Nine years ago, I had two young kids and was fortunate to live in a community that had all kinds of great things happening for children. All of our local libraries, the town rec center, children's museum and so many others offered thoughtful, fun and enriching programs for kids. And, although I've always been a pretty involved parent, I found that even I would sometimes miss things because many of these organizations weren't great about connecting with local families and keeping them apprized about what they had to offer.
I decided to create a super-targeted newsletter and website highlighting everything happening for kids and families in our community. In 2008, there was nothing like it.
Even at that time, my vision was bigger than a single local e-newsletter. Ever since my friends began having kids and making new choices about their careers, I became convinced there was a tremendous amount of underutilized talent among moms who decided not to go back to their full-time careers after having kids. Virtually all of them wanted to continue to be creative and productive and contribute to their families and communities. But many wanted a break from the 50-plus hour work week that their pre-baby careers demanded.
Macaroni Kid was born out of those beliefs. I wanted to empower those moms to use their creativity and allow them to become independent publishers of their own local newsletter under the Macaroni Kid brand.
Making pigs fly
At the time, I was still pretty connected to the world of business and finance in New York City where I had worked for more than a decade. I went to some people I knew to share my idea and ask for some advice.
Most of them told me I was crazy. They said you can't possibly start a business like that with less than $3 million (we didn't have $300 to invest, much less $3,000,000). They warned that you can't trust your brand identity to people you don't control and that the idea and trusting the Macaroni Kid brand to the Macaroni Kid publishers was insane. They told me women can't work together in a supportive, collaborative way. And finally one guy told me, "That idea will work when pigs fly."
Eight years, 550 local Publishers, seven national editions and more than 2,000,000 subscribers later, flying pigs have become an emblem for Macaroni Kid's success. Every day, we hear from grateful readers across the country who tell us they have changed what they do with their kids and who share stories of the wonderful experiences they've had thanks to Macaroni Kid. Every week, Macaroni Kid Publishers are connecting local families with local businesses, turning the spotlight on Parents with a Purpose, hosting events for MK-AOK (Act of Kindness) Day and more. And at least once a week, I hear personally from a Macaroni Kid Publisher who tells me that Macaroni Kid has changed her life by giving her back her sense of self.
We make pigs fly every day.
About the author: Joyce Shulman is the founder and CEO of Macaroni Kid, a publishing organization that aims to enrich communities and empower parents via its network of hyper-local publishers.
Edited for length and clarity by Nicole Taylor. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org with your pitch.