Susan Petersen admits it was her infant son who inspired her to create the popular baby shoe brand Freshly Picked in 2009. You know the shoes—the adorable handmade leather moccasins that have been picked up by such celeb moms as Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Alba and Kelly Clarkson.
"I wanted cute baby shoes for him that were cozy and unique, so I made my own," the mom of two tells Mom.me. "My friends started wanting these shoes along with their friends. That's how the idea for Freshly Picked was born."
Petersen, whose daughter Hattie is 11 and son Gus is now 9, began with a simple bag of scrap leather she'd picked up at a yard sale and worked at her kitchen table, creating different designs that would not only look amazing but stay on her son's feet. Nine years later, the brand has expanded to include comfy sandals for big kids and chic diaper bags for moms. Not only that, but she's also collaborated with brands like Disney, Hello Kitty and the Care Bears for super sweet moccs.
The Utah-based mom talked to Mom.me about her success, sacrifices and her advice for moms looking to launch their own business.
As a mother, how do you make it all work? What sacrifices, if any, have you had to make?
I make sacrifices every day. I don't believe that there is "balance" in this working-mom world. My best piece of advice is to welcome support where you can. There are things that have to get done, but also are less important than me spending time with my kids.
Have your kids offered you any business help or advice?
OMG, all the time! My daughter loves to give me feedback about our bag line and what things she likes and things she doesn't like. But she knows what she's talking about, and I usually listen!
How are you teaching your kids about "girl power"?
I am teaching them by living. I go to work every day and work hard for our family, and I believe that they see that.
My best piece of advice is to welcome support where you can.
When did you first feel successful with Freshly Picked?
When I saw the Kardashians in MY shoes, I was starstruck. That was one of the moments when I realized that this company was really something.
Has there been anything about creating the company that has surprised or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
I now notice all of these other brands that inspire me, like Nike, and I can truly appreciate all of the seriously hard work that went into that brand. Building an empire doesn't happen overnight.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Start right now! Don't wait. Success takes trial and error, so allow yourself time and grace. The longer you wait, the longer it takes for the success to come on.
You've collaborated with major brands—Disney, Hello Kitty, Care Bears. What's the secret to an amazing partnership?
The secret is having an amazing team. We have incredible employees at Freshly Picked that work so hard to make everything come together, and these collaborations are just reiterations of that.
How do you see Freshly Picked growing in the future?
The future of Freshly Picked keeps me up at night because it's SO exciting! We have an amazing bag line and an expanding shoe line, and I can't contain my excitement! One day, Freshly Picked will definitely be a household name, as we strive to create products that help hack mom life, and get you and your kids out of the house with ease.