I started this business with a huge leap of faith and my family’s savings. My husband and I aren’t extremely wealthy, we aren’t hobnobbing with the Paris Hiltons or the Kardashians of the world. Both of us, like most, have worked hard our whole lives, having watched our parents work hard their whole lives as well.
When we had our first child I managed to balance work and motherhood without getting help; it was hard, but I managed. However, when my twins were born, on the day my daughter turned 2-years-old, I had to officially stop working outside the home and put all of my energy and focus into it – full time. I always loved working, it’s a hard position to be in when you have to give up something you love; but obviously if one thing had to be given up (at least for a period of time), my kids weren’t going to be it; and yes, I know that I am lucky I even had the choice.
I definitely would not call this time in my life a ‘break’ of any kind, I think I actually blocked out the first year of my twin’s life for the same reason that torture victims forget what they have been through; but I did use some of this time to reflect and learn a whole new type of living. Learning life as a mother of 1 is one thing, but jumping from 1 to 3 is a whole new story.
Children’s content has always been a passion of mind, I know anyone who has read pieces I have written or has spoken to me, has heard ‘Sesame Street’ and Dr. Seuss talked about a few times to say the least. The idea of educating through entertainment, and using the mediums available to entertain while also teaching an important skill or moral to kids, this is what I love. I don’t think there is much that is more important than educating children and setting them up with the right foundation – the future literally depends on it. In my previous work life I didn’t really get to incorporate this passion, and when I did it was pretty minor.
When my twins (finally) reached the age of preschool, I was ready to get “back in the game”. I really wanted to get back to the ‘me’ I thought I would be when I was in college. I had the idea of Miss Gadish and all these characters swimming around my head for years, and it only developed more with the addition of each child in my life; but with 3 young children, my husband and I wanted to be practical, and starting a business is not practical in any sense.
Having not worked for over 5 years in an company, and having shut myself off to the rest of the world for at least 3 years; going out to interviews became the sort of cliché I had read about and seen on TV – I basically had to start from point zero. After being over a decade in the workforce I had to start from scratch. On top of which being a mom was a HUGE disadvantage to everyone I interviewed with – ironically, companies within the children’s content world. They all judged me and seemed to already be seeing all the days off I would be taking to attend to a sick child or such, rather than looking at me or my resume. I was being interviewed by kids in their early 20’s who were telling me about commitment and dedication; and asking me what I know about what kids like and marketing to parents… me, a parent of 3 children. Trying to get back into the workforce after having been out of it was intimidating, no wait, it was depressing. And for the record, I have nothing at all against people in their 20’s, I used to be one myself.
The truth is that they were right, I wasn’t the same person that I was before having children. Before children my work was my life, my whole life. Now I was a person whose life consisted of many more elements that had to be balanced. But I was still the same passionate, loyal, hardworking, risk taking, perfectionist I had always been. I knew that if I was going to make the kind of commitment that I had always made to my work, it would have to be one that measured up to the role and importance of my new life. And preferably one that could use me being a mom as an advantage rather than a negative.
I remember getting a call to come back in for a second interview from a children’s technology toy company; I remember sitting there with another 26-year-old woman who was loudly chewing gum and wearing an inappropriate see-through white spaghetti strap tank top with blue bra underneath and boobs hanging out (I desperately tried to keep my eyes up); explaining to me that I would be working under her for a trial of 6-months running a new toy project that I would have to produce, launch, market and make a revenue for the company of $1-million; or “I would be considered a failure” – her words.
That wasn’t even the part that got to me; the part that got to me was when she showed me the product and told me the retail price. It was a toy that I, as a parent, would not be interested in buying for my kids or anyone else’s children ever. I would not have even wanted it purchased for my children as a gift. On top of which the retail price was a ridiculous amount of money.
Was this the company and product I would want to commitment myself to? No…I wanted to do something that made a difference, a children’s product with a positive impact, something I could be proud of.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get my own idea out of my head – it was literally out of the children’s book What Do You Do With An Idea. And no matter how many companies I interviewed with, Miss Gadish pestered me more and more – like those mosquitoes that fly around your ear in the middle of the night and that you can never find to kill – but in a good way.
We would meet up with friends and parents, and everyone would be talking about how they were looking for a quality and safe app for their kids. We all knew that we could not trust our kids on youtube kids or any other youtube channels without supervision, since they would somehow always end up on something that we definitely didn’t want them watching. And the story apps we found were not engaging, and the games were so stupid. We ended up using the iPad for ‘emergency uses only’ – but I knew that it did not have to be this way. We all seemed to be desperately searching for something with value on the iPad that our kids could enjoy while allowing us to take a guilt-free break or run necessary errands.
With shaking knees and hands, my husband and I agreed to take a huge chance, and we used our savings to create The Library of Miss Gadish. A former client of mine doubled our capital and we got started. Almost everyone who joined in the team knew that they had to be paid in ‘thank you notes’ or very minimum scale, which is why it was so hard to find a good team – yet also why I was able to create and gather such a talented and passionate one (of course there have been a few ‘bad apples’ along the way I will never forget which were able to ‘run off’ with large parts of our very minimal budget – luckily I believe in karma).
Our library was in development for almost 3 years! That is a long time – especially in this world of apps where many people choose to quickly and cheaply create one crappy app after another. It’s definitely good for their wallets, but I naively believe in what’s good for the soul. So any money made goes right back into the company, in order to help keep the library growing and fund new stories to add to it. ‘Salary’ is a foreign word to me and everyone working in our library family.
This company was always about creating a high quality product that would incorporate values, education and entertainment while using each media to it’s max. It’s also a place that moms and dads are welcomed, and even preferred – I wanted to create a work environment I would want to be part of. I find it funny that many times because our product is high quality, people speak to me as if I am running a ‘Disney-like’ company, and making a fortune off of the little guy – I take it as a compliment, but the joke is that we are ‘the little guy’ or more so ‘the little lady.’ We just want to be able to exist and to create, because we believe in the importance of value in the world of children’s content and hope others do to.