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After Baby, Mom Gives Birth to Dream Business

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 the Northwest.

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.

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"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 going back."

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."

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"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 reality.'"

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Image via Twenty20/AbuBaker

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