When I put out a call on Facebook a few months ago for friends to nominate other Entrepreneur Moms to be featured on my Mompreneur Monday series, I had no idea how many cool Moms were doing cool things in my extended circle! My bestie Stacy nominated her friend, Elaine Comeau, who is not only a Mompreneur, but she is now an award winner! She recently was named Canadian Mompreneur of the Year!! She was one of 12 finalists and the only one from BC. So proud of our local gal!
Vancouver, BC has reason to celebrate as their hometown girl Elaine Tan Comeau was named The 2014 Mompreneur® of the Year at the Mompreneurs Awards Gala in Toronto on Saturday March 22, 2014. The only finalist from BC and only representative from the West Coast this year, Elaine Tan Comeau faced some tough competition – Maria Locker, Founder and CEO of Mompreneur Showcase Group said “It was an extremely tough year for the judging panel as we had 12 remarkable finalists to choose from and there was no clear-cut winner from the beginning. As only one of seven judges, I knew it would be a tight race – ultimately we had to award the woman who we felt most exemplified a passionate, dedicated, and successful Mompreneur that others could look up to aspire to. This award isn’t necessarily to focus only on start-ups or only on established businesses, or to award someone who just needs a hand-up; being named “Mompreneur of the Year” is intended to recognize a woman who has taken her idea and made it flourish; someone who will be a role model of all that is possible for women when they hope to serve their families and businesses with equal amounts of passion and dedication. Elaine is, in every sense of the word, an exemplary model of all that moms in business can aspire to become.”
Elaine is also just a very gracious gal. We had a lot of back and forth via email and she always took the time out of her (very!) busy schedule to email me back right away and do her best to answer my questions. She is an amazing lady and I am truly honoured to feature her, as she is a wise woman. And a super hard worker!
Full Name: Elaine Tan Comeau
Website name(s): www.EasyDaysies.com
Location: HQ is Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
Scarlett: What is your background?
Elaine: Honours Degree in Biomedical Ethics, Minor in Physiology Bachelor of Education Elementary School Teacher Blessed to he a Mommy of Three Great Kiddies and Wife to a Wonderful Supportive Husband
Scarlett: How did you make a decision to start your company? Are you still working at another job?
Elaine: Easy Daysies is a product created by parent demand. I made visual routines for my classroom to help create smoother event transitions and lessen anxiety for my students, and now it is becoming a household brand called Easy Daysies®! The goal and purpose of Easy Daysies is to make and provide products that help children and families have easier days, that is how it got its’ name, Easy Daysies! As a school teacher, I had made visual routines to help my class feel safe and be at ease in event transitions; I knew that it was a vital tool in helping my students with learning challenges and special needs. For several years, parents asked me to make visual routines for them at home, like the one I made for my classroom, to help their children with co-operation, independence, anxiety and smoother event transitions. Just even to help their kids get out the door faster in the morning. After making them for parent demand for so many years and for free, I decided that there must definitely be a market here for such a product. I searched and discovered that there was no other daily visual routine out there that was a product. I decided that I would make the FIRST product of its kind. Being pregnant with our 3rd baby, I did extra tutoring and made crafts to sell and saved up the first $1400.00 I knew it would cost to make my first batch of product. I launched my first product 2 days after our third child was born. The product sold out in one month and I had funds to make the next batch. Soon, word of mouth and the amazing speed of social media shared the positive effects of Easy Daysies, making Easy Daysies now readily available in over 1500 locations across North America. Many families and teachers struggle to create their own but now they are ecstatic to find Easy Daysies! I am truly honoured that Easy Daysies is recommended by name by child psychologists and occupational therapists.
Scarlett: You earned a deal on Dragon’s Den. Tell us about the process and how you decided to audition for the show?
Elaine: My first few retailers that sold Easy Daysies, as well as those I met at a toy trade show, nudged me on to that show as they would tell me, “You need to get off your kitchen table and go on Dragons’ Den!” When we got back home to Vancouver from the trade show in Toronto, my husband Googled Dragons’ Den and turned to me and said, “Dragons’ Den is here on Saturday!” Eep! It was a now or never moment. We auditioned and we got a call at the end of the six week nationwide auditions to come with the kids to Toronto for the taping of the show. My kids were 2.5, 4.5 and 7.5 years old and we were all sick with bronchitis. We were told we would have any where between 5 to 45 minutes in front of the Dragons. We were with them for 48 minutes. It was crazy, it was frightful, it was early. Our taping time was at 6:30AM EST which was 3:30AM for my children… that is why they are in pajamas. 🙂 I could not have guess what was going to happen but I made sure that my children would not be scared and would be on their best behavior… no touching noses or faces! We were able to incite a bidding war between all five dragons and were blessed to leave securing two as our partners. We were told that we were the first deal to sign through on Season 6 of Dragons’ Den. We have since filmed one update and were then on again this Season 8 as Easy Daysies was honoured to be chosen by Ford Company, a sponsor of the CBC show, to be one of the nine companies exemplifying Ford’s Four Pillars of Success. We were very fortunate to be awarded two 30 second commercials they featured as “Driven For Success”.
Scarlett: How do you manage 3 kids and a business?
Elaine: Having a very supportive family and network has been so vital. Both my parents and my parent-in-laws are a huge blessing in help especially during trade show season. Success to me is measured by how happy my children are, all the time. This “measurement” allows me to know when I should stop what I am doing and be with my kids and husband. I have called myself a “mompreneur” from the start and have been criticized for it as well. I am honoured that the Financial Post, Macleans Magazine, Canadian Business Magazine, and Huffington Post, have all interviewed me wanting to know my story about being a mom entrepreneur. They asked me why I call myself a “Mompreneur” rather than a business woman, and I said it is because I am a mom first and business comes second. I am a mom all day long and if I happen to be successful at my work around those hours, that is wonderful! I believe that balance is based on the choices we make and the choices we make are based on our priorities. My priority is my children and my family first. All my business decisions are based on this priority. I have learned that putting my family first may put me in a position to sometimes lose opportunities but it has always gained the respect of the client, or future business partner. Most importantly I know that my children see that they are my priority. I want to be the person I want my children to be. There is nothing more important and lasting than family. I am blessed to have the most amazing and supportive husband and partner, Easy Daysies would not exist without him, Ron Comeau. I am blessed with three fantastic kids who have had to put up with mommy having conference calls in the pantry, holding the door shut with the other hand, to having up to eleven 4×4 pallets full of products in our town house all at once. I have had many mortifying mompreneur moments (including potty training while meeting with men in full suits at my kitchen table) and have learned that I have to honest and upfront that I have children who may be at the meeting or that I have to cancel a meeting I have been waiting weeks for because my child has a performance. I believe that if my children are happy (and husband too), then, I am truly successful.
Scarlett: You have garnered a number of awards for your product! Tell us about that.
Elaine: My passion behind Easy Daysies is driven by the impact Easy Daysies has in the lives of its users. The testimonials I receive from families continues to fuel me when I feel like I am hanging on by a thread, working until 4AM many nights in a row and up again for 6AM conference calls, that need to be done before the 3 kids wake up at 7AM. Easy Daysies is honoured to be awarded the Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business and be selected by Ford Company as one of nine companies exemplifying Ford’s Four Pillars of Success and was recognized as a Company Driven for Success. I thank God for this passion, the strength, that keeps me going! Easy Daysies Ltd. is focused on creating great products that contribute to a better world by helping one child at a time have easier days and by sustaining the world they live in with environmentally friendly products. Our magnets are made with 70% recycled materials, and we continue to strive to make our products eco-friendly for a sustainable world. Our packaging has gone from 100% plastic packaging to less than 9% plastic and 91% paper packaging. Studies show that children as young as preschool age benefit from visual routines because they co-operate better and are less anxious during event transition all because they know what is happening next. Easy Daysies is recommended by name by child psychologists, occupational therapists, physicians and educators. Our product has been referred to over and over as “smart” and “clever” but most importantly, it has become a “lifesaver” for many busy family households. Easy Daysies products continue to win multiple awards,such as, 2014 Teacher Trendsetter Product Award, 2014 Mom’s Choice Award, 2013 Teachers’ Choice Award for Families, 2012 Educational Product of the Year by Creative Child Magazine, Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Socially Responsible Toys, and Parent Tested Parent Approved Award. Easy Daysies’ products continuously evolve striving to make the best products for the children and families that use them. Scarlett: What is your favourite project that you have worked on this far with your business?
Elaine: My favourite project is our main product, the Easy Daysies Magnetic Visual Daily Routine. It is my favourite because of how it is working in families’ lives. Easy Daysies® was created with the goal of helping children have easier days and it is truly humbling to be a part of something that is helping to improve the quality of life for children and families and children and adults with special needs. What keeps me working at the kitchen table until 3 or 4AM are the e-mails and messages I receive from families and health care providers. Parents are kindly taking time to share with me how their child with Autism (ASD), their non-verbal developmentally delayed child, their child with ADHD, anxiety, and foster children, are succeeding in their day because of Easy Daysies. My heart melts with appreciation and humility as I read them. When I read that a mom with three children,all with autism, under the age of 7 is so happy because Easy Daysies helps her not to have to talk talk talk all day long anymore because of the visual communication Easy Daysies is providing for their family, I know Easy Daysies is helping. When I read an e-mail from a Foster Parent sharing that Easy Daysies has taken away the anxiety and insecurity in their home because their kids now feel safe and calm because they can see and know what is happening when life is so unpredictable for them, I know Easy Daysies is making a difference. When I see an e-mail from a mom pregnant with her fourth child say that her husband is making her write to inform me that they cannot believe that their children have stopped arguing in the mornings and that the whole family now sleeps 20 minutes more each morning because of Easy Daysies, I know that Easy Daysies is working. This is what keeps me going. I have learned that it is okay to have a good cry now and then… it is good for the soul. 🙂
Scarlett: What has been your biggest hurdle in the business to date and what lesson did you learn from it? Elaine: I am very trusting and I always give people the benefit of the doubt. This has sometimes resulted in major disappointment but I always try to learn from it and move forward. I also have a hard time getting people to pay for my product and will give away more than I should. That cannot be good for business! People say I need a middle man… but I tell the m that my husband already has two jobs of his own and Easy Daysies is his third job!
Scarlett: What is your long term goal for your business? Is this something that you always dreamed of doing?
Elaine: The short answer is that I hope to keep building up Easy Daysies with the goal of licensing and or selling it one day. We have already signed our first licensing deal with a US based company. As well as always striving to improve our products, I have plans to expand the reach of Easy Daysies in both global availability and in the genre of people (i.e. seniors and teens). In the next two years, Easy Daysies is working on becoming available in France, Australia, Ireland, and South Africa, and Malaysia. Easy Daysies’ products continuously evolve to make the best products for the children and families that use them. We are now in the process of creating products for tweens and products that will help adults with memory loss issues based on our original products. Easy Daysies products continue to win multiple awards which let us know that we are on the right track.I will do my best to make sure that our products keep meeting those needs and exceeding expectations.
Scarlett: If you could give a word of advice to other women out there regarding woman starting a business and building a brand, what would it be?
Elaine: I always share these two things when I am asked this question: 1. Please do check and do the research regarding your product or service. If it is a good idea it may already exist and you can save yourself a lot of time and money. But you can also make that product or service and make it better too! 2. This is the most important of the two, always ask yourself, does my product or service solve a problem or fulfill a need? If the answer is yes, you just might have a super idea on your hands!