Catherine M. Merritt

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How a Diaper Bag Insert Turned into a Crowdfunding Site for Moms

(originally posted on BlogHer)

About a month after having my son, Teddy, I had my first moment of (new) mom inspiration. Somehow in my sleep-depraved, poorly showered, deer-in-headlights state, I came up with a damn good idea.

You see, even though I’m a sensible Midwesterner, I have this pension for really nice handbags. When I was registering for baby stuff, I was somewhat devastated about the lack of diaper bag options almost to the point of embarrassment as I admit it.

Alright, so, going back to a month after my son was born, I was packing a diaper bag for an outing while also packing some snacks in a Hefty slider bag and I had a realization: I could use those slider bags and put the diaper bag essentials into my cute purse. And it worked. Sorta.

And then another aha moment: What if there were *something* that could turn your normal purse *into* a diaper bag! Eureka! I immediately went to see where I could buy one, and lo and behold, nothing of such existed. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and this mother had just had her very own.

Over the next few months, I researched in my (sacred and scarce) spare time to figure out how to bring this idea to life. I spent money for a provisional patent application. I hired someone to draw me a pattern for a prototype.

I did a lot of things that I thought made sense, but ultimately, after spending lots of money (that we didn’t have since I’d been on maternity leave) and (sacred and scarce) time, the idea never became a reality. It was just too damn hard.

While I didn’t bring the diaper bag insert to fruition, I talked to lots of moms and found out I wasn’t the only one coming up with these ideas. In fact, literally almost every single mom I talked to had their own innovation since becoming a mom.

But it was the lack of resources and funding that often stopped people from moving forward with their idea. And while I didn’t create those awesome diaper bag insert—thingys (which I still think is an awesome idea!), the whole experience did pave the way for me to launch something even bigger: MUMZY.

MUMZY is a crowdfunding platform built specifically with moms' needs in mind. Knowing the unique barriers, challenges and lack of time (right?!), I built MUMZY to be an all-encompassing tool, site, and resource to both help moms launch their brilliant ideas and to support their fellow moms.

Sometimes I ask myself: How could I create an entirely new crowdfunding platform, a Kickstarter for moms if you will, but I couldn’t make a simple organizer to turn my handbag into a purse? Surely a web-based site is more complex and difficult than a glorified pouch with pockets, right?

Right. It has been hard. But here’s the deal: As soon as I had the idea for MUMZY, the idea of creating something that could really, like really help moms (and not just keep using their cute handbags) gave me a renewed level of passion and dedication to take it and run with it. To help other moms see their amazing ideas into a reality that has been the driving force in bringing MUMZY to life.

I’ll be honest, I often compare this whole experience as something not dissimilar in many ways to childbirth (stay with me on this … ). Sometimes it’s good that you don’t know the pain and hardships that are involved with something or else you may not take that first brave step of the journey. That’s definitely been the case with MUMZY.

In addition to working on it over the past two years, I am also a vice president of an award-winning marketing agency, raising two boys to be civilized members of society (hell, I’d settle for them to not pee in public!) and launching a start-up.

I often feel that same sleep-deprived haze from when I had newborns, but I’ll let you in on my secret to keeping it going: I’m having so much damn fun and learning so much, I wouldn’t stop if you paid me.

Is it hard? Hell yes. Am I tired? Absolutely. Do I leave the house more often with a yogurt or oatmeal handprint on one item of clothing? Every day.

But I work at a company that has supported my passion for MUMZY since day one, I’m married to an amazing man who also took the brave step of starting his own business, and every time I talk with a mom who has an idea but doesn’t know where to go with it and I tell her about MUMZY, the beam and excitement on her face keeps me going.

Imagine all the opportunities, awesomely helpful products, and innovative inventions that could be out there in the world *really* helping moms because they were made by fellow moms who wished they existed for them? Think about what it would look like to have a more robust population of moms who take steps toward bravery.

Moms who decided they’re going to take ideas and make them really happen. The possibilities are endless and so exciting.

That’s what keeps me up late at night making tweaks to the site or emailing a mom who posted a project with some more tips to keep up the momentum of her campaign. Because I know that the power of moms with amazing ideas is not something to take lightly, and MUMZY is going to show that to the world.

Catherine Merritt