Mom Entrepreneur Interviews: With Marija Mikolajczak, Founder And Owner of ECWear

by Calvin Cox on March 8, 2013


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Welcome to the Mom Entrepreneur interview series, where we feature stay at home moms who are taking money matters into their own hands. These women are full-time moms and full time entrepreneurs.  This series will focus on answering the questions every stay at home mom wants to know… how can I be there for my children  and still run a successful business?    Our first mom entrepreneur is Marija Mikolajczak, Founder and Owner of ECWear, A company that sells specialty baby clothing for families practicing Elimination Communications.  The following are the questions we ask our mommy entrepreneur.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I’m Marija Mikolajczak, the owner of EC Wear LLC.  My business operates out of

consultthe basement of my home in Connecticut. I sell special baby clothing for families practicing Elimination Communication, a responsive, instinctive alternative to conventional potty training. The clothes I sell are easy to use for pottying and
diaper  changes.

My website is www.ecwear.com

For an overview of Elimination Communication see:
What is EC? http://www.ecwear.com/About-Elimination-Communication.html

For an explanation of the kinds of clothing I sell for easy Elimination
Communication see my EC Clothing Guide:
http://www.ecwear.com/EC-Clothing-Guide.html

2. How did you come up with an idea for your business? What prompted you to
start a business?

I started EC Wear when my son was a baby and I was having trouble finding cute and practical clothing for him that we could use while practicing Elimination

Communication. Regular baby clothing was too cumbersome for changing his
diaper frequently and taking him to the potty. I started out making clothing just for
him with my mother’s help, and soon found that many other people were looking
for the same things, so I decided to start to sell the pants and other clothing for
easy EC.

3. Why did you start the business when you did? What were you doing before?

I had left a demanding job as a union organizer in order to stay home with my
new son. I sure didn’t have any intentions of starting up a business, but I found

myself doing it because I saw a need and I thought it would be fun to have
something creative to do.

4. Do you work on your business fulltime or part-time?

I work on my business part-time.

5. Did you have a business plan?

I did not have a business plan. If I did, I am sure I would have talked myself out
of it! Instead, I started out with some ideas about what would be fun to try. I
ended up making a lot of mistakes that way. I do want to write a business plan
now but it never seems to make it to the top of my to-do list.

6. How do you get clients?

Most people buying clothes from me are parents or grandparents looking for
clothing that is easy to use with elimination communication. They go online and
start searching for clothing and they find EC Wear. I also participate in forums to
help people who are getting started with Elimination Communication, especially
when people ask questions about what kinds of clothing would make it easier to
change wet diapers or take their baby to the potty.

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Split-Pants – New Cotton L’il Baby Chaps

7. How do you market yourself?

I market my business primarily through social media, word-of-mouth, and Search
Engine Optimization.

8. What are you struggling with now?

What I am struggling with right now is learning all the elements of designing and
manufacturing my products in the US. Because most manufacturing is done
overseas, it is very challenging to find supplies and materials made here that are
affordable to buy on a small scale. People are always telling me to give up on my
principles about domestic manufacturing to make it easier to produce cheaply. I
am not willing to do that. I feel that businesses have an obligation to operate with

principles of sustainability and good corporate citizenship.

9. Did you need a lot of money to start?

I did use a lot of money to start my business. I spent more money in the
beginning than I should have, and it took me four years to get out of debt. I have
a lot of my own money invested in the business still and have taken a loss from
the business each year.

10. How do you juggle family, business, children/baby?

My family comes first. I quit a high-paying job to be a full-time mother, and I
never set out to create a new, low-paying full-time job for myself by starting a
business.This was always intended to be something fun and mentally stimulting.
When my son was very little, I hired a babysitter to come to our home and spend
time with my son so I could have a few hours a week to work on my business
as a creative outlet for myself, but I’ve mostly worked on it when my husband is
spending time with my son or when they are sleeping. Of course it has meant I’ve
gotten a lot less sleep than I would have otherwise.

11. Do you have a website/FB page/blog?

My website is www.ecwear.com and my social media pages are:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ECWear
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ecwear/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecwear

12. Where do you get the most customers –  Facebook?, Website?, Blog?, Referrals? or Other?

Most of my customers are people searching on Google and other search engines
for clothing for elimination communication or potty learning.

13. Do you use social media for marketing?

I do use social media for marketing. I have a Facebook page where I post
information about Elimination Communication including blog updates and news
articles as well as special deals or unique product offers. I also have started

using Pinterest to post my products as well as informative sites about EC that I
think my customers would find interesting. I also have a Twitter account, where
I post special news about my store such as restocking of popular products and
sales.

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Training Pants – Ditto Daddy Boxer Briefs

14. Do you have a business logo?

Yes. I changed logos recently. When I started my business, I had a logo

designed of a baby who was signing the ASL sign for “toilet.” Many parents
who practice Elimination Communication also teach their babies sign language
to make it easier for their children to communicate before their vocal cords
develop. I thought it would be a cute way to symbolize the communication focus
of Elimination Communication. However, most people could not readily identify
that the baby was signing, and I felt that I needed a new logo that more clearly
symbolized all of the elements of EC Wear.
My new logo is a heart-shaped green leaf, signifying love, nature, the
environment, nurturing, and eco-friendly, many of the elements that I feel
are important in an Elimination Communication practice and in my business
operations.

15. What do you think made you successful?

I think the main thing that has kept EC Wear growing is that people really want
to have practical clothing that makes it easy for them to respond to their baby’s
needs. They want to be able to change diapers quickly and easily and there are
really few options out there. People come to my store because I have what they
are looking for.

16. How long did it take you to start making a profit?

Five years. I had heard that it takes five years to be profitable and I did make asmall profit last year, which was my fifth year in business. It really wasn’t much to

speak of, but I’m optimistic that this year it will become a viable business.

17. Did you use a designer for your website/ business logo or did you do it yourself? If yourself, why?

When I started the business I hired a designer who created my original logo
and website. Later I upgraded to a more professional web hosting service that
offered more features but I could not import the design that I had been using
without hiring a professional web developer. At that time, I had already invested
a lot of money in the business so I decided to use one of the free site templates
provided by the web hosting company in order to be more financially responsible.
I recently hired a designer to upgrade my logo and then I redesigned my site to
match the colors in the logo, but I do plan to hire a professional web designer to
improve my site later this year. As I am moving into manufacturing I want to raise
the level of professionalism in my web presence.

18. Branding: what makes you unique? How do you distinguish yourself from others?

EC Wear is unique because it is meeting a need for practical baby clothing for
an alternative parenting practice, that are made with sustainability and social
justice in mind. Many parents who are drawn to the eco-friendly, natural, and
instinctive practice of Elimination Communication also don’t spend a lot of money
on consumer goods, and they want to spend their money in ways that promote a
world that they want to live in. They are passionate about eco-friendly practices
and fair treatment for workers making the baby clothing they buy. EC Wear is an
innovative and eco-friendly company with the same commitment to social and
environmental justice, and provides the really useful clothing parents are looking
for to make it easy to take their baby to the potty (and save a diaper.)

This concludes our interview with Mom Entrepreneur Marija Mikolajczak.




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