When Kaity and I decided to launch Well Rounded NY, our first order of business was going to the “it” event of the industry: The Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower. It’s a sight to behold: thousands of gorgeous pregnant bellies and just about every pregnancy and baby brand that exists in the universe. In one room. The Biggest Baby Shower is basically the epicenter of the baby-verse, and a NYC pregnant gal’s right of passage.
When we learned a little more about the women behind Big City Moms — Risa Goldberg and Leslie Venokur (above, from right to left) — we quickly became fans; these two business partners (and sisters!) turned their passion for the “mommy” industry into a very real and successful business. Now 10 years in, they have expanded into a national brand that includes weekly dinners, special events, year-round Biggest Baby Showers, and a new lifestyle website filled with valuable info for mamas and mamas-to-be.
We recently had the opportunity to pick their Big City mommy brains about business, babies, balance and so much more over a little shopping session at one of our favorite baby shops in the city, Little Edit. Owner Alissa Emerson showed us around the sister (or should we say, baby sister?) shop of Edit New York, her impeccably curated women’s boutique in a beautiful townhouse on the Upper East Side.
While we shopped, the Big City Moms shared their tips on building a business in the mommy industry — and buying baby gifts that every new mom will cherish.
Tell us about why you started Big City Moms and how it evolved into the incredible resource it has now become.
To start off, we are sisters, and as little girls, we always thought it would be cool to own a business together one day — a candy store, to be exact. After Risa’s daughter was born, we both realized there were no resources available to meet other moms and to learn about all the stages of motherhood. We were both working full time and created Big City Moms as a side job to fill this void. We started small, by having weekly dinners for 15-20 moms, and quickly expanded into holiday parties, educational seminars,and baby showers for up to 1,500 moms.
We built Big City Moms 10 years ago as a resource for new and expectant parents to meet through events, seminars and holiday parties. Soon after we began, companies in the juvenile space approached us regarding launching products, sponsoring events, and advertising on our website. We are fortunate that the community has embraced everything we have done over the years, which has afforded us the opportunity to launch a national website and produce events all over the country.
How have your families grown as your business has grown?
We have 5 adorable children between us: Risa’s daughter, Hallie (10), and twin boys, Cooper and Harrison (7); and Leslie’s daughter, Sami (5), and son, Max (17 months). All of our children are close and attend as many Big City Moms events as possible. Now that some of them are older, they help out as well with set up or gift bag distribution. They love to be involved!
As your own lives have changed, and your kids have grown past the infant stage, how do you continue to stay passionate about this market?
When we started Big City Moms something clicked, and it has been part of our lives ever since. We are so fortunate to have helped form thousands of new friendships between mothers, and educate them on all stages of motherhood. The excitement that we get when a mom stops us on the street to tell us she survived the first year of motherhood because of our support groups or that she met her best friend at one of our expectant dinners keeps us going and motivated to do as much as we can.
What advice would you give to expectant or new moms attempting to create a business out of a passion for pregnancy or new baby?
If you have an idea and really want it to be a business, then you have to treat it as a business. We see so many great ideas from new moms, and they are full speed ahead at the beginning – and then life gets in the way. So if you are passionate about starting a business, ask for help, outsource when necessary, and set goals for yourself. This may sound a bit cliché, but if you have an idea and believe in it, you can make it happen. Definitely network with your friends and friends of friends — early on, they can be your sounding board for ideas. Make sure you have a solid business plan in place — this can be instrumental in helping you as you grow.
You guys are a dynamic duo — what’s the secret to working with a partner? Does being sisters help?
Awww, thanks! Being sisters definitely helps our working relationship; we know each others’ strengths and weaknesses, we have the same work ethic, and we trust each other. Although we are very close, we also see the world differently. Big City Moms is something we both share and love, and it is amazing to grow a company with each other. Our parents are thrilled that we are working together! We complement each other because we each excel in different areas of business. No matter what goes right or wrong, we are sisters, and we will always support each other. It’s funny — when we speak together at events, we play to each others’ strengths…sometimes it’s like a comedy routine.
What are some of your own personal strategies for balancing life and kids with a booming business?
We have yet to master the balance of raising our children and running a business. We are always working on achieving that “perfect” balance. We are both extremely lucky to have supportive husbands and amazing babysitters! Our husbands know our event schedules better than we do and they come home from work early to be there for our children while we are running evening events. We try our best to take some time for ourselves. We are both addicted to SoulCycle and love our date nights with our husbands — and, of course, our monthly girls’ nights out with friends.
You guys are basically the baby experts – we loved going “new baby shopping” with you! Tell us about what caught your eye at Little Edit and what makes a great baby gift.
Everything at Little Edit is stunning! It “almost” made us want to have another baby! To us, presentation is everything. At Little Edit, they have all the essentials for baby’s first wardrobe. The yummy onesies from Kissy Kissy with matching bibs, hats and blankets are the perfect gift for any new arrival. Top it off with a one-of-a-kind stuffed animal, and you are good to go.
We loved how they had a variety of items at different price points. You can get that special “splurge” item, such as Baby Chloe, or a unique toy that you won’t find anywhere else. Our favorite gifts to give are the items that the recipient wouldn’t normally purchase themselves, and Little Edit definitely offers those special items that every new mom will cherish.
Photography by Bridget Eldridge Photography.