When someone goes on vacation with their family, chances are they don’t have the room to bring along the stroller and other big things that are needed once they’re at their destination. Rather than seeing it as a problem, Lisa Cook saw that as a business opportunity.
Her baby equipment rental and baby registry consultant business was first started in January of 2006, although the baby registry consultant part didn’t get added until this year. Crybaby Comforts is an easy solution for parents looking to rent things they need rather than traveling with those items.
I got the chance to talk to Lisa about her business and ask her a few questions about how she got it to where it is today.
What was your inspiration for your business?
I really wanted to stay at home with my children. We needed some extra income to help push us through each month. It was various people who helped me come up with all the ideas for what is now Crybaby Comforts.
Did you have any previous knowledge that you were able to put towards your business?
I had no previous business knowledge but plenty of baby equipment knowledge after having two children of my own. I have also always had a passion for learning about new equipment available to moms and dads.
What did you learn since you started that you wish you’d known before?
I wish I had more knowledge about QuickBooks and other accounting programs available to me. Keeping track of the business financials and equipment I have in stock has been an big learning experience.
What steps did you need to take to get Crybaby Comforts going?
The first thing I needed to do was come up with what I wanted to offer in my business. I looked at various companies who did what I did around the country to get an idea of how they ran their businesses. Once I had a model that I felt was a good one I had to decide how I wanted to grow. In the end I made the decision that I would start with a minimal amount of equipment and grow as my cliental grew. Each time I needed more equipment I went out and bought it to fill the request. This allowed me to grow at a slow steady pace without a large sum of money to start the business.
Since you’re mostly renting to tourists, do you ever suffer from a “slow season”? What do you do to help you get through that time?
Yes, there is definitely a slow season on the baby equipment business. In Seattle that season is from January — April. I get through this time period by having the long term rentals available. It’s not much but it does help me get through the thinner months. I am also hoping that adding the consulting to my business I will have 1 more resource to help pull me through some of the slower months.
How do you manage the time to run your business and your family?
I find time where I can. I find myself doing quite a bit of my busy work late at night when my children are sleeping. My husband also pitches in when he can. It certainly can be difficult sometimes to find time for everyone. Also, now that my children are in preschool I do find those hours are precious to getting my work complete. The last thing I do to make time for the family is to take my kids along when I am working. I have made sure I have memberships to all the fun places for the kids to play. If I have several deliveries in Seattle we may stop at the zoo, aquarium, or pacific science center for an hour or two. If we are super lucky we also may end up with a delivery that requires a ferry ride on a sunny afternoon.
What additional struggles have you faced as a mom running your own business?
Scheduling is most definitely the big one in this house. Also, finding a balance to how big to allow my business to grow and keeping all my finances in order in the process.
Do you have any advice for other moms out there who are thinking about starting their own business?
I would say just think things through very carefully and get as many people’s opinions as possible before you take the plunge. I find my family and friends are my biggest assets in determining if I am going the right direction. Also, make sure you find time for yourself not just your family. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our work and forget to find time for ourselves.