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Practical Parenting Products

Practical Parenting ProductsRatherthan just coping with the small problems that inevitably croppedup as the mother of a toddler, Tufts graduate Sharon Mullen begancreating solutions.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.01.05] When Tufts graduate Sharon Mullen found her son Ryan'sbaby blanket repeatedly coming loose, she invented an attachableblanket designed for car seats, baby joggers and bicycle seats.That simple idea has expanded into a successful business withglobal reach and a penchant for helping out parents.

"It hadalways been in the back of my mind to start a business, I justwasn't sure what it would be," Mullen told Dover [N.H.]Community News. "I was experiencing a problem, and Ithought there should be a better way. The whole process grew fromthere."

The OriginalCar Seat Cozy was the first invention for Mullen, who receiveda master's degree in history from Tufts. After successfully marketingthe product through her first company, Sharon's Solutions, Mullendecided to expand. But she made sure not to fly blind into thebusiness world, researching patents and intellectual propertylaws.

"I interviewedlawyers, and I also took some classes on overseas product distributionand intellectual law," she told the News.

Mullen alsoattended trade shows for juvenile products. "I observed everythingfrom the way booths were set up, to how products were being marketed.I took in everything I could about the process," she explainedto the News.

By combiningher own innovations with those of other parents and pre-existingproducts, Mullen launched Inventive Parent with 150 items in 2000,gearing it as an online source for solutions to practical issuesfaced by parents.

The site offersaward-winning products that have been honored by organizationslike Parent's Choice and the National Parenting Center, and publicationssuch as Good Housekeeping; Ladies Home Journal and FitPregnancy.

The storemeets needs from before birth up through the pre-teen years. Andwhile many of the products are original innovations, there arebrand names, as well.

"Thevast majority of products we carry come from other small businesses.It takes time for the world to learn what's new out there. Ifsomeone asked me whether I'd carry quality things that are alreadywell-known, I'd say yes," she explained to the News.

For Mullen,running her own company and providing a valuable service to parentslike her have paid dividends beyond business profits.

"Beingable to pursue a dream and seeing it grow is indescribable,"she explained to the News. "I love having a flexibleschedule that allows me the family time I want, and I love helpingothers succeed and watching them go through the same process thatI have."

Having sucha positive entrepreneurial experience has motivated Mullen tostay inventive and further develop her business.

"We'velatched onto an idea that works," she told the News."Growing the company is a lot of work, but it's a blast."













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