Category Archives: Business

New Adventures…

I’ve been working on a blog post for ages about our green efforts and how my definition of progress opposes the generally accepted business definition. Today, though, I am writing something entirely different.

Although I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, I’ve been too stubborn   to put voice to it. And, my decision has been made even more difficult recently because the new flash cards have been extremely well-received with sales outpacing the old tins in the few stores where they’ve been available.  Nonetheless, I’ve decided to end my adventures with mocobabies.

It’s been almost eight years of amazing success building and growing my business.  I have learned a lot, met amazing people, celebrated successes and improved after each mistake.

I’ve reveled in the sense of accomplishment that comes from the strain of much hard work and, also, grumbled about the long hours.

I’ve cherished the gift of time and flexibility that having my own business has given me with my children, while also stressing about never having enough time to get everything done.

I’ve enjoyed tremendous support from family and friends while also working to not internalize negativity from those that have a different idea of success and assumed I just played on the computer all day.

But, that is the brilliance of it – of anything in life, really – the trials and grumbles are what make you appreciate the successes, both big and small.

I will always keep close the feeling of pride when the order finally came in from what would be my biggest retailer, a store I had been coveting for months; the emails and phone calls from customers telling me how much they loved my products; growing to the point where I could no longer manufacture the flash cards myself; meeting some of the most amazing, helpful and supportive people, and, most importantly, being able to share day-to-day moments with my kids that a 9-5 job wouldn’t have allowed me to be a part of.

But, it’s time to say goodbye. My heart just isn’t in it anymore. I have had so many plans for mocobabies but, for lots of reasons, they have remained just ideas. It’s been these ideas though, along with my stubbornness and sentimentality, that have kept mocobabies going but since making the decision to close I feel like a weight has lifted.

I can’t thank everyone who has supported me enough. I have an amazing family (parents who helped me cut and corner thousands of laminated flash cards), supportive friends, and THE most amazing customers.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



Filed under Business, Learning, Life, motherhood

Hugging Trees

I’ve been working on it for a long time now.  Searching.  Thinking.  Searching some more. Rethinking –  it’s been a long process.  But, I’ve done it; in a just a couple of weeks our new, more eco-friendly flash cards will be online!

Seven years ago, when I first started mocobabies, I offered a set of ten flash cards that were packaged in a clear cellophane envelope with a small homemade label across the bottom.  I still remember my first few sales, how exciting it was when someone said they’d love to carry them and more importantly when I got those first reorders.  My excitement quickly turned to rattling nerves as I  got to the point where I couldn’t keep up with my orders.  After some bumps and bruises trying to manufacture in North America, I eventually made the decision to have our expanded set of thirty-five cards made overseas.

However, when I recently sold out of our last shipment of cards, I decided I wanted to keep production closer to home; I wanted to reduce our footprint.  I’m happy to say that it’s been a much easier process than it was seven years ago.  There seems to have been a shift and small business is embraced rather than shooed away by local manufacturers and suppliers.  Years ago, I was repeatedly told that it wasn’t worth their time unless I was going to place a million dollar order.  This time around, companies have been helpful and more than willing to take the time to talk with me about my product.  It’s been wonderful to experience such a turnaround.

Long story short(ish), I’m really proud of our new cards and the path we’re forging for mocobabies.  Perhaps most importantly, I’m also working hard to buck the recent trend of skyrocketing prices; our cards will be greener, Canadian made and more affordable.  I’m pretty excited.

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Filed under Baby Signing, Being Green, Business

Own it. Apologize. Do better.

All of my work has been customer focused, including my first career in Human Resources and current role as a business owner, but it was my high-school job as a server that taught me almost everything I hold dear about customer relationships.

It was one of my first Sunday brunch shifts and the restaurant was busier than I had ever experienced. I remember messing up one couple’s meal to the point where they hardly had anything to eat.  They didn’t bring the errors to my attention; I realized what I’d done and immediately went to apologize.  I remember joking with them for a few minutes, serving extra coffee and doing my best to make sure that the rest of their breakfast was flawless.  When I went to clear the table  they had left me a ten dollar tip for a breakfast that only cost about twelve, along with a ‘Thank you!’ written on the receipt.  It was my first real lesson that it’s not a mistake that will rid you of your tip (or your customer) but your attitude.   I owned the mistake, apologized (profusely), was able to joke with them and did better throughout the rest of their meal.

Cleaning up my own mistakes, and lessons learned, have made me a harsh critic of customer service. I expect, at a minimum, the representative will be courteous and helpful which is why an experience at our local Staples store recently left me so frustrated that I tweeted:

@staplescanada Sale price more than regular price? Sorry, reg price has never been $174. Isn’t that fraud?? #fail   

I try not to use twitter as a tool for complaining, or things generally negative, but, I was so irritated that I clicked send instead of delete.  It wasn’t long before I had a reply from @staplescanada asking for more information so they could look into the situation.

I won’t bore you with the details but when I questioned the sales associate about the price discrepancy he was less than helpful.  It was a very civil exchange, no one was rude, but he obviously didn’t have a clue what had happened yet kept trying different explanations. Finally, he responded with a shrug and ‘okay’ when I said I would buy my cartridges elsewhere.

But, Staples Canada was listening.  They used social media to engage me in a conversation and then stayed in touch via email while they looked into the situation. The local store manager called me directly to apologize and set things right. What meant even more than the small discount he offered was his promise to talk to his employees about taking care of customers.

Just before the manager’s call, Ashley Jang, Social Media Community Specialist, emailed me and offered a gift card as an apology. What makes this so extraordinary is that UPS delivered the card while I had fully intended to wait until the mail strike ended. A very nice touch.

As a small business owner, I fall down often but try to do my best to make it up to customers when something goes wrong and it’s nice to see big business doing the same. Unfortunately, I’m often left feeling unappreciated, or worse – invisible, when dealing with corporations so Staples’ attentiveness was a welcome surprise.

I will continue to be a customer thanks to their responsiveness and I congratulate Staples for their use of social media. Moreover, I congratulate them for owning their mistake, apologizing and doing better.

My negative tweet was followed a few days later with:

Kudos to @StaplesCanada for engaging with me after an issue in-store. Thanks for acknowledging my tweet & resolving! #customerservice


Filed under Business