It’s the first of the month which means it’s time for HerStory.
A new series of posts presented by ThePhdMama blog to highlight the stories of moms who are like you and me, but just a little different. The moms showcased on ‘HerStory’ are your friends, your sisters, your next-door-neighbors, your PTA buddies, basically just good ol’ everyday women who mom like the boss that we are but who also work as their own bosses running a business, providing a service or product, or in general, engaging other aspects of their entreprenuerial selves with as much guts and glory as they do the rest of their lives.
This month, I am proud to introduce Julie Siewert, owner of Diaper Dabbler (DD). I feel especially connected with Julie and DD because Julie took a chance on me and sent me her products for review even though I had not previously published one. See my review of her amazing Diaper Dabbler boxes here.
Julie is not only the owner, she is also as she likes to call it, “the chief ‘Mom-in-Charge’ at DD. With a background in Social Work, Julie decided to become a SAHM six years ago after the birth of her oldest child. DD was born the following year. She and her husband also have a 2-year-old girl. Even though it gets really cold in Wisconsin where they live, they love spending time together playing outdoors, going to local events and festivals, visiting and working at their cabin in the woods, and going for walks or bike rides. They are active in their church and school family.
Here are excerpts from my interview with Julie Siewert.
What would you like to call yourself? A mompreneur? A businesswoman? An artiste? Something else?
I identify with the title “mompreneur”. Businesswoman sounds great, but most of what I do is “Mom”, and after that, it’s a business owner. With so much competing for my attention, it’s important to keep my priorities straight, even if it is in my title. Plus, most of my business work is done in my pajamas, not a business suit.
What is your role at Diaper Dabbler? Is this your main “non-mom” activity?
I am the owner, and chief “mom-in-charge” here at Diaper Dabbler. I do it all; marketing, research, packaging, web design, janitorial, shipping…everything! I delegate what I can, I’ve got an amazing friend that does some social media creation and scheduling, another with mad computer skills, and a hubby willing to pitch in where and when needed. My 6 year old is my chief “sticker guy”. When I need samples stickered for local events, he is in charge of sticking stickers on samples.
My business is my main “non-mom” activity. When you’re a business owner, you find it consumes your life. There’s always a running list of 25 things to do, and new ideas are everywhere! While this is my “non-mom” activity, I’m mom-ing this business too. This is yet another of my babies.
There is precious little time for anything else besides family and business, but that’s how I like it!
What inspired you to get started in this activity/business? How did you go about it?
I didn’t actually start this business. Diaper Dabbler is my dear friend and cousin Beth’s brainchild. She is a brilliant and successful mom and business woman in her own right (she’s a businesswoman because she wears adult clothes when she works). Beth dreamt up Diaper Dabbler and built it with her husband. She ran it for the first 3 years, while I (being the super-helpful cousin that I am) helped her out with social media. When she was looking to off-load the day-to-day management of Diaper Dabbler, she asked me if I would consider it.
So, in early 2015 (while I was pregnant with my second child), I adopted Diaper Dabbler. This may not be my brainchild, but I love this adopted baby just as much as if I had come up with it on my own.
What kind of support did you get (or not) from family?
My husband is very supportive of anything that I do. If it’s what I want, he’ll support it 100%. It was a difficult decision to decide to take over Diaper Dabbler, and my husband listened to me list out pros and cons and what if’s for a good long while.
I have found so much support and love from my family in doing this business. Obviously, my extended family knew about Diaper Dabbler, and they regularly tell people about it and even buy Diaper Variety Packs as gifts! I am blessed with a very supportive and close extended family.
My parents have recently retired, and they watch my youngest one morning a week while my oldest is in school, so I can have a morning “off” to work. That time support has been a huge help to me.
What, according to you, makes you and your business different?
Mine is a stand-alone business. There is no other like this. No other company can offer the selection, choices or services that I do. Beyond just having an excellent and unique product, I am a real person that cares about my customers.
Having a real person on the other side of the business makes a big difference in customer service. My products are all hand-packaged, and I package and ship each one individually. There is no mass-producing here. Each order is packed with the care and attention that a gift deserves.
As a busy mom, how do you manage your time between your “business” and your mom duties?
This was the hardest thing for me to learn as a business owner. I still regularly struggle with it. I love my kids, and I love spending time with them. I also love my business, and love working. When you love what you do, and have a passion for it, it bleeds over into everyday living. Work is life, and even when I’m taking a break, or out enjoying the day with my kids, part of my brain is still working on the business. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” – Marc Anthony
Here’s my balance. My primary job is to take care of my kids. My secondary job is to run my business. I wake up super-early in the morning to get work done. I have found that when I can be productive in the morning (and have my coffee), it’s easier to then “turn off” the business at 6:30am when the house wakes up and be a Mom to my kids. Throughout the day, I’ll keep up with business on my phone, but any dedicated work time waits until the kiddos are off to bed or someone else is watching them. I can’t say I’m perfect, I have been known to answer emails while pushing the swings, and sometimes ask the kids to wait while I “just finish this one thing”, but so far, it’s working for us.
At this point in my life, if Diaper Dabbler’s sales exploded through the roof, I’d have to make some hard choices about where to spend my time. Now, mind you, I’d welcome the need to make those choices! But I love the fact that I can stay home and raise my children while still running a business and contributing to my family. This is my happy place.
What keeps you motivated to continue?
… the fact that I’m not done yet. I have a drive to “finish what I’ve started”, and I’ve got a to-do list a mile long! There are a million things that I want to add to, change and improve on with Diaper Dabbler that will create more sales and fill a need in the community. I don’t always sit down and analyze WHY I’m motivated, but I wake up every morning with a burning desire to keep going. It’s easy to leap out of bed and tiptoe to the laptop (via the coffee maker) in the morning when you want to do what you do.
What is your credo in life and in business?
I have two mottos that I live my life by; be kind and always do what is right. For me, this applies to life, parenting and business. I always strive to do what is right for the customer and for the business, because even if it isn’t immediately profitable, in the end it will be profitable.
What advice would you give to other moms and dads who want to venture into their own business?
- Do you love it? Can you see yourself doing this and loving it every day? Then do it!
- Owning a business can be very lonely and isolating, there are few people who actually “get it”. Having a “biz bestie” or a friend who really understands owning a small business is a huge factor in success. I am so blessed and fortunate to have ‘my people’ to bounce ideas off of and to talk through struggles. I enjoy adding to that circle and supporting other small business owners.
- My other piece of advice is to avoid starting out in debt if you can. That just adds such a heavy burden to an already heavy load.
What’s the meaning of work for you?
Work always used to be “that which makes you money”. But being in business for myself, I can’t tie all of my actions specifically with money.
Money matters, but building a business matters more/differently. #Mompreneur #LifeLessons… Click To Tweet
Being a mom, I work a whole lot with no monetary payment. So work has become more about the effort for me than the money. This is why you’ll find me hyena-style laughing when people say to me “oh, you don’t work”. They don’t realize the number of hours I put in every day on my business, in addition to all the work I do keeping two small humans alive, fed and clothed.
What would you consider most meaningful about your work?
I can do good things within my business. I love supporting causes near and dear to my heart. Every year Diaper Dabbler makes a donation to plant trees based on the number of packages sold. I am working towards using only eco-friendly packaging for my products. I donate to my local diaper bank during their diaper drive every year, and donate time and diapers to a local cloth diaper charity.
You can make your business about whatever you want. You can make it about profits, you can make it about doing good works, or you can make it a combination of both.
I really take my business seriously. Since I operate a very gift-y business, I know that many of my orders are gifts for others. It does not escape me that every single order I put together is diapers for one special baby. Every single order I package touches one new family. I love being able to make their diapering journey a little bit easier, and with a little bit of class.
I also love that my kids are watching me build this business. My son (because he’s older) sees my love and attention to the business. He is learning about commitment, tenacity, work/life balance, and loving what you do while he watches me work. I am teaching him amazing skills that he can use in the future in anything he does.
To know more about Diaper Dabbler, please click on the links below:
HerStory is part of the MomNMore megaseries that highlights the “work” of women, particularly mothers, front and center. HerStory specifically focuses on women who are business (variably defined) owners/mompreneurs. If you would like more information about this series, would like to be featured, or know someone who might like to be, please email me at contactsuchitra @ gmail . com.
If you missed it, catch up on our HerStory feature on Bail Ansari of Just One More Project.