Stay-at-home mom shares tips for small business success -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Stay-at-home mom shares tips for small business success

Meet Robin Riggs, the founder of Ella Jean.

"It's a line of baby accessories that is meant to appeal to the modern mom and baby," she explains.

Today, Robin is a well-organized businesswoman happily celebrating success. But that wasn't the case just a few years ago.

She had a marketing job she loved and had just had a baby, but got some terrible news.

"When I was preparing to go back from my maternity leave, I learned that my position was part of a company-wide layoff. So at that point, I was faced with what my next step was going to be," Robin recalls.

Outside of her marketing job, Robin didn't have a lot of experience except for all the time she spent getting ready to welcome her daughter, Ella Jean.

"I had all the baby furniture, the nursery was set up perfectly, I had adorable baby clothes. But the blankets, burp cloths, bibs were just not the style I was looking for," she explains.

So Robin decided to design her own.

"I basically found some designer fabric that I really liked and then I paired it with soft fabric that I thought the baby would like and I started out with a blanket and I got a lot of compliments on it, so I made matching burp cloths and bibs," she says.

Robin started making items for friends as shower gifts. Then, to help make ends meet, she decided to market items online and before she knew it, she realized she loved what she was doing.

So did a lot of other people. Now she had another decision to make and she's says this was a big one.

"I had to really take a leap, because it was either stop the business because I don't have time to keep up with making all these goods at home myself while I am home with my baby, or take it to the next level [and] seek out a factory and have them produce the goods," Robin explains.

Robin incorporated her business, found a factory and she was well on her way to becoming a businesswoman and a stay-at-home mom. But she needed to continue to grow her new business, so she went to the biggest of the really big trade shows, the New York International Gift Show, and set up a booth so buyers from all over the country could see the blankets, bibs and burp cloths she'd become so proud of.

It paid off.

"Buyers from I don't know may be 20 different states placed orders and I came and fulfilled them," Robin says.

While she is excited people love her designs, Robin measures her accomplishments a different way.

"The number one way I measure my success right now is the fact that I am able to do something and I'm home being a mother to my two girls too, which I feel really fortunate to be able to do that," she notes.

Robin has these tips for anyone else thinking of starting a business:

  • Meet other business owners in your industry. They will be an invaluable resource.
  • Find someone who has experience and ask them to mentor you.
  • Take time to really evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

Robin also notes that small business owners often have to take on many roles, like advertising and accounting. She says you should try to save money by filling as many of those roles as possible, but be careful to stay away from the roles that you don't excel at and hire others to help in those areas.

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