Female Entrepreneurs On the Job and In the Trenches

A major female entrepreneurial strength is providing products and services to consumers because women use their personal life experiences to inform business decisions.

With two small children and luggage in tow, Rachel Smith struggled through the airport, juggling items in her bag in an effort to locate a toy to placate her son.  Her stressful experience inspired Smith to create a diaper bag with pull out drawers and pockets, adding ease and functionality to the design.

As many as 8 out of 10 female entrepreneurs launch businesses offering goods and services to consumers rather than businesses. This statistic points to women’s ability to see business opportunities in everyday life as well as their role (typically) as household managers and shoppers.

So how do “aha” moments like Smith’s translate into a viable new product or business? Smith recruited a contact with experience in corporate sales to be her chief operating officer and pushed forward from there.  It took her a year to design a prototype and build the capital needed to launch the business, Mrs. Smith’s Diaper Bags.

Smith got her big break with Kmart, a connection she established through networking with other mothers at playgroups. One friend knew someone whose sister worked at Kmart, and she invited Smith to make a pitch in June 2009. Smith’s approach highlights a key strategy for success when building a company selling lower priced items: find and form an attachment with a major customer or retailer.

Although some female inventors downplay their gender, Smith touts her mothering role as an asset to her business.

“This is all about being a real mom in the trenches who needed a bag” that was fashionable and functional, she said.

Renee Leck is a resident blogger for Embarkability. She enjoys yoga, cooking, and curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a good book.

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