. They would really look at me sideways if they find out.
As a mother of three teenage girls, a wife and founder of the concierge medical practice located in Scottsdale, AZ, Dr. Susan Wilder inspires health and vitality for patients with her gentle, caring approach, admirable experience and medical knowledge. Her passion and mission continues to provide a positive and healing environment that is patientcentered and focuses on getting to the root causes of the symptoms rather than medicating them.
Dr. Wilder candidly shares the challenges she faced and overcame within the medical field, what she so passionately loves to do and how she was able to cross off an item on her bucket list when she was named Mom-e Club’s “2012 Mom Entrepreneur of the Year”.
Share with us a little bit about yourself.
I am the sixth of seven children to two very entrepreneurial parents. I am the mother of three daughters. My oldest just turned 18 and my twins are 13 years old. I have been married to my husband, Bob for almost 25 years. We’ve been together since my first day in college. We met 32 years ago at Washington University. So, it’s pretty strange to send my first daughter off to college thinking she may meet her spouse right off the bat! Since I was about 11 or 12 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a family doctor. I was in the Air Force for medical school and served 7 years of active duty and 4 years of reserved. In October 2003, after some time in the Mayo Clinic, I started my own practice called, Lifescape Medical.
Tell us about your business, Lifescape Medical.
Lifescape Medical was my dream practice. I was really becoming very disenchanted with the practice of medicine. In the insurance-based system, our costs kept on increasing and we were getting reimbursed less and less. So, it was becoming kind of a hamster wheel type of thing where we had to see more and more patients in less time while medicine was becoming more complex. There were many more diagnostic and treatment options. The knowledge and skill to practice medicine was becoming unwieldy, but at the same time we had less time to deal with any specific patient. So, it was an equation for disaster.
My husband has a JD MBA and I have a very visionary and idealistic sense of the way medicine should be practiced. So, between the two of us, we would give this new business a whirl, be financially creative and figure out a way to create a practice that’s truly patient-centered, where we spend the time it takes to really get to know the patients and get to the root causes of their symptoms rather than just medicate the surface of them.
I think where medicine has gone astray is when we just start throwing prescriptions at symptoms. We really have the ability if we have the time to get to know, work with and inspire patients to healthier lifestyles. When we can get to some of these underlying root causes, we can obliterate those symptoms and cure them. We can cure diabetes and heart disease. We can resolve insomnia and mood disorders rather than just medicate them forever.
It’s been hard financially, but it’s been really rewarding personally and professionally to have patients come back the next year and review their problem list to discover they no longer have those symptoms they were experiencing when they last saw me. To me, that’s the hole in one that keeps us playing this game.
What was your biggest challenge in starting your medical practice?
I’ve made a couple of big mistakes. The number one mistake was believing I could work with the insurance system and get paid fairly for the work we do while creating a patient-centered practice. That was just not financially feasible. The insurance system is a socialized system. It’s set up to directly profit the insurance industry and doesn’t reward quality service or a healing environment. As a physician with over 20 years of experience and board scores in the 99th percentile with great demand, I got paid the same as somebody who just spits out a residency, who paid for their degree in the Caribbean and who just barely passed their boards.
I don’t think many people understand that medicine in the insurance-based system is not a free market in any way shape or form. Also, it’s not a market that rewards what’s really important to patients. To win in this system, you have to see more patients in less time. In my opinion, you can’t successfully practice truly patient-centered medicine in an insurance-centered environment.
The other mistake I made was starting very large. I started with five brand new doctors right out of residency and supported them while they were growing their practice. It was a very large overhead. For many, many years, it was financially tough for us.
Throughout these challenges, especially in the early years, what kept you going?
I would say, number one, my husband has just been incredibly supportive. His parents have been extremely supportive of us, what we were doing and of the dream. We always kept our mission, which is to inspire health as the core central focus. I think that is critical.
My kids have been incredibly supportive. They help out with the practice. They used to come with me on home visits or to see newborns in the hospital or hospice visits. They know a lot of my patients. The practice is part of our family. I think that has been sustaining. It’s a part of us. We call it our most expensive child.
And our patients have been incredibly rewarding. When I made the very difficult decision to go off insurance a couple of years ago, I expected an angry backlash from many of my patients. Well, I was shocked. So many of my patients, even those who couldn’t afford to stay with me, told me that I deserved and needed to do this and they supported my decision. They appreciated what I did and what I created.
What really keeps me going is when my patients say, “All my other doctors monitor my deterioration. You actually inspired my health and you treasure patients.” And that’s what we do.
What is your biggest reward running your business?
Seeing patients get incrementally healthy year after year. And they may not even notice that their muscles don’t ache anymore or they’re not complaining about that knee anymore. These are subtle things. It doesn’t get big press when you steer somebody off the path of becoming a diabetic. But, to me, that’s huge.
Congrats on winning the Mom-e Club’s 2012 Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award!
Oh yes! That was so much fun. I get to check off “wearing a tiara” off my bucket list. But I am still so shocked about it to be honest with you. There were so many incredible and inspiring moms and stories. And wow…I’m still kind of pinching myself about it. It’s a really nice honor. My mom was proud and that’s a great thing, because she’s been a terrific inspiration to me. And my kids had fun with it. After the whole weekend of wearing the tiara, they were saying, “Ok mom. Enough!” They sure keep me humble.
What top advice would you give a mom starting her journey as an entrepreneur?
Number one, take care of yourself. That means sleep, exercise, even if it’s for 10 minutes a day. Learn to use your time bites to breathe, such as when you’re stuck on hold on the phone. Use that time to do some deep breathing. Every time I tell a patient to take some deep breathes, I take some with them. Use those time bites to exercise. How many times do we drop a kid off for practice and we just sit there? Instead, walk around the field or walk with another mom and talk. You don’t have to be stuck at a desk. Do a walking meeting instead.
Number two, keep your overhead low. Start small and go slow.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
I do deep breathing, meditation for at least 5 minutes a day. I start and end my day doing a gratitude meditation and think about all the things I’m grateful for. I walk everyday. I eat healthy. And, I mentioned before, I use my time bites to do some deep breathing throughout each day.
I try to compartmentalize the cell phone. I think that all of us get absorbed by being on-call 24/7 and that gets a little hard. But there are times where I will just put the cell phone away such as dinnertime.
Share something about yourself that would surprise people who know you.
It might surprise people that I used to be very shy and easily intimidated. I used to let people walk all over me. I think people would not see me that way anymore.