When Mary Ann sent us a picture of her invention, the StrollAway, we thought it was super clever, and wanted to know more. Anyone who comes up with an idea based on something that is missing in the market, and actually does it, deserves a superhero cape, in our humble opinion.
Tell us about the StrollAway and how it came about?
Six and a half years ago, I was a new mother and newly unemployed (not many opportunities for part-time work in the record business!) in a tiny NY apartment with my beautiful (but colicky!) baby boy. As I started to emerge from my baby bubble, I thought that working again would be a nice boost to my self worth, and satisfy my craving for intellectual stimulus. As I began my search for the perfect part time career, I faced other urban mom challenges.
My building had received a NYFD fire code violation because my stroller was parked in the hallway. Not willing to sacrifice another inch of precious space to baby gear I went straight to the ‘big baby store’ to find a ‘hook to hang up my stroller’. When I was told no such thing existed, I tried to fashion a solution from utility hooks from the ‘big organization store’. When nothing fit the bill, I decided I couldn’t be the only one with this problem, and set out to invent the solution.
After 4 years of research and development, I sent the StrollAway into the marketplace. An over the door (no drilling or screws) steel hook that adjusts to hold most stroller models up to 35lbs (even doubles) and folds flush to the door when not in use. Turns out, my space challenge and my career conundrum were both answered by the same shiny hook!
Give us a little background on yourself…I’m the mom of 3 boys, Billy 7, Luke 4 and Teddy 20 months. Former record company exec, inventor, entrepreneur, music fanatic, and at heart; a New Yorker…even if my address no longer says so!
What’s a typical weekend like?
We are part of a very informal group of families who gather Friday evenings for what I like to call Pizza Wine and Chaos. The adults get a chance to unwind and the kids run amok, everyone celebrating the beginning of the weekend! If we’re not road tripping, it’s all sports, house projects and cooking.
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? I am a total design geek and lifestyle/ food/ design blog junkie. In fact if ‘m not careful, I could lose entire mornings in the design blog o sphere. For design, DIY and style inspiration, I love Little Green Notebook, Elements of Style, and Marcus Design. I also love the Food Networks site in particular for Ina Garten and Giada DeLaurentis’ recipes!
Any rules about TV/screens? I’ve found that if TV and video games are out of sight they are generally out of mind. It’s not written in stone, but TV is reserved for the weekends or ‘special occasions’. Special Occasion is defined by myself and my husband and usually means we’re going out and a babysitter is coming over!
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
Filing household paperwork.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Eyebrow waxing and Smiths Rosebud Salve…anything else is gravy.
Best family trip?
My husband grew up going to Montauk (at the very end of Long Island) where his family has a house on the water, and it is where we spend our family vacations. It’s hard to articulate, but there is something about it… it’s the people, the fishermen, the surfers; the rugged imperfect beauty, and that it’s family tradition; but it is just a special place.
Any personal/parenting “a-ha” tips?
I have had success with the ‘star chart’ or marble jar technique. The boys earn (or lose) stickers or marbles for good behavior or doing chores (or not). The stickers or marbles can then be used as ‘currency’ to buy a treat or toy (with in reason). It makes earning and saving tangible for them.
You feel your best when?
I’ve crossed everything off of the (huge!) to-do list before Teddy wakes up from his nap and the older boys get home from school!
Proudest moment in parenting?
Always…when I see my boys showing compassion for others.
Chinese food followed by Gossip Girl…I’m not proud of it…
Best parenting advice you ever got?
It’s an oldie but a goodie (paraphrased for my purposes) The kids won’t remember that the house was clean or that the papers were filed or that the to-do list was crossed off, but they will remember if I (we) play trains together, or play tag, or color with them…. I’m always reminding myself of this…