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30 Parents Who Made it Big

ShannonSeptember 23, 2018

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and staying at home to take care of kids full-time instead of paying for child care is incredibly valuable. But for some women, they wanted to do more than just be a mom. In many of these 30 stories, these stay-at-home moms invented creative solutions to a problem that all moms face. Others created a new form of entertainment for kids, and others used writing as a creative outlet and blossomed into best-selling authors.

Joy Mangano created the Miracle Mop and lots of other inventions that make household chores easier. Credit: JoyMangano.com

30. Joy Mangano

In 1990, Joy Mangano was a single mother with three kids living in New York. She invented “The Miracle Mop”, which allows people to mop a floor without ever having to ring out the dirty mop head with their hands. It appeared on The Home Shopping Network, and in just 20 minutes, the stock of 18,000 mops sold out. She went on to invent other helpful products, like “huggable hangers”. She hold over 100 patents for her inventions that are just waiting to be made. Today, she has an estimated net worth of $50 million. The 2015 movie Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence was based on Joy Mangano’s life.

Ida Backlund launched a hair extension company called Rapunzel Hair. Credit: Cision

29. Ida Backlund

In 2007, Ida Backlund was a stay-at-home mom who loved beauty products, but she had a difficult time finding high-quality hair extensions in her area. Once she finally found the product she was looking for, she put them in her hair, and her friends started asking her where she bought it. This was a lightbulb moment, and she started selling those hair extensions out of her house. This continued to grow, so she started a company called Rapunzel of Sweden. After a while, she started selling to over 30 countries, and the company now has over 40 employees and is worth $12 million.

Victoria Molyneux started a clothing brand called Want That Brand. Credit: Manchester Evening News

28. Victoria Molyneaux

After Victoria Molyneux became a mother, she tried to find a job, but no one would hire her, because she was pregnant. After having her baby, she realized how difficult it was her to to find clothes that still fit her body and covered up the parts of her body that she no longer felt comfortable revealing. She realized that sexy dresses were as cheap as $10 in stores like Forever 21, but then more modest dresses were well over $100. She realized that she could not possibly be the only woman who was having an issue finding dresses that made her happy.

Facebook, and opened an online clothing store called Want That Trend filled with her clothing designs that she paid to have manufactured. She used pictures of herself to model the dresses, and it became a nearly overnight success, and she made $9 million in her first year.

Alicia Shaffer (right) started Three Birds Nest to help pay for her kid’s hobbies. Credit: eBay Style Stories

27. Alicia Shaffer

Alicia Shaffer was a mom with three kids who was hoping to use her skills in crochet to make some extra money to pay for her kids to go to extracurricular activities like ballet lessons and soccer. She opened an Etsy shop called Three Bird Nest, where she sold her crocheted pieces modeled on one of her friends. The sales went through the roof, and she soon found herself needing to hire local women to help her sew and crochet. She expanded her inventory to clothing and other accessories, and soon grew the business so much, they began making $80,000 a month. Alicia Shaffer is considered to be Etsy’s most successful seller. She is now a millionaire, and opened up her own website to sell to her fans.

The Schmelzer family becam millionaires after selling Crocs Jibbitz. Credit: AP/NBC News

26. Sheri Schmelzer

Some people think Crocs are the ugliest shoes in the world, but parents love them, because they are comfortable and easy to clean. Sheri Schmelzer bought Crocs for all of her kids, and she started doing crafting projects to put little charms into the holes of the shoes. When her kids wore them to school, they wanted their own. It was a great way to kids to express themselves.

Schmelzer called these little charms “Jibbitz”, an started selling them. The company eventually amassed $300 million.

Debbi Fields opened up a cookie shop that expanded to a national empire. Credit: INC

25. Debbi Fields

In the late 1970’s, Debbi Fields was a 20-year old college student, and a mom. She loved to bake, and everyone loved her cookie recipe. She had the idea of opening a cookie business. Everyone in her life discouraged her from doing this, because she had no experience. She decided to ignore everyone, and took out a business loan to open a store called Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

At first, she was not getting any customers, and she was terrified of the business failing. Instead of standing and waiting for them to come inside, she started giving out free samples around Palo Alto, California. This worked, and people started to come into her store to actually buy her desserts. She eventually expanded the brand and opened 700 stores around the world. She sold the company in 1996 for $400 million.

Credit: HomeBusinessMag

24. Debra Cohen

Before she had kids, Debra Cohen had a glamorous job writing for magazines and traveling around the world. When she got pregnant, she opted to stay home and take care of the kids. When Debra Cohen and her husband bought a house, they realized just how difficult it was to work full-time, have kids, and try to find contractors to help fix the issues that came up in their house. She decided that if she and her husband were having a hard time, then other busy homeowners must be struggling, too. She created the Home Remedies Referral Network. She spends the time to find the best contractors for any job, and then keeps a small commission every time she connects them to a gig. After being in operation for a few years, she has made $4 million.

Sandy Stein invented a product that helps women find keys in their purse. Credit: CelebrityNetWorth

23. Sandy Stein

Sandy Stein started out with a career as an airline stewardess before she started having kids. She reduced her hours to part-time so she could raise her son. When she was in her 50’s, her husband lost his job. She knew that she would have to figure out a way to make more money if they wanted to keep paying the bills. She prayed to her father, who had passed away, begging him to give her guidance on what to do. Her father’s ghost appeared to her in a dream, and he showed her a little metal hook with a charm that held onto keys inside of women’s purses.

When she woke up, Sandy Stein set out to make that little invention, and called it Finders Key Purse. Her husband had experience working in the souvenir industry, so they were able to create a prototype in China. She started to give it to her flight attendant friends, and they loved it.

Passengers on the planes began to notice it as well, and ask where they bought the product from. Sandy asked her flight attendant friends if they wanted to make some extra money on the side. They became her sales force that went around the United States, pitching the product to stores. They made $4 million in the first year. Today, Sandy Stein has a net worth of $25 million.

Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight. Credit: StephenieMeyer.com

22. Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer was a stay-at-home mom who had a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She had three very young children, so she was beginning to feel as though she was losing her own identity. One night, she had a dream about sparkly vampires, and decided to write it down when she woke up, because she had so much fun imagining this fantasy world. This dream ended up being the plot of her first book, Twilight. Before this moment, she had never written anything before, and she would have never guessed that it would be a best-selling book. Today, Stephenie Meyer is worth $125 million.

Victoria Knight-McDowell invented Airbone. Credit: Oprah.com

21. Victoria Knight-McDowell

Victoria Knight-McDowell was working as a second-grade teacher and a mom. She knew how important it was not to get sick, for the sake of both her own kids and her students. She came up with the formula for Airborne, which is a blend of vitamins and minerals that prevents people from getting sick. It worked so well, that people started to buy it to prevent themselves from getting sick. Eventually, McDowell became worth $21 million.

Julie Deane created the Cambridge Satchel Company so she could afford to send her kids to private school. Credit: CNBC

20. Julie Deane

When Julie Deane’s daughter Emily was only 7 years old, she started coming home from school with bruises all over her arms. She was being bullied, and yet the teachers were doing nothing to stop the abuse. Julie Deane swore to her daughter that she would never have to be bullied again, and that she could go to a new school. However, private school tuition was nearly $16,000 per year. She knew that she had to come up with some kind of product that she could make and sell from her home.

Deane remembered that when she was in school, every kid used a leather satchel as their bookbag. These were always high quality, and lasted for 10 years. Today, most kids use cheap backpacks with characters on them that have to be replaced every single year. Deane did some research, and realized that no one made satchels anymore. She only had a few hundred dollars to get started, and she created a few bags. She used her kids as models for photographs, and started handing out bags to her friends for free who were going to Fashion Week. Her marketing techniques worked, and she began receiving a lot of inquiries.

Today, bags made by The Cambridge Satchel Company is a $65 million business. They are worn by celebrities, and they sell to 150 countries.  

Judy Travis and her family have their own wholesome reality show on YouTube. Credit: ItsJudyTime.com

19. Judy Travis

Judy Travis married her high school sweetheart, Benji. Soon after graduating from college in Washington state, the two got married and started having kids. Benji worked in real estate, and Judy stayed at home making beauty blog posts and videos on YouTube, where she specialized in makeup tutorials on an account called “ItsJudyTime”. After a while, she switched over to lifestyle vlogging with her kids on a channel called “ItsJudysLife”. According to Social Blade, her YouTube channel alone makes an estimated $300,000 per year, and she also gets paid for promotional deals and other sources of revenue. She has been vlogging for nearly 10 years now, so it’s safe to say that she has become a mommy millionaire.

Sara Blakey invented Spanx. Credit: NYMag

18. Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely was on her way to a party, and she was wearing white pants. She realized that they didn’t look right, and she wished she could make them smoother. She picked up some pantyhose and cut off the legs, and put them on underneath her pants so that her tummy and legs looker smoother. It worked so well, Blakely knew that other women out there would buy a product that could help them smooth out their body. Since then, the company became huge, and “Spanx” is a household name. Sara Blakely is now the youngest female self-made billionaire.

Julie Aigner-Clark invented the concept for the Baby Einstein video series. Credit: KNKX

17. Julie Aigner-Clark

When Julie Aigner Clark became six months pregnant, she quit her job as a High School art teacher in favor of being a stay-at-home mom. When her baby was born, she wanted to expose her child to the arts, but none of the content she found was appropriate for kids.

She had an idea of what she wanted to find in her mind, but it just didn’t exist yet. She borrowed a friend’s video camera and invented the Baby Einstein videos, which are filled with images that captivate an infant’s attention while classical music plays in the background. Today, Clark is worth $20 million.

Nicole Donnelly invented “Baby Legs” to help her daughter. Credit: Seattle PI

16. Nicole Donnelly

When Nicole Donnelly became a mom in 2005, her infant daughter started getting severe diaper rash. She wanted to let her daughter’s bum get some fresh air, because she felt like putting another diaper and pants on would only chafe her daughters’ already-painful skin. However, she still wanted to protect her daughter’s legs and knees while she crawled around on the floor.

Nicole pulled an old pair of thick snowboarding socks out of her drawer, cut the feet off, and slipped the tubes of fabric over her daughter’s legs. It worked like a charm. She had a light bulb moment. If she needed this product, other mothers out there probably needed it, too. She started a company called “Baby Legs”, where she sold baby-sized leg warmers. The product was a hit, and it started to sell in stores like Nordstrom. Today, she has made $4.2 million selling the leg warmers.

Rosie Herman and her family. Credit: Voyage Houston

15. Rosie Herman

Rosie Herman gave birth to twin girls. Raising one baby is hard enough, but two is more than a full-time job. However, she had no way to pay off her $75,000 of debt. Before having kids, Herman worked as a manicure artist, so she cared a lot about taking care of her hands. When you hold babies, you really shouldn’t use perfumes or dyes in your products. She started to make a homemade lotion that was unscented, and passed it around to her friends. They loved it, so she called it “One Minute Manicure”, and began to sell it with the goal of eventually paying off her debt. The product exceeded her expectations. Now, the company is worth $20 million.

Rebecca Mathias founded a maternity clothing brand. Credit: Twitter

14. Rebecca Matthias

In the 1980’s, Rebecca Matthias was still going to work while she was pregnant, but she realized that stores did not sell maternity clothes that looked appropriate to wear in a professional office setting. When she had her baby, she stopped working, and began to create a maternity clothing line called Mothers Work Inc. Today, one of the best-known clothing brands is simply called “Motherhood”, which is sold at Macy’s. Today, Rebecca Matthias is worth a whopping $500 million.

Alli Webb founded Drybar. Credit: Huffington Post

13. Alli Webb

A lot of women want that big, voluminous, silky-looking hair that we see on Victoria’s Secret models, but it’s really hard and time-consuming to achieve it at home. That’s where Alli Webb’s “Drybar” comes in. While working as a hairdresser, Webb noticed just how many women were skipping the cuts and dye, and asking just for a blowout, which can be done on dry hair. She opened her own salon that only did blowouts, and it expanded to salons across the United States. The company is now worth $22 million.

Marcy McKenna invented the Style & Go Kit that was sold on QVC. Credit: DailyMail

12. Marcy McKenna

Every woman knows the frustration of trying to keep hair styling tools neat and organized in the bathroom. Marcy McKenna joked with her son about building her something out of Legos to help keep her items somewhere without causing clutter. He actually built something useful- a cabinet that held all of the hair tools, so that everything could be hidden away. McKenna had a “lightbulb” moment, and made a prototype of what she called the “Style & Go Kit”. It’s like a bathroom vanity cabinet that opens up with a mirror, so that women can style their hair, put the items back, and go on with their day. McKenna appeared with her product on The Home Shopping Network and sold each kit for $132 each. They sold out the same day, and she became an overnight millionaire.

Danisha Danielle Houston went from welfare to real estate millionaire. Credit: The LA Sentinal

11. Danisha Danielle Hoston

Danisha Danielle Hoston graduated from UCLA, got married, and had a baby in her 20’s. Tragically, her first husband died of cancer just 10 weeks after their baby was born. She had to go on welfare, and struggled to pay the bills. She decided to start working on becoming a real estate broker while taking care of her infant daughter. The real estate business is commission-based, so she only made money when she sold a house. She did not make any money at all for 8 months straight, and bills were going unpaid, because she was still on welfare. Friends and family told her that she needed to get a “real job” and put her daughter in child care, if she wanted any hope of making money. But her persistence eventually paid off, and Hoston began seeing profits. Today, she has her own real estate brokerage firm, and made $2 million.

Brandi Temple created the clothing company Lolly Wolly Doodle. Credit: INC

10. Brandi Temple

Brandi Temple got married in her 20’s, had her first son, and got a divorce. Soon after, she got married again, and had two daughters with her second husband. She jokes that all she ever wanted was to be a “trophy wife”, and really only had goals of being the best mom and wife she could be. She took her family to church every Sunday, and she wanted her daughters to have age-appropriate dresses that fit correctly and that she could monogram. However, buying a dress in the store and taking it to a tailor every time she wanted something done would cost a fortune. So she started sewing these dream dresses from scratch.

She had a lot of leftover fabric, and she didn’t want it to go to waste. So she posted a photo of her daughter’s dress on eBay, and offered to custom-make an identical dress for someone else, after they provided their daughter’s measurements. They started to sell, and and she opened up a brand on Facebook under the name Lolly Wolly Doodle. Now, the company has a huge team of women sewing in Lexington, North Carolina, and brings in roughly $20 million per year.

Elle Fowler Goot created GlamPlanner on Etsy Credit: ClevverTV

9. Elle Fowler Goot

Years before she was a mom, Elle Fowler was a popular blogger and YouTube beauty guru who would film videos in her bedroom. In 2014, she severely injuring her back in an accident. She was lucky that she was not paralyzed,  but she was forced to stay on bed rest for month, because she could not even sit up. All of her time and energy had to go into healing.

During her bed rest, Elle kept herself motivated by writing out her daily tasks in Erin Condren planners, and writing on her blogs, instead of modeling and making videos. After discovering this new hobby, she did some research online and realized just how many women (especially moms) enjoyed decorating their planners with stickers to help keep themselves motivated in otherwise mundane daily tasks like doing the laundry or paying the bills.

In 2015, Elle started her own sticker store on Etsy called The Glam Planner. She used her years of online marketing skills to advertise the store online, and it exploded in popularity. She was able to hire several employees to work out of her home office. They sell on Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, and on their own website. With all of those sales combined, she has made well over $1 million. In 2018, she gave birth to her first baby, and she officially became a stay-at-home-mom millionaire.

Kris Jenner (right) looking over the media coverage about Kim Kardashian. Credit: Getty Images

8. Kris Jenner

You probably recognize Kris Jenner from Keeping Up With The Kardashians. None of her daughters would ever be as famous as they are today if it were not for Kris Jenner’s management skills. When she was 22 years old, Kris married her first husband, a lawyer named Robert Kardashian. They had their first four kids together. After their divorce, she married former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner. Both Bruce and Kris were divorced with 4 kids of their own, and they went on to have two more daughters together. So with a total of 10 children between the two of them, there were a lot of bills to pay, and not a lot of income rolling in.

Kris began to manage Bruce so he could tour and give motivational speeches about being a professional athlete. They started making workout videos, and trying to sell fitness-related products. When her daughter Kim got older, she began living like a socialite in Los Angeles, hanging out with famous it-girls like Paris Hilton. After her sex tape was leaked, Kris wasn’t ashamed. She actually saw it as an opportunity to capitalize on the media attention. Everyone wanted to know who Kim Kardashian was. Kris Jenner approached Ryan Seacrest with her idea for a reality show about their family, and he agreed to produce it. The rest is history. Today, her net worth is $60 million.

Kim Lavine invented Wuvit Pillows. Credit: KimLavine.com

7. Kim Lavine

Kim Lavine wanted to make gifts for her children’s teachers, so she made little pillows filled with corn, accompanied by a little not explaining at they could be heated up or frozen to help their sore backs. The teachers genuinely loved these little pillows, and it dawned on Kim Lavine that she could sell them. She called them “Wuvit Pillows”, and started coming up with even more ideas from her own kitchen table. She became a millionaire from her sales, and eventually published a bestselling book called Mommy Millionaire.

Amy Creel invented Teething Bling. Credit: Earnshaw Magazine

6. Amy Creel

Anyone who has held a baby knows that they love to play with necklaces and long hair. Amy Creel was holding her infant daughter in church, when the baby pulled on her cheap plastic necklace, and it snapped. Creel felt humiliated, but it gave her an idea- What if necklaces were made out of the same baby-safe materials used in teething rings?

Amy Creel decided to create “Teething Bling”, which is both fashionable and functional. She sold it to major realtor likes Buy Buy Baby, and became a millionaire.

Pattie Mallette is Justin Bieber’s mother. Credit: Twitter

5. Pattie Mallette

Pattie Mallette is best known as being Justin Bieber’s mom and talent manager. Before her son was famous, Pattie Mallette had an extremely tough life. She was abused, and became a mom when she was a teenager. She became a single mom who could not afford to pay for child care and go out to get a job. She had to depend on her parents to help raise her young son. Pattie noticed her son’s musical talents, and posted videos of him playing the drums and singing when he was still a kid. She wrote a book about her life story called Nowhere But Up, and became a New York Times bestselling author. She donated a lot of the proceeds to a center for homeless teens.

Jen Smith advocates for all women to become educated in personal finance. Credit: YouTube

4. Jen Smith

Growing up, Jen Smith’s parents had college degrees, but they still struggled to pay the bills. They went on and off food stamps and other government programs to make ends meet. This made Smith obsessed with money from an early age. She wanted to learn about investing. By the time she was 30, she was married, and knew that she did not want to repeat her parent’s mistakes. She told her husband that she wanted to be rich before they adopted children. By age 40, they were debt-free, and accumulated $1 million. She wrote a book called The Millionaire Mommy Next Door that explained her whole story, in hopes that it would help other women out there learn the value of investing.

Nora Roberts is a best-selling author. Credit: BookBub

3. Nora Roberts

In 1979, a wife and mother named Nora Roberts was stuck inside during a blizzard. Without all of her daily errands to distract her, she used that spare time to start writing a romance novel called Irish Thoroughbred. Two years later, she got a publishing deal, and she was able to continue writing romance. Instead of writing helpless female characters who needed to be rescued by a prince, she wrote about strong, interesting characters who just so happened to fall in love. She also took on a pen name of “J.D. Robb” to write a science fiction mystery series. Today, she has published over 200 novels. Many of her books became best-sellers, and were eventually turned into TV movies. Today, Nora Roberts’ net worth is $390 million.

Iris Shamus invented the “AllerMates” to help kids with food allergies. Credit: Huffington Post

2. Iris Shamus

Iris Shamus’ son Benjamin began having very severe food allergy to nuts when he was just a toddler. She had to adjust to carrying epi-pens and trying to make sure he did consume any products that contained nuts. When he got a little older and started going to preschool, friend’s birthday parties, and other places unsupervised, it became even more terrifying. Her son was far too young to be able to explain to adults about his allergies. Her son’s teacher had a food allergy chart in the classroom, so that gave her some sense of comfort…Until that same teacher fed a child with a dairy allergy Cheeze-It crackers. They were rushed to the hospital, and that teacher was fired. It dawned on Shamus that no one else out there was going to care enough to remember about her child’s needs.

She started doing some research online, and discovered that one out of every 13 kids had some form of food allergy, and yet no one had come up with a solution to help them. She created comfortable silicone wristbands and dog tags called “Aller-Mates”, which display a child’s food allergies for adults to see. She also created stickers that can be put on food in the pantry, so that members of the family are reminded what the kids can and cannot have. She invested $25,000 into manufacturing her products, and they eventually got picked up by major retailers like Walgreens and CVS. Today, Aller-Mates is a multi-million dollar business

JK Rowling went from being a single mom on welfare to becoming a best-selling author. Credit: Mental Floss

1. J.K. Rowling

Jo Rowling was a single mom who escaped an abusive relationship. She could not afford child care, and she was living on government assistance in a small apartment. Rowling started to write down her ideas for a story about a young wizard boy who went to a magical school called Hogwarts. When she was done her first book, it was rejected by several publishers before it was finally accepted. Today, the Harry Potter franchise is one of the biggest in the world, and J.K. Rowling is worth more than $1 billion.

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