Monthly Archives: July 2013

How Different Would Your Life Be If Change Wasn’t So Hard

Every day I meet the most amazing women. What makes me sad is that very few of them believe that about themselves.

It’s tough to be a woman today.

The demands on your time usually mean that in any given moment you are disappointing somebody.

When you are at work you worry that you are not spending enough time with your family. When you are with your family you are thinking of all the things you haven’t done at work. It’s hard to feel satisfied with your life when your to-do list is longer than the day.

How many times have you gone to bed vowing that tomorrow was going to be different? You were going to get up earlier and work harder and somehow find a way to get it all done.

Did that promise ever make it through a single day?

Don’t feel badly if the answer is no. It probably isn’t because you are undisciplined, lazy, weak-willed or any of the other negative things you say about yourself. It’s also not because the other people in your life are making things impossible for you (though that is a tempting thought).

Change is just plain hard- even when it’s a good.

We are all creatures of habit. You need to do countless tasks in the course of the day. If you had to stop and think about each one you would never get anything done. You conserve your energy by doing daily activities on autopilot.

Creating change is about creating new habits. You need to be willing to do the same thing, in the same way, at the same time until it becomes something you just do without having to think about it any more.

In fact, to make lasting change can take 30-63 days for real change to become ingrained as a part of our life.

Usually when you think about change you think of all the things in your life that you would like to be different. That list can be overwhelming. When you use all or nothing thinking, it seems the only way to make things right is to go to bed with the right resolve and wake up the next day a whole new person.

Nobody can do that. Planning a complete overhaul of your entire existence is a plan that is doomed to fail.

If you want to make lasting changes you need to take baby steps.

Never underestimate the power of doing this. I have seen clients blossom into incredible women because they had the courage to take the first step.

Here are some sure-fire ways to create lasting change:

If you have spent a lot of time breaking promises to yourself, the first thing you need to

1. Learn to Trust Yourself – Set a small goal that you know you can commit to without reservation and then do it as if your life depended on it. You will not believe how empowering it will be for you to achieve a goal you set for yourself. Success builds upon on itself.

2. Raise the Bar –Now that you know how to do it and you know you can, you just keep raising the bar a little at a time. Don’t rush it. There is far more value in one thing done well than 10 things done in a mediocre, haphazard way.

3. Tell Someone – If you really want to guarantee your success, share your commitment with a friend. A promise you make and keep to yourself is much easier to break. Let someone hold you accountable and your chance for success will skyrocket.

There is no one in this world with your talents, gifts and abilities. Challenge yourself just a little each day and see how brilliant your star will shine.

The world is waiting for you!


Wholesome Tummies Gives Parents a (Lunch) Break

Like many busy mothers with young children, Debbie Blacher, pregnant with her third son, was worn out after making and serving three meals a day.

Adding school lunches to her daily to-do list prompted the classic ‘light bulb’ moment. Why not start a business preparing and delivering healthy lunches to kids at their schools?

“Trying to juggle everything was just too much,” said Blacher, who co-founded Wholesome Tummies,

At first, they considered making and delivering baby food, but quickly realized there was more money to be made selling school lunches. Wholesome Tummies an Orlando-based school lunch delivery business, with a neighbor about six years ago.

“Many pre-schools and private schools didn’t have healthy options for meals,” explained Blacher, who conducted her market research by asking parents she knew if they would pay for school lunches delivered directly to their kids’ schools. The answer was “yes.”

“So many parents are tired of packing school lunches,” said Blacher, who manages her company from home with a team of about 10 full and part-time employees.

Based on the success in Orlando, Wholesome Tummies now sells franchises. So far, they have sold 18 franchises across the country.

“Our plan is to double in size every year,” said Blacher, adding that the company has been profitable for the last two and a half years. “We think the market will bear serving about 300 communities,” said Blacher, adding that the company projects $3 million to $5 million dollars in annual system-wide sales.

Qualified franchisees pay about $100,000 to buy a Wholesome Tummies’ franchise. Franchisees spend two weeks in Orlando learning how to set up the business, market to schools and secure a commercial kitchen. Once the basics are in place, they return to Orlando for another week of operational training. “Some franchisees are very aggressive and start by hiring 10 to 15 people,” said Blacher. “Others start small with 200 lunches a day.”

The franchise fee includes an initial fee of $35,000, another $30,000 to license the concept for 10 years and $5,000 for the customized software program that manages the streamlined ordering and payment process. The WT online platform allows parents and kids to select menu items and pay by credit card.

Preschool lunches cost about $3; elementary school lunches cost between $5 and $7 each.

“We focus mostly on providing lunches to private schools—the lowest hanging fruit,” said Blacher, adding that the price of their lunches has not been a big issue. Some families order lunch every day, others just a few days a week. Many schools have kitchens were Wholesome Tummies’ staff can prepare the lunches. If no kitchen is available, the lunches are made in a commercial kitchen and delivered.

“Parents want a break,” she said. “If it’s a good lunch, they can’t feel guilty about (buying) it.

Blacher, who has a background in human resources and was working as an executive coach when she decided to start her own company.

She admits starting the business was “an absolute nightmare” due to their lack of experience. She and her partner invested about $150,000 of their own money to get the business off the ground.

They relied on a nutritionist to help create menus and select portion sizes. They initially hired a local catering company to prepare the lunches. She said parents love that they can order customize menus to accommodate their kids’ allergies, gluten-free diets and other dietary issues.

“Kids are kids,” said Blacher. “Our number one best-selling item is pizza, but we make it healthier with whole grain crust, low-fat cheese and we add pureed veggies to the marinara sauce.”

Other popular entrees are macaroni and cheese with pulled BBQ chicken and a variety of ‘breakfast for lunch’ options. Chicken tenders made from hormone and antibiotic-free chicken are also a best-seller.

If her success inspires you, Blacher, who bought out her partner and is now the sole owner, says “go for it.”

“Find something you love and build it from the ground up,” she said. “Running your own business is probably the most rewarding experience other than parenthood and motherhood,” she said. “It’s intoxicating. My brain does not shut off.”

And, like many small business owners in the start-up phase, she still relies on her husband and his full-time job to provide the family with benefits and “keep the lights on.”

Jane Applegate is an award-winning columnist, an author on small business management, and a former commentator and producer for CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg TV. Jane is the executive producer and founder of The Applegate Group Inc. TAG is a multimedia production and consulting firm that has produced original online, print and video content for a variety of clients, including Cox Business, Pitney Bowes, Microsoft and American Express.

3 Things To Eliminate From Your Kitchen for a Healthier Lifestyle!

A few months ago my husband and I found out we were going to move to a new house and we decided to seize the opportunity to make a real change in our eating habits.

We’ve discovered that the best way for us to control our eating is to remove temptations – meaning not buying unhealthy food or the ingredients to make unhealthy food.

We’ve focused on eliminating foods and ingredients that we don’t want to put in our bodies and replacing them with things that we do, because the reality is if you don’t have it, then you won’t eat it.

Are you ready to eat healthier but aren’t sure how to get started?

Here are three things to eliminate from your kitchen that will help you start a healthier lifestyle:

1. Baking Ingredients: At first we thought, “Can we really get away with not buying a bag of sugar? Isn’t that something every kitchen is supposed to have?” If you are like me and are constantly tempted to bake sugary and fattening desserts, then make sure you don’t have all the ingredients to whip up a batch of cookies. I have been living in my new house for a month and I still have not purchased a bag of sugar or flour.  And guess what, I’m alive!  When those late night cookie cravings start creeping in, it’s a great deterrent to say, “Oh, too bad, we don’t have any sugar.”

2. Cereal – While there are plenty of nutritious cereals out there, most are filled with sugar and don’t provide as many nutrients as other breakfast choices.  I find that when I do have a box of cereal lurking in my pantry, I can’t resist to choose the cereal over a healthier breakfast choice.  Once again, the solution is simple: don’t buy it. When you don’t have the option of eating cereal you are free to blend up a delicious fruit and veggie smoothie or eat some fruit with a hot bowl of oatmeal.  One of our favorite breakfasts is to scramble up some eggs with any kind of veggies – spinach, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini–anything works really.

3. A Microwave – I know, this is sounding blasphemous. But we are on a student budget right now and when we moved into our house we realized it didn’t have a microwave. We were wondering if we could save some money by not getting a microwave and decided we would experiment for a few weeks to see if it really would be a significant loss. I have barely noticed its absence.  I have found that microwaves are primarily for heating up frozen meals like burritos and chicken potpies. Because I don’t have a microwave, when I walk past the pre-made frozen dinner section of the grocery store, I am not even tempted by greasy microwave pizzas because I don’t have a microwave!  Then, when I am at home and needing a quick snack, my only options are things like nuts or fruits and vegetables because I don’t have access to unhealthy microwavable alternatives.

Start small, you can do it!

Eliminating these things may seem hard, and when you go to the grocery store for the first time you may think, “Well, if I can’t buy those things, then what I am supposed to buy?”   There are so many good things to put in our bodies, but they often get pushed to the side by the convenience of unhealthy foods that are easy and quick to prepare, or by the allurement of addicting sugary snacks and desserts.  As you begin filling your cart with fruits and veggies instead of frozen corn dogs, it may not seem as fun or appetizing, but you will feel so much healthier.

I wouldn’t suggest getting rid of these things all at once if you already have them in your kitchen. Let them run out and then the next time you have to go grocery shopping, replace an unhealthy item you usually buy with a healthy item. When your frozen dinner supply runs out, donate your microwave to charity, or put it in storage.

If the three things on this list seem too daunting at first, start out by picking one thing you want to eliminate from your everyday diet and DON’T BUY IT.  Instead, replace it with something healthy.

As you begin the process of eliminating unhealthy foods and replacing them with healthy foods, you will be on the path to creating a wonderful healthy lifestyle.

Hannah Brown McKay
Hannah is a tall, red-headed, Arizona native who is currently adjusting to life on the East Coast while her husband attends medical school. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in political science and is working on developing her writing career. She loves inventing healthy recipes, visiting new places, and blogging about her unique way of life. You can visit her blog at or follow her on Twitter @HannahMcKay9.

Meet Christine Dimmick – Founder of The Good Home Company

A good book can change your life.

Christine_Dimmick (2)That’s what happened to Christine Dimmick, founder of The Good Home Company.

At 25- years old, she read The Artist’s Way, a book which encourages people to find their true self and figure out what they are really meant to do.

After attending Parsons School of Design, she was working in the marketing department of a creative company and thought, “If I have to do this the rest of my life, I’ll die.”

She starting thinking about what made her happy. She loved visiting her grandparents, farmers who spent their time cooking, cleaning and gardening.

“I grew up going to their farm where I was taught the old-fashioned way to keep a home and I loved it,” she recalled. Working on the farm gave Christine the idea to create products for housekeeping and personal care using natural ingredients.

She made her first batch of products in the kitchen of her New York City apartment.

She rented a booth at the flea market on the west side of New York and hung out her shingle on weekends.

“No one bought anything,” she said. Discouraged, she almost gave up. Then, a friend suggested she pitch her products to ABC Home, the upscale retailer. ABC picked up the line of luxurious, green,  environmentally-oriented cleaning products.

The products are handcrafted and are 100% free of sulfates, enzymes and other chemicals. “ABC Home was my first customer and I was thrilled,” she said. From there, other buyers started buying her unique supplies for making a house a home.

The line includes a glass & surface cleanser, dish soap, hand soap, detergent, dryer sheets and even clothes pins all in The Good Home signature fragrances: Beach Days, Pure Grass, Lavender, Summer House and Line Dried.

“They work well and smell exceptional,” said Christine. “Scent is the strongest memory-inducing sense.  I believe the right fragrance memory has tremendous healing powers. “

A friend and fellow VentureMom Carol Perkins, the founder of the Harry Barker product line for dogs, helped Christine get coverage in Self Magazine.

Then, Christine’s step father joined her to take the venture to the next level.  “I wanted to create a company that could expand and grow,” she said.

Christine attended the New York Gift Show and garnered her first orders from national stores.  For 10 years, Good Home Products were sold to wholesaler only. In 2005, she added a web-based shop.  Christine says, “It took five years to be in the black, but then we were named an Inc . 500 company by Inc. magazine in 2003 and 2004.”

At that point, they drafted a plan to attract investors. Restoration Hardware was a client.  When her son, now six, was born, she took off only two weeks.  ”There was no one to do what I did.  But my schedule is my own.  I get up at 4:30 a.m. to work a few hours so I can eat breakfast with my son, work out and then get back to my desk.”

Gathering a board for her growing company has been important for her success. “I have people from all areas to advise and guide me,” she said.  She admits not being great with numbers so it helps to have someone on her board who is.

“The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is weathering the uncertainty, but the feeling of accomplishment is so worth it.”

You can enjoy a 20% discount off her products storewide (excluding cases) when you shop at  using the code VentureMom through August 3, 2013.

Holly Hurd

Since founding, Holly Hurd has become a sought-after expert in the field of entrepreneurism. She recently spoke at the Women and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Conference in New York City, numerous CT venues, and has been featured in the New Canaan/Darien Magazine.
Hurd has always been at the forefront of entrepreneurism. When she was only twenty-five, she was featured in Futures Magazine, USA Today and in Fortune‘s People to Watch column for her exceptional work managing her own fund on Wall Street. She has put her exciting life experiences to excellent use by creating, a resource and showcase for mom created ventures.


Yvr: Holt Renfrew Plays Host To Orling & Wu Seasonal Pop-Up

With Christmas around the corner, we are so excited to share some of our recent holiday “cheer.”

You might remember our feature on our Beauty & Style Council member Julie Wu, co-founder of Örling & Wu, which you can read more here. Well, we recently an exciting Press Release from Julie sharing the details of their pop-up shop hosted at Holts this holiday season. Read below for the full Press Release.

First Ever Home Décor Pop-­‐Up Only at Holts for the Holidays
On November 8, 2012, Holt Renfrew Vancouver will open its first ever home décor pop-­‐up shop, showcasing Vancouver’s own Örling & Wu. The pop-­up will offer an exclusive seasonal collection of many first-­in­‐Canada and limited‐edition products.

Örling & Wu has curated the pop-­up to match Holt Renfrew’s luxury shopping experience, with assorted European imports bringing to life a theme of celebration, entertainment, and hostess gifts. The featured products will include purifying white charcoal in glass water bottles by Sort of Coal, hand-­crafted coat buttons by Dominique Serrano, holiday decorations by Jan Constantine, and tea cozies by Poppy Treffrey. Eclectic additions include historical bone china mugs by Cole of London and the ornamental creations of Italy’s Miho Unexpected.