By Nancy Wurtzel, Owner
I was expecting a beautiful birthday scroll, but the paper and design both looked cheap. Additionally, the current event information was poorly written and not completely accurate.
Even worse was the fact that some of the personalized information on the certificate was wrong. Since there was no phone number listed on any of the enclosed literature, I couldn't even call them to ask for corrected scroll. I'd be forced to write to the company and hope for some type of response. With a newborn to care for and a part-time job to handle, I just didn't have any spare time to write letter and make a special trip to the post office to return the product.
My first reaction was that buying the scroll had been a mistake. That night I couldn't go to sleep because I kept thinking about it. I felt that the concept was a good one, but that the finished product had not lived up to my expectations. During my pregnancy, I had been searching for a new career path, and it suddenly came to me: I could create a more attractive certificate, and I certainly could provide better customer service.
The very next day, I started talking to friends and showing them the product idea. Everyone was very encouraging. Next, I did some informal "focus groups" with new mothers that I knew and came to the conclusion that indeed there was a market niche that wasn't being filled. Since my career had always been in the public relations and marketing areas, I used my knowledge and contacts to begin a career shift from corporate consulting to small business owner.
The research and development process took over 18 months, but finally All About Baby® was launched out of my family room in early 1995. Not surprisingly, the first All About Baby product was a charming, personalized birthday scroll, called Babyography®.
The last seven years have been challenging -- sometimes exhausting -- but never boring. I've really enjoyed growing the company and providing quality products and excellent customer service. We now have over 10,000 customers located across the country and thanks to the internet, around the globe.
For the first four years, All About Baby was almost strictly a mail-order business, but the internet changed the way we market and take orders. Now, we get 80 percent of our orders online and almost all of our marketing efforts are centered around the internet. Since our most popular gift item, the Babyography, is highly personalized, it is the perfect product for the internet. Customers place orders on our secure site, we confirm the order and they can get back to us within two days with any changes or questions.
Working alone is not always easy. It can be isolating and sometimes lonely. I always advise people who are starting their own small business to really take a long look at their personality. It's important to be a self-starter with a 'can-do' attitude. You have to be able to roll with the ups and downs of running a business and not get too discouraged. I don't need other people around or a boss looking over my shoulder, and I love being my own boss so it works very well for me. However, working at home is just not for everyone.
What else do I like about operating my own business and having a home office? Most important, is that I have the flexibility to blend my work and family commitments together.
My daughter, Kate, is now 8 years old and in the third grade. She sometimes helps me out on weekends doing small office tasks such as stamping letters or folding flyers. She loves checking my voice mail for messages or going online and seeing the emails that need to be answered.
My husband also assists me with financial issues and when I just need someone to listen to my ideas.
Since I don't have to punch a clock, I can work until early afternoon and then pick Katie up from school each day. I can also volunteer at school, take part in class field trips, sometimes work out during the day, run household errands and always be there to help with homework.
Late afternoons and evenings, I'm usually back in the office for an hour returning phone calls and checking email messages.
On weekends, I always try to commit a few hours on projects and ideas that will expand my business. A few years ago, I began adding more gift items to the All About Baby® line, and the company now features tooth fairy pillows and ceramics, piggy banks, books, wooden hangers, cookie making sets, personalized picture frames and more.
For more information about All About Baby or to see our products, go to http://www.allbaby.com or call 800-781-7171.
Nancy Wurtzel, Owner All About Baby