September 21, 2011 13:39
It's remarkable how many people ask me how many kids I have (instead of whether I do). Sure, I'm 34, and I run a kids' related business, so it's only natural that it will come up in conversation. What surprises me is the surprise many seem to register when they learn that I don't have children. I often end up telling the story of the diapers.com founders: they picked diapers not because of any passion for the subject (duh!), but because they did exhaustive research on Google to determine what markets were being underserved, and diapers came up at the top of the list. Parents were searching for diapers online, and no fantastic sites were responding to their needs.
To me, Makaboo is of the same vein, only the original idea came from personal experience instead of Google research: I was buying a lot of baby gifts, and as someone who worked 50-60 hours a week and lived in a different city than many friends, I was buying all of my gifts online. Whenever I searched for a fantastic, unique baby gift online, I came up short. I saw an opportunity and had the background, skills, resources and network to take advantage of that opportunity.
Stated another way: my decision to launch Makaboo had nothing to do with my gender or my (nonexistent) experience as a parent. It had to do with my experience as a consumer.
In the last two years, as I've been asked over and over how old my kids are, I've also become aware of how many media and business opportunities are open only to "momtrepreneurs". Whether it be high-profile media contests or business plan competitions/funding opportunities, there's a huge demand for stories of women who own businesses and have children. Which to me begs the question: why aren't there competitions for men who run businesses and have children? And what about my *not* having children makes the Makaboo story - or my own - any less compelling?
So, it's with some professional ambivalence that I share the very exciting news that my husband and I are expecting. We're due on St. Patrick's Day, which is very exciting to my uber-Irish hubby. I have to admit, I'm a bit of a rebel and I've enjoyed bucking the expectations of so many by being just a plain-old childless, female entrepreneur. I don't have a great deal of anxiety about making it all work: Bill and I will find a way to serve our businesses and our new family well. And hey, I guess now I can apply for all of those momtrepreneur programs I keep seeing! Even though the word makes me more squeamish than my morning sickness does.