We love getting to know parents in our community. In our Home Work series, we ask moms and dads how they juggle their work while raising kids, hoping to get some insight on how to better balance our own work/playtime while being introduced to our neighbors and their cool businesses. Today, meet Grace Welch is founder and president of patemm inc in Providence, Rhode Island.
Grace’s story of her “simple” invention, how she started her business, and how she marketed and promoted her patemm® pad while raising her children has enabled & inspired entrepreneurial-minded mothers (and fathers) across the country to start their own businesses. Audiences have applauded Grace’s ability to start her own business based on her invention, on her own terms, and more importantly, the choices she made for her family and her business.
She currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island where she leads a very active life with her husband Marty and their 4 amazing children: Patrick, 11, Emma, 9, Jack, 6, and Lucie, 4.
Grace will be one of the featured moms at our event, Balancing Motherhood on Monday, May 7th from 6-8 pm! An evening to celebrate all of us who are juggling what we do everyday in our lives. In honor of Mother’s Day (May 13th) real moms will share their stories on how they balance their life as parents with their passions, work, relationships, and plans for the future. Please join us for good conversation, drinks, snacks and raffles!
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Grace Welch: Prior to children, I spent nearly 6 years doing public relations, marketing, and branding for a design firm in San Francisco. While I always wanted to have a family, I also wanted to return to the workforce but only on my own terms. Starting my own business seemed like the best way to accomplish both goals. The next challenge was to define what kind of business.
As is true for most parents, my children consumed my life, and what I discovered were all kinds of baby products that worked and many that didn’t work. When my first child Patrick was born, I found the small rectangular shape of diaper changing pads frustrating because aligning him in the right position was always a challenge—particularly since he was a rather wiggly baby. Even more annoying was the design of the folding/rolling pad that had ties, buttons, or even Velcro®. I needed something simple that could fold easily—especially with one hand.
When my second child Emma was born, I, like most parents today, was always on the go and found my diaper bag overwhelming at times—especially for quick trips to the grocery store or a visit to the park. For these short jaunts, I only needed a few diapers, wipes, perhaps a change of clothes and a changing pad. Plus, I wanted something small and compact that I could throw in my car, handbag or even at the bottom of my stroller.
Emma was eighteen months old when I started to consider how to return to the work force. I was discussing ideas for businesses with my sister, when Emma needed a diaper change. My sister had been suggesting that a good business solves a problem. In the time it took to change Emma, I found my business venture: a round diaper changing pad.
I founded patemm inc in San Francisco in 2004, and named my invention after my first two kids who inspired the product: Patrick and Emma. My company and my family have grown since then, but the passion that inspires the company remains the same: my children, Patrick, Emma, Jack, and Lucie, and my husband Marty.
Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Grace: I ‘strive’ for balance but I still don’t think I have the magic formula yet! Every day is so different and I firmly believe one needs to expect the unexpected on a daily basis. This keeps me grounded and sane!
Kidoinfo: Please describe a typical day.
Grace: I am usually the first one up in the morning– make coffee, go running, make the kids lunches, and spend some time on the computer. Then, I rally up the troops to get ready for the day. After they are all in school, my husband and I run and manage our business together.
Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Grace: A time-saving tip for me and my family: pre-pack their lunches and put clothes out the night before.
Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Grace: Travel and explore the world!
Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Grace: Everything around me gives me inspiration. Travelling to different cities and seeing the way people live, what they wear, what they eat, always inspire/fascinate me as well.
Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Grace: Kid product: the patemm® pad (when they were in diapers). Parent product: my iPhone.
Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Grace: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Grace: We usually like to hang out at home, watch a movie, play cards, or get in the car and go for a drive someplace.
Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Grace: Tower Heist. It was a funny and entertaining movie where I didn’t have to explain everything that was going on throughout the movie.
Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Grace: Getting a pedicure and going to Blue Ribbon Sushi in NYC.
Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Grace: I would spend it by myself to reflect, refresh, and regroup.
Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?
Grace: As a mother of 4 and a business owner who works from home WITH my husband, I am blessed to have the best of both worlds. My husband and I are always there for our kids first and our business 2nd. We have a lot of flexibility and I would never trade it for anything. It is not always easy to ‘close the business for the day’ because we work from home but we manage to do our best when the kids are home from school/during vacation.
Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Grace: Being a mom has taught me more patience than I could ever imagine. My kids bring the best out of me. I learn so much from them and it makes me take a step back and look at myself as a mother and a business owner. I work so much harder for our business because I am doing for them. Being a mom puts life in perspective—my family keeps me grounded and makes me realize the importance of having a simple and happy life.
Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?
Grace: We want to continue to grow our business: extend our product line as well as collaborate with some other great brands.