A few weeks ago, I talked about how I started Mommy Shorts, which started with getting laid off from my job shortly after my maternity leave. In retrospect, this was the best thing that ever happened to me, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time.

I wrote about my start as part of a collaboration with The First Years who recently launched a grant program for parentprenuers, which is giving a total of $50K to help new and expecting parents make their dream jobs become a reality.

Personally, I love stories about parents dropping out of corporate America, not because they lost their career drive or ambition, but because they can balance work and family better if they make their own rules. And as a result, finding even more success in the process.

I wanted to take this opportunity to feature a few of the parent run companies I really admire— whether it be for their success, their mission or their creation of super clever products. All of these moms and dads have one thing in common: they all made big career changes after becoming parents.

laura and Ben harrison, founder of JONAS PAUL EYEWEAR

Jonas Paul Collage

When searching for eyewear for their visually impaired son Jonas, the Harrisons discovered one missing factor in existing options for children: fashion-forward frames. They started Jonas Paul Eyewear to provide function and new form to children’s vision, upping the coolness factor for kids who need to wear glasses.

What is your company’s mission?

There are millions of children in America being barraged with confidence deflating words like “nerd” and “four eyes” when their peers mock them for wearing corrective eyewear. While to some this may seem trivial or “kids being kids,” a child’s self-esteem and identity can be cemented as young as the age of 8. This identity is deeply molded and influenced by their peers.
When our son Jonas was born with a visual disability that happens once in 10 million births, it felt as though he had been destined to a life of suffering and hardship. We wrestled with depression as we thought about the ways his life would differ from ours, and how he would most likely be subject to mockery at a very young age. After months of struggling with these thoughts, we made a choice to fully accept his condition so he never feels a sense of disappointment from us. This acceptance gave us the freedom to recognize that it didn’t have to be that way. Why do children’s glasses have to be embarrassing? Why can’t they be a fashion statement like they are for adults? Why can’t we bring new form to children’s eyewear, removing the stigma and instilling confidence and excitement in children who have to wear them?

What are some challenges you faced in starting your own business?

One of our biggest challenges was financial. We just had our first child who had a disability that is incredibly expensive to care for, and we had to invest a significant portion of our savings in order to build our initial inventory.  We had to do this prior to knowing if parents would actually be comfortable ordering their children’s glasses online. To say this was a challenge is definitely an understatement; we had to take a significant leap of faith.

What is your favorite part about owning and running your own business?

There is something incredibly rewarding to turning an idea into a tangible product that makes people’s live better … and its even more rewarding if you can actually make a career out of it. We love the variety, excitement and flexibility it provides us while at the same time allowing us to work with our best friend.

How has the launch of your business affected your family life?

Since launching Jonas Paul Eyewear, our lives have dramatically changed. We would never have imagined being in the children’s eyewear space, but empowering children to feel confident and beautiful is incredibly rewarding work. It has affected our family as it has provided us a creative outlet that keeps us positive despite the challenges we face with Jonas’ disability.

Amy Richardson-Golia, founder of JUNE & JANUARY

June & January Collage

June and January makes affordable, comfortable, basic yet stylish pieces that kids can wear from playdate to picture day. “We believe that kids are fun and their clothes should be, too.” Amy was working a 9-5 job at Teen Vogue in Production when she had her son and started sewing baby hats out of old t-shirts at the kitchen table of her one bedroom Brooklyn apartment. “At some point during my maternity leave, I realized that I would have to be away from my baby for 12 hours a day and that kicked my ass into gear to make it a legit business. I quit my job when he was 11 months old.”

What are your biggest challenges in starting your business?

“Juggling all the hats! Making the product, taking photographs, social media, packing and shipping, keeping a budget, customer service… it’s so so exhausting doing it all yourself. There have definitely been some low times, especially in the first year when I was working the 9-5 then had to come home and sew until 2AM, or spend most of the weekend working orders or taking photos or writing pitch emails. You can burn out quickly if you don’t start to pull in other people to help you.”

What is your favorite part about running your own business?

“Now that I’m four years into this, and I have a solid team in place, we’ve been able to take some really great trips together as a family; I’ve also been able to just wake up on a 95 degree day and decide that I want to take my kids to the pool all day— that kind of flexibility is invaluable.”

What is your favorite company policy?

“Our team does not work on Fridays, and when my son was young, it really helped me get over the guilt of working so hard during the week and not always being 100% present. We had some really great adventures on those Friday’s off, and now that he’s in school full time, I’m excited to start the tradition with my 9 month old daughter.”

What are your goals for your business?

“I firmly believe in setting baby-goals for my business; the first goal I ever set was to do a Renegade Craft Fair, then it was to quit my job, then it was to be featured on a major baby-blog, then it was to have a 10K month, then it was to get investors. My goal for 2016 is to introduce 6 new styles and generate 20% more revenue. My longer term goal is to open a Brick & Mortar within the next 5 years.”

Leslie Mingo, founder of DYLBUG

Dylbug #2

After having her second son. Leslie Mingo wanted to get out of her 9-5 corporate job and work from home to be with her little ones during the day. She combined her graphic design talents with her love of cooking to create Dylbug, a design firm specializing in personalized products for kids including plates and food cutters. Her top selling products are the adorable Little Me – Dress Up personalized plates; designed to look like each child and ready to dress up with a clothing food cutter.

What are some challenges you faced in starting your own business?

“I come from a graphic design/illustration background and creating comes naturally to me. I didn’t major in business and have no formal training, so I teach myself as I go. My biggest challenge is learning how to run a business on my own.”

How has the launch of your business affected your family life?

“My family is a huge part of my business. My husband supports me and helps me with business decisions. My kids test out my products and give me input on which designs they like. It is great having them involved since all my products are made for children.”

What are your goals for your business?

“My goal is to be able to keep a healthy balance between work and family. I enjoy being able to provide for my family while doing something I love.”

Sharon Blumberg, Founder of CHOOZE SHOES


Sharon Blumberg was inspired by her youngest child, who opted to wear two different shoes to school every day. Instead of putting her foot down, she created CHOOZE, a kids’ brand of creatively coordinated footwear, apparel, and accessories. “I noticed that by allowing our daughter to express her individual style, we were actually empowering her to feel confident in her choices. CHOOZE was born out of a desire to create unique, colorful products that teach kids to appreciate what makes each of us unique.”

What are some challenges you faced in starting your own business?

“Everything I have done has been challenging! I had to completely learn a new industry and I learn about manufacturing, shipping, distribution, sales, etc. I realized very quickly how important it is to surround myself with people with more experience and that I recognize my personal limits.”

What is your favorite part about owning and running your own business?

“In addition to the obvious benefit of creating a flexible schedule, my biggest motivation is that we get to have a positive impact in the world. We are a socially conscious business focused on empowering kids to express their creativity, confidence, and power to have a positive impact. At the end of each year, we invest our profits in microfinance loans for women in extreme poverty so they can start their own businesses and help their families reach their full potential.”

How has the launch of your business affected your family life?

“I have noticed that my kids are inspired by what we have accomplished and they have learned about the importance of working hard. We include them and talk to them about challenges and successes, and they take part in the problem-solving and the celebrations. They have learned what it takes to make a dream a reality, and that determination and confidence are key in accomplishing goals.”

Anna Fader, Founder of MOMMY POPPINS

MommyPoppins Collage

Mommy Poppins has been saving Saturdays since 2007. Founded in New York City by Anna Fader, they provide event calendars, activity news and resource guides for families in eight regions, plus they cover family travel destinations worldwide. “Mommy Poppins isn’t about the things, or the fancy places or trends in parenting; we’re about doing amazing, cultural, enriching activities with your kids—experiences that will create memories and enrich your lives.”

What made you decide to start your business?

Mommy Poppins grew out of who I am on so many levels. I love curating information and sharing it with other people. I love the technology side of it. I’m so passionate about being a parent that I love being able to make that the foundation of my work life. Plus, I’m really bossy and love to tell people what to do. Go out and have fun, here’s where!

What is your favorite part about owning and running your own business?

“I love being able to just say no to things that I don’t feel good about doing. I don’t have to work with people, or companies, that I don’t think are nice. You’d be surprised how much “nice” weighs into my business decisions.”

How has the launch of your business affected your family life?

“For many of those years, I worked night and day, like I had a fever. My kids saw me sitting in our living room on the computer much more than I care to admit. On the other hand, it has afforded me some flexibility and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And, I think my kids get to see much more directly the hard work and the results of that hard work than if I had a traditional job.”

What are your goals for your business?

“Mommy Poppins creates jobs for dozens of moms who are able to work from home, spend time with their children, and still have meaningful work that they are proud of. We are in eight regions now and as we grow, we create more jobs and help more parents enjoy their time with their kids.”

zoie kingsbery coe, Founder of KID & COE

Kid & Coe Collage

Kid & Coe’s mission is to simplify family travel by curating family friendly holiday accommodations around the world. The site is built specifically for a thriving network of parents sharing their homes, neighborhoods and cities with one another. Each property has clear images and family-focused insights so there are no surprises when guests arrive with kids in tow. “I like to inspire families (myself included!) to think outside the box of Disney and kid’s clubs when it comes to family travel.”

What made you decide to start your business?

“I’ve been blessed to have experienced plenty of travel myself, with and without the kids. When we did have children, I wanted to continue exploring the world with them, and found myself wondering why there wasn’t a website that speaks to the modern parent— hip, fresh, stylish and a pleasure to use and browse? I couldn’t find the kind of website that spoke to me, so we built it!”

How has the launch of your business affected your family life?

“You never really get to shut off or take a holiday without staying connected, and that can be difficult. Many things hinge on your decisions, and with that responsibility has its fair share of pressures. I have to remind myself to stay focused and mindful when I’m with my kids— like trying not to think about the newest product feature whilst reading bedtime stories! But being your own boss and having control over your own schedule is a massive motivator for owning my own business.”

What do your recommend for someone just getting started?

“I knew nothing about tech and working with developers and building a website, but I learned as I went along and surrounded myself with great people. From a more specific business perspective, figuring out a real customer acquisition plan has to be any startup’s top priority. Every company needs customers to survive. I think most entrepreneurs are very optimistic by nature – “if we build it they will come!” but figuring out how and where you will find your customers and how you will keep them engaged in your product is time well spent.”


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To all of my readers who are new and expecting parents experiencing sleepless nights, diaper changes and just everyday life with your family – while also trying to find the time and money to get a new business off the ground, I encourage you to head over to to see how The First Years Parentpreneur Grant Program might be able to help. 

Individual grant funding of up to $10,000 is available and applications will be accepted through October 31, 2015.

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For more information on The First Years Parentpreneur Grant Program eligibility, and to download an application, visit

This post was sponsored by The First Years, but my story is completely my own.