I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Maksymuik, co-creator of Chatterbox Games, Inc., about her business and life as a successful mompreneur.
Her unique product, the Chatterbox, is a clever game that helps parents teach life skills in a fun and interesting way. It helps families enjoy great conversations and play games while teaching skills that are not traditionally taught in school, such as dealing with money, goal planning, and character building.
Kim and her husband, who is also the co-creator of Chatterbox Games, live with their twin kindergarteners near Toronto, Ontario
Tell me a little about how you came up with the idea for the Chatterbox.
I was looking for something that taught life skills, the denominations of money, and character skills to kids, but I couldn’t find anything I was happy with so we created our own. Our friends jumped in once we told them about the product. I knew before I had children that I wanted to stay at home, that I wanted a home-based business. I wanted to create a product that made a difference to children. I represented a similar product for kids but I wanted more control.
When did you start the business and how are things going?
My husband and I started the business in April 2008, so we’re pretty new. The product is sold through a national retailer in Canada, and a couple of stores in the US, too. We’ve had success with a children’s clothing store chain. We found that in bigger stores the product would get lost on the shelf, but in the smaller store it was a unique product. This retailer reported that 20 percent of their inventory was gone in just one day.
How has it been working from home?
Very difficult. We homeschooled our kids for junior kindergarten, and that was especially hard. It’s hard trying to work and keeping the kids busy. The kids do “their work” when I do. I work mostly from home, but if I do have to go somewhere we have babysitters that take care of the kids.
How have you gone about marketing your business?
We’ve experienced high exposure at “Word on the Street”, a book festival in Toronto. We’ve also had contests and have taken part in a few trade shows. We also sell from our website.
What about networking?
I’ve met a lot of nice people by networking. Things were slow at a Mompreneurs show in Toronto so I started talking to other people. We’ve since formed a sort of informal network of about 50 members. I’ve gotten leads that I’d have never known about otherwise. I’ve also found promotional opportunities on HARO.com and am involved with several online social networks such as Savor the Success, SavvyMom.ca, and ladieswholaunch.com.
What are your biggest challenges?
Making sure word gets out and making sure it doesn’t become another small business casualty.