Meredith Ferguson began her working life as an attorney, but quickly realized that that career did not offer the creativity she was seeking. She then took a job in marketing and public relations at a non-profit organization, beginning the second phase of her professional life.
While more enjoyable than being a lawyer, Meredith still longed for something more, something she could call her own.
An entrepreneur at heart, Meredith spent the next few years thinking about and developing business idea after business idea, but nothing really flourished until she had children. Shortly after her first daughter arrived, her day job, her home life and her entrepreneurial spirit collided and sprayed inspiration all over her clothing.
When her boss pulled her aside to “jokingly” let her know that she seemed to always have “something” (a.k.a. spit-up, snot) on her shoulder, she knew she needed to get a handle on her chaotic morning routine. Changing her clothes multiple times was a hassle and refusing to hold her girls once she was dressed was distressing.
When she looked for something that could help her, she realized that there was nothing out there that was cute but also saved her clothes from excessive wear and tear. And so she developed the Kikou — a stylish, machine-washable wrap that protects clothing from life’s little messes.
So, with the Kikou and the other products in the pipeline that help manage the chaos of everyday life with kids, Calm the Crazy was born.
Meredith Ferguson lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with her husband and two little girls.
What are you working on right now?
I am developing the prototypes for the next two products in our pipeline. I love the prototype-to-development phase of any new project. The passion, energy and collective wisdom of all the experts is so exciting and fun!!
3 trends that excite you?
1. Social Media — I love the idea of interacting with your consumer and target in a way that gives your brand a personality. There’s no better way to make an impression and convert someone into a customer than by building a relationship with that person, and social media affords businesses myriad ways to do that.
2. Made in the USA — I love the idea of working with manufacturers right here in the United States. With the huge trend of shipping production work overseas, there has been a counter-trend of providing businesses with resources to help you find what you need for the right price right here. It’s been exiting to support that effort.
3. Environmentally Friendly/Organic Products — My products are not only practical and stylish, but they also are environmentally friendly in a variety of ways, too. Not only does this trend open up avenues of great product ideas and marketing opportunities, but it’s the right thing to do, too. We plan to leverage this in specific organic-only lines of products to appeal to a core segment of our market that desires this type of product.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I first develop a rough prototype … on my own sewing machine (even though I can’t really sew a lick!) Then I work with an experienced pattern maker who can provide a bit more substance to my idea. Next, I find the most appropriate manufacturer who can make the product, and then I seek out the proper materials I need. Then, I focus group test it, refine the pattern/product and start producing!
What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
I spent lots of money on marketing materials before I really determined my needs. It’s important to have a professional logo, letterhead package, information sheet, etc., but it’s also important to identify how much you need, when you need it and how it can be done in a sleek, but inexpensive way.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
Book: “Design Entrepreneur” was an important book that taught me about the textile and manufacturing world, which was wholly unknown to me prior to all of this.
Tool: Sewing machine … My mom bought it for me, and it was the only way I could get people to understand what I was talking about — to actually sew one.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This may already be out there, but I haven’t seen them — cutting boards with pictures of the different foods on them for which they are meant. I’ve seen color-coded cutting boards, but at the end of a long work day with two toddlers at my side, I just need a picture (preferably a cool and stylish pic) to tell me which board I should use to cut my veggies and which one I should use to cut my chicken.
As a former attorney turned marketer, how has your career path led you to this?
I began my working life as an attorney, but quickly realized that that career did not offer the creativity I was seeking. I then took a job in marketing and public relations, beginning the second phase of my professional life. While more enjoyable than being a lawyer, I still longed for something more … something I could call my own.
An entrepreneur at heart, I spent the next few years thinking about and developing business idea after business idea, but nothing really flourished until I had children. Shortly after my first daughter arrived, my “day” job, my home life and my entrepreneurial spirit collided and sprayed inspiration all over my clothing. The Kikou was born — a fashionable, functional cover-up to protect clothing from spit-up and more.
How do you find the time to balance working at your day job and launching your new company with spending time with your husband and two young daughters?
I’ve learned that the best way to stay sane and give everyone and everything the time they need and deserve (including me) is to stay focused. When I’m at work, I focus on my day job and don’t try and give my new company attention during this time unless I absolutely have to! Then, I come home and hang with my girls and put them to bed. Then, you’ll usually find me on the computer from about 8 p.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. I do, however, take some nights off and just hang out with my husband. And I try to keep the weekends all about family time. It’s tiring, but exhilarating at the same time!
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.