Lisa Hom, CEO and co-founder of baby-essentials service Parasol, wanted to re-imagine something mothers know all too well—diapers.
"Modern parents are demanding responsible materials, but they were forced to settle for the rough and bulky quality of eco brands," the mom of three tells Mom.me via email. "There was a gap in the market that wasn’t being addressed, and I created Parasol to fill that need."
But, let's be honest: Who doesn't love a cool product, especially when it's designed by an emerging artist, as Parasol's debut diaper collection was?
"I’ve always been obsessed with product, and I have built my career around it," says Hom, who previously served as vice president at crafting subscription box company Kiwi Crate. "My kids know that whenever they go shopping with Mommy, she always has to stop and examine new packaging or take pictures of cool new ideas in the aisles."
In addition to talking about creating Parasol, which also offers baby wipes and launched earlier this year, Hom talks to us about what sets her business apart, if she feels successful and what she's learned from previous jobs to help her excel at this one.
What sets Parasol apart from other subscription baby-essentials services?
We spent years developing a diaper that is completely different than what’s available in the US market. Parasols use less wood pulp, create less shipping waste, are completely safe for your baby and let you express your personal style with modern, chic, hand-painted designs. Even more importantly, I wanted to create a diaper that is luxuriously soft and super comforting for baby. As a subscription service, we wanted to make the experience for moms and dads very flexible and easy. It is simple to change your design or size whenever you want. And we have created flexible options for parents to change the frequency of their deliveries and pause or cancel any time.
Describe the moment you first felt successful.
I don’t know that I feel successful yet. But I can say that I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love, and I feel rewarded knowing that people are falling in love with Parasol products! At every event that I attend, I LOVE watching parents’ reactions when they touch and feel our diapers for the first time. That’s when they truly understand just how different Parasols are. And that reaction makes it all worth it.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
My kids ask me every night when I get home, “How many diapers did you sell today, Mom?” One of the biggest rewards of having a startup or running your own business is the ability to share what you do with your kids. I love that my kids understand that I travel to Europe to visit diaper factories, where our product is made. They understand the concept that I’m building a physical product, and they love visiting the baby aisle at Target because they want to give their opinion on new packaging or products. They are my best product testers. My two oldest also beg to come in and help pack samples for events because they feel like they are contributing to my business! I know that my kids will grow up knowing that it is possible to do whatever they put their minds to because they have watched me do it first hand.
Has there been anything about building your business that has surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
Being a first-time founder, it has been truly inspiring to meet so many other founders and independent business owners (who happen to be moms) and hear their stories. I’m energized by the passion that they all have in their business, and I’m blown away by how supportive everyone has been. We relate to each other as moms, and we relate to each other on the business side as well. There is a strong network of mompreneurs out there, and I’m just excited to be a part of it all.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Be honest with yourself, and evaluate what you are good at. What are you truly passionate about? Starting a business is a huge commitment, and it requires so much of your time and energy (much like a child). So make sure that your business is something that you will be excited to wake up for every morning and motivated to nurture even when there are challenges to work through. Also don’t let self-doubt or fear get in the way. Sometimes you just have to go through the process and get started in order to gather more data and improve the business as you go.
One of the biggest rewards of having a startup or running your own business is the ability to share what you do with your kids.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and an entrepreneur to keep everything in balance?
While I definitely wouldn’t say that my life is balanced, I also don’t believe that you have to sacrifice everything to run your own business. I do travel a lot for work, and I see that time away from my family as a type of sacrifice that is necessary. But I make sure that when I’m home, I’m spending quality time with my kids. I make sure that I’m living in the moment when I am crafting with Ella or reading to Kellan. I also believe that you have to stay active and healthy yourself to be a better mom and a better leader. The two strategies I do employ are: 1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and 2) use technology to be more efficient! I’m a pro at ordering groceries online, scheduling phone calls during a commute and answering emails while on the elliptical machine.
You were a VP at Kiwi Crate before you created Parasol. What would you say are the most important skills and experiences you've brought from previous positions to being the leader of Parasol?
One of the most important things that I’ve learned through various leadership positions is how to mentor, empower, motivate and lead people. In any company, the people on your team are your best assets. And in order for the company to grow and be successful, the people in your company have to be empowered to drive the business and care about the brand and the consumers just as much as I do. After working at startups for the last nine years of my career, I have also been a part of the entire process, from ideation and product development to photographing the final product for sale. So I definitely brought my experience from sourcing, exporting, inventory management, package design and sales to run Parasol.