Monday, May 23, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Michelle Gast, Creator of the One Trip Tote

Last month I included the One Trip Tote in my Mother's Day Gift Giving Guide.  I had received so many rave reviews from strangers, when I was out in public with my tote.  If you missed my review of the One Trip Tote, check it out here.  Now, I want to take a few minutes and introduce you to the mom behind this great tote, Michelle Gast.  Please enjoy my Spotlight on Mommy interview with her.

Name: Michelle Gast
Company Name/Product/Service:     One Trip Tote, by Neeblink, Inc.
Company Location:  Cary, Illinois (suburb of Chicago)
Company Website:
Twitter Handle:
Age of Company:    1.5 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes:  
"Look past the problem.  Focus on the solution!"

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives" - Annie Dillard

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else" - Judy Garland

Favorite Book: The Glass Castle

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I am a mompreneur with two boys, 7 and 3.  I love being a mom and try to savor every moment I have with them.  Hobbies include running, singing, baking, interior design and creating things that solve everyday problems.
Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?
I knew I wanted to start my own business – to do something to give me the creative outlet I needed.  While spending time with my sons, I realized that we moms need an easy way to gather all of our stuff for the day, and easily (and stylishly if at all possible:)  get where we were going.  I was tired of making 2 to 3 trips from the house to the car with everything we needed for the day, and again when arriving home to unload from the car into the house.  I really wanted to create things that would help mothers and busy women everywhere.  That was the impetus for launching my company, Neeblink, Inc.. (please browse the "about us" tab at for more on my inspiration for the company and name).  My first product is the One Trip Tote.  It is a unique spin on carryalls.  The One Trip Tote is a large (12x24), horizontal, open tote.  It is water-resistant and wipes clean with a damp cloth.  It has a strong baseboard on the bottom to retain it's shape and support loads up to 10 lbs.  It currently comes in 3 beautiful fabrics.  Designed to be VERY multifunctional, women can use it to gather all the things you need for the day and make One Trip out the door!  Great for daily jaunts, pool, beach, shopping, picnics, sports games, laundry and even organizing your trunk!  I keep on at the bottom of my stairs to gather items that need to go up.  It even collapses when not in use (which is rare), and fits into a carry-on luggage for the daily jaunts you take on vacation.  
What is a typical work day like?
My 3 year old is still at home with me most of the time, so I try to utilize his nap time and some evenings to make and market the totes.  
What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 
When I launched Neeblink, Inc. and began selling the One Trip Tote, my boys were quite young (almost 2 and almost 6).  Any mom can then understand what the natural struggles are with balancing time with them, which is most important, and pursuing a creative interest.  My husband had a bit of time off then, and he helped with the kids while I researched how to actually launch a company.  Writing the content and doing the photo shoot myself for the website was time consuming, but I have to say I really enjoyed it because I had a clear vision for what I wanted it to be, and again love the creative process.
What did you do in your past work life?
I have my CPA and worked in public accounting for a Big 6 Accounting firm in Chicago, Illinois. Then I worked in finance for a few years for a large healthcare company.  After realizing I wanted to be involved more in the direction of the business, rather than reporting on the back end, I planned a transition into marketing.  First by becoming a market research analyst, then product manager, and worked my up to a Senior Marketing Manager.  When faced with an offer to become a Director of Marketing, I know it would infringe on the time I had with my first son, then 6 months old.  I turned down the promotion and decided to become a stay at home mom and try to pursue some of my creative ideas for marketable new products.
What have been some of your major successes?
The most rewarding thing was the reality upon launch, that the totes were loved by women as much as I thought they would be; that the idea I had was in fact a good one.  The totes had market acceptance, market demand!  It's a risk to start a company, but when it's successful, it's really neat.  But two instances, in particular, come to mind.  First, when vacationing at a Okoboji, a lake resort in the Midwest, I was bringing a One Trip Tote in to a store to show the owner.  Before I could even get in the door, I had a group of women around me wanting to buy them!  Within a matter of 5 minutes, I had sold 16 One Trip Totes.  The second instance was when I was walking down the street in a Chicago suburb, shop owners were literally pulling me off the street wanting the totes.  The look of the totes are striking, especially when you see them in person. 

What have been some of your major challenges?
Determining how to market them effectively.  
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
I believe in the product. The One Trip Tote is truly an item I think every woman would want…any busy woman could really use! 
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
I wish I knew the "secret".  I do the best I can.  I left the corporate world to savor the precious time of my children's youth.  Thus, they come first!  I know when I am at the end of my life, if I enjoyed the time with them, I will be satisfied.  The One Trip Tote gives me a creative outlet for now, and hopefully in the future when the kids are both in full time school, I will be able to grow the business further, and create more of the products I have already dreamed of.  
What is next for your business?
Looking to introduce some new patterns/designs and perhaps accessory items.  Also, trying to identify a manufacturer who can help me grow the business and keep up with the demand.  
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?  
I believe we live in the greatest country in the world.  We are given so much opportunity.  We are free to pursue anything we can imagine.  I also believe that my fellow women are so strong, incredibly intelligent and creative!  Don't tell yourself, "I can't do it".  Instead say, "Why not me?  People do it everyday!"  Break large tasks into smaller steps.  Like the old Zen saying goes, "Move, and the way will open."

1 comment :

  1. I love having a lot of bags for different occasions and I would love to add this one to my collection.
    heather [email protected]