Mompreneur: Karen Rappaport
Business: Co-founder of My Royal Heinie
Manufacturer of a line of mom-invented diaper bags and accessories called My Royal Heinie. Created by two moms as the alternative to the oversized, bulky, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink diaper bags, My Royal Heinie’s small, compact, patented design features the built-in Smart Wipes Dispenser™ – a heat sealed internal pocket where wipes can be to loaded and stored, staying moist for days. The easy-access opening on the front panel allows wipes to be pulled right from the bag. No need for travel packs or bulky plastic wipes cases. Just take a big stack of wipes and load it in for a few days’ worth. You’ll never fumble for wipes when diaper duty calls.
What inspired you start your business?
Being two moms, we both have changed our share of diapers (we figure well over 10,000 and still counting!) so we feel somewhat expert in knowing what moms need and want when it comes to diaper duty.
Our big “a-ha” moment came one day when out on walk with our babies one of us had a diapering “emergency”. By the time the wipes case was found buried on the bottom of the bag the crisis was in full swing. We both thought, why hadn’t anyone invented something better than a hard plastic case for wipes? Wouldn’t it be great if they were built into the bag like a tissue dispenser? Then you could pull one out whenever you need one, which is pretty darn often.
The rest, as they say, is history. We created a new way of storing wipes, a new definition of a “diaper bag”; a new approach to diaper duty.
How long have you been in business?
It will be three years in January the we formed the company Too Hot Mammas, LLC and a little over 2 years that My Royal Heinie has been on the market.
What did you do in your past work life?
I was in PR/Marketing specializing in consumer branding and worked in both the agency world in NYC, and as an independent consultant for a variety of clients.
What is your ideal workday like?
Take the kids to school (on-time, which is the first challenge of the day) with coffee in hand, run to the gym for a quick 45 minute work out, forego shower and head straight to the “office” (the back room of my house which also happens to be the laundry room), work, work, work for a solid 4 hours (maybe a break to walk the dog and grab a snack, more coffee), pick up the kids from school and keep the Blackberry close at hand for the rest of the afternoon, answering emails and phone calls while doing homework, cooking dinner, etc. (How many times can I speak to my partner in a given day? I think the record is 25 calls.) Then it’s a couple of more hours of work after the kids are asleep until I can finally crawl into bed with the anticipation and excitement of doing it all over again tomorrow. Oops, I forgot to shower… I’ll do it in the morning,
What have been some of your major successes?
When the phone rang and it was Target calling asking if we would be interested in participating in an in-store promotional program featuring innovative new products invented by parents. Ours was among a handful of products chosen from a review of thousands. Ahh, we said “yes!” and My Royal Heinie was sold in over 300 stores across the country and is also available on Target.com.
What have been some of your major challenges?
Finding a reliable, high-quality manufacturing partner at a price we can afford on this side of the globe. We finally have, a NY-based company with manufacturing facilities in the Dominican Republic.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
With every obstacle in the road (and there have been many), we have always found another way around. For every mistake, every let-down, every time some new challenge or disappointment comes our way, there has also been something good that’s happened, some unexpected, exciting news. Like the phone call from Target, or some great PR coverage. It’s as if whenever we feel like we’re ready to throw in the towel, there’s some sign from above that tells us not to give up. And my partner and I support each other. This is key. When one of us is feeling down or frustrated or depleted, the other is there for a pep talk. We take turns.
Do you have a motivational quote?
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
Blackberry, baby! And getting your kids excited about what you’re doing so they want to help and be part of it. Hey, it’s cheap labor!
If there was one piece of advice you could give to your children about running a successful business, what would it be?
Learn from your mistakes, and make it quick. And go to law school first so you don’t have to hire one!
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
HARO (help a reporter out) for PR leads.
What is next for your business?
Continuing to develop new designs with greener fabrics and materials.
Your two cents sales pitch?
We are about smart design and delivering a product that moms (and dads) really need and want. Especially in this new economy, it is about practicality and usefulness, not frivolity. Our price point is reasonable and affordable. It just works.
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