Monday, October 3, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy Post: Nancy Owen Myers of Good Sense Design LLC/Lunchsense Lunch Boxes

With school back in session, now is a good time to replace last year's lunchboxes.  Enter Nancy Owen Myers of Good Sense Design LLC and creator of the Lunchsense lunchboxes.  What set's Nancy's lunchboxes apart from others on the market, you ask?

Why Lunchsense?

BPA free and lead free
Eliminates packaging waste
Includes everything and it all fits!
Durable, machine-washable lunch box doubles as a placemat

Do I have to say more?!  Head on over to Nancy's website and check her selection of Lunchsense lunchboxes today.  Not only are these lunchboxes great for the kids, but they are perfect for working moms and dads, and for day trips out, where snacks, baby formula, etc. need to be packed.

In the meantime, I would like to share my interview with Nancy with you, so you can see how she came up with this novel product idea and how she balances family and work. 

Name:  Nancy Owen Myers
Company Name/Product/Service: Good Sense Design LLC/Lunchsense lunchboxes
Company Location: Eugene, OR
Company Website:
Twitter Handle: @ Nancyatlunch
Age of Company:  4ish years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: Too many to list. How about this: “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything.  That is how the Light gets in.”
Favorite Book: Also too many to list.  

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

I am…lots of things, I guess.  I have three kids: girl 13, boy 11, boy 9.  Hobby-wise, I like to garden, and I’m always in the midst of some building project – currently I have a mostly-finished rabbit hutch/chicken coop & run that’s filled the better part of the last 5 months and is currently housing 6 chickens and a dozen bunnies.  There’s a bathroom project in the basement calling my name next, I think.  I like to bike as much as possible (and thus drive as little as possible), and I occasionally go on running jags for a few months at a time.  
Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

It came about because a friend and I didn’t like packing lunches for our school-age kids!  We went on a quest for the perfect lunchbox, and at the end all we had was a list of features the perfect lunchbox had to have: food containers that were sized right for our small kiddos and were dead simple to open and close, an ice pack, a drink bottle, a little jar for condiments, and all of it had to fit neatly into the box.  Lastly, all of it had to be easy easy easy to clean.  Since it didn’t exist, we set about making it.
What is a typical work day like? 
Up around 7, breakfast, news, cleanup, onto the computer to answer emails, print the day’s orders and hand them off for fulfillment, then work on marketing.  At lunch I might break away outside and garden for half an hour or so.  Meetings and errands for the biz after lunch, then by late afternoon I’ll turn my attentions to getting something together for dinner.  After that I hang out with the family, read a bit, goof off with the livestock (rabbits, chickens, cats), garden some more, and occasionally we’ll sit down for a movie.  Bedtime around 11 or 12.  That’s summer, when my husband (a teacher) is off.  The school year shifts the schedule a bit, as I retrieve kids starting in mid-afternoon, but it stays otherwise pretty similar.   
What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  
 Understanding all the parts and pieces of a business, and just how much of MY (the owner’s) time is required of each piece.  I understand now that my role is to work ON it, not IN it.
What did you do in your past work life?
Believe it or not, nothing whatsoever to do with running a lunchbox biz.  I was an entomologist and applied that training to landscape management issues, then after the arrival of the kids I shifted (wildly) into accounting.  I completed the coursework to sit for the CPA exam and did eventually pass the exam, but only after the lunchbox business was underway, so I did not work as an accountant.
What have been some of your major successes?
Hm…getting off the ground at all has been pretty amazing.  I’m proud of having obtained a patent on the design.  
What have been some of your major challenges?
See ‘struggle’, above.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
Really, I don’t need extra motivators. I really, really like what I do and I can’t imagine doing otherwise.  
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
No secret: there is no balance, on the day-to-day level.  The ‘balance’ comes on the long term – my kids are thriving, the house has not fallen down, the garden continues to produce, my friends are still speaking to me.  Any one part of the latter list may be utterly neglected for days at a time, but overall everything seems to hang together. 
What is next for your business?
Check back in a couple months and you’ll see! J
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 
Don’t be afraid to tell friends, coworkers, etc. your ideas. Many people think that their ideas will be stolen, so they don’t tell anyone. While the risk of theft is real, it’s highly unlikely: you have a passion for your idea that others won’t, and you’ll find help on your path in surprising places, and most of your friends will sincerely want to help you succeed.  It’s also good not to discount the honest (if sometimes hard to hear) words your friends may offer.  If you are enthusiastic enough about your idea to seriously consider doing it, you already are laps ahead of anyone with whom you might share that idea. 

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