POSTED ON February 26 2014
CAREER IS IN:
Founder, Best Mom Products
When Rachel Olsen started asking entrepreneur friends for advice, her aim was to avoid missteps when she eventually pursued her own business venture. With product ideas filling her mind Rachel began interviewing – and videotaping – momprenuers (a mom/entrepreneur hybrid) to educate herself. As her library of interviews grew right along with her knowledge, Rachel had an “ah-ha” moment that led to Best Mom Products.
Best Mom Products is a place for business-owning moms to share their experiences and help others on their own journey to starting a business. Rachel’s interviews focus on filling in the details of seemingly overnight success stories. It’s about being candid, honest and asking the right questions to uncover the truth about taking a business from thought to reality. Rachel says it’s educational, enlightening and ultimately rewarding seeing women putting the advice she shares to work.
“Listen to your intuition. No one knows you like YOU.”
How did you discover your current job?
I created it out of interest in starting a small business. At the time, I was a new mom and had ideas for baby products. As I started marketing my in-laws cardboard play store and a baby/kid talking CPR kit, I learned about the many challenges of what it takes to bring a product to market. Friends were starting their own companies, so we would meet and share information. That is where I learned how various challenges can be costly - especially if you are new to the industry.
One friend, Jessica Frey-Washer, the designer of Pee Wee Patch Kids, was determined to manufacture locally for her children’s apparel line. She used a San Francisco-based manufacturer. She thought she asked the right questions, but when she received her toddler/kid outfits, the pockets were sewn on incorrectly. She and her mom had to pull them all out and manually re-sew them correctly. The factory did not take responsibility for it. These are the types of stories I hear often. Ultimately, Jessica learned it’s not enough to ask the questions. She should have been there during the run and physically overseen the outfits as they were made.
I decided to start interviewing mom entrepreneurs about how they started their business, the right questions to ask and what to avoid in order to educate myself, thinking I was going to manufacture a product. I video recorded the interviews thinking others would be interested, too, and posted them to my website, YouTube and eventually created a podcast for iTunes and Stitcher radio.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
I outsourced graphic design and some Web design. Other than that, I do it all.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
It feels natural. I’m always connecting with and learning from entrepreneurial women who took a risk. It’s hard to imagine doing anything else. I get to see the bigger impact I’m making when listeners tell me they’re going to change the way they do something or try something based on what another open mompreneur shared.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I’m trying to figure out how to monetize my services. I have a store with affiliate marketing links where people can buy the products of the mom’s I interview. I have some show sponsors, too. But really determining the ‘right’ direction to take my business and focus on is what keeps me awake.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you?
Of course. Even before I had kids, the expression “when it rains, it pours” held true. Sometimes everything just happens at once. You can prioritize what is most important. I’ve become much more understanding and flexible after having kids. When a mom has to reschedule our interview because she or her child is sick or school is cancelled, it’s fine. We figure it out. Being more flexible toward others will hopefully make them more flexible, and then we can all just relax a bit and be more supportive of one another.
What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I organize. Meal planning in our family is painful. I found an app called AnyList that I’ve used for years. My husband and I both have it on our phones and we add items to the list from Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts and Costco. We’ve put our weekly recipes into it so either one of us can stop at the store. Once you put your recipe in, you can click on any of the ingredients and drop it into your list which is then divided by dairy, meat and other categories. It makes going to the grocery store easy -- you also know what to get in each aisle because it’s labeled.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!”? What was it?
When I was in my mid-20’s I was working at Oracle Corp. Just after the bubble burst, I was brought on to create their internal Speakers Bureau where I raised the visibility of employees and pitched/placed them with conferences. After a few years, I was recognized and asked to manage Larry Ellison’s (the chairman and CEO) marketing presence, as well as some other C-level Execs. But, after a year or two, I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me. While I enjoyed creating and building something, I was not a fan of managing a process and being involved in politics. It was a valuable and hard lesson to learn early. Everyone thought I was crazy when I quit. No one could really understand because it was such a prestigious position, but I knew I had to be true to myself, stay strong and do what I thought was right. Thankfully, my husband supported me.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Life is too short to spend time doing something you don’t care deeply about. Listen to your intuition. No one knows you like YOU.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful as an entrepreneur?
Almost everyone I’ve interviewed says perseverance and hustle. If you don’t give up, you continue to learn what works and doesn’t work. Failure will eventually show you success as long as you keep trying. It might not be doing what you thought but it will all lead you to a path of growth.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
No one has it all figured out. When you feel like someone does and want to be just like them, remember your gifts, your skills and all you have to offer to the world. No one has your voice. Be of value to others. When you provide value, good things will come your way.