Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Super Woman's Log

Ever wondered what it is like being a single mom and running a multi-million dollar business? Here is a sneak peak into a day in the life....

Random day in April - 2013

Super Woman’s Log:
6:00 AM
-Opened eyes
-Can’t check email because Yahoo mail sucks
-Get disgruntled because Yahoo mail sucks

-Fix breakfast – frozen pancakes – nuke for 1:15 minutes each
-Reduced sugar by 50% - that is healthy right?
-Get boys up for school

-Drive boys to Walmart Bus Stop while fighting death-defying traffic

-We all survive - SCORE! 

My little son tells me “My friend and I have a great idea for a business…..”  I encourage him fully!  It was really a great idea.  He will have 1000 more. He is 11.  I think… “That is MY child!” I am so proud of my 3 kids. 

-Tell the boys I love them and to have a great day 

7:17 AM
-Ahhhh…first computer email of the day – I don’t have time to change stupid yahoo mail password for the 4th time in 2 days – damn! Hate yahoo but no time to learn a different thing. But I need to check it from my iphone. Grrr.  Why do they have to make things so hard???
-email with manufacturer about quality concerns and solutions
-Answered 27 emails from overnight that needed answers

-Time to meditate
-Meditate – ugh not long enough – sorry Deepak Chopra! I am doing what I can

8:17 AM
-Packed up pantry with stuff to go to new house and stuff to go to charity so I can move in 4 weeks – room 1 – way more to go
-Read glowing testimonials about FuzziBunz Diapers from a tester as well as listen to suggestions for new product development
-Research the suggestion for new product development

-Work on retailer emails to make sure everyone’s needs are met and people selling our product are taken care of.  They are paying me, it is my job.
-Look at possible expansion with new manufacturer with reliable lead – conference call later
-Deal with former manufacturer on making good on product that was sub-par to maybe recoup what we lost….we will see..jury still out on that...not holding my breath

-Room mom duty – coordinate sitter for teacher appreciation day for the 5th grade Class
-No one can sit, I guess it will be me…on my day off.  HA! I will do it. I took the job, I will fulfill the responsibility.  But likely not again.  Lesson learned.  CHECK! Single mom with 3 kids and a business to run should not be a room mom
-Shower – hair staying wet in bun – no time for make up – ugh – I hate my two tone hair bottle job to get rid of grey hair…grey hair comes with experience.  WHATEVER!  Put on shorts and no tie converse tennis shoes that smell like stinky feet.

-Consider the meeting for possible investor relationship and who will attend that meeting.
-Work on crotch width for specifications for FuzziBunz Diapers
-Analyzed and measured top stitching for specifications for FuzziBunz Diapers

12:10 PM
-Lunch – large McDonalds French fries and cold coffee from 10:00 AM
-Start going through the myriad of 10 different pinks, purples and 8 other color families to select new colors for FuzziBunz with Ashley

-Review and answer email from patent attorney – put more on my list of stuff I need to do – I really don’t want to be doing this - don't have time to do this – not fun stuff - but I will make it fit

-Email to PR team asking when our survey is going out to consumers for color preference? Manufacturer needs to plan production. I need to coordinate with retailers and ask for their feedback too. Add to-do list

-What is that crotch size again? Where is that small ruler? Oh yeah it is in the cup with the sharpie markers. Can you get that for me please? 

-Going blind from looking at 10 different shades of each color family for the last 3 days

-Deal with a possible trademark and infringement case worthy of legal involvement in another part of the world….oh man

-Go to Home Depot with Ashley for a new set of eyes and to NOT get stopped stealing paint chips a 3rd day in a row at Home Depot.  Is there a limit to “free?” My morality suffers.....

-Did we suffer any damages due to the BP oil spill?  Another email worth answering. We did all we could with the Alpaca hair and the bugs. Sorry staff…I do appreciate you for giving your all in times of crisis! 

-Yes you have to sell at MSRP! That is what our policy states.

-Pick up boys from bus stop
-Stop at Wendy’s because school lunch was terrible – both food deprived and absolutely starving!

-Conference call with possible new attorney to discuss business matters pending and legal history

-What’s for dinner mom?

-Contract from mid-western sales rep that is promising….received thank you! What are your projections for the first 6 months?

-Google marketing calling….really?  It’s dinner time and how did you get my cell phone…oh yeah…you are google! 

-Dinner – Middle son: “this meatloaf is great where did you get it?”  Mom: “Stouffers!”  Middle son “It is awesome! Thanks MOM!” Little son…”it sucks” Daughter: “I am glad I am going to college in 4 months!” Mom: “have fun starving little son- Raviolil in the pantry if you need it…children are starving in other parts of the world….be thankful you have food in front of you”
-Other fun family dinner time conversation – kind of - all good.
-Swallow two bites of little son’s meatloaf

-“Mom I need to discuss dorms and downpayment for enrollment at the University of Georgia” – yeah my 18 year old daughter is going to college – how much? Hold on….

-Conference call with investor and possible new manufacturer and textile producer in China – STOP – great lead – moving forward with follow up – send address for samples

-Remember about Non-Disclosure agreement that needs to be signed before any exchange of information is transpired between my company and prospective manufacturing lead. Note to self – send Non-Disclosure agreement to said email address for signing. 

-Ok oldest daughter – lets discuss this dorm situation…co-ed? Small or large? Concerns? Price? Date rape…you know my concerns! Don’t drink too much ..... thank you for letting me in that this is the biggest party school in the country that you know of!  OMG! Stress, anxiety…..breath! You have raised a responsible daughter Tereson….she will be fine… breath…. Palpitation.....breath some more.....still breathing....she will be fine....  

-Start following up with wholesale leads and answering questions from current retailers

-Look at what could be different and needs to be improved on our back end system to make my job easier and give better service!

-Start rounding up the boys for bed, turning in all electronic devices…anything with an “on-off switch” oh geez I sound like a flight attendant – but they laugh – its our nightly routine – screen time is bad for sleep! Read a book! 

-Our order is going to be late because China has a holiday – SHOCK – plan accordingly – I want to move to China to have more holidays!!!!

-BEDTIME…..LOL for KIDS that is

-Little son: “Mom I am hungry” Mom: “really????” Little son: “Can I have a snack?” Mom: “of course”
-Um yeah...haven't had a bowel movement today....maybe tomorrow....when I have time and it is an absolute time crunch....will put that on my to-do list

-“DR WHO” – I am not sure I really like "Dr. Who" but I have to say it is interesting. I like space travel. I am intrigued.
-Take a bath
-Think about how I can best motivate my employees because I know I may not be the easiest person to work for because I know they don’t understand how my mind processes information
-Think about how my mind processes information different than others
-Give up on trying to figure that out
-Get out of tub and get back to work – I will figure that out later – maybe – but probably never

-Good night little son – it is way past your bedtime but like me…apparently you don’t need much sleep. You have the same DNA

-Email between snap manufacturer about new snaps and old snaps and equipment lease and possible expansion
-More email

-Oh there is NOT black diapers in size XS on the next order…that has to be a mistake! Let me check. Yep….a mistake.  Please make that blueberry instead of black.  Thank you very much wonderful manufacturer that has attention to detail…and appreciated!
-Manufacturer: “Do you sleep?” 

-Email Staff: Lets make sure we run all orders by me for approval so we don’t miss a mistake on colors ok? 

-Skype phone call with manufacturer to discuss quality, process and future capability and sampling of new products – he is really great but I am not putting my eggs all in one basket.  because I am still trying to find 5 more just like him just to cross all of my t's and dot all of my i's.

-Email from Japan – we can negotiate a better price on a raw goods for you and here are some issues to look at

Look at goods negotiated from Japan and weigh cost and benefits and how to work that into our production.

-Explained Skype phone call with manufacturer to my staff so that they understand what needs to be done the following day 

-Promised my manufacturer in China I was going to sleep.  Yes, I do sleep…but not much.  Its all good 

12:18  AM --- THE NEXT DAY
-Investor: “How did you like the way that phone conference went?” Me “really well – I see lots of possibility there and I am excited!”

-Email about delay in China due to a holiday and my request to move things earlier.  No.  I still want to move to China to have more time off! They have a lot of holidays….
-Visualize the day that I can have that many days off….still visualizing!!!!! It will come one day. 

-How much can I get from the sale of my house to invest in my company?  Hmmm…after working the numbers I can be more competitive in the market and decrease the price and still get what I need. 

-Did I get everything done today that needed to be done?  Uh….maybe.  Let me check. I check.
-No I did not but there is always tomorrow

-Write a blog post about what I did today because it seems like a good idea

-End a blog post about what I did today….NOW I AM EXHAUSTED but I had a really great day!!!!!  



Monday, September 1, 2014

In the Swing Again

I have to say, after almost a year off it is nice to be in the swing of things again professionally. My mind never really took a rest from the ideas that float in and out of it most days and its nice to finally be utilizing my mind again with stimulating ideas.

I am not sure that I thought I would ever be a consultant, but it makes perfect sense. If you learn enough in life and can teach others then so be it. After only one month of promoting myself as a mentor / consultant in the New Orleans area and networking with the right people I took on an almost full time position as a contract CEO for a home health agency looking to rebuild and expand. WOW!! Can I do the job? I know I can. Is it a challenge? Absolutely. But I have never backed down from a challenge before.

I have to say I am flattered that the owner took a chance on me just based on my experience in the Entrepreneurial world and what I did with FuzziBunz. I suppose I never really thought what I did with FuzziBunz was all that impressive, I just followed my dream and pursued my passion. Tomorrow is my first day to actually work in the business and I get to hire my Executive Assistant and right hand woman. It is exciting to be building my own team to take another company to yet another level. I have learned so much during my first run as CEO with FuzziBunz and I have a lot to learn about the new field in which I am entering. This industry is not too different that the baby industry, it is the geriatric industry with much the same needs. Adult diapers anyone???  My goal is to make a significant impact for this company, the people involved and learn even more that I can bring to the others that I work with and mentor. Life is certainly a journey and I soak up as much information into this sponge as possible.

In my off hours when I am not researching this new industry in which I am entering I continue to build the team for The Make it Happen Workshop as it continues to evolve almost on a daily basis. Some really exciting times are approaching - I can hardly contain my excitement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life After FuzziBunz

Some people have been wondering what in the world happened to me. "Did you fall off the face of the Earth?" I have been asked. Well the answer is kind of. In 2013 I made the decision to let go of the FuzziBunz brand and move back to my home town of New Orleans Louisiana, which is kind of another world in and of itself. After 14 years of working 14 hour days, many times 7 days a week I was ready for a little bit of R&R.

I have spent the last  year enjoying my life to the fullest, learning new things, meeting new people and making new friends and enjoying my children. It took me a while to "detox" from working everyday, as the stress of running a business and balancing work and family was the norm for so very long. I will admit to at times feeling guilty for enjoying life a little bit too much and not working but my plan was to take a year off (while still consulting for the new owners of FuzziBunz of course) and then pursue my other aspirations that I have for myself both professionally and personally.

Being an inventor I have often been presented with the following question "I have a great idea....but I
don't know what to do with it....can you give me some advice?" I have wanted to give that advice for so long, and had so much information to share but just never had the time to do it. Last year prior to exiting FuzziBunz I started writing my e-book "The Make it Happen Workshop" for would be entrepreneurs and inventors. It truly is inventor focused as it starts with a "lightbulb moment" and takes someone all the way through the licensing process. I finished the book, recently launched the website and my role with that program has taken a whole different turn.

It seems my calling in my professional career is as a mentor and advocate for startup businesses. I don't think it is any secret that my tenure with FuzziBunz was full of drama. From patent wars to divorce wars it was never an easy journey. It WAS however an incredibly rewarding one and much knowledge was gained. I have learned the best things TO do and definitely what NOT to do. My greatest lessons I have learned in business have been from the mistakes I have made and my failures so they were certainly not in vain.  Any first time entrepreneur, through their "virgin" entrepreneurial effort, will tell you it is froth with learning experiences, pain, exhilaration, success, heartache and MANY MANY lessons learned.

When I was just starting out in business at the age of 28 I wish I would have had a good mentor. I wish I would have had someone warn me of what was to come and advise me as to what should and should not be done. I wish I would have had someone to pick up the phone and talk things through with. What is more I would have died to have had someone connect me with the right people for what I needed at the time. THAT is what I am doing for startups today and THAT is what I am most passionate about.

So were my last 14 years spent learning, experiencing, growing, fighting, working till exhaustion and letting go worth it? Your damn skippy they were. But what is most exciting to me is when I meet someone as I did at a recent entrepreneurial networking event in New Orleans (pictured) and I tell them what I have done in my past professional career and they still hug me to death because THEY LOVE FUZZIBUNZ!  Being thanked by loyal FuzziBunz fans never gets old and I am reminded of my contributions I have made to the cloth diaper industry, parents and babies and our planet and how rewarding that indeed is. I was never comfortable with the term "Mother of the Modern Cloth Diaper" as even I, someone with a fairly healthy Ego ;-) felt that was a bit too lofty. But it will always be a part of my past, part of my story and part of what I feel very good about in my life after FuzziBunz.

Now its on to making other people memorable for what THEIR passions are!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Daring to be Different

To some people being different is not a welcome concept.  To some, being different is uncomfortable.  To me, being different is a cornerstone of who I am.  I have lots of great ideas, some of which have been executed, most have never seen the light of day, but I do have great ideas - at least I think so ;-)  However if someone else has done this great idea, or capitalized on this "great" concept why would I bother doing the same?

There is always pressure to compete in my marketplace (cloth diapers) and often people say "you need to do this!" which typically means "you need to do what everyone else is doing" and I decline.  Why?  If it has been done, it has been done.  And I am above doing what has been done.  And if I am not - I am about how to do it BETTER!

Owls?  I appreciate the novelty and style of these cute little creatures.  But they are overdone in the diaper industry.  Yes, they are cute, possibly cuddly in a fairytale kind of way and often scary, unpredictable and keep the insomniac in us up all night.  Owls do not appeal to me as a soothing baby diaper graphic.  Cute yes, overdone yes, insomniacs nightmare?  Yes.  Regardless, overdone.  

So as someone who has a product that needs to ever evolve, keep on top of the trends and be progressive I step up to the challenge to BE DIFFERENT and BE BETTER!  Don't follow the trend....they have their purposes - but dare to be different!  I dared to be different with FuzziBunz and it was a big hit - I dared to be different with my One Size design and it sets FuzziBunz apart - same goes with anything regarding my brand - dare to be different, original and unique.  Going with the flow may only make you seem "not as unique" as the others and is that what you really want for your product or brand??? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On Work and Family Balance

I have often been asked the question "how do you balance work and family?" And I have never really been able to give what I feel is a great answer.  This is partly because I have never had time to really THINK about this and how I actually balance work and family life.   But somehow I manage to do it.

As a single mom of three children it is particularly hard to do, especially with no family support in this area and a child with special needs.  So how do I manage family life while running a multi-million dollar business?  Priorities, sacrifice and a cohesive family unit.

But I can't take all of the credit.  I have also been blessed with very good children.  Maybe I had something to do with that, and maybe that was God's way of giving me only what I can handle.  But my children are, in fact, very well behaved and out of necessity have become very self sufficient children and I am proud of that.  We are a family unit, and family units pull together and all carry their weight.

But from a management standpoint I have had to decide what is a priority....such as fixing my children breakfast, taking them to school in the morning, picking them up from school in the afternoon, fixing a meal and sitting down at the table in the evening as a family.  Now, I said "fixing" a meal - that may take the form of Chinese take out or freezer food, but it also takes the form of home cooking when time permits.  These are my priorities, and my special times with my children to establish a sense of normalcy to our household. 

Sacrifice comes both on the personal level and the family level.  I have sacrificed sleep many years to get homework done, put my kids to bed and then "get to work" at 10pm until 2am.  Sacrifice comes when I have to leave my kids to travel for work for days at a time.  I had to miss a big event for my two boys when I went to LA to film Shark Tank and that nearly killed me, but my children and I are part of a unit and they have all felt involved in this business from the beginning.  They know how much FuzziBunz means to me, and to them, and to their future, so we all pull together and do what it takes to make our little family work.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Patent Q&A Part 2

Q. What is the legal process someone should take if they feel someone is violating their patent? 

A.  If someone has a patent that they feel  a product is infringing upon, the proper protocol is to have their patent lawyer send the company or the company's lawyer  a cease and desist letter OR they could in fact bypass that step altogether and file suit.  If the company refuses to cease and desist the patent holder then has the right to file an official lawsuit and take the company to court to let a court decide if that person is infringing and then a settlement is rendered.   However this rarely happens due to the costliness of this process (see link below).  What is NOT proper protocal is posting all over the internet that this one and that one (and naming names) are stealing their intellectual property because then there is a risk of defamation of character issues and it's just unprofessional. 

FuzziBunz Related:

Myth: FuzziBunz is free license and the company does  not protect their intellectual property rights and anyone has the right to make and sell pocket diapers because FuzziBunz has never sued anyone so they won't sue me.   

Fact: FuzziBunz fully intends on protecting our intellectual property rights.  We have been actively working behind the scenes within the patent office for years.   It has been a long process and one that has required immense patience, but we feel the value of waiting it out will be significant. 

Q. Is there a potential fallout for retailers and customers to buy / sell possibly infringing products?

A. Customers?  No.  However in patent law, someone who sells a product that has been sent a cease and desist order can also be sent a cease and desist and also be sued by the company.  That is not our desire however but it is within patent rights to do so.  

Q. Have you ever sued anyone and do you plan on it?

A.  I am a peaceful person and a lawsuit is not something I want to be a part of.  They are costly and time consuming but unfortunately I see it being inevitable at some point.  What I would rather see is for companies sign a license so that the legal system is being upheld and they can continue business as normal.  Licensing really is the smart way to go.  The royalty is typically modest and the business can sleep at night knowing they will not be served with papers in the morning.  PLUS it is just the right thing to do.  I have done it with another product (similar but not exactly the same) and I have not died or been bankrupt by it - in fact it is a mutually beneficial relationship.  

How much is that patent lawsuit going to cost you?  Read here.