Mother's of Invention (yep, there's a poll)

February 16, 2006

The saying is Necessity if the mother of Invention, but I’ve noticed a trend where mother’s are the inventors.  In recent women’s magazines I’m randomly receiving in my mailbox (postal mess here in Los Angeles, I’m getting magazines from all over LA County), increasingly there are articles on moms who have come up with a handy item that other moms must need.  From shopping cart covers to crustless sandwich cutters, you are sure to find something that makes you think, “I could have come up with that.”

But sometimes, it’s more than mere necessity that drives these women to create something new for the marketplace.

Follow my incoherent late night ramblings on the flip.
Kathy Kristof had an article in the LA Times recently about  this very phenomenon.  While the article is on mother’s inventions, she touches on the very important reason why so many of today’s mom are turning to inventing:

Now licensing is becoming a popular personal finance strategy for stay-at-home parents, Caspi said.  These parents have made the tough choice to be one-income families in a two-income world, but would like to make a few extra dollars. Many have business experience, and because they’re dealing with the challenges of parenting each day, they’re ideal inventors of kids’ products, she said.
emphasis mine

On many of my birth club boards, there are several moms who have, like me, turned their hobbies into moneymaking adventures. Jewelry, bows, clothing and nappy covers are probably the top DIY projects that SAHM do to make extra money.  Whenever something new comes along, word of mouth on birth club boards can make sales soar among the new mom set (witness Robeez Shoes and Bumbo Seat).

But that’s just crafts.  We’re talking inventing something.  What does it take to get that idea off the ground?  Besides some financing, a firm support group is handy.  I make jewelry.  When I announced that I was going to start selling my goodies (I just wanted to say that), I was amazed at how many people had nothing but negative things to say.  I mean, it wasn’t like I had no experience and was quitting my job to do it, but still I learned that so-called friends who were insecure in their own positions can kill a spirit to make good, more than lack of financing could.  Lucky for me I’m stubborn and quickly dropped those people as friends and now have some steady clients who come to me to create items for all occasions.  But that’s just jewelry.  What about that million dollar idea?  That’s where a place like Mom Inventors, Inc. can come in.  On the home page, founder Tamara Monosoff says:

We seek to nurture what mothers do best — solve problems – and in so doing change the rules by which we live. There are 82 million of us in the United States. We represent the largest source of untapped entrepreneurial intelligence in this country. While not every mom will choose to become an inventor, every mom can choose to re-invent her life. Through collaboration, (one of our dominant character traits), and by leveraging our hard-earned wisdom and stamina, each of us can design the lives we seek and ultimately change society in ways not yet imagined. We don’t yet know how, but that’s the exciting part!

That’s something I can get behind.  While I first and foremost prefer to shop locally, any time I can purchase from a progressive company or another mom–preferably progressive mom, I am more than willing to spend my money. (Maybe I’ll beg the BuyBlue team to do a special guide to progressive moms for Mother’s Day or something.)

Which brings me to my point.  Sort of.  Actually, I don’t have a point.  I do have 2 kids and have managed not to get trapped in the marketing spiral that says I need to have every single toy and safety item available.  I use my common sense, but my pocketbook and tiny apt. determines what I buy.  I’m not going to get a wipe warmer when setting the box of wipes closer to a warm spot in the room will do the trick.  I don’t have door jambs in my tiny apt. so no worries about a johnny-jump up.  But sometimes, I wish there was something that could clean bottles, pump breastmilk, label and pack it all away, while I work and entertain my toddler at the same time.