Michelle Andino, a mom to a 2-year-old boy and director of merchandising at Hollar, wants to make the shopping experience for moms easier and cheaper. The new app and website Hollar sources the same brand-name toys, beauty and home essentials you'd find at your favorite retailer but is able to sell them without brick-and-mortar distribution markup.
What inspired you to join this business? Two things: my career and becoming a mom. Two of Hollar’s founders, who I previously worked with at ShoeDazzle, recruited me to join Hollar. At ShoeDazzle, there was an amazing culture that centered around reinventing retail, and when I learned about the Hollar idea—to bring the massive $50 billion extreme-deal industry into the e-commerce era—I could sense that same entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. It was an entirely new concept, and the more I learned, the more the idea resonated with me on both a personal and professional level. I call myself a "dollar-store mom"—even though 80 million people shop dollar stores every year, I knew there was a bit of a stigma. So the idea of elevating the whole dollar-store experience and making it easy for moms like me was pretty revolutionary. I saw the site, met the team and fell in love.
What do you most love about it? We’re a scrappy startup that’s constantly evolving, so there is no typical day. Not too different from being the mom of a 2-year-old boy! The goal for my team is to always keep an eye out for anything on-trend and affordable that moms will love. We’re constantly coming up with new ways to get these amazing deals onto the site and into the hands of our customers. Pretty quickly, we have transitioned from sourcing inventory domestically, to sourcing internationally (K-beauty!), to making our own products. To that point, we just released our first private label line of home goods called Just the Nest. In true form, we’re launching Just The Nest a year after we launched the business. It makes me beyond excited to see what Hollar’s future holds. I also love being able to make life a little bit easier for moms. It’s fun to be an employee of a company I believe in, as well as a member of their most loyal customer base. When you’ve got kids, every little moment counts, and every little money-saving hack helps; And beyond just sourcing stuff for kids, I’m glad to be able to show women like me that you can actually get your family necessities (and a couple face masks for yourself) without that uneasy feeling that you’re spending too much money. Before Hollar, I spent $80 dollars on favors for a bachelorette party; now, I’m thrilled that I can stock up on Essie (and other party favors) for as little as $1 and help other women do that as well.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business and being a mom? I work in a place that is incredibly supportive of my role as a mom. After all, Hollar is great for little ones—toys are our biggest category. That said, my day-to-day is, as it is for most moms, jam-packed. I swear my to-do list is always getting longer. And while I try to stick to a pretty routine schedule—as I’m sure most mothers can attest—you have be flexible. Being a mom is the best challenge I’ve ever encountered and it’s worth every second.
What's Hollar's best-selling product of all time? As Seen on TV Glow Pets Light-Up Jumbo Pillow Pet. Unfortunately, we don't know when we'll be carrying this item again!
What do your kids think about the work you do? My son is two years old, so it’s a bit hard to say. I’d like to think that he is in absolute awe of my dedication, growth and creativity. But mostly I think he’s just in it for the extra Melissa & Doug toys.
What other mompreneurs do you admire? Chriselle Lim, blogger, The Chriselle Factor: Chriselle is stylish, successful and aspirational. She’s the the mom I think I am, but I know I’m not. Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook: Sheryl has these unbelievable, actionable philosophies about about being a mom and, more importantly, a mom in the workplace. She’s resilient, unapologetic, and she still maintains this sense that anyone can adopt these practices. Plus, since her kids are a bit older, I feel like I’m prepared to take on whatever challenges come my way as my son grows up.