Happy New Year, Moms! We are so grateful for a fresh start in this 2021 year! This month, we're kicking off our spotlight series by introducing you to Kelley Legler, Owner of Baby Jack & Co. and mom to two kids (one named, you guessed it, Jack!). Read all about Kelley and her business in our interview below!
Tell us a little bit about you and your family (immediate and/or extended).
I have two kids, son Jack (11) and daughter Bailey (9). I grew up in New Berlin (suburb of Milwaukee) and met my husband while getting my degree at UW-Whitewater. He is originally from the Madison area. His mother grew up in Milwaukee (Hales Corners) and my husband and I settled in that area to start our family. We now live in the country - village of Mukwonago after building our dream home.
What is the best part about being connected with Working Moms of Milwaukee?
I joined Working Moms of Milwaukee because it is a great network of hardworking people in my area. I find that working together to grow for the greater good and giving back to the community is a core part of our brand!
What inspired you to start Baby Jack and Company?
During the 2008 recession I was pregnant with Jack. Upon having him and returning from maternity leave, my marketing job was eliminated - so being a new mom and recently unemployed I needed a creative outlet. Sewing saved my sanity as I suffered (in silence) from postpartum depression and anxiety. My mother in law (recently retired) crafted right along with me and I turned it into a business! Jack actually got his finger twisted in a ribbon tag "loop" on a blanket so that inspired me to sew all the ribbons shut, providing a safer alternative to what is sold in stores.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
As moms we have that self guilt like we are not "present" enough for our kids - especially during a pandemic when screen times are constant and we are trying to juggle it all. Often you get glimpses of the kids you are raising and validation that these tiny humans are amazing people. Recently, my kids had great ideas on inclusion for their classmates and how to battle cyber bullies. They stood up for them, kindly told them how they felt and included kids when necessary. I try to teach them that kindness is contagious!
What's the most challenging aspect of your life right now?
Given the increase of online shopping and the recent brand awareness for Baby Jack products, our team is working hard at predicting inventory quantities for 2021. We never want to run out of goods and when it comes to the safety of kids and families, we want to make sure we have what you need.
How is being an entrepreneur different or similar to working in Corporate America?
Being an entrepreneur gives you a different perspective of business, practices and risk. At times it can feel lonely since all decisions rest on individual shoulders. I feel blessed to have the supportive family, friends and business relationships that help me navigate through difficult times, but at times I have to follow my gut on decisions.
What's your advice for other moms that hope to own their own business in the future?
My advice is that it is worth it, but not for everyone. Your time, money, energy, stress and creativity gets allocated towards your business - it is like having another child. It is consuming and difficult to "turn off" being an entrepreneur. If you do not have passion for your craft, it certainly does not become worth it!
Do you have a favorite place to go in Milwaukee?
I have so many memories of Milwaukee living twenty minutes from the city. I used to bring my kids downtown shopping, eating and to museums. My favorite place is to fly kites along the lakefront on a beautiful Milwaukee summer day, then visit one of my brick and mortar retailers Little Monsters on Farwell.
Do you have any words of advice for other moms, especially new moms?
Give yourself grace. Your life has changed for the better and nobody (but you) is telling you that it all has to be accomplished (laundry, cleaning, feeding, sex, etc.). Relish in the moments that pass by too fast - it is a cliche but your time with your kids is priceless. Give yourself grace, self care and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need a break.
What is the most important thing you learned in 2020 and what are your 2021 goals?
2020 has been a year of growth for our brand. We have been in business for eleven years and the pandemic has nudged us to pivot and provide a variety of products created with our self designed fabrics. We are going to continue growing online via Amazon, NASA, the AAFES Military Exchange and always support our small businesses and retailers. My hope is that we can soon get together with our network of other Moms in Business and collaborate in Milwaukee!