What It's Like to Run a Mother-Daughter Company That Gives Back
Mother's Day is a few days away, and you might be planning brunch with your mom or what flowers, card or gift you'll send the woman who gave you life. No matter how close you are with your own mom, there's something so inspiring about mothers who are out there creating positive change (see many more stories of these women here). Among them is writer and filmmaker Sue Kramer, co-founder of a jewelry business called Marbelous and founder of a networking company called Connecting Dots Guru.
Based in Brooklyn, Kramer runs Marbelous, a jewelry business, with her 12-year-old daughter, Lutece, and their close friends, Rae and Tess Olmi (another mother-daughter pair). After the success of Marbelous, which launched four years ago, Kramer created Connecting Dots Guru this past March, which plays matchmaker between businesses and people.
Both companies share the same mission: to give back, and with every transaction, donations are made to nonprofits including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Save the Children, The Malala Fund, BluePath Service Dogs and Christy Turlington's Every Mother Counts.
To find out more about how Kramer spreads hope, kindness and empowerment in life, business and motherhood, check out our Q&A with this giving-focused mompreneur below.
SheKnows: What led you to start businesses that give back to important causes?
Sue Kramer: As a writer, filmmaker and storyteller for most of my career, I always wanted to create businesses that told a story about giving, making an impact and the way businesses are run in this world. My goal is inspire and teach all businesses worldwide that there can be a charitable component to every exchange. Both companies represent circles — metaphors for the globe and making it a better place.
SK: How did becoming a mother affect your perspective on life and business?
Kramer: I've always taught my daughter that it’s great to have high goals and dream big but to always consider doing it while simultaneously giving back to others. In the age we live in, I think we need to teach our children that kindness is possible and can be financially rewarding. Our advice is to let your kids dream big because dreams can come true for them as well as others. Never count them out just because they're children.
SK: Can you tell me a bit about how Marbelous came to be?
Kramer: Rae Olmi's family and mine were the best of friends and next-door neighbors. At age 8, our girls, Lutece and Tess, started designing jewelry that resembled marbles. They both wanted to create a company that gave to charity. Rae and I were completely in sync in wanting to help make the girls' dreams come true.
Lutece and Tess came up with a list of charities to give to and the wonderful name Marbelous. Because Tess’s cousin is autistic, we decided that giving to a charity for autism was essential, in addition to a charity benefiting mothers to help in the global fight for maternal health.
A local boutique saw a Facebook post of us wearing the necklaces and launched our collection in their store. The girls got industry attention when they spoke at a conference about being young entrepreneurs. Word and interest spread organically, and within a few months, 10 stores were selling our products, we were getting media coverage, and even having celebrities like Amy Poehler wear the jewelry.
SK: What's it like going into business with young daughters?
Kramer: Running a company as two pairs of mothers and daughters is very fulfilling. The girls are busy in middle school, so they serve as creative directors, and Rae and I design and run the business. Most of the challenges we've incurred are around people's incredulity that 8-years olds could create a real jewelry business.
All four of us take ourselves seriously as designers. We've taught Tess and Lutece some essential lessons along the way about business and charity. They're constantly coming up with new ideas about how to give back, and I can’t imagine that mindset won't be in place for the rest of their lives, as it's now part of their DNA.