Monday, March 28, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Melinda Knight of Womentorz

I am excited to share this week's Spotlight Mommy, Melinda Knight with you.  She is the creator of Womentorz, an online forum for women inventors, to share and promote their products.  Being a mom entrepreneur myself, I am always on the look out for great online resources and forums created just for women and moms.  

So, if you are a woman inventor with a product, why not join the Womentorz network today.  And, after you join the network and complete your FREE storefront within the marketplace, be sure to email Melinda at [email protected] with your product name and that you found out about Womentorz from Inspired by Inspired and Melinda's Spotlight on Mommy Feature Post, your product will be placed on the homepage for an entire month for free --  a $50 value.  How is that for great marketing?!

Melinda also wanted to me to let you know about her other services she provides through the Womentorz network.  

  1. We provide celebrity gifting, which is an invaluable marketing tool that you can use for years to come. We do the research to make sure you product gets right to your favorite celebrity. We also enclose an endorsement letter with your package that gives you the Celeb Hoopla stamp of approval. 
  2. We provide Signature Services that are tailored to your individual marketing needs. We will provide free consultation to pinpoint exactly what those needs are and fit within your marketing budget.
To learn more about the Womentorz Network, and all that it has to offer women inventors, click here.  

And, now on to my Spotlight on Mommy interview with the creator of Womentorz, Melinda Knight:

Name:  Melinda Knight
Company Name/Product/Service: – The Women Inventor Network – An online forum for women inventors to connect and promote their products.
Company Location: Seattle, WA / National
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle: @womentorz
Age of Company:  1 – ½ Years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: “When God closes the door somehow he opens a window.” Julie Andrews, Sound of Music
Favorite Book: Motherhood Is the New MBA, By Shari Storm 



Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.:

I’m a mother of two active boys; Payton age six and Rylie age three.  I love having an online business because it allows me to be home with my children, but also fulfill the entrepreneurial spirit inside of me.  

In addition, I also have a business with my husband called Intuitive Safety Solutions providing safety staffing that has helped me fund Womentorz during the startup phase. He has always been very supportive of my “entrepreneurial” spirit.  I enjoy working with my husband; we have a great partnership both personally and professionally.

My passion is in interior decorating, which has been very difficult for me to put on the backburner while juggling my other two businesses and a family.  For me decorating and design is a creative and relaxing outlet that I must have in my life.  I hope to get back into this field once both of my children are in school.  For now, there just isn’t enough time in the day to do it all.  Having quality time with my children and growing ISS and Womentorz is more important. 

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?:

Womentorz was born after attending a casting call in Chicago looking for women inventors for a reality show on TLC in July of 2009.  I met hundreds of amazing women with fabulous products.  I saw that they all had the same challenge….bringing their product to market and gaining direct access to the consumer.  Having grown up exposed to the Washington Wine industry and how they used the concept of group marketing, I saw that I could utilize this same concept to promote women inventors across the nation.

After returning from Chicago I quickly started the process of building an online forum to connect these women and drive traffic to their products.  As a group these women are much more powerful and able to learn from each other to be the best entrepreneur and inventor they can be.

We have had some major milestones in the business that have taken Womentorz to the next level.  About six months ago I brought Colleen Wilks into the business who is our marketing, public relations and communications expert.  Since she has been on board, Womentorz has grown by leaps and bounds.  One of the most important changes we made was opening up the marketplace from a membership, fee based site to a forum that’s free for all women inventors to build a storefront and promote their product.  It’s hard for people to believe that we would offer such an amazing feature for free, but we’ve found that our network and community of women inventors receive even more media and marketing opportunities the larger it is.  With Colleen on board the Womentorz train it has allowed us to build synergy and help us each use our talents to help the women who are part of our network as well as take on media opportunities and important partnerships we normally wouldn’t have time for.  The brainstorming process we go through is completely energizing and something Womentorz really needed in order to grow.

What is a typical work day like?:

My day typically involves being in front of the computer engaging on the various social networks, on the phone with a Womentorz member or one of our many business partners and affiliates.  My three year old is usually at my side, so I juggle playing and tending to him with my business responsibilities.  It isn’t unusual for me to still be in my pajamas…something has got to give and it’s usually my appearance unfortunately.  As long as my children are happy that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. 

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?:

By far the biggest challenge in starting my business was having a web developer take advantage of me in the beginning and almost ruined everything that I was trying to build. Originally Womentorz was supposed to be an e-commerce site as well as a network, but that shopping portion of the site was so flawed I had to change the business model.  My web developer overstated his abilities and provided an end product that did not meet our expectation.  The site was filled with poor code.  It’s amazing how much online entities depend on developers and how much money they cost.  Having a working site that’s properly optimized is so integral to the success of the business.  It was by far the most stressful obstacle I have ever had to overcome.  It just about did me in financially as well as mentally.   By going through this difficult process though I think it gave me tools to help the women in my network not be taken advantage of.  Women need to know what questions to ask and to not be afraid to question things.  It’s OK to be viewed as “difficult” if it means protecting yourself.  Womentorz is known as a protecting force for our members. 

What did you do in your past work life?:

My formal background is in graphic design and marketing.  I worked for several years at an advertising, marketing and design firm in downtown Seattle.  I was then Marketing Director at Turner and DPR Construction before following my entrepreneurial spirit to start a small design company called MAK Promotions Design and Decorating.  I found that the corporate world just wasn’t a good fit for me and that I would much rather work for myself.  It was also much more conducive to being a mother, which is by far my most important role.

What have been some of your major successes?:

Womentorz has received a ton of media exposure through television, radio, print and online interviews, some of which was before the site was even launched.  We have over 25,000 fans and followers online who believe and support our community.  The brand and concept took off immediately and allowed me to get through the rough times the site encountered early on.  You can also find Womentorz come on page one of Google for countless search terms relating to women inventors and the industry.  Search engines love us as well as the products on the site!

My greatest success is meeting some of the most amazing women I have ever met.  They are the heart of Womentorz and if it wasn’t for them the network wouldn’t exist.

What have been some of your major challenges?:

I would say that one of the major challenges is keeping everyone happy.  When you’re dealing with a lot of women who all want to be featured as part of every project, it can be easy to hurt feelings when you can’t include them.  I have to do a lot of explaining and reassuring.  

Another problem we encounter is that everyone wants something for free.  I have so much invested in building this network and our time is worth something.  It’s free to be part of the group, but there are services that do cost money because it takes a great deal of time and money to run a business like Womentorz.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?:

Knowing that what I’ve built is helping women entrepreneurs!  When I feel like giving up I’m constantly reminded that they are counting on me to succeed.  They believe in the concept and utilize what I have built.  I’m not a quitter even when sometimes it’s in my best interest to give up.  It’s that stubborn Irish side of me that keeps me going.

 What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?:

Organization, organization, organization!   If I don’t have my lists and good time management skills, I would be a mess.  I have a bit of OCD, so it’s important for me to have the entire house together first thing in the morning, so there’s nothing hanging over me throughout the day.  

I could do a better job of balancing everything and sometimes my children are deprived of attention, but they appear to be fine, so I think I’m doing OK.  It’s important to close the computer sometimes.  I could be sending emails 24 hours a day, but it’s important to shut it off.  The problem with being an online entity and receiving more than 200 emails a day is that people expect you to get back to them immediately.  I am the type to do that, so it’s easy for me to get consumed in keeping up.

What is next for your business?:

We have many companies who we partner with on various projects both online and off, but we are most proud about our relationship with Global Partnerships, which is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to expand opportunity for people living in poverty. They do this by supporting sustainable solutions like microfinance throughout Latin America. We will be supporting their efforts in joint marketing opportunities and utilizing our extensive online network to support women entrepreneurs on a global scale.

Soon you will be able to attend Webinars providing educational and inspirational resources for all entrepreneurs and inventors.  We plan to launch this service in March of 2011.  In line with this goal, we also plan on taking Womentorz offline with innovative, local networking opportunities where inspiring women inventors can receive an interactive approach to answering their individual questions in all aspects of the inventing process.

Our most exciting project that’s launching virally around the same time is our reality series called the Real Women Inventors of America, which will feature a new woman inventor each episode and what it takes to bring a product to market while juggling being a mother, wife and additional income provider.  These inventors will be meeting with well known professionals in the inventing industry who will help take these women’s inventions and businesses to the next level.  

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?

My advice would be the same that I give to the women inventors I talk to.  The biggest difference between women who bring products you see on the market or have successful business ventures and someone who has an idea for an invention or business is THEY took the leap and DID it.  They had to start somewhere.  The longer you wait and ponder over things the more time you’re taking away from promoting your business or product.  It really isn’t that complicated.  Sometimes the best lessons are the ones learned from failing.  You have to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

You can also learn the most from other people.  Emulate what they have done.  Know your competition because they’re really not the enemy.  Sometimes you can learn the most from people who are already out there with somewhat similar ideas and/or products.  Fear is your worst enemy!

1 comment :

  1. Wow, you've got some great posts on some pretty outstanding women. I'm glad I found your site! I'm a Purex Insider - Come visit my blog and follow me back.

    Michelle @ Things Sent My Way