Monday, May 2, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Jennifer Marko of Bottle Snugglers

If you are looking for the perfect baby shower gift, or are expecting or recently had a baby of your own, I would like to introduce you to a great feeding accessory, Bottle Snugglers

What are Bottle Snugglers you ask? 

Bottle Snugglers®, formerly named Bottle Tenders, are a bottle support system designed to assist during baby's feeding time. They support the bottle while you hold the baby, leaving a hand free. If you have a baby, you've been there. The baby is hungry, and you need to answer the phone, change the channel, eat a sandwich or help another child. No more propping the bottle under your chin or on unstable surfaces! Just insert the bottle into the Bottle Snuggler, position it properly, and everyone wins.

Bottle Snugglers are widely used by parents of multiples. They help to keep twins and triplets on the same feeding schedule, and Mom or Dad can hold and nurture each baby individually with less stress during feeding time. Parents of infants often report feeling stressed or guilty for only being able to feed one baby at a time or having to postpone spending time with older children during baby's feeding time. Bottle Snugglers can help!

Today I wanted to introduce you to the creator of Bottle Snuggles, Jennifer Marko.  I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer for my Spotlight of Mommy feature and would like to take a few minutes of your time to share my interview with Jennifer.  Enjoy!

Name:  Jennifer Marko           
Company Name/Product/Service: Bottle Snugglers Feeding Time Helpers  
Company Location: Jacksonville, FL   
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle: @bottlesnugglers
Age of Company:  3 years

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

I have been married to my husband, Adam, for almost 9 years, and we have a 4 ½ year old son named Max. We live in Jacksonville, Florida, which is in the NE part of the state on the Atlantic coast. I have lived here for 10 years, and I enjoy the climate and the location very much. Since Max was born, most of our travels have been to Orlando to Disney World, but we hope to get back into the habit of traveling soon. In my spare time, I love to do yoga, listen to books on CD (because I drive more than I sit still), and cook.

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

When I had my son, I was running my own bustling public relations practice. Because I had a home office, I arranged for the nanny to start after Max turned 2 months old. I had the idea that he would sleep most of the time and then wake up to eat and be changed, then go right back to sleep. Surprise! I soon found that Max would NOT spend time in his bassinette in my office. He absolutely refused. So I ended up holding him in one arm all day while I worked with one hand, and during feeding time, I had no hands at all. This is very stressful for a business owner with multiple clients and deadlines that don’t revolve around a baby’s schedule. Add to this the fact that he didn’t sleep longer than 3 hours until he was 5 months old (and neither did I!) and I felt like I was failing at being a Mother and a business owner, and you can imagine my state of mind. I searched for a product that would help me during feeding time, and I found three. Only one of these products truly worked, and I fell in love with it. When I realized that it got a lot of attention when I used it in public, I knew that other women needed this kind of help, too. Soon after, I made an offer to buy the company from the Mom who invented and patented the product! I changed the product name, logo, packaging and website, found a new manufacturer and re-launched the product in January of 2009. Today, we are in about 40 better boutiques and websites, and we expect to be picked up by a major department store soon. I am so proud to sell a product that helps Moms when they need to tackle some of life’s little emergencies without disrupting baby’s feeding time.

What is a typical work day like? 

 No two days are the same, but typically I get my husband off to work and drive my son to school, then I return to the office by about 10:00.  From there, it is a mixture of sales calls, shipping, responding to retailers and customers, public relations outreach, social networking (I generally update my Facebook and Twitter pages every day and blog 1-2 times per week), and research. Right now, I am trying to find a manufacturer in the U.S., which is not easy to do. I also just finished a class on exporting, so I am researching distributors in other countries. I generally try to wrap up by about 5:00 to start the dinner/bath time/bedtime/prep for tomorrow portion of the day.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  

The biggest obstacle for me has been the dip in the economy right before we launched the product. It’s tough to get retailers to add an “unknown” product to their mix when sales are slow. It’s more of a risk to them right now. Everyone wants you to have distribution before they will try you, but it’s hard to get large distribution when you can’t get placement in larger stores. It’s the chicken and the egg. But as time passes, and we continue to grow, I think we will overcome this obstacle.

What did you do in your past work life?

I was a public relations professional for 10 years.

What have been some of your major successes?

Because I launched this product from scratch, I consider every new store placement and customer a success. I am so thankful to them for helping to build this company that I am so proud of.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
When I get discouraged or tired, I look back at some of the amazing thank you messages that we have received from customers, and it helps me remember why I am in this business. A Mom last week emailed me to say how fabulous it was to have a Bottle Snuggler because she has a 4-year-old and an infant, and she runs her business from home, too. Now, when her older child needs attention or a work deadline is looming, she has a “third hand” to help for a few minutes. Her words were so moving to me that I cried. That’s what keeps me motivated.

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

Just give yourself a break! There is never a day that I feel totally balanced. Some days I get more family/home tasks accomplished, and some days I really hit a homerun at the office. I know that both of those situations exist, so rather than being depressed that I “failed” at one, I celebrate my success at the other that day.

What is next for your business?

We are working hard to get placement in a major department store and to begin exporting this year.

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

Find someone who has done what you want to do, and ask for their advice! You can save a lot of mistakes that way.

1 comment :

  1. I really liked reading her balance between business and family.
    heather [email protected]