Jen's List: A Powerful Mom Empowering Women
My continued quest for exceptional mothers around the world who embody the very characteristics of mothers who endure
In the beginning everyone wants to 'have it all' in life. This is one mother who found out how to do it.
Published on LatinoLA: May 12, 2009
When my favorite daycare was requested an interview by reporter Stacey Butler from CBS Channel 2 News in Los Angeles, we were happily surprised. We found out that the Stacey found Great Expectations Child Care in Mission Hills through Jen's List, a mom's guide to what's "hot, new, and undiscovered - from baby products to nannies to fun family stuff to do." I had heard about this popular website that Jennifer had come up with unintentionally. I sat down with this busy mom of five boys to uncover her secrets of how she started this phenomenon in the middle of her busy life.
Bobbi: Where did you come up with the idea to do a blog like yours?
Jennifer: It was never something that I planned on. I was on bed rest with my 1st set of twins for 5 months and was so bored in bed. I subscribed to a lot of magazines, watched TV and searched the web and when I found something cool, I would pass it along to a few of my friends. They forwarded the info to their friends and soon, 5, turned into 20, 20 turned into 100 and now we are almost at 9000 members.
Bobbi: How long has it been running?
Jennifer: It started in April 2005
Bobbi: What type of successes have you had?
Jennifer: For almost 4 years I did it 100% for free. In Jan. of this year, I decided to have a top sponsor and the idea has been very successful. I am booked at least 2 months in advance now for that spot!
Bobbi: How many children do you have?
Jennifer: 5 boys, including 2 sets of identical twins
Bobbi: Do you work from home?
Jennifer: I do all my work from a computer sitting in my dining room on a TV tray!
Bobbi: Can you generate enough from your blog to not work on an outside job?
Jennifer: The sponsorship has been a wonderful 2nd source of income for our family.
Bobbi: Do you have other interests?
Jennifer: I love being involved in my children's school and volunteering whenever I can.
Bobbi: Where do you see your website going into the future?
Jennifer: I would like to grow the membership as much as I can and perhaps take Jens List to other cities and states.
Bobbi: Can you believe your success?
Jennifer: It is hard to believe what Jen's List has turned into and how far it's come from nothing. I am so incredibly blessed and thank my lucky stars everyday for what it has become.
Bobbi: What makes your service different or stand out from the competition?
Jennifer: There is really nothing else like Jen's List that I know of. Someone once described it a gift. Each morning when they open their email, they never know what they are going to find.
Bobbi: Who is your primary audience?
Jennifer: Families ages 25-50 in the greater LA and Ventura counties
Bobbi: Tell us a little bit about your background?
Jennifer: I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and I have 4 younger brothers. I have an incredible spouse (Mike Levinson) and a babysitter that helps me with the kids.
Bobbi: Tell us about your husband?
Jennifer: He works in medical device sales, but is a registered dietitian, by trade, and loves all aspects of fitness. He was born and raised in Texas and went to the Univ. of Austin.
Bobbi: How does he feel about your blog?
Jennifer: Sometimes he is supportive and others times I know he is frustrated by the amount of time it takes, however now that it is earning income, he is a little less apt to complain about it!
Bobbi: Has it ever occurred to you the impact you would have on small businesses, especially run by women/mothers?
Jennifer: I love that Jen's List is able to spread the word about small businesses. I have received enormous feedback about what it has done to help some people and that alone, makes all the hard work so worth it!
One of the lives Jennifer has touched is Nydia Sanchez-Kimp. A single mother of 2 children who was starting a now very successful child care business in the San Fernando Valley, Nydia had no idea how much one request to Jennifer, to be on her site, could do for her. "She was very nice when we spoke, and when CBS called asking for a 24 hour day care, there was Great Expectations, and Jennifer recommended my child care."
Since the story aired her home-based child care has not only received bountiful press, but Nydia is now looking for a bigger facility and hiring more assistants. "I never would have dreamed this would happen. People have been so amazing, donating their items, and their services to help us. I am here for the low income parents who work odd hours and can't afford the expensive rates in the other child care facilities. She truly made a huge difference for us."
Bobbi: Do you get to take time off?
Jennifer: I never take time off. I should. But its non-stop with 200+ emails a day, so taking a vacation, at this point, does not seem feasible!
On her blog she describes her life, "I have in the middle of pediatrician visits, adjusting to new school schedules, play dates, the grocery store, picking up Lego pieces, cleaning, soccer classes, cooking and catching some sleep, thought a lot about my life." Like most mothers, finding the balance to have it all is an art. Her attitude about 'slowing down' and talking life one day at a time is what works for Jennifer. "Mike is great, working hard and honestly, I am not lying, life is good. Sometimes, after dinner, before bedtime, when it's pretty much pure chaos in my house, but in a good way, I just sit back and take it all in. I have had a few people witness it and all have the same reactionÔÇª"where are the cameras?"
Although her family comes first, Jen's List has become a monumental task.
Bobbi: What is your ultimate goal for yourself with your business?
Jennifer: I hope to appeal to a larger source that would eventually like to run the day to day operations, however stay on board to oversee what is taking place.
Jen''s List has transformed into something much larger than she ever expected. So she brainstormed with her husband and came up with a new way to keep her website running into the future. "It would help off set the costs and justify the amount of time necessary to organize, edit and distribute Jen's List." Levinson expressed. Their intention is to keep Jen's List free.
They have posted two options: Advertisers can purchase a Jen's List "Top Sponsorship". They will be promoted at the top of a Jen's List newsletter with some personal verbiage by Jennifer. Or if you feel you have gained something from Jen's List and want to say "Thanks", you can contribute via Pay Pal.
Bobbi: What advice would you say to mothers about pursuing their dreams, ideas or goals?
Jennifer: I would say to go for it. You only live once and you never know if what you have are what others are going to need!
What is so inspiring about Jennifer is that she has not let the fact that having five small boys, a full life, a husband stop her from pursuing her passions; but she wanted to reach out to other mom's and share things she found online that she thought was 'cool', from activities to child care. She enjoys helping everybody with what she finds and learned online. In the process she has helped launched many women and mother's small businesses into successful operations. This little gem has turned out to be a infinite gold mine.
Ways to contact:
Jen's List: http://www.jenlevinson.com
If you have a business that may be interested in supporting Jen's List, and promoting your product or service as a sponsor, please see our Sponsorships page.
Great Expectations Child Care Mission Hills, CA http://greatexpectationschildcare.wordpress.com
Bobbi Miller-Moro is a filmmaker, artist, author LESSONS WE LEARNED FROM OBAMA and Founder of Women Without Borders US. She resides in Los Angeles, CA with her Cuban activist husband Luis Moro and their five children.
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