[quote style=”boxed”]I do what I believe in. After that most of it is a learning curve, but I am not afraid to make mistakes, ask for help and learn from others.[/quote]
The tale of how Vanessa, owner of A Parent Company, came to distribute the children’s travel feeding booster seats is pretty interesting and speaks volumes about thinking on your feet and the travel goods industry as a whole.
Vanessa and her husband were on vacation visiting relatives in the UK and saw the Go Anywhere Travel Feeding Booster Seats in a well-known baby goods retailer. They were out of stock at the time, so she decided that on her return to the States, she would try and purchase them for her children.
It was only once she got back and tried to find the five-point harness seat that she learned there was nothing like it on the market in the U.S. She called the UK suppliers to buy a couple for her family, and by the end of the call had agreed to distribute the seats in the U.S. Thus, A Parent Company was born! Four years later, A Parent Company is the sole distributor of the product across the U.S. and Canada.
Distributing to big box retailers, boutiques and retail sales online has proved to be a demanding challenge of negotiation, sales & marketing all of which were previously unfamiliar territory for Vanessa. This, combined with the changing role of Social Media in business over the last few years, have meant a steep learning curve, but all part of the fun!
What are you working on right now?
A Parent Company.
Where did the idea for A Parent Company come from?
After finding a great product that was available in Europe, but not in the States. I tried to buy the seats in the UK for my own children but they were out of stock. “No problem!” I thought, I’ll get some back home. However on my return I realised that I couldn’t get them in the states. So I called the supplier in the UK with the intention of buying a couple direct, and by the end of the phone coversation had agreed to distribute them in the States. Not necessarily your average business plan!
How do you make money?
Well so far we don’t make very much! However we aim to increase retails and wholesale sales which is starting to happen, slowly.
What does your typical day look like?
As I’m based in Europe I have the time difference to work with. I will get up, breakfast with my children, take them to school, trying to squeeze in a peak at my emails somewhere and then head back to the office to start in earnest. The morning is generally spent dealing with issues that have come in overnight. The afternoon tends to be quieter (overnight in the States) and then the kids get home from school. I spend the evening with them before carrying on in the office when the US comes to life.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I do what I believe in. After that most of it is a learning curve, but I am not afraid to make mistakes, ask for help and learn from others.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Travelling with kids – there’s so much to see in the world and it seems that families are willing to take their children to more interesting & further flung destinations. It excites me because I love to travel with my family and from a business point of view, our product is perfect for parents who also love to travel.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst jobs was selling hair care products to hair salons. I learned that I am not a salesperson unless I believe in the product (and that I don’t really care enough about my hair to be the right person for that job). Fortunately I now distribute a product that I love, and truly believe in its benefits to parents of young children.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Set a better pricing strategy. we’ve struggled with getting Big Box retailers to adhere to MAP pricing and it’s a constant battle to try and keep on top of it in an attempt to be fair to our boutique retailers
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay true to yourself and don’t give up, ever! Protect every idea you have.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I make mistakes all the time. The only thing to do is learn from them, and never do them again. I also think it’s important to acknowledge that making mistakes is OK, a good thing even as long as you ensure that you learn from them.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would change how people treat each other. It feels as if people have become selfish and no one cares about anyone else anymore. It is sad and I don’t want my kids to grow up with ideas that their actions have no impact on others. I try to change it everyday by leading by example.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am terrified of the water, but am SCUBA certified.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Hootsuite – it’s a great dashboard for bringing together all our Social Media.
Google Docs – ideal for sharing online documents in a small office environment.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Andre Agassi’s auto biography – “Open: An Autobiography“, not only is it beautifully written, it is a story of determination and perseverance.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@triplex2013 – my husband who does extreme sporting expeditions.
@AmberDusick – manages to wrap up parenting perfectly and makes parents realize that we’re all going through the same old stuff! Laugh out loud tweets & blogs.
@HuffPostParents – great articles on parenting, the good, the bad and the ugly!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Playing cards with my nieces – it was less about the card game and more about the conversations we were having.
Who is your hero?
The one tech item I couldn’t live without?
City, Beach or Mountains?
A Combination of all three! We have property in San Francisco, Park City in Utah and Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean, so we’re fortunate enough to be able to spend time in different surroundings.
A Parent Company on Facebook:
A Parent Company on Twitter: @aparentcompany
Vanessa Carrington on LinkedIn:
A Parent Company LLC on LinkedIn:
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.