In my 20s, before I started CertifiKID, I had a blog called “Little Miss Fun Finds.” Here is the logo that I spent hours and hours working on.
The blog was geared to local DC area parents, and particularly moms, who were looking for a good deal and new things to try locally. The blog had scores of daily readers who, for some reason, trusted my advice on local events, restaurants, and family-friendly products and services. I think they trusted me because I was just like them – a working mother of two trying to balance it all, provide for my kids, get an occasional evening alone with my husband, and always looking for a good bargain.
Little Miss Fun Finds was like a religion for me and I was committed to submitting a post every day. I was juiced by the routine of it all (I’m a very routine kind of person) and never missed a beat even when I was in the hospital giving birth to my kids. I absolutely loved that I had this following that was eagerly waiting every day to read my post and I didn’t want to let them down.
When CertifiKID took off in 2010, I had to give up the blog as it became a 24/7 operation and then it vanished into cyber space which makes me sad to not have a historical record of my posts. Almost a decade later, which feels like an eternity, I am beyond excited to start writing again.
These last 9+ years have truly been the most incredible years of my life – my favorite decade if I were to pick one. The teens were the worst decade for me and I was not a college lover like so many. I really did enjoy my 20s as I loved the process and experience of getting my first job, feeling independent, and then getting married. I started CertifiKID and had my first child at 30. This has been the most exciting, challenging and life-changing decade for sure.
From the business side, I have experienced so much since we launched CertifiKID at our kitchen table that I can barely remember it all. It has been very fulfilling to start something from scratch and see it grow over time. It has been super hard work, a true grind, and has constantly felt like a roller coaster ride with ups and downs. I have had to stay constantly focused and think of the glass half full even though I am a glass half empty kind of person.
I have met so many incredible people along this journey. I have probably employed 100 people over the years which is hard for me to get my head around. This includes an amazing core team, many of whom have been with me for 5+ years. They have become like family to me and I don’t go a day without talking to them – about business and life. I’ve been fortunate to work with thousands of business owners over the years – from farmers to play gym owners to marketing directors of Fortune 500 companies. I have learned so much about how these companies operate and enjoy helping them develop marketing strategies that work best for their businesses. I am grateful to all those businesses that took a chance on me when it was just my husband, father, and me, and all we had was an idea – not a business. There have been thousands of families that have had experiences because of CertifiKID that would not have been possible without us. I love when I get introduced to someone new and they are shocked to learn that I am the CEO & Founder of CertifiKID; and they take the time to tell me about their family’s experience somewhere and thank me so much for giving them that memory.
I have faced a lot of hard knocks on this journey. My educational and career background are not in business. From sales to customer service, marketing, IT, HR, and more, it has all been a “learn as you go” process. I remember having conversations at the beginning with people and not knowing the terminology they were using, so I would google words and concepts during calls. Over time, I learned the lingo well enough and now, when I take a step back, I chuckle at some of the discussions I am having and the words I am using without missing a beat. In the end, I think it would have been great to have had some business training or education. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt. Though, it obviously wasn’t necessary, as, without it, I brought a fresh, unrehearsed, passionate, and “real” perspective to what I was doing and how I was doing it, which likely contributed to my and the business’s success.
On the personal side, I raised two kids along this journey who are now almost 11 and 9. I got the idea for CertifiKID when my son was almost 2 and my daughter was 9 months. I know, probably the most insane timing you could ask for in the scheme of things. I wonder if I was just so tired I did not even think to question if it was the right time. I have to say those early years were so much harder for me. Maybe it was just because my son was such a super active kid so I had to stay so focused on him and keep him moving. My daughter was more chill and I could take her along more on business meetings and get work done while we played. I will have to write a blog piece about my bag of tricks and games I developed over the years to somehow work while with my kids. Like all working moms, I also struggled with guilt as the reality is I was not fully focused on them in those early years. But when I see now how proud my kids are of the business (our team and our mission), my role, our success, and their sense of ownership in what we built, I believe in my heart it was worth it and don’t have any regrets. I have two beautiful and amazing kids and feel proud every day to be their mom.
The balancing act between my work and my kids has been challenging, as it is for all parents, but it has forced me to prioritize a lot in my life. As I am ending this decade, I am finally in a place where I feel like I actually may have my act together. I know the next decade will bring new and different challenges as the business grows and my kids grow – the bigger the business and the bigger the kids, the bigger the issues, right? If so, I can honestly say I am ready…bring it on!