Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Mamma Thursdays when it’s all about us! The mammas!
When I met my husband, I knew he had an entrepreneurial mindset. He definitely has always had the power to take ownership of a project without input or guidance and work through obstacles independently. His ability to clearly express ideas to an intended audience, including persuading others to work towards a common goal, always amazed me. I was surprised by his ability and willingness to change actions and plans to overcome present and future challenges. On the other hand, his ability to think of ideas and create solutions to problems without clearly defined structures disturbed me. When I considered his optimistic disposition and his capacity to move forward with a decision despite inevitable uncertainty and challenges terrified me. I really had no interest in the uncertainty of his entrepreneurial world and it took him years to get me to even dip my toes.
A few years ago, my husband decided to create a new brand for his business as a third party seller for the monstrous internet retailer that takes the greatest share of the online market, from here on out to be known as the Market Giant.
He included me in the selection of the products, I chose the design of the packaging, and even allowed my image and that of my twin daughters to be both on the packaging and part of the marketing. Dr. Madre became the only of his business brands that was close to my heart.
Dr. Madre began by selling forehead infrared thermometers and bed wetting alarms for children. Initially, both products were incredibly successful so my husband decided to add blood pressure monitors and oral thermometers. However, just as these products began to pick up speed, the bedwetting alarm came under attack. I listened to my husband’s struggle with black hat marketing which is basically the use of unethical, sometimes illegal, strategies to destroy a competitor and boost their own business. The primary target was the bedwetting alarm, but when the competitor found out that was not enough, the company went after the brand itself. How do we know? We even received an email from the company in Asia who had been hired to post negative reviews on the Dr. Madre products by our competitor. One of the employees felt terrible about what they were doing to us. But there was little we could do, the amount of money the competitor used to destroy our brand was staggering. My husband believed that the Market Giant would do something to stop the attacks when he sent them all of the information regarding our competitor’s black hat maneuvering, but all he received was a polite thank you. So my husband moved on to more profitable income sources.
As Dr. Madre lingered in the background, my mind returned to it over and over again. The image on the box is that of me the day that I received my doctoral degree and my 11-month-old twin daughters wearing t-shirts with my alma mater’s emblem. Yup, one day, I hope they will be Anteaters at the University of Irvine, California. I’m not sure if that’s what the girls want, But I can dream about it, right? In any case, the competitor’s attack felt very personal. And, I had a problem allowing the brand that was so much myself and my girls to just die. Not knowing what else to do, I allowed it to linger on the site of the Market Giant. Sales were extremely low but had not completely died off. Then two unexpected things happened recently that made me walk into the uncertain waters of entrepreneurship.
I have always been committed to sending my twin girls to college and have them graduate loan free. My husband and I were prepared for that and even encouraged our girls to go to the college of their choice without regard to cost. As a result, our girls grew up with the idea of attending private institutions. One dreams of a prestigious and private performing arts university, and the other of a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. If they were accepted, we knew it would be tight and that we would not be able to retire until they graduated but we were committed. When we added two children to our family last year, we added a daughter who is the same age as the twins and wants to attend medical school. So now we had a problem — we could tell all our girls to lower their expectations, accept that they would have student loans, or we could find a solution. Thankfully, we have 7 years after the girls graduate before we need to worry about Bug, our 4-year-old son, going to college. With my husband working harder than ever, I questioned what I could do.
Then I met a woman who started an online business with a block of wood from her backyard because she needed extra money for her family. Like so many families, finances were tight. She had to find some way to change the situation. With nothing more than a little creativity and a lot of determination, she began an online business. She taught herself to live the online market without enslaving herself to the idiosyncrasies of the Market Giant and created an independent four-million-dollar business.
I thought back to my husband’s personality. I’m nothing like him. I’m an extreme introvert that acts like an extrovert when comfortable. I’m imaginative but love structure. Ambitious but don’t want to be a leader. Curious but driven to fulfill goals. I have never needed things to “make sense” to me in the same way that other people do because someone inconsistency seems rational to me. I believe that we can make the impossible happen if we work hard and don’t give up. In other words, as my friends so eloquently put it, I am a conundrum. Could that conundrum have it in her to become an entrepreneur? I don’t know. I do know that as a mother there is nothing I won’t do for my children.
First and foremost I had to be honest with myself. I couldn’t work with my husband. I’m very structured and focused while he is a fly by the seat of his pants type of guy. He has been incredibly successful with his style, but it’s just not me. If I attempted to work with him, I would be a single mother in less than a year. And, I love my big German Bear. So working together is simply not an option.
Secondly, I didn’t want to work with the Market Giant. To me, the Market Giant is like a drug dealer selling a drug that promises you quick sales in a short period of time while making you addicted and dependent on their marketplace. A market place that the Market Giant control’s completely and arbitrarily. Sales and revenue might be good for a while, but things can turn on a dime because they change their policies sporadically and retroactively. The bottom line is that if the Market Giant becomes your primary stream of revenue, your business can literally disappear overnight. They can close your seller accounts for any reason, including but not limited to complaints of any kind, policy violations that may not be valid or eliminating you as a competitor to make higher profits. In realizing what I didn’t want, I began to understand that I had a wealth of resources at my disposal.
Third, I have an incredible untapped resource which is both my husband and his extensive network of entrepreneurial friends. In fact, I have been a passive learner for years and have a strong foundation of marketing knowledge thanks to the multiple conversations to which I have been an unwitting party. Many of these contacts have in fact offered to help if I ever decided to start a business on my own. Additionally, I have administrative and accounting experiences from my prior life, before I entered academia, so I have a lot more knowledge than I initially want to acknowledge.
So thinking of my children’s education, I gratefully accepted my husband’s gift of Dr. Madre, the brand, and it’s products. I have opened a Shopify store which will allow me to retain my independence from the large selling platforms. I am also learning to use Clickfunnels, a marketing tool that helps sellers generate new leads. And, our friend Sean will soon be helping me navigate it’s more advanced features. I’m also learning about Facebook and Instagram ads. None of these things were part of my formal education, but there is no education that compares to determination, don’t you agree?
My brain is on fire, and frankly, I am often exhausted. But I keep an infrared thermometer on my desk so I can see my picture holding my twins on the day of my doctoral graduation, I force myself to remember that people said it would not be possible for me to earn that Ph.D. or become a mother, for that matter. I pushed through it all, even those moments of self-doubt, and when all seemed lost relied on my talent and tenacity. I am relying on those traits again as my children once again demonstrate to me that there is no drive more powerful than love. I’m determined to be successful for them.
If you have time, please go to josiespearls — that’s J-O-S-I-E-S-P-E-A-R-L-S — dot com and check out Dr. Madre. Right now, we’re running a 25 percent off special offer on digital thermometers for the beginning of the flu season. And let’s face it, we all need a little help with sick kiddos.
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