Two Moms Who Made Giving Their Business

Charity Birthday Parties

by Nicole Bloomberg, MBA
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You know when an idea is SO good you ask yourself, why didn’t I think of that?  That’s how I feel about ECHOage. (That and an urge to dance for joy every time I use them!!)

ECHOage is a fabulous business started by two Canadian Moms that has revolutionized kids’ parties as we know them.  In a nutshell, it has done away with the obscene gift giving and waste that has long been associated with children’s birthday parties by offering a free online party planning website with a charity giving twist.

Before planning your party, your child picks a charity of their choice to help as part of their celebration. Then, you send your invitation thru their site and your guests simply reply and make a donation at the same time. Half of the money goes to the charity and the other half to the birthday child, who can use it to get exactly what they want.  It’s BRILLIANT! (And if you’re not using ECHOage for your parties yet, I hope after reading this you’ll start.)

The only thing I love more than showcasing Moms who have turned ideas into thriving businesses is the chance to inspire YOU to know that anything is possible! So I spoke to Co-Founder, Debbie Zinman to find out how ECHOage, came to be……

Where did you get the idea for ECHOage?

When my children were young, I wanted to spend the weekend taking it easy and enjoying family time. I didn’t want to spend it shopping for birthday presents for children when I wasn’t sure what the kids liked or if they already had what I chose.  It seemed there had to be a better way and an opportunity to enhance gift giving for kids. Then, one day I had a fortuitous conversation with my future partner Alison Smith about the current state of birthday parties and gift giving. We realized we shared a philosophy: We both felt the gift-giving process for children’s birthday parties was outdated, flawed, lacking in meaningful moments and ready for reinvention—and that we could be the ones to make that happen.

What was the first step in taking it from an idea to something you were actually going to DO?

We came up with the idea of an innovative birthday party solution that would offer children both the opportunity to get birthday presents that they actually wanted AND the chance to learn valuable lessons about caring for others.  What better time than your birthday to give to others and feel good about it!  The first step in making this happen was doing our research and discovering that nobody else had created anything like our vision for ECHOage.  After discovering this gap, we moved at lightning speed, quit our jobs, hired a team to build our website and launched a great tool for children and families.

What was the biggest obstacle in getting it up and running?

The initial obstacles involved finding the right resources so that we could build an excellent service with an easy-to-use, memorable web experience. We certainly faced our challenges head on and have been running ECHOage now for over five years.

What has been the best thing about starting ECHOage?

For me, personally, the best thing is the way I feel each morning before I go to work. I love my job. I love building on our success, coming up with fresh ideas, reaching new children each day, working with charities and schools in need of funding and then watching the funds roll in as a result of children’s natural generosity. The notion that work could be so exciting and interesting is new to me and it is one that I wouldn’t trade now that I know how great it feels to be your own boss and to have the freedom to be creative.

How do you balance being a Mom and running your own business?

There are times when I lay in bed at night and wonder: How on earth am I going to get it all done? HOW?! And then, slowly but surely, I face each task as calmly as I can—and with a loving heart—and I realize that I shouldn’t have worried so much in the first place.  One thing I do often is involve my children in ECHOage. They know so much about it and they are key in designing new features or aspects of the website and program. ECHOage is a child-focused program that gives kids a voice and puts them in the driver’s seat, which means they are having an impact on the world at such a young age—you see why I love my job!

What advice do you have for other Moms who have an idea but don’t know what to do next?

My advice to moms who have an idea brewing inside is to jump in feet first and figure out the details later.  It is much better to act on your creative impulse when you feel it than it is to worry about little details or the correct order of the steps you are taking.  Sure, it is a nice bonus if you are a really organized person or a very hard worker by nature, but having ideas and feeling genuine excitement about creating something unique is the only feeling you need to get your idea off the ground.

What’s YOUR favorite Mompreneur success story? I hope you’ll leave a comment below, and be sure to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.  I look forward to hearing from you………

– Meryl

There IS life After Mom. What will YOURS look like?

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