By Nicole Moon, BBP Blog Contributor
Most businesses start off with an idea.
For Paula Roeske, hers started off by accident… literally.
“My triplets were just getting into the baby food phase and I brought one of the boys into the pantry with me to pick out his meal and a jar of baby food literally toppled from the shelf and fell on his toe and broke it,” recalls Roeske.
You can imagine how many jars of baby food it takes to keep three strapping infants well-fed and Paula, like most parents, had the food jars stacked on the shelf. A delicate balancing act of proper nutrition.
That night after returning from the hospital, Roeske decided she needed to rearrange her pantry. She looked all over the place for a product that would help her but could not find any products designed to hold baby food jars. In the back of her mind, and later on paper, she designed a baby food jar organizer that would alleviate those toppling stacks and make it easier for parents to grab-and-go when they were in a rush.
Yet, as a busy working mom of four, it took her nearly ten years before she took the idea from paper to prototype. Using seed money from her husband, who is also a successful entrepreneur, she started up PRK Products, Inc. from their family home in Texas.
“I took my prototypes to a trade show and gained the confidence that I had very brand-able products so it was time to pull up the sleeves and dig in,” she said.
But she soon found out, going into business for yourself isn’t always easy.
“My first manufacturer committed fraud. It cost me one year and the $250,000 listed above. I ended up suing,” Roeske said. The case eventually settled out of court and Paula collected less than half of her initial investment.
But the Paula didn’t give up.
“Just because you have a great idea does not mean that is enough,” she said, “Just because everyone tells you this is going to be the ‘next must have item’ does not mean ‘presto’ it will happen.”
Paula says the biggest lesson she has learned the key to entrepreneurship is that having good employees people and good relationships with suppliers and sellers.
She has now hired her sister, Elizabeth, as her vice-president and together they’ve expanded the company product line to not only include the Food Jar Organizer but a new Bottle Organizer as well. Both are now sold online at on the PRK Products website and Babies ‘R’ Us online. They’re alvailable at select Buy Buy Baby stories and boutique stores across the country.
Paula says she’s thankful for the growing market of parents for her success. Roeske said with about 4 million babies born each year and more than 32 million moms in America, there are plenty of parents shopping for products to make their lives easier.
“I think it’s a really hard time to raise kids,” she said. “A lot of moms find themselves cities and states away from family, and they’re looking for advice.”
If she can help those parents find a little extra time in the day by making it less stressful to find a jar of baby food or a bottle of milk, Paula said she feels like it has been a worthwhile pursuit.
“The whole premise of my company is to make life a little easier, a little more convenient,” she said.
And Paula knows exactly how that feels. In addition to running PRK Products, she also works full-time for her husband’s company. Her triplets are now in middle school and life is well, just busy.
“We all have the same 24 hours a day in life. I can tell you this, yes my life is busy but, my life is not boring and it has made me appreciate all the little things that I was not paying enough attention to before.”
Brilliant Baby Products has declared 2014 the year of the Momtrepreneur. Each month we will feature a different mom taking her “brilliant” idea and using it to make the lives of parents around the world easier and more fun!