I’m always amazed when I meet fellow moms who have started their own business, but not just that — moms who are creating something to HELP other parents and to facilitate our lives.
Case in point: Evgeniya Usmanova, mom of two girls Eva, 4 and Maya, 2 and one half of CareLuLu, a free online child care finding tool that simplifies the child care search process doing the homework for you. We met at a playgroup over a year ago where we actually discussed working and the difficulties of finding good child care long before she created CareLuLu! I love her drive, enthusiasm and her amazing business partnership with her husband. Not sure if my husband and I could pull it off, but they do it beautifully!
Let’s face it, finding child care or even just THINKING about it makes me break out in hives! Most of us know how stressful and nerve wracking looking for child care can be. I’m at home now, but I’ve been there done that and the process is NOT fun. I don’t wish it on anyone, but with CareLuLu they cut back on those hours spent searching Google and calling around to see if there is place available and how much the monthly fee is (that’s when my eyes would roll into the back of my head!)
Here I talk with Evgeniya about raising two multilingual girls, leaving her full-time job and starting her own business with her husband, Patrick Mátos and of course she shares her favorite Disney memory (which happens to be mine too!)
How did you come up with this idea?
The idea for CareLuLu was born out of personal frustration. When I decided to return to work and was looking for a daycare for my two daughters, I couldn’t find a good website to help me. There are websites for everything from getting your underwear delivered to your door every month to getting your dog a sitter, so you’d think that there’s also something to make it easy to find a safe daycare for your kids. Well, when my husband and I were looking for a daycare, we quickly realized there wasn’t. We visited 16 daycare centers to find the right one. We decided to make it easy for other parents and began working on CareLuLu.
So how exactly does CareLuLu work?
We basically do the homework for parents, finding licensed child care providers and asking them anywhere between 30 to 130 questions and even visiting some of the centers ourselves! We then organize this data and enable parents to do a personalized search using a series of filters (30+) such as budget, hours of operation, teaching philosophy, etc. to identify child care providers in their area that fit those criteria. We provide all the info in one place and allow parents to instantly schedule a tour.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other moms in business, or who are thinking about taking the plunge?
I think in general moms make great entrepreneurs because motherhood has already prepped them for sleep-deprivation, honed their time management and problem-solving skills, and prepared them for an emotional roller coaster that comes with entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, I think that networking, following up, and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable are key!
Click through for more Q & A’s and to get to know the CareLuLu family!
Smart, driven and fueled by tea! When I asked her what her favorite Disney memory was, she said, “My favorite Disney film is “The Sword in the Stone.” When I was growing up during a civil war in Tajikistan, we only had a couple of Disney movies, so I watched “The Sword in the Stone” over and over again. I never got tired of it! My favorite character is Merlin. He is smart, witty and is the world’s most powerful magician — he makes things happen!”
A balancing act
Never dull moment in the CareLuLu household with these two cuties! When I asked her how she balances her business and the family, she responded, “I manage one day at a time with lots of planning and late nights. Raising two little ones is tough, especially without family around. Building a business is also a challenge in and of itself. Doing both at the same time is a real test of perseverance, patience, and time management skills! Fortunately, my husband Patrick who is a CareLuLu co-founder, is a great partner and helps me get through those crazy moments!”
The CareLuLu family!
Evgeniya says, “I have a very diverse background and my family is a real Trail Mix! I was born in Tajikistan, I grew up in California, and I married a French-Portuguese. I speak Frenglish (French-English) with my husband, Ruslish (Russian-English) with my parents, and a bit of everything with my kids!”
Images are truly important when beginning your search online. Everyone wants to get a glimpse into the child care center that your child could potentially end up going to.
Evgeniya makes visits to a few centers to personally check out their facilities. She brings her professional photographer to capture the day-to-day essence of each place in order to give parents the best view and feel of each facility.
Find the right care for our kids!
“We found it hard to believe just how much time was spent on finding the right care for our kids. It seemed natural for us to create CareLuLu to make it easy for other families to find child care. Having a baby should be a celebration and new parents shouldn’t have to worry about finding a great daycare.”
Expanding to a city near you!
CareLuLu’s online tools allow parents to search for child care in their area and filter by a set of simple criteria that are important to them. CareLuLu is currently covering the Washington, D.C. Metro area (DC/VA/MD) and is planning to expand to other cities soon.