• Tue, Aug 16 2011

‘Mamapreneurs’ Still Have To Act Like Normal Business Owners

What’s the difference between a “Mamapreneur” and a regular old entrepreneur? Professionally speaking, nothing.

The San Fransisco Chronicle has a nice profile of Michelle Cazella and her company Toddler Tech USA. They discuss how she started the company, the products she offers and how she’s planning to expand. Yet, like any mom-owned business, the story focuses much more on Cazella’s motherhood than on her business acumen. Through both her own interview and the accompanying write-up, the words “mom-owned business” and “mamapreneur” are thrown around 12 times. That’s not to mention the talk of family, parents and children. All in all, the interesting aspect of this story is not the “Dapper Snappers” that Michelle invented and successfully sold into over 200 children’s boutiques in 14 different countries. The impressive part is that she did it after giving birth to a child.

Make no mistake, Michelle Cazella wants to be thought of as a “mamapreneur”. In her quotes, she talks about gaining the support of other mamapreneurs, the struggle to balance business with family and her desire to help other mothers looking to start a business. But even in her statements, Michelle refers to very basic business functions, whether the owner has procreated or not. Please allow me to do a little translation here.

“Early on I found a lot of support from other mamapreneurs that helped point me in the right direction.” = Networking. Most businesses have to gain support or recognition from others in their field before they launch. Finding mentors and reaching out to other business owners is a large part of forming your own company.

“I’ve seen first hand how hard it is, as a mom, to take on the challenge of bringing a product to life, funding it, manufacturing it, marketing it and selling it all while keeping the focus on my family.” = Work – Life Balance. Take out the “as a mom” part and substitute “my family” for absolutely anything that someone considers a priority outside of work. Yes, working mothers go through this struggle often. Personally, I have problems in this area sometimes. But moms aren’t the only one who need to keep their work and home lives separate. Any job, especially business ownership, can take over every aspect of your life if you aren’t careful. Whether its your significant other, your family outside of your children, your faith, your volunteer work, your hobbies… anything your passionate about needs to stay a priority in your life, even when you’re working night and day to launch a new company.

“I decided that if there was a way that I could help other moms launch their product, I would!” = Acquisition. Cazella started her company with a single product that she invented. But Toddler Tech USA is a distribution company, which means that if she wants to grow, she needs to invent more products or acquire the rights to distribute more products. Although its nice that she chose another invention made by a mother, it also makes sense, because her business model is about products for children. Most distribution companies tend to work with similar products, because they can capitalize on relationships with existing accounts while launching a new item. As a distribution company, Toddler Tech will make more money every time it begins to sell a new product. So its nice that she’s supporting other moms, but she’s also making a business decision.

It’s easy for mothers to feel like their role as “mom” permeates every aspect of their life. But mom-owned businesses need to operate just like every other business. Constantly referring to them as these dedicated mommas trying to make a name for themselves in the big, bad world of business is demeaning. Why not analyze and appreciate them just like we would any other start-up making a name for itself in the corporate world? Whether you’re a mamapreneur, mompreneur or just a plain old working mom, your business doesn’t depend on your reproductive output, so let’s stop referring to it that way.

(Photo: Women On The Fence)

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  • Eileen

    My guess is that since her product is specifically kid-related, the “mamapreneur” (which is a stupid made-up word that is filling me with annoyance to type) tag is just a marketing strategy. I’d be more concerned if she were selling, say, lingerie or innovative power tools and making the fact that she’s a mom a part of it.

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