Orange County Business Journal

‘Mompreneurs’

Many switch from corporate to startups; flexibility is key Alisha Gomez Sunday, May 15, 2011

The latest trend in small business might be the mom sitting next to you.

“Mompreneurs”—women juggling a business and raising kids—are a growing trend. Books, blogs and social networks target them.

Data for mompreneurs is hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence indicates they make up a growing niche within Orange County’s field of more than 16,000 women-owned businesses.

Business and personal services, retail and medical care providers are the most common types of companies owned by women here, according to Inside Prospects, a local market research firm that tracks data in OC and San Diego.

Women-owned businesses also have a presence in finance and manufacturing here, the firm has found.

Women-owned-businesses accounted for 129 Small Business Administration loans in the county last year, for a total of nearly $51 million.

That’s an increase of 41% in terms of number of loans and 92% in terms of dollar volume from 2009.

Trendsetters

The numbers point to what Jill Salzman has known for a while.

Salzman runs thefoundingmoms.com, a website for mompreneurs. She says the trend has taken off in the past few years.

“There are so many women joining our organization now,” she says. “It’s crazy how many people are identifying themselves as moms and entrepreneurs.”

The site offers support across the country—meetings, business counseling and other services—for women who start businesses while raising kids.

Many mompreneurs spent years in the corporate world but gave it up after children entered the picture, Salzman said.

Others found themselves scrambling for income after their spouses lost their jobs.

Jane Hodgdon was in marketing and event planning for Extron Electronics in Anaheim when she got pregnant with her first child. The company worked with her afterwards, allowing some flexibility in her schedule.

By the time she got pregnant with her second child she knew the corporate job wasn’t going to work out.

Frustration

Hodgdon settled in as a stay-at-home mom. Then she got frustrated about the selection of bras on the retail market and took the leap as a mompreneur.

Hodgdon founded IBB Designs in her Irvine home in 2007. The newly minted chief executive oversaw several test runs and plenty of trial and error to come up with her first sample of the Itty Bitty Bra for women in need of smaller sizes.

IBB’s bras and lines of panties and camisoles now are sold in boutiques, big-name retailers such as Fred Segal, and through ittybittybra.com.

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