Interview: Jill Salzman, Founder, The Founding Moms

 Jill Salzman, Founder of The Founding Moms

Interview: Jill Salzman, Founder, Founding Moms

Watch & Listen as Jill describes …

  • How she created The Founding Moms,  a real, live and local monthly meeting where mom entrepreneurs can exchange, connect and learn from one another.
  • How she grew the group of 4 to 3,000 in only a few years
  • Figuring out her business model as an online community
  • The most effective way to use Twitter
  • How promoting a conference she never actually put on landed her on TV which led to a job becoming a columnist for NBC Chicago
  • How she built Bumble Bells, audible anklewear for babies and was able to get Gwen Stefani to put it on Zuma’s ankle and then landed it on People Magazine & Perez Hilton
  • How she sold Bumble Bells

READ the Transcript

Rachel:     Hi, I’m Rachel Olsen, founder of Best Mom Products. Today I’m talking with JillSalzman who, let’s just say, does it all.She’s a third time entrepreneur, TEDTalk speaker, author of Found It: A Field Guide For Mom Entrepreneurs, and founder of The Founding Moms in 2010, which is a collective of live and local monthly meet-ups where mom entrepreneurs come to exchange, connect, and learn from one another.She’s also been featured recently as one of the top 50 women to watch in tech.She has written for the New York Times and a jillion other media outlets. I don’t even know where we’re going to start with you, Jill, because there’s so much. Plus with kids, you’re very accomplished.So I want to hear how you did it.

Jill:     Thank you. You make me feel very good about myself.

Rachel:     You did it all.So tell us a little bit about your background to start. You studied law.So why don’t you fill everyone in?

Jill:     I did, but I can make it sound even funkier because I have an undergrad degree in biology. I then decided to study law. I then decided to not use that law degree, not practice. But all along the way I feel like I got a street version of an MBA. And I always have had that entrepreneurial spark, I guess. Those of us who are entrepreneurs know exactly what I’m talking about. And so from the get-go I was trying out my own things and I officially launched my first company in 2005, which was pretty much immediately after graduating from law school when I said, ‘I don’t want to be stuck in a law firm all day. I’m going to go out and start a music management company.’

Rachel:     How did you get into music management?

Jill:     Right out of college, before going to grad school, I was desperate to work in the record business, in the music business, so I begged my way into a job doing the coolest gig out of college, called ANR, which is basically a scout. To go out and listen to music and find the next big thing. And if you’ve heard of Jason Moraz he would not be famous if it were not for me. I love to say that because I don’t get any royalties from that.So that’s pretty much my claim to fame.

Then right after working inNew Yorkdoing record labels stuff for a few years and getting burned out and going off to law school, I kind of got sucked back in. The music business is very, very addictive, so I thought ‘I’ve never done anything managing bands, so why don’t I start managing bands?’So that’s how I got started. And I did that for a couple years and started up my second business while I was managing bands because when your bands are out on tour you’re making some money as their manager, but when they’re in the studio recording an album you’re not making much.So I thought ‘I need a little hobby business so I can make some money on the side.’

Rachel:     Okay. Is that where the Bumble brand came into play? Why don’t you tell everyone what Bumble Bells are?

Jill:    Sure. Bumble Bells are officially audible ankle-wear for babies and toddlers. And the story is in 2007 I gave birth to my first kiddo and she received a gift. I wish I had one to show you. It’s a small sterling silver anklet with little bells on it so when you slide it onto a baby’s ankle you can hear them toddling around, when they wake up from their nap you can hear them because they start moving. It’s very sweet, very cute. People always ask, ‘But that sounds so annoying.’ It was never annoying. And my current two-year-old is wearing them and nobody seems annoyed. It’s very cute.So I started that in ’07. Literally threw up a website and thought, ‘Why don’t I see if they sell. If it takes off it takes off.’ With really no big plans, no business plan, and it just started selling, and selling some more, and I just gunned it with the PR and publicity so it kind of blew up after GwenStefani put them on her baby.

Rachel:     That’s pretty amazing. I want to hear that story. And a few things come to mind when you’re telling me this story. One is, you imported this product, so you saw this opportunity. You received this as a gift and thought ‘Wow, this is great.’ And so were they not being sold in theUSat this time?

Jill:     I looked around when I received it from some family member inThailandand thought ‘Huh, a lot of my friends are asking me for them. Maybe let me just go check out and see if I can buy it for them in a store.’ I couldn’t find them, I couldn’t find them. I did some web research. Turns out there were variations on it, but nothing as high quality, nothing as fantastic, and nothing with the name that we gave it that I trademarked, called Bumble Bells.So I thought ‘You know, I have some family inThailand, let me see if they can ship me some before it becomes official importing.’ And they did. It was a slow build, but it was pretty fantastic by the end.

Rachel:     How did you go about that? How did you get your first customers for that and what kind of PR did you do? This is around 2007, 2008? Okay.

Jill:     The year I started I didn’t know anything about selling a product, so it was a year of understanding what retail’s like, how to price an item, what does wholesale mean. And doing a fig fat trade show when I wasn’t really ready for it inLas Vegas. And really messing up for an entire first year trying things out and talking a lot to customers and figuring what they were looking for. I had my favorite style of Bumble Bell with a cute little pattern on it and I thought, of course, that everyone would love what I love. And as any business owner knows it never goes that way. It was everybody’s least favorite.

So I learned a lot the first year and then I really ramped up PR, which just means I reached out to a lot of magazines, online blogs, and said, ‘Hey, I’m in enough stores now, you should pay attention to me.’ And reaching out and doing publicity and press was very different than how we reached the celeb because the celeb basically had a set of parents who moved next door to my cousins. And I said, ‘Hey, if I ship these to you would you walk them next door?’ And magically they walked them next door, and even more magically GwenStefani’s parents gave her my little gift with a note that said, ‘Please put them on baby Zuma.’ And Gwen did it. I still can’t believe she did it. But she put them on baby Zuma.She was walking around with the babe, paparazzi shot them, so there’s a photo of Gwen and her baby and my little Bumble Bell that you can see very clearly. Perez Hilton put it on his website, circled the Bumble Bell, identified it, so I rolled that straight into, ‘Hey, People Magazine, want to feature the celeb endorsing my product.’

Rachel:     Oh, very interesting.So did you go ahead and contact People Magazine?

Jill:     I said magazine and you said people and I’m thinking what people? I actually, no, at the level of People Magazine I did not know anyone and it didn’t seem like the kind of ‘Hey, e-mail us off the website and we’ll surely get back to you’ type of folks.So I happened to know a publicist who lives in LA and had a contact at People. And so I begged her, she begged them, they finally said yes. It sounds a lot like luck and magic. And I’m sure there was hard work involved, but everything came together.

So that helped us. You know what, when that came out in People Magazine I thought I would be able to retire and I was done for the rest of my life. It doesn’t happen that way. We were quite profitable for about six months after that hit. And People Magazine stays around in dentists’ offices and doctors’ offices, so a few months after the big surge sales were still coming in quite a bit, but about a year later we could have been wiped off the planet and nobody would’ve noticed.

Rachel:     That’s really fascinating because I like to focus on the business behind that.So for you that was a great bump. What did you do after that? And then I want to talk to you a little bit about the reason why you decided to try to sell it and that process a little bit.

Jill:    Sure. After the People bump, for me publicity is a constant roller coaster ride of trying to get the next hit.So after People happened I would take that and I would just keep leveraging. ‘Hey, now that we’ve been in People, hey would you, next publication, like to feature us?’ And a lot of the publications said, ‘No thank you.’ And you just keep trying. And I kept asking, and I kept asking, but not long after our surge died from the People Magazine hit I had a realization that I hated selling products.

Yeah. And you know what, I feel like it’s a very honest thing to tell folks because I started out in a service-based business, I then moved on to product-based, and the parts that I love about a service-based business I missed.So having sold this product I thought ‘You know what, this is for somebody who really loves products and can get into increasing the actually products.’ The thing that I am the worst at is coming up with new styles, coming up with new flavors, new types. I have no creativity in that area.

So I thought, you know, we had four styles of Bumble Bells, we needed a whole new line of jewelry, we needed some add-ons. We were selling what I called Bumble Booties which were crocheted little booties with bells on them. I added a couple things here and there, but I thought, you know someone could really take this and run with it.So that’s when it occurred to me maybe I need to sell this and hand it off to somebody else and come up with another product I might like better. I also, you can’t really tell, but I’m not a big jewelry gal either. It was kind of a really lucky thing to fall into, but it turned out that this is not totally for me. I think I’d be much happier selling cookies because I can eat them.

Rachel:     But that’s very valuable and very important for people to hear because you can go down a path where you have a good amount of success with that and realizing ‘Oh, my gosh, I put in all this effort, this is successful, but the reality is this isn’t for me.’ Whereas some people, even if they realized it wasn’t for them, would just continue just because.So I feel like that’s a very entrepreneurial spirit of you and just from what I know of you you’re very down-to-earth, very reality based.

Jill:     And I had one of the luckiest breaks anyone could ever wish or pay for. And I still thought, ‘This wasn’t for me because long-term this will just crash hard.’

Rachel:     Interesting.So how did you find somebody to buy your company?

Jill:     I started out looking on those basic websites like Craigslist. I started posting pretty basic places. And this is going to be a little embarrassing, but for the life of me I actually cannot remember which site I ended up selling it on. And, hopefully, it will come to me. But it’s such a fantastic site.

Rachel:     Was it a business broker site?Someone was mentioning Businesses ForSale, something like that type of site?

Jill:     It was kind of like that. I had had an ad up on, probably that website, but no, this one is slightly newer, and you know what it might have just been a timing thing. Like I had posted it on yet another website, I posted it as many places as I could locally, I tried really hard because I thought I could meet with them in person, and I ended up having several meetings locally.

But it just so happened that a woman inCalifornialanded upon my ad on this site that I can’t remember and she contact. And after having gone through many, many buyers who asked me for numbers and files and worksheets, and can you give me sales projections, and past revenue, kind of giving them everything that I had ever had, this woman said ‘How much do you want for your company?’ And I said ‘Well I am ready and armed with every document you would ever, ever want.’ And she said ‘No, no, no, how much do you want for your company?’ and I told her and she said, ‘Okay.’

Rachel:     Just like that?

Jill:     Just like that. Yeah, so after nine months of meeting with people and coming up with documents. I paid two consultants $500 to come up with a beautiful packet of documents that made us look incredible. It made me go, ‘wow, I want to buy the company.’She didn’t even request a single document. And, hey, you know what, anyone can sell a business is what I learned in that experience. Anyone can sell a business. It just takes the right buyer.

Rachel:     That’s fascinating to me.So did you find out about her background? Did she have a lot of other online stores in her background? Why was she so interested in this particular business?

Jill:    She liked the website. I don’t even believe she had kids. You know what, I don’t know much about her because the exchange was so quick.She sent over some money, I sent her over some Bumble Bells, we were done! We didn’t really even have a get-to-know and she was inCalifornia.So I wished her much luck and I don’t even know what’s going on now.

Rachel:     Oh, my gosh. Okay, well congratulations.

Jill:     You can, too. Everyone can sell a business.

Rachel:     I think I read this was 2011. Correct?

Jill:     Yes. You are good.

Rachel:     Well I do my research. We talked before.

Jill:    So much easier to chat with you.

Rachel:     I wanted to switch gears a little bit. That was your second entrepreneurial venture. And while you’re doing this it sounds like you also started The Founding Moms, the local monthly meet-up group. And this story is fascinating and I want to tell everyone who’s listening, if you want to hear this story in depth with all the good stuff, I’m going to refer them to your TEDTalk because you TEDTalk I found so interesting, entertaining, and I loved all of that stuff. But I don’t want you to have to repeat yourself. I want people to get a good feel for your background who might not have seen that.

First of all, how did you become a TEDTalk speaker?

Jill:     Real easy. There was a friend locally who said, ‘Hey, there’s a TEDx organizer. People looking for speakers, and so I applied and I said I really want to tell my story and he said let’s meet for coffee and over coffee I said, ‘I want to tell everyone why moms make the best entrepreneurs’ because of certain reasons that had happened along the way building The Founding Moms, and he fortunately agreed and was fantastic.

Rachel:     That’s awesome. I feel like you’ve mentioned this a little bit, you are, from everything I know of you, you’re a networking guru.

Jill:     I love to network.

Rachel:     You do. You’re very personable. It definitely seems just like it’s a natural trait for you.

Jill:     Absolutely.

Rachel:     You said in your TEDTalk that mom’s make the best entrepreneurs because they make it up as they go. And innovation is a fancy word. I really see, and tell me if you agree or don’t agree, that your third venture, The Founding Moms, is really built on networking. It’s all about networking and connecting.

Jill:     It is.

Rachel:    So tell us how you got this idea and executed on it because it blew up pretty much. Blew up in a good way.

Jill:     You know what? It’s the first business that I ever started that I didn’t intend to have this business. I was running my music management company and then started the Bumble Bells, and I think I was pregnant with my second child and sick of working in my home office. You can see my very messy home office. And for years I just never left. I thought, well, e-mail, phone, why would I waste my time going to meetings? And you’re right, I’m totally an extrovert, I love to meet with people but I thought ‘I’m too busy, I’m running businesses. I’m not going anywhere.’So I think pregnant with my second kid I had gone to a women’s networking event that was the expensive type of rubber chicken eating, suit wearing, not-for-me type of event. And I was very pregnant, it was just too formal.

I thought, ‘I am desperate to connect with women who are not as formal,’ not older, they were generally older than me, and who just had babies and had their own companies. It’s so funny to say now, two and some years later, that I didn’t know any, but I didn’t know any at the time.So I was on for some reason and I thought, ‘Why don’t I start a coffee thing here inOak Park,Illinois?’ And I invited anybody who wanted to just chat.So there’s a local coffee shop downtown. We met. There were about five of us at the beginning and I thought ‘Oh, my God, glorious, five people!’ And it grew really fast.

About six months in we were 200 strong online. And one woman came up to me at theOak Parkmeet-up, we are, by the way, four miles outside of Chicago, and she said, ‘Jill, could you start up a chapter of this inChicago? I hate driving all the way toOak Park.’So I said sure and when I went to to open up another one I thought, ‘Well, wait a second, I can open one up anywhere.’ I’m from the east coast and I had lived in LA going to grad school, so I thought why don’t I start it in those two cities and see if it works? And it did.

By the way at the beginning we were called the momtrepreneur meet-up, which no one can pronounce and I don’t know why we were called that. Once I realized about a year into doing in casually, ‘Hey, I want to connect with other women while I’m running my two businesses’ I thought ‘this could be a business. There are a lot of women who want to meet-up.’ That probably also contributed to ‘It’s time to sell Bumble Bells. It’s time to close up Paperwork Media. I need to focus on the full time because I’ve never done something as big as this.’

So we’re two years informally. Deciding we are not the momtrepreneur meet-up, but we’re The Founding Moms. And we’re at 31, soon to be 33, cities. About 3,000 member so far. And it’s awesome.

Rachel:     I think it’s awesome, too, because I attend theSan Franciscomeet-up.

Jill:     Do you knowStephanie? I’ve never given her a hug in real life.

Rachel:     I do, we’ve actually met for coffee.She lives like 15 minutes from me.So it’s great. We’re both in the East Bay. It’s been awesome, very valuable.So I’m curious, when you’re doing something like this, what is your business model? I noticed recently that you launched an online community. You’re growing, you’re managing all of these cities, and I know a lot of people are struggling with this. How do you make money from it?

Jill:     Right. Well, this is the first business I’ve launched where I didn’t have a plan and I still kind of don’t. I know in my heart of hearts this will be big and a big money maker, but it’s not right now. We’re not really monetizing in a big way.So we have sponsorship that covers the majority right now of our income. And this online community, we only launched it two months ago, which will hopefully become very profitable but it’s just launched so we’re just starting up.

But I refuse to charge anybody who comes to my meet-ups.So each of the Founding Moms Exchanges, which is what we call our meet-ups, has their own host, and certain hosts in certain cities have said, ‘In my city it won’t work unless I charge five bucks a head.’So for example ourNew York Cityhost, she refuses to do it unless she charges. And I think that’s wonderful.She knows her city, she knows the temperature, but in the meantime the meet-ups are just come and hang out, it’s not really monetized yet.

Rachel:     Right. But that’s interesting to hear. I think that’s how most start-ups start. [??] I just started my newsletter, which by the way thank you I read your newsletter tip.So I’m asking you for free advice here but I know that it applies to everyone listening, too, how did you get your first sponsors for your newsletter? Did you approach them? Did they approach you?

Jill:     Anything I ever start out doing I approach them.So I asked a couple of companies, so long ago now I don’t remember who they were. I, basically, started out asking for very little money. And they said, ‘Sure, of course, we’d love to.’ And at the time I think I had 200 people on the list, but to the sponsoring companies it was worth it to them to go out to 200 businesses.So slowly, but surely, right now I don’t believe I’m doing much seeking. I am looking possibly to hire somebody to help me do that. But now if you notice anybody big time in the newsletter, they’ve come to me and asked to be featured. They think the list it big enough, it’s starting to get noticed and we’re making more money from it, so it’s really nice.

Rachel:     Yeah. What is that tipping point, I’m curious. At what point did you feel like people started seeking you out versus you seeking them?

Jill:     There is none. And I actually once upon a time researched and tried to find out numbers and what’s the subscriber number I’d have to hit or what’s the magic open rate. I didn’t even know what an open rate was. And there doesn’t seem to be one. It depends on your industry, it depends on who you are, what you’ve offering. Once we hit about 500 I felt very confident. which is funny now that we have 3,000, but at 500 I was like, ‘Oh, we are off and running!’ And I can look at old e-mails and see that when I was pitching via e-mail, which is pretty much how I pitch everybody, it just said in there ‘We’re 500 strong’ and it kind of read now like, ‘Oh, you poor thing’ but at the time I thought it was great. And I’d get a lot of no’s. I’d get like 90 no’s and 1 yes all the time.

Rachel:     Let me ask you, The Founding Moms, if somebody wants to get involved and start a Founding Mom in their city is that something that they can do? Do they contact you?

Jill:     Oh, yes. Oh please, yes! There’s even a button on the home page of that says ‘start one’. If you just love to network, love to connect with folks, and want to turn into a local hero in the way of entrepreneurship it really just takes e-mailing me and connecting with me and we will get you off and running with your own meet-up page and Founding Moms page.

Rachel:     Great.So how do you manage all of this? Because I noticed like, you’re checking in, like on the Facebook page of theSan Franciscolocal moms, so we’re all connected there and you’re on that, too. Are you on as part of every single city?

Jill:     You know, every city is different.So you are inSan Franciscowhere there’s a Facebook page forSan Francisco. Most of our Founding Moms Exchanges don’t have a Facebook page. It’s got to be created.So that’s why it looks like I can be everywhere all the time. A lot of cities are missing that. I leave a lot up to the hosts and they sort of take over and run their exchange however they want to, which is a wonderful bonus for them, but then I’m adjusting to how everybody’s doing everything everywhere. That’s kind of why we launched the forum two months ago, because all the folks inSan Franciscoknow each other inSan Franciscoand don’t realize I could tap somebody inAtlantaorSeattleorNew York.So that’s why I launched the forum. But, generally speaking, I am on the computer a lot. I’m on social media a lot. And I enjoy it, I totally enjoy it. It fuels my biz, so.

Rachel:     Right, right. Connecting. I wanted to ask you also about, you have almost 12,000 Twitter followers. How does one get that many followers?

Jill:     I think I’ve been on Twitter more than three years now, so I was on it way early. And I was on it in the day when you could follow a million people on someone else’s list, and Twitter would not penalize you yet. I think if you do that now they suspend your account, or do horrible things to you. I don’t know. But at the time I collected a lot of people when I didn’t even understand what I was doing.

Rachel:     I was so curious.

Jill:     It was a jump start. But you know what a lot of it is Tweeting at other people a lot.So instead of those tweet folks who just tweet quotes or titles to articles, that’s lovely, but a lot of it has to be back and forth. and I noticed the people who have like 50,000 followers, almost their entire feed is just back and forth with other people.

Rachel:     That’s good advice.So they’re really engaged in relationship building rather than just pushing information out there.

Jill:     Those of us who use Twitter as a news feed or as a way to get new information, they’re really annoying because it’s all just thank you so much! @soandso. It’s a toss-up, so I try to do 50/50, but.

Rachel:     Out of all social media which outlet have you found to be the most valuable and why?

Jill:     For all businesses altogether I have found it to be the most valuable on Twitter because I have had the most offline contacts, friendships, business relationships, sponsors, partners, all through Twitter. I find it’s much easier to contact and get response from reporters on Twitter.

But in terms of if you’re seeking hits to your blogs or you’re just click-through back to your website, Facebook hands down. And I am not a huge Facebook fan, so I don’t spend a tone of time on there, and if I did maybe I’d get more out of it. Obviously, it’s like kindergarten, what you put into it you get out of it. I find that if you message a potential reporter or sponsor on Facebook it’s weird, but if you do it on Twitter it’s completely culturally acceptable to do that.So I love Twitter. I’m very much an early adopter, trying to meet new people all the time. Maybe that’s why it works for me.

Rachel:     That’s great advice. I just read about your recent blog on IdeaMensch and are posting and it said that you were going to be launching a two-day conference inChicago. Is that accurate?

Jill:     You know, I have a funny story about that, in terms this just relates to all marketing and publicity. That was, it feels like it was ages ago, that was probably a year and a half ago I was going to launch it. And in order to launch the conference I contacted our local news station WGN inChicagoand I said, ‘Can I come on and promote this conference we’re going to have.’ I went on and I promoted it and I talked about tips for mom entrepreneurs. Lovely. And they put a little ticker at the bottom that advertised the conference. We never put the conference on. No one ever bought tickets.So the conference never actually happened, but I got a phone call about two or three weeks after I was on WGN from NBC Chicago that said, ‘We saw you were talking on WGN about your conference, would you mind writing for us and becoming a columnist for NBC Chicago because you look like an expert on mom entrepreneurship?So I am to this day a columnist for NBC Chicago from something I promoted that never happened.

Rachel:     I love it. That is an amazing story.

Jill:     You never know. It’s amazing. You never know.

Rachel:     Well I appreciate you sharing that because it’s funny, I was researching this yesterday and it said July 9th and it didn’t give a year. And I thought . . .

Jill:     When you said IdeaMensch I actually thought ‘Didn’t that site shut down a year ago or something?’ But I guess it’s still up if you found it.

Rachel:     I think it’s still up. I just read another article on it about why with IdeaMensch they needed more women on there.So I think I just read it and thought, ‘Late breaking news for my interview with Jill tomorrow.’ (ha, ha!)

Jill:     We’re not throwing a conference any time soon. Although if I need a new writing gig we will launch a conference. There’s nothing coming up any time soon. I’m doing a lot of speaking at other conferences that other people are putting on.

Rachel:     Well, that’s still a great story. I wanted to ask you, you’re part of Tory Johnson’sSpark and Hustle, which is a conference for mom entrepreneurs. Tell me, how did you get involved with that? What has the result been?

Jill:     Well I’ve known Tory, not personally, for some time.She’s appeared in my newsletter, I think I’ve appeared in hers.So we’re friends, e-friends. And I don’t think I pitched her, it was somebody who had seen me speak at a chamber of commerce somewhere inIllinoiswho wrote and said, ‘Hey I’m volunteering for this conference.’ And I said, ‘You are? Hey, you want to find out if they need any speakers?’So she asked and I got an invite pretty much ten minutes after she asked them. And I didn’t realize she turned it into a 20 city tour this year, so I said ‘Can I do a couple cities?’ and she said ‘Sure!’ And so I didMinneapolislast month and I’m doingChicagoandDetroitat the end of this month. And it’s a fab [inaudible 00:30:13] day for women in business.

Rachel:     It’s coming toSan Francisconext week. I have some appointments set up, but I was debating if I should change it and try to go. What was the result? You spoke. Did you also get to hang around and talk with a lot of the entrepreneurs?

Jill:     Well, I actually was on a panel, so I don’t feel like I even spoke. It was just sort of a Q&A. And it depends, I guess, on your purpose for going. I loved it because, as a speaker, I got a table to sell my book and I was just able to chat all day long and say, ‘Hey, we have a Founding Moms Exchange inMinneapolis. Care to join?’So for me it was tremendous in many ways. I hope to experience the same thing inChicagoand the same thing inDetroit, and if I could go toSan FranciscoI would. But I bet you the vibe is very different in each city and I’m really looking forward toChicagoand trying to see how different it is.

Rachel:     Yeah. Okay. Great.So you mentioned your book, so I wanted to get to that, and it launched in 2012. I wanted to know what made you decide to write a book and how long did it actually take you? All right, there it is.

Jill:     No shame, people.

Rachel:     What made you decide to write this book and how long did it take you to write it?

Jill:     I just decided upon reading Jason Fried’s book Rework. If anybody listening has not read it you must read it, it is a fantastic business book. I read it and I thought, ‘This is so fantastic, but there’s nothing like this for moms or for women in business’. It was written by two guys.So while it was very valuable I thought, ‘I could do this for my membership.’So it was kind of like what you hear in the movies. I got up in the middle of the night one night, grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and I made a list of fifty chapters that I had in mind and I jotted all the titles down.

And so the book idea was pretty much jelled in those ten minutes. I went back to bed. I then wrote it out. Each chapter is really not very long, they’re like two pages a pop, so I just sort of scribbled out my ideas. And the key to writing a book, really, is the editor. If anyone is thinking a book, it’s really not about the writing it’s about the editor.So I hired an editor who really helped me. The book writing took me all of six weeks, but the book editing took many, many months or fine tuning, getting it right and then having a graphic designer design. All the work to go into publishing the book.

Rachel:    So did you have a publisher who wanted to publish the book for you? How did that process work?

Jill:     Immediately upon making that list of chapters I contacted agents galore. And I found one pretty quickly who said, ‘I’d love to shop this around for you.’She spent about a year shopping it.She is a fantastic agent, but what the publishers kept telling her was that, ‘Hey, you know, we keep looking at books in the same category and they’re not doing so well.So we’re not interested.’So I thought, I could wait another year until somebody is interested or I can do what I keep telling all entrepreneurs to do and do it myself. But I also wanted to get it into every bookstore, nook, and cranny around the country and it’s very hard to do that without calling each bookstore as an independent publisher.

So I heard from a bookstore owner about a distributor who could distribute me all over the country, even onto Amazon. Everywhere. I applied to the distributor and the distributor said ‘We are not going to accept any independent publishers. We don’t take self-publishers.’ If you have a publishing company.So I created a publishing company, essentially and I applied as the publishing company.So if you get the book, on the back, I don’t know if you can see it here, there’s a little logo and it says Piggott Press, and I named it Piggott Press because [inaudible 00:34:22]. It looks like it’s not my company and a publisher published me. And that’s how I got in and the distributor now distributes my book.So I sort of gamed the system. But it’s totally legit and legal. Totally legit.So that’s it and they told me that in the business book world it’s about a year between each book, so coming soon I’ll start writing the next one.

Rachel:    So that’s fascinating to me. You’ve really worked the system in every way. I feel like no one could ever say no, or that’s not a possibility, you would find a way, you created you own publishing company. I feel like we could talk for ten hours at least about all of these different things but I know that we’re limited on time so I wanted to ask you one more question and then a few closing questions. What I wanted to know is, you definitely seem like your best advocate, so have you ever hired a PR person?

Jill:     Yes. Yes, I have. When I was managing, I can take you through all three companies, when I was managing bands I used to hire publicists for them, so I was very familiar with publicity. But I ended up doing publicity for my bands better than what the publicists we hired were doing, so I became a publicist and that helped me quite a bit there.So I start doing publicity from what I knew for Paperwork, doing it for the Bumble brand. And only for a couple of big, big publications like People, I guess you’d call it hiring, I gave them a little bit of money to try to land [inaudible 00:36:07] spot and if they landed it I paid them.

So that was really for high end, People Magazine, really major magazines. And then for The Founding Moms the only time I have ever hired a publicist was when my book came out, but they were more, they were called Raw Marketing, and they were more of a marketing company than a traditional publicist, so they helped quite a bit online .  And I worked for them a couple months when the book came out and I’m back to me, myself, and I.

Rachel:     What does the future hold? Where would you like to see The Founding Moms or any other venture go?

Jill:     I would love to see The Founding Moms in every corner of the universe. It doesn’t sound too grandiose. Really anywhere where there are mom entrepreneurs who need to get away from the kids or bring the kids and meet other women. There are so many of us it’s ridiculous.So I’d love to see it all over the world, as many places as possible. And I’d like to be earning money from it one day.Some big money. But that’s pretty much where I see it. I do actually have another company in mind for the first time in a very long time. But The Founding Moms all the way for a while.

Rachel:     You sound very driven. What drives you?

Jill:     Honestly. I don’t know. I love doing what I do and I’m so fortunate to be able to do it. And to figure out how to make money from nothing is quite a thrill.So, I love it. My parents were very hard working folks. They are immigrants. They worked really hard and I think just taught me the basic value of hard work and persistence. If anything I am persistent.

Rachel:     Persistent. I love it.

Jill:     I don’t know what drives me, but everything and everyone.

Rachel:     That’s awesome. Thank you. Jill, I definitely appreciate you coming on. You’re so energetic and I love that you are just so honest and candid and so glad that you started this because now I have a whole new group of women that I can relate to. I tell my husband, I say, ‘You have your good friends and the families that your kids go to school with, but I have found my people. Mom entrepreneurs are my people.’

Jill:     I feel exactly the same way. And every month that I go it’s like I’m not really running it because it’s just an amazing group of women running itself.

Rachel:     Right. That’s awesome. So thank you. And I just want to say in closing for anybody who’s listening or watching this and you find it valuable, you can see more videos like this with mom entrepreneurs at and I’m also going to include a link to Jill, The Founding Moms site and where they can get a copy of your book if they are interested.

About Jill Salzman, Founder, The Founding Moms

Jill Salzman is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, the world’s first and only kid-friendly collective of monthly meetups for mom entrepreneurs.

A graduate of Brown University and law school after that, she started Paperwork Media LLC, a music management firm and her first entrepreneurial venture. (Her parents still wonder why she opted for the music business over the seductive and alluring career of a bankruptcy attorney.)  She went on to create The Bumble Brand, LLC, to sell Bumble Bells, audible anklewear for the newest of human beings (she sold it in 2011.)  Having built two successful companies, she launched The Founding Moms to connect mom entrepreneurs around the globe with one another.

A sought-after speaker, Jill has been featured in national media outlets including People Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Daily Candy Kids, Business Matters, WGN TV and WAHM Talk Radio.  Her TED talk, Why Moms Make The Best Entrepreneurs, received rave reviews.  She was recently named one of the Top 50 Women To Watch In Tech.  Jill’s been profiled in several books: The Solopreneur Life: 42 Solo-Business Owners Speak the Truth on Dreaming Big, Failing Forward, and Calling Your Own Shots, A Cup of Cappuccino for The Entrepreneur’s Spirit, Volume II, CRAVE Chicago and was recently featured in a film on social media.  Jill currently writes for NBC5′s small business blog, Inc. Well, and she’s been published in The New York Times and  She released her first book, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, published on January 12, 2012 through Piggott Press.

In her spare time, Jill enjoys kloofing, traveling to small towns, and erasing her daughters’ crayon artwork from the kitchen walls.

LIKE the interview?  Please post a comment and let us know what you think.  We *heart* feedback!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts