Monkey Business Bedding by wjr21472


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									     Designing Moms
                            Turning Ideas Into Profit
                                                          By Jean Sheff

      f you want something done, ask a busy person. No               A personality, but they are women of action.
      doubt, this adage applies to each of the moms in                   Perhaps some of them were go-getters before their
      this article. These women are all busy – very busy,            children were born. Yet, more importantly, all of them
in the way only a mother can be raising a young family.              discovered that having children released their creativity.
They are master jugglers. Some work at other jobs out-               Going into business wasn’t something they originally set
side the home or volunteer at school or chauffeur their              out to do, and if they made a financial investment, it was
children from activity to activity. If they have any help,           minimal. This is the story of some moms who had a cre-
it’s limited. None of them profess to be the classic Type            ative idea and had the courage to run with it.

All in the Details
W       hen Croton-on-Hudson mom Erin Serletic was
        climbing the corporate ladder, she knew success
was in the details. Employed in the business side of televi-
sion design, Serletic relegated the creative aspect of the
work to others. She was busy cementing professional rela-
tionships, securing deals, flying here, rushing there. But
all that changed when she gave birth to her daughter
Hudson, now 11 months old.
    At first, Serletic was nervous about starting a family;
how could she be a good mother, wife and employee all at
the same time? “I thought perhaps I was going to be
caught in an either-or situation,” she says. Then, when
she took maternity leave, she didn’t think she’d ever want
to go back to the work world.
    “I’m glad I took some time off to be home with
Hudson, but I’m also glad to be back at work,” says               Designer Erin Serletic and her daughter Hudson.
Serletic, who today works a flexible schedule as Vice
President of Business Development for one of the top              challenge and designed Criblette, decorative covers for
New York design firms that service the television industry.       crib wheels.
    It was during those six months at home when Serletic             Getting the product to others meant starting a busi-
discovered that she wasn’t all business, she was creative as      ness. “In the past, I would have been afraid, I wouldn’t
well. One day, she was sitting in the nursery                                  have allowed myself to have fun and go with
with Hudson when her eyes were drawn to                                        it,” admits 30–something Serletic. “Then, I
the big black wheels of the crib. “They                                        realized if I can be a multitasking mom, I
looked so unfinished and not complimen-                                        could manage it.” And that is precisely what
tary,” she says.                                                               she did. Today, Serletic’s Criblettes grace the
    She got down to business and attended to                                   showrooms of Always the Children and I
the detail. “I went to a few local shops trying                                Love My Kids as well as Bellini in Scarsdale.
to buy something to solve the problem but                                      Yet this is just the beginning. Serletic dreams
didn’t find anything. Then, I checked the                                      of maybe one day running her business with
Web and still came up empty,” she says. She        Criblette, a line of        her daughter; after all, they have a grand
thought of taking the wheels off the crib, as      decorative covers for time working side by side now. “I really love
many people do, but didn’t want to sacrifice       crib wheels.                that I can take Hudson with me when I visit
functionality. Shop owners like Paula                                          the showrooms,” says Serletic.
Rockoff of Always the Children in Chappaqua encour-                  For Serletic, this venture has been about more than
aged Serletic to come up with an idea because others had          coming up with a truly new bedding idea, although that
been asking for the same type of product. Serletic met the        alone is pretty amazing. “I moved outside my general

14   Westchester Family • May 2006 • eBook edition at
comfort level,” she says. “And I did it when Hudson was
about 3 months old, not what you would picture to be the
perfect time.”
    Serletic is pleased with the birth of her own creativity.
“When I was young, I had a sewing machine and I used to
make pillows all the time. I remember how much I enjoyed
it. They say it’s important to pay attention to what you
first loved,” she says, clearly enjoying the fact that she has
come full circle.

Stylish Play Clothes

S   ometimes, two heads are better than one. Armonk
    moms Jessica Rosh and Stephanie Gershuny were dab-
bling in separate creative ventures when their husbands’
mutual friendship and the fact that they were neighbors
led them to explore pooling their talents.
    Rosh, who has four children, 6, 3 1/2-year-old twins
and a 21-month-old, was in ad sales pre-babies. It was not
a job she wanted to return to, so she was creating and
selling personalized stationary and baby blankets, some-
thing she found she enjoyed. Gershuny, a former teacher          Designers Stefanie Gershuny and Jessica Rosh and a
and mother of two girls, ages 4 years and 16 months, was         few samples of their Monkey Business NY product line.
also exploring her creativity designing shadow box birth
announcements and personalized gifts.                                Satisfied customers have a way of spreading the word,
    “We were learning the children’s market from the             and the women find they are shipping all over the country
inside,” says Rosh. “And, in many ways, our children con-        these days. In the next few months, they will have their
tinue to be our inspiration because they lead the way as         Web site finished and they expect that to bolt them into
they grow,” adds Gershuny. The women batted a few ideas          the next growth stage. While their signature gift item is
around and decided they wanted to develop an affordable          still a big seller, they now offer a full line of clothing for
line of stylish play clothes. It wasn’t long before they came    boys and girls (sizes 6 months to youth 16) as well as per-
up with their signature product, Sweatshirt in a Bag, and a      sonalized items and gift baskets.
company name – Monkey Business NY. “We sell boutique-                It’s clear these women respect each other. “We both
like clothing at a more moderate price point,” says Rosh.        bring special talents to the business,” says Rosh, who adds
    One of the things Rosh and Gershuny do is make shop-         that she wouldn’t advise going into business with your best
ping easy, something they know other busy mom shoppers           friend. “You want to find someone who is a good business
value. Also, part of their product line appeal is that all of    match.” Working alone, they say they were prone to get-
their items are attractively wrapped and pre-packaged. Still     ting bored and burnt out. They find that their teamwork
primarily a word-of–mouth operation, they have been              fuels and inspires them. “You have someone else
hosting house shows, blitzing their area with emails and         depending on you, you have to pull through,” says Rosh.
flyers and branching out to vendor sales at locations like           And, while time management may mean cutting fabric
the local JCC. “We take credit cards now and that makes          as they watch television at night with the kids, they find a
things really easy for people,” says Gershuny.                   way to get it done. They also learned from their mistakes

                                                         eBook edition at • May 2006 • Westchester Family   15
realizing, for instance, that custom orders were too time
sensitive for their operation. “We didn’t have a business
plan, we didn’t make a big investment, but we had a cre-
ative idea, and we didn’t just wait for it to happen.” says
Gershuny, who notes with a smile that the trend-setting
Juicy line started small, too.

Mom Knows Best

M      ackenzie Sullivan knows firsthand that mom knows
       best. When her daughter Casey was born in 2002,
she couldn’t find a diaper bag that she wanted to carry.
“There weren’t a lot of decent bags in the market back
then.” she says.
   Although she had an art history background, she had
been employed in the human resource sector until giving
                                         birth. “What I did
                                            know is what I      Sandra Wright (left), with her daughter Mackenzie
                                            needed in a         Sullivan and her two girls.
                                            bag,” she says.
                                               She also had         “We continue to improve the product and have
                                          a crafty mom,          expanded the line,” says Sullivan, who notes that the pig-
                                         Sandra Wright,          gyback envelope pouch is a daily staple in her life. “It’s just
                                         who was able and        so practical, I use it as my purse.” They also offer the
The Classic Tote Diaper Bag and willing to whip up               dadpad, a portable changing station for dads.
Quick Trip Pouch by I’m Still ME. her design. Soon,                 “Our biggest investment was a couple of yards of
                                        people began asking      fabric,” says Sullivan, who notes that the business just
her where they could find the bag she carried. While her         keeps growing along with her family.!
mom sewed the bags in her Newton, Conn. barn,
Sullivan, who lived in Boston at the time, posted a few on       Jean Sheff is editor of Westchester Family.
eBay® to see if they would sell. It’s
no surprise that they did. Soon, the
two had a Web site, and I’m Still          RESOURCES                         
                                                                                       – An organization offering a full array
ME! was in business.                       Organizations                               of free services to support women
   After Sullivan gave birth to            • Starting and Operating a Small            entrepreneurs.
another daughter, Addie, she says          Business (SCORE) – 948-3907,
with a chuckle that she needed her – A free national men- Web Sites
                                           toring service provided by retired          • Criblette –
mom, so the family moved to
                                           business professionals with eight
Connecticut. Today, they employ            offices throughout Westchester.             • Monkey Business NY –
others to help with production and                                           ,
have moved the operation to a              • Women’s Enterprise Development  
                                           Center – 948-6098, www.westch-
small cottage next to her parents’                                                     • I’m Still ME! –

16   Westchester Family • May 2006 • eBook edition at

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