Somebody's Mother's Story:
I started Somebody’s Mother’s in April 2005 to teach my 3 children how to start a business and, more importantly, how to take matters into their own hands and to assume responsibility for their own financial well being. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and my father used to tell me and my siblings that if we worked for ourselves we would never be fired and that even if we sold peanuts, we should have our own peanut stands. And then, we could also work for as long as we wanted. He died last November at 95, and until 6 months before, was going to his office every day.
Sure enough, I was fired from a place where I had worked for eight years, three weeks before Christmas one year. I hit golf balls, and I mean a lot of golf balls, every day for 3 years after that. I suppose it was therapy. I also jogged a 3-mile loop in the park each day until one day my oldest daughter, who was about 16 at the time, pointed out that I was running in circles, literally and figuratively and that I should “do” something. It was then that I fully realized that the children were watching me, as children do, and looking for signs of life and fight in me. They needed to know that I was going to be ok and so were they.
When the children were little, we had lemonade stands outside a neighborhood grocery store and I tried to make the experience more real by discussing break even, product quality and service, things besides just sales. One Saturday, in the same store, I saw a really nice man named Roy Garcia, demoing his salsa. I asked him how he got the sauce from being an idea to the grocery store shelf. He gave me the short version. I decided to sell a food product, too, namely a chocolate sauce my mother had made for us growing up. The following Monday, I started the company.
Next year, our company will be eleven years old. I’m really proud of a couple of things in particular. One, we have managed to get this far without incurring debt which meant our growth has been slower than it might have otherwise been. However, it gave us the opportunity to learn from mistakes we made on a smaller rather than a larger stage. We make a really good product, now six dessert toppings, and we have an incredibly high rate of customer retention. Most importantly, two of my three kids have become entrepreneurs themselves and the third one will eventually become one, too, I feel sure. Of course, not one works for Somebody’s Mother’s (yet) but they often tell me how much they learned not only about business, but about resilience.
In closing, and because it’s important, I want to say a few words about the company name. I think the connotation, in food anyway, is that something “homemade” is special. At a high school bake sale, if somebody’s mother makes the brownies, they usually taste better. So, there was that. But I am fascinated by the job of mothers. All day long, they have to make really important decisions, sometimes in a vacuum, the consequences of which are often impactful and have long lasting consequences. Some decisions and some mothers, most, are absolutely heroic. Generally speaking, mothers are almost never validated or recognized, much less compensated. They do it instinctively. They love instinctively and they make sacrifices on a daily basis. That’s the main reason we started using quotes about mothering, or parenting, on the jar lids of our products. We have 36 now and I love to see the jars askew on the shelf because I know that means someone is looking for just the right quote which, if not recognition, at least seems to give everyone a little chuckle. One of my favorites is: “A mother is someone who, upon seeing there are four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care much for pie.” My mother, who is almost 90, has her own favorite: “All mothers constantly watch their middle aged children for signs of improvement.”