Women have always struggled with the mythical monster called work-life balance. It has taken center stage in many important discussions, strategies, policies, conferences, and political campaigns around the world.
In many ways, starting a conversation around it has been the best advancement on the issue, because today, several iconic companies design and promote family-friendly policies for parents around the world. Many of these companies insist on equal parental responsibility policies, but we all know the primary beneficiaries are women.
Yet, here is a startling statistic: 43 percent of all women leave the workforce after having children and struggle to get back. The good news is that women are not taking it lying down. Women have taken up the mantle of entrepreneurship, with 36 percent of all businesses owned by women. Today, women are masters at rocking the cradle and the business world with equal deftness.
Still, it’s no secret that women face systematic personal, social, and financial challenges while starting a business.
Here are eight phenomenal women who stumbled into the world of entrepreneurship and business out of frustration. These wonderful businesses started when women went looking for a product/solution/service that they needed but could not find. These women are so badass that they decided to develop those products themselves, helping scores of other people in the process.
My interviews with them offer a peek into their entrepreneurial journey, while taking their families along.
Bittylab started when founder was a stay-at-home mom with a colicky child who would cry for hours on end. Her first few months of motherhood turned unpleasant with a screaming baby, a body recovering from a C-section, and frustration about not finding a solution anywhere.
Her research led her to find out that the air her baby ingested while feeding from a bottle can cause severe pain, gas, and colic, amplifying conditions such as acid reflux and overfeed for the baby. All she needed was a bottle that won’t allow gas to pass through the nipple, but she couldn’t find one.
Most baby bottles feature air-vents to allow air inside the bottle while baby feeds to compensate for negative vacuum buildup. She decided to try a few initial prototypes based on syringes, replacing the needle with a nipple.
She succeeded, and Bare air-free was born. Bare is a feeding system that allows the user, through an air-plug seal (piston), to expel all the air out of the bottle before feeding the baby. The air-plug feature makes it possible to dispense air-free milk in any position.
Polished founder Selena Famularo turned every new mom’s nightmare into a wonderful opportunity. After she was blessed with twins, her life spun around them and she had to get almost everything done with the help of service apps like Amazon Fresh for groceries, Neighborly for tasks around the house, Wag to walk the dog, and many more.
When the twins were six months old, she realized that she hadn’t had a haircut or a manicure in all those months. When she looked for an app offering those services, she couldn’t find any. Bingo!
Her company, Polished, is a service company that connects busy people with beauty professionals for on-site beauty services. Customers can open the app, choose their service, their location (home, hotel, office, etc.), and hire someone to come do what they need!
Her unique challenge was to keep up the quality of the service providers; applicants only have a 25 percent chance of being a part of Polished.
The Medical Mommas
As a physician assistant by trade, Tiffany Bailey came to observe a trend where people end up with loads of medications for every ailment. Having grown up in a home where “old fashioned remedies” were more trusted, Tiffany found the medication trend disturbing.
At around the same time, Tiffany and her friend, Holly Jenkins, were looking for affordable and effective products that could help both their families with severe eczema. They failed because every lotion was packed with chemicals and fragrances that made it worse. Moreover, they found essential oils products so expensive that they could not afford them for everyday use.
Tiffany posted an article on her blog to put some feelers out and gauge the market. She asked why these sorts of products were not available, and one person replied, “because it’s not possible to have things that are affordable and quality.” The Medical Mommas was born. Since that day, they have made it their top goal to make their products both high quality and affordable.
Once they entered the wholesale market, their products started getting noticed, and several retailers contacted them with requests. The products are made with oil combinations designed to help with specific everyday issues most people can relate to. Their rollerball products are particularly popular because they’re easy to carry and spill-proof.
Miracle Salve, a product they use to help with Eczema, is their top-selling product today.
Bubblebum Founder Grainne Kelly was looking for a solution to solve her recurring problem when BubbleBum shaped up. As a mother of two, Grainne was frequently traveling between her native Ireland and England to visit a sick relative and always had to transport cumbersome fixed booster seats back and forth on the plane due to the lack of car booster seats available from car rental companies. She came up with the idea for an inflatable booster seat, which became the BubbleBum.
Grainne’s primary goal was to offer travelers a safe way to transport their kids. Weighing less than one pound, BubbleBum can deflate in minutes, making it simple to throw in a backpack or large purse. BubbleBum includes belt-positioning clips in place of armrests, so it’s possible to fit three boosters across the back seat of a vehicle, making it the perfect travel companion for road trips, everyday use, vacations, cab rides, fly-ins, and more. Kids also love the stylish black and pink chevron designs.
BubbleBum is a hot favorite among child safety products. It won GOLD in the 2014 National Parenting Publications Awards and is proud to join the exclusive winners circle selected by the PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved) Media Awards. BubbleBum was also announced the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) “Best Bet” in their booster seat evaluation report, where they’ve branded BubbleBum as one of the best for safety!
Whole Wide World Toys
After living overseas for nine years in Germany, Poland, Egypt, and India, Laura Barta and her family moved back to the U.S. As a family, they loved living overseas and being immersed in fascinating cultures as they could see the many different ways people live.
Laura wanted their kids to continue to explore world cultures even after they moved back to the States. As a product development engineer, Laura conducted consumer research, including countless in-home interviews. She became fascinated by the vast array of cultures across countries and within a country.
In her search for toys that celebrate the wonder of world exploration, she discovered only language and geography toys. So Laura began to develop toys that gave kids a chance to explore new cultures from home by immersing them in fun, cultural details that would spark their curiosity to learn more.
World Village Playsets capture the wonder of exploring new cultures through fabric play mats, wooden puzzles, travel journal books, and story cards with story prompts. They encourage kids to tell their own stories, incorporating what they see. When ready, kids can read the corresponding storybooks to learn more about all the little details. These award-winning, unique play sets bring the world home to play.
Kirsten Chapman’s idea for Kleynimals came from her second child, who was putting everything in his mouth, especially her keys. She looked high and low for a safe, clean alternative, but could only find ‘non-toxic’ plastic products. Stainless steel keys seemed the obvious choice to her, and was surprised to learn they didn’t already exist! And so, Kleynimals were born.
The success and relevance of a product such as Kleynimals put her on the Martha Stewart show. Parents were relieved to learn that they could satisfy their child’s desire to play with metal keys without the hazards of lead contamination, sharp edges, or the daily grime that come with keys in the bottom of their diaper bags. Not to mention, each Kleynimal is tested to ASTM/CPSIA standards for babies six months and up by a third party laboratory.
Cherie Melancon Franz threw a spa party for her 11-year-old daughter. She watched as they got their hair, makeup, and nails done, and a thought crossed her mind: “These are bright young ladies, and surely, I should be teaching them that there are more important things than being pretty.”
She decided to get them lab coats instead of bathrobes and safety goggles instead of spa masks. Her husband handed her their $2700 tax return to start her business. The name for her venture came to her in a dream, and the next morning, she filed to trademark the name.
Currently, Thinkerella runs birthday parties for Thinkerellas and Thinkerfellas, Girl Scout and Boy Scout sessions, and general workshops on weekends. They travel for in-school field trips, team up with local businesses for outreach and educational sessions, and have developed an after school program for the Greater New Orleans area, with expansion to other areas on the horizon.
Thinkerella employs teachers as independent contractors and have paid out well over $50,000 in supplemental income to teachers over the past three years.
Primal Life Organics
As a nurse anesthetist, Trina Felber was always conscious about her health. Despite living a very healthy lifestyle, Trina miscarried her first child. After this devastating incident, Trina started paying attention to her surroundings and environment for anything that might be causing her health to go astray.
One day, during the course of her second pregnancy, as she was slathering on her “organic” moisturizer, she stopped to look at the ingredients. To her horror, she recognized several of them as harsh chemicals that could wreak havoc on the skin. As a medical professional, she knew that toxins put on her skin could be directly absorbed into the body and affect the baby.
That incident triggered her journey into the world of safe, natural skin food – primarily for herself and her baby. Her acne disappeared at an extraordinary pace. She passed her first couple of products around and received great feedback.
When her daughter arrived, Trina started making safe baby products. Primal Life Organics now has a range of safe, natural, paleo products for women, babies, children, and especially pregnant women.
Trina’s products have seen an extraordinary response. And Trina’s daughter, at the age of six, has started her own line of safe oil-based products, especially for pets.