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Juliet Spurrier is a mother of two, a board-certified pediatrician and mom-in-chief at BabyGearLab.com, an internet startup that
specializes in reviews of baby and children's gear. Before having her first
child at 37, she spent years working as a pediatrician in California and
Soon after giving birth, Juliet became conflicted. She
wanted to continue her practice in pediatrics, but longed to spend as much time
as possible with her newborn son. Like most new mothers, she also needed to
return to work to help provide financial support for her family.
"I remember having this conversation with my husband, Randy,
when my son was 4 months old—two months before I was going back to work at
the clinic," she says. "My two dreams, the things I wanted so much in my life
and had worked so hard for—being a doctor and a mother—had come crashing
together. I felt like I had to make a choice. I had a nice long maternity
leave, but the closer I got to the end of it, the more time I spent stressed about
Juliet says she was anxious of disappointing her colleagues
and her family of what seemed to be a choice between a life at home over a
life in professional medicine.
"I hadn't told Randy any of my hesitations or that I just
wanted to be home with the baby," she says. "It was at that four-month mark
that I opened up to him about how I dreamed of being a mom, and yet I'd also
dreamed of, and had achieved, the goal of being a pediatrician. The common
denominator was that I always wanted to be with kids, and now those two dreams
seemed to require two different paths."
"For too long success has equaled money, that's been the message," she says.
With the emotional and technical support of her husband, a software
programmer, Juliet was able to pursue an alternative path, one that combined
both of those dreams in a novel way.
When Juliet first became pregnant with her son, she was
surprised to find that despite her training and background in Pediatrics,
choosing the right baby gear was a complicated and daunting task. She spent
hours and hours researching the best items and quickly realized that if this
problem was hard for her, it was probably hard for everyone. She felt that if
she could apply the knowledge and rigor of scientific analysis from her
training in pediatrics to comparing baby products, she might be able to provide
a valuable service to other mothers.
BabyGearLab.com, a review site similar in
many ways to Consumer Reports but specializing just in baby gear, was born.
Juliet uses her knowledge as a board-certified pediatrician to
choose the best products for babies and small children on the market today. From
strollers to cloth diapers and everything in between, Juliet guides in-house testing
and assigned reviewers through the comparison of baby gear side-by-side. The
products she chooses for review are deliberate and include both the most
popular and highly regarded in each category. Award winners are either the
best or best in that price range. In addition to helping parents make the most
informed choices in baby gear, Juliet hopes to advocate for products and
parenting techniques that are healthier and safer for babies. She considers it
a personal goal to push consumers toward purchasing—and the industry toward
manufacturing—better products for babies.
"The goal is to create easy-to-read, well-organized and
accurate information that's grounded in a practical understanding of day-to-day
parenting, with oversight by someone who is a medical professional," she says.
"I take that very seriously."
If I've learned anything, it is to follow your gut. The best decisions I've ever made, I've followed both my gut and my heart.
The return to professional life has been a gradual process
for Juliet. Being the CEO of her own company gives her some welcome flexibility
in her work hours and the knowledge she is contributing to better decision-making
by the parents who read her reviews.
"It's great," she says of balancing work and life. "From
time to time it's stressful, but we have been able to manage a balanced
lifestyle, and, 99 percent of the time, working together with Randy has been
amazing. It's a perfect mix of our strengths and our passions—a natural
marriage for this business."
While she is applying her medical background in a different
way than most doctors, Juliet says she is content with her decision to become
an entrepreneur, and feels it provides a better balance between her career
goals and her family.
"I love building our business and having it be our own," she
says. "It ties in so well with my dream since I was a little girl of having
kids and being a professional. If I've learned anything, it is to follow your
gut. The best decisions I've ever made, I've followed both my gut and my heart.
When I allow myself the space for good things to come, they do."
"For too long success has equaled money, that's been the
message," she says. "The message should be, 'Be happy. Follow your passion. Do
what you love to do and do it well. Open up new doors and create your own