Supporting my family with a home-based beauty business

Tara will tell you… she was cheap before cheap was in style. She enjoyed luxury salon treatments, but she didn’t enjoy their inflated prices.

Why was it that having healthy, soft locks should cost a car payment?

Tara felt there had to be an easy way to deep condition her hair the way they did at the salon in her own home. Of course she couldn’t bring in a salon size dryer, so she set out to find the right mix of materials that would create the same effect.

After finding the secret ingredient while watching a marathon race, she had 100 of her deep conditioning caps made and sold them to different salons and beauty shops in her city. An infomercial company saw the product and began to market it along with some shampoo.

That’s when her need for deep conditioning started to fill her need for some serious dough. Tara realized that she had a business on her hands. Something that would be able to make money for her family and herself.

“Once the infomercial was on the air and did fairly well, I realized that this work could go from the realm of a fun hobby, something to do in my spare time, to a real business,” she said.

Soon afterward Tara came up with her second invention.

“Ever since high school, I had always had the idea of putting nail polish in a pen, like a felt-tip marker,” she says, “I was working on an art project with my daughter, with poster board and pens, and the idea came back to me. That was my genesis for a manicure pen.”

Trusting in her ideas helped Tara become successful. Follow her pointers and you can be a successful inventor too–in due time. Inventions take patience.

1. Create a prototype. Nobody buys an idea.

It’s important to get your idea to the prototype stage. Find something that’s like the product, even though it might be in a completely different industry.

For example, Tara contacted the manufacturers of the pen that she used in her daughter’s art project, and while they couldn’t do cosmetics because they weren’t cosmetic-qualified, they sold her the pen parts that she used to create the first prototype of Manicure Magic.

2. Have your prototype priced out.

Take a look at the marketplace to determine a reasonable cost to create your product.

3. Ask yourself, “How much do I want to invest?”

It’s usually not expensive to get to the point of a prototype, so after that, you need to figure out where the manufacturing money is coming from, and how much of the product you want to produce initially.

4. Figure out where to sell it.

Could you sell it on the internet? Could you present it to one of the shopping channels and sell it that way? Could you take it just down the street to your local store and see if they would carry it? Since Tara’s product was a manicure pen, she knew that if she could demonstrate it and explain it, it would sell. That’s why QVC was the perfect way to launch her product.

If you’re interested in taking your product to a large manufacturer or a large retailer that you think would have an interest in it, find an agent or a consultant to help you get in the door.

5. Define success on your own terms.

“You have to define success for yourself,” said Tara. “You don’t have to be the next Martha Stewart to be successful. If your vision of success is just to supplement your family’s income, or just to make enough money to take a really nice vacation, or help pay for tuition for the kids, then you should be proud of that success.”

For those of you with a fascination for new inventions, there’s always something new at the Inventor Spot, a blog that targets new creations from the worlds of food, technology and fashion.


File It Under Toys
Carving a home office out of the playroom? Consider Home Based Working Moms.

Make the Jump
If you’re about to crash and burn from boredom at your job, try What Color Is Your Parachute, the book that’s been leading people to their passion for more than 40 years.

Smarter, Not Harder
Bust through the glass ceiling with the National Network for Women’s Employment.

It’s Magic!
Buy Tara Murphy’s Manicure Magic set, available at QVC.

Work-at-home know how from 5 Minutes for Mom

Sit down with Janice and Susan, the twin sisters who run, and it won’t take long for their devotion to efficiency to well up.

They are energetic, they are busy, they are time-strapped, and with four kids and three businesses between the two of them, they get about 5 minutes to themselves everyday.

That’s part of the reason they created 5 Minutes for Mom.

“When I’m online, I personally am so busy that when I’m looking for a product or looking for a site, I want something fast, and I want to get it all in one place, and I want to have an intimate relationship with the store directory that I’m looking at,” Susan said. “That’s what we’ve tried to create.”

Susan and Janice invested endless hours in the beginning scouring the web themselves and building what is probably the most extensive directory ever devoted to mom-owned e-commerce sites, blogs authored by women and mom-run websites.

“We were work at home moms running two e-commerce stores with the help of our mom,” said Janice. “We knew how hard it was to build an online business, and we knew that there are tons of other moms out there trying to make their businesses successful.”

Wanting to showcase other mom-owned businesses was a big motivation for the sisters.

Susan and Janice are quick to admit that while they’re pleased with the success of their online stores and 5 Minutes for Mom, being a working mother is still an incredible challenge – and it makes no difference that they work at home.

Since they had their babies two weeks apart, the sisters decided to share babysitting and work responsibilities. Eventually they hired nannies that could free them up to devote more time to work – from a nearby room.

Running a business… or three… comes from the sisters’ commitment to one another.

“We’re identical twins once, we shared an egg,” said Janice. “We fight – we fight a lot – but we are so committed to each other, as is our mom, there’s nothing that would ever break our loyalty to each other. We have the ultimate commitment.”

Susan and Janice warn that partnering with family has worked for them, but it can be complicated and ruin relationships if you’re not clear about expectations. Some things they considered before partnering were:

  • How committed is this person? Are you equally committed or is one person’s commitment stronger?
  • What is the shared level of trust? Do you feel comfortable sharing concerns, opportunities and disappointments with this person?
  • Do you share financial expectations? Are you both in it to make a lot of money immediately or are you motivated to grow a little at a time? Are you aligned on those expectations?

Susan said she’s seen businesses listed in their directories fall apart over poor partnering.

“Working together is like a marriage, but even harder because there’s all this stuff going into it,” said Janice. “Because Susan and I have such a strong relationship, working together can’t damage it. Nothing can actually end our relationship.”

Building on their strong union, the sisters have been able to extend the joy of working at home to other moms, many of them readers of 5 Minutes for Mom.

“One thing that we’ve loved about creating a business, is that we have now been able to hire other moms, so they have a wonderful experience because they get paid by the hour,” Janice said.

“We were able to hire a virtual assistant who was one of our readers from our site and give her the opportunity to be able to stay home with her baby,” said Susan. “She had a three-month old baby, and now she can work from home.”


Mommy Blogger Mania
If you’ve got 5 minutes to see what moms in the blogosphere are up to, start with 5 Minutes for Mom’s blog directory.

Extra Special Needs
Take a look at 5 Minutes for Special Needs to find support, solutions and perspective.

Mom & Pop Shops
If you’re planning to buy something and want to support a work-at-home mom, stop by the mom-owned store directory on 5 Minutes for Mom first. It’s like buying local in these modern times.

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