Women 2.0 talks to Rachel Blumenthal, mother of one and founder and CEO of e-commerce platform Cricket’s Circle, about management, motherhood and marriage.
By Tanwi Nandini Islam (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)
Women seeking each other’s advice, support and community seems more important than ever after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling. That’s exactly what Cricket’s Circle, an e-commerce platform for new and expecting mothers, aims to do: Help women connect and discover tried and true products. With the daunting array of blogs, classic parenting guides and millions of pieces of advice from family and friends, it can feel impossible to know how to prepare and what to buy.
“When I was pregnant with my son, Griffin, what I craved more than anything was one master list,” says Cricket Circle Founder and CEO, Rachel Blumenthal. “Instead, I received dozens of spreadsheets and brain-dump emails passed from experienced moms to newbies like me.”
When one of Rachel’s close friends gave her that streamlined, to-the-point list, she became her “Cricket.”
Blumenthal realized she wanted to help new mothers navigate the plethora of baby goods in the market. Her entrepreneurial edge started with fine-tuned curation in the fashion industry, as part of the inimitable Yves Saint Laurent’s publicity team. She went on to start a highly successful jewelry line, Rachel Leigh, which she exited two years ago.
We caught up with Rachel to learn more about how motherhood propelled her toward this new phase in her career and how she gives and gets support from her husband, Neil Blumenthal, a co-founder of Warby Parker.
Women 2.0: Cricket's Circle seems like a perfect marriage between social and e-commerce. How is this particularly effective in the niche of motherhood and childrearing?
Rachel Blumenthal: With Cricket’s Circle, we’re bringing something entirely new to the market.
Parenting websites and blogs are a fantastic resource for parents to learn about all sorts of things, including news, trends, broader parenting topics, medical advice and more. We’re different, in that we focus on simplified and streamlined product recommendations for expectant and new parents.
During a time in your life that can be completely overwhelming, we want to provide trusted and honest recommendations with the added support and advice from friends. This is why we incorporated social aspects and built tools for our community to weigh in with their firsthand experience with various products.
Women 2.0: The public discourse around women balancing career and family has largely said that women must sacrifice one for the other, but it is very difficult to have both. What have you sacrificed, and what have you gained in starting Cricket's Circle?
Rachel Blumenthal: It’s certainly true that trying to balance career and family can be a daunting challenge, but I believe it can be done. What comes first in my life is family, then career, so I would say what I’ve sacrificed is time for myself.
I try to carve out a few hours a week just for working out or a manicure but it’s tough – I certainly can’t remember the last time I leisurely popped into a few stores. You have to set boundaries and priorities – definitely easier said than done, but I try to live by that motto as best as I possibly can.
Every day is different and you’re going to have to be flexible to that.What I’ve gained though, far outweighs that small sacrifice. I love what I do and believe I’m solving a problem that new moms encounter everyday.
Women 2.0: Your husband Neil is also a startup entrepreneur – how do you two support each other's work?
Rachel Blumenthal: We’ve known each other since college and have always supported each other’s work and passions since we met. This is my second entrepreneurial venture – I formerly built and ran the jewelry brand Rachel Leigh. Neil very much encouraged me to take that first risk when I was 23 and I’m forever appreciative.
Neil has certainly taught me the virtue of patience. He’s probably the most patient person I know. I wouldn’t be the parent or CEO I am without him.
Specifically, when it comes to business, Neil and one of his Warby Parker co-founders, Dave Gilboa, gave me a valuable piece of advice when I was starting Cricket’s Circle: There is nothing more powerful or memorable than an authentic story. Not knowing or understanding what to buy for [our] baby when I was pregnant was a true, personal frustration that many of our friends have experienced.
I hope that I’ve had an impact on Warby Parker – I’ve certainly shared plenty of unsolicited (and solicited) ideas and feedback! When Warby first launched, the early team worked out of my office at Rachel Leigh. They’re now graciously doing the same for my Cricket’s Circle.
Women 2.0: Your support of Healthy Child, Healthy World and HELP USA, reveal your commitment to social justice. Do you think it is a responsibility for tech entrepreneurs to advance social causes?
Rachel Blumenthal: I think it’s important for all entrepreneurs, not just those in the tech industry, to explore opportunities where their expertise and/or business can make an impact, help those in need or solve a problem. Even if its a small amount of time or resources that they can dedicate.
I’m just a small part of Healthy Child, Healthy World, HELP USA and Baby Buggy, but the more that each and every one of us can do for these organizations and others, the more we can bring attention to issues affecting our society.
Women 2.0: What's your curation process like? Do you focus on your personal experience or product reviews by other mothers? Or well-crafted luxury products?
Rachel Blumenthal: We have curated what we believe are the best products based on our experiences, those of our friends and numerous focus groups with other moms. They may not always be the newest products to market, but rather what we believe are tried, true, and simply the best available.
We only recommend products we personally have used and feel passionate about. The products we recommend are practical, durable, versatile and well designed. No brands have paid or incentivized us to recommend their products.
Women 2.0: Any favorite products you want to suggest to mothers or friends of mothers in search of a great gift?
Rachel Blumenthal: These recommendations as my top three usually stay consistent. Again, I believe it doesn’t have to necessarily be the newest on the market to be the best. These are lifesavers that no new mom should be without.
- Fisher Price Little Lamb Swing: I couldn’t have survived the first six months without it. My living room could have done without the eyesore but it was well worth it. I cried when my son, Griffin, grew out of it.
- Magnificent Baby onesies: These are covered magnets instead of a zillion annoying snaps and are simply magical and life-changing when you’re in the unpleasant throes of changing a dirty diaper at 3 a.m.
- Baby Jogger Vue stroller : The least expensive, most versatile infant to toddler stroller on the market. Brilliant.
What inspired you to launch your startup?
About the guest blogger: Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer and founder ofHi Wildflower, a culture, feminism and botany magazine. She writes for Elle, The Feminist Wire, Fashionista, Hyphen and Open City Magazine. Her debut novel, Bright Lines, is forthcoming by Penguin in 2015. Follow her @tanwinandini.