Launch

Mompreneur of the Moment: Katie of Kt Steppers

I recently interviewed mompreneur Katie O’Neill about her line of custom kids’ step stools, Kt Steppers. All of my kids have their own Kt Steppers step stools and they’re great. Check out our conversation below- Katie has some fabulous advice for fellow mompreneurs, and she’s giving away a custom Kt Stepper step stool!

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What inspired you to start KT Steppers?

I truly love being categorized as a Mompreneur. You could say being a ‘MOMpreneur’ means more to me than words can explain. The summer before my junior year in college, my life, vision, and future plans all came to a halt. Headaches, vision problems, and lactation were just a few symptoms I encountered before I learned that I had a brain tumor. I don’t know many people who can say this, but I had brain surgery when I was 22 years old to remove a benign (thank goodness) tumor on my pituitary gland. It was so large that surgical removal was crucial; otherwise it would’ve continued to more severely affect my vision and pituitary functions.

Because of the tumor’s location and size, the possibility of not having children could have been very real. So, as you can imagine, I am very proud of my mom-owned company. I wanted a kid-friendly business since that is whom I spend my days, hours and minutes with, and can’t imagine it any other way now. I am a mom of two boys, now ages 7 and almost 5. They have become my support and inspiration for Kt Steppers.

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What do you love best about your job?

My job is about creating, building a brand, meeting & collaborating with amazing other entrepreneurs and of course… being able to do ALL of this as a full time MOM. I would have to say that in this job, I absolutely love hearing how our steppers are received and that mom, moms-to-be and/or tots themselves just loved what we created and made for them … Kt Steppers is truly my third baby so hearing that is the same satisfaction I get from seeing my boys smile at me and say “I love You Mommy.’

What are the biggest challenges you face as a mompreneur?

I believe everyone can agree T-I-M-E! There never seems to be enough hours in a day. My day usually begins before 6am too. I have 3 full days a week to myself to get work done while both my boys are in school, so you would think this would be adequate (and it’s more than I had even last year), but I have a tendency to just add more to my plate… just a little each day/week (it’s a problem I have).

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As a mompreneur, how do you approach risk taking? And how does being a mom factor into your decisions?

If you’re ‘in it to win it’ you definitely need to take risks or keep your biz a hobby. My approach, after being in sales for years, is don’t be afraid to hear the word ‘NO’. For every 10 ‘No’s’ there is a ‘Yes’. So, send that email, message, or make that phone call, the worst outcome is ‘No’.

Because I’m also a mom, I do factor in what the risk is… am I pursuing an event that will take me away from my MOM duties? Will fulfilling this order keep me from seeing my son’s game or play? I definitely calculate when/where/why to take that risk. If it will be a huge return for not only me, but my family, then there is no question on taking that leap and going for it!

Is the professional personal? Do you find that you sometimes need to create boundaries between home life and work life?

Yes, the professional is personal for me. I run a business that is geared to MOMs supplying a product for kids. I am my brand ‘Kt’, so it is 100% personal.

Don’t confuse the personal for unprofessional though. You also have to draw boundaries, especially with how you/your business is perceived. I do believe there is a line that can be crossed in today’s social media age. I want to be personal and show that I am human, connect on that level of being a mom to my audience, but I’m also promoting my brand.

What’s coming up for KT Steppers?

Right now, this month, we have some exciting news… we were a finalist in the 2012 Cribsie Awards – Cutest StepStools for Tots in Climbing Mode. We are up against some ‘bigger’ brands and the voting ended last week. We couldn’t be more thrilled and honored about this nomination and look forward to hearing the winner announced on April 2nd.

More exciting news is that we are looking to launch our ‘Initial Series’ Steppers shortly. They will be a great addition to our eco-friendly product line with standard designs and just an ‘initial’ to personalize for quick ship.

One more exciting tidbit… I will be featured in a book!!! I can’t divulge too much information, but after speaking at a fabulous entrepreneur focused conference last year, the organizers have asked to include some of my advice for the book for all to see and read (pretty exciting). Will definitely keep everyone posted.

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What are your top mommy must-haves for busy moms on the go?

1. Not until last year did I own a ‘Smartphone’ and my goodness is it smart! I don’t really know how I functioned without it… it helps run my biz when I’m not at home (HQ) and also is a meltdown stopper for the kids (Angry Birds is a fave app).

2. The Crockpot for sure! After a busy day out and about or just working at home, to know that dinner will be done and ready with little or no effort is a lifesaver!

3. Having an organized ‘home-based’ calendar. My husband travels often for work, so knowing his schedule, the kids’ activities and my meetings all in one place is how we function and know where everyone is!

4. Lastly, I would have to say… having a supportive partner. If it wasn’t for my husband, we wouldn’t be as successful as we’ve become. He truly is my #1 fan and supporter!

What is one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring mompreneur?

Don’t give up! You may have started your business with only one goal in mind, but if that is not working don’t throw it to the curb, tweak it! See what is working and build on that. Don’t be afraid to scale your business. Just because you started one way doesn’t mean it will succeed that way. Oh yeah, breathe and enjoy the ride!

Thank you Katie!

Win a Custom-Designed Kt Stepper Step Stool

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Katie is generously giving away a customized step stool for your little one! To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below telling us your top mommy must-have, then “like” Kt Steppers Facebook page.

I’ll announce the winner next Monday, so start commenting!

P.S. For more from Katie and Kt Steppers, check out her blog, M-O-M Blog and follow her on twitter and Pinterest.

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  • Lori Birdzell

    As a new grandma to Bentley and now Zoey…how stinkin cute are these! Got to get them one!

  • Suzanne Brown

    So cute! I love the idea of taking something simple and making something really unique and one of a kind. I have a step stool for each of my children also. Great for climbing into bed, brushing teeth and helping little hands reach high places! Love the creativness and deatil she has. Great job KTsteppers thank you for sharing your story and motivation!

  • Jeanne Tutt

    sooo cute!

  • Kim Pensabene

    These are absolutley adorable and are perfect for my two little ones. My top mommy must have is balance. It is tough day and and day out if you are a working momma. I know it is difficult to have at first but once you can establish the balance you need to feel like you are a good mom and a good momtrepenuer or employee everything else just seems to fall into place….

  • MaryKate Burd

    These are absolutely adorable. It would be awesome to win one for my 2nd, due June 9, 2012. My top mommy must have is my bag of tricks. A small bag I carry everywhere with a small notepad, crayons, little toys that are a hit at the moment, and small snacks. I can always avoind a meltdown with something from the bag of tricks, and I change it up regularly.

  • Tarin Fernandez

    Love the stools, But my must have is the binkie holder, Started making them cause I just real tired of always having to wash it when she dropped it on the ground. I think she did it on purpose sometimes. lol Solved that problem…

  • Cristina LaRosa

    I am in full agreement with Katie, it is my phone but it is more the Cozy app on my phone that makes my life less stressfull!! The shared calendar, to do list, and shopping list are what keeps this family of 6 on point. No matter who goes to the grocery – the list is there and because we can access it from the computer, ipad and all our iphone it is soooooo easy to update. I have chores and homework info on there for my oldest so he can know what is expected of him too. We use the journal to document little tid-bits (funny things the kids say, etc).

  • SFHoneyGirl

    These are adorable! My top mommy must have is my iPhone, hands down. I don’t think I would have nearly as many photos of my little ones without it. Or have kept them entertained at the Dr. office, long car ride, etc. without its apps and videos.

  • Marci White

    Love these! I totally agree on the CrockPot…that thing is a major stress saver. But I will add my top mommy must have is the pureed fruit/veggie pouches (I favor HappyTot, but there are other brands). So easy to transport, my daughter loves them…and they are pure fruits and veggies, no junk! Definitley a life save when on the go!

  • AJ WRAPPERS

    What a wonderful website and info! Newest fan of Steppers! My must have is my Ipad! I go everytwhere with it. My kids even play on it when we go out to lunch or dinner. It keeps my daughter who is 4 busy when I want to stay a little longer. She loves drawing and playing matching games on it.

    Thank you Tori for sharing this info!

  • Renee Marrin

    They are adorable. I actually used to do the same for friends and families when their kids turn 1.

    The designs are very cute. I am a fellow mompreneur :) I currently design swimsuits with snaps for little girls! Check out my site :) snapmeswimwear.com

  • stacy wilson

    *top mommy must have is a kiddo sized purse with : travel lotion sunscreen in one (aveeno) a U by kotex!, travel roll of cottonelle, anti bac, and hard candy for tantruming babes in public. this just so happens to be in my 4 year olds big girl purse so it’s easy!

    ( now why does she have 3 chests, and 4 duffels of girl stuff concealed under her bed i have no idea lol)

    ps. i “liked” kt steppers on FB :)

  • Ashley Taylor

    Totally adorable and my little one Abby who currently drags a much too large stool from bathroom to bathroom upstairs would love one! :) I think a must have Mom tool is a good calendar organizer, whatever form that takes, because God knows, you will otherwise be forgetting someone or something daily! ;)

    I “liked” kt steppers on FB.

    Ashley

    http://www.thedoseofreality.com/2012/03/12/disney-surprise/

  • Janelle Weems

    ooh i would love a stepper! i have an almost 2yr old girl and a baby boy on the way.. my mommy must have is a blog called Weelicious! its the best place for inspiriation and ideas for getting your kids in the kitchen with u and having great lil eaters! my daughter eats almost everything! ( and healthy too! she is my lil kitchen helper so this step would be awesome! im off to like on facebook! thanks!! =)

  • Adrienne Pitkin

    My mommy must have are baby wipes! Even though my 2 daughters are now toddlers, I seriously use them all the time because I am always wiping my kids’ mouths, hands, toys, or furniture! It is the easiest and most convenient thing to carry with me. Also, do goldfish count? LOl! I don’t know what I’d do with out goldfish. they are a lifesaver at restaurants or public places where I need my kids to sit still and behave. :)

  • Trtlgrl321

    These stools are absolutely darling! Thank you so much for sharing them! It’s so hard to pick just one thing….I would say one of my top mommy must haves is my ergo pack for my kids-it’s so great for hands free and I can even pack my three year old if needed.

  • Katie Manasco

    LOVE these stools. So sweet and creative. Each child should have a few things with their names or monogrammed! Supportive partner really is the must have for every Mommy!

  • Shannon Robillard

    Love these step stools, will make a great auntie gift for my 2 1/2 year old nephew who is loving brushing his teeth!

  • Tara-Lee Bush

    Absolutely adorable! She is such an inspirational woman!

    My number one Mummy Must-Have is patience! Haha, I think we can all agree on that one! And lots of baby wipes, in the car, scattered packs around the house and in the handbag!

  • Katie Dulle

    This is so cute, love the personalization. My Mommy Must-Have is the Munchkin Snack Catcher. Perfect for around the house or on the go snacking. My kids can reach in to grab something, without making a huge mess everywhere. Its great!

  • Mandra Kerns

    These stools are so adorable!

    My Mommy Must-Have is shout! My little ones are so messy and I am constantly having to get stains out of their clothing and the carpet. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. My little girl Khloe would love this, as she helps me cook and clean all of the time.

  • Jennifer

    I have to echo Katie’s sentiments and say that my Mommy Must-Have is a supportive partner. After carrying a high-risk pregnancy, I just had a baby via c-section (my first one) just over three weeks ago. Due to some breathing problems, my newborn (who was born 3.5 weeks early due to a medical condition) had to stay in Neonatal Intensive Care for 10 days. While I recovered from my surgery and tended to my new daugther, my husband cared for our two-year old and kept things at home in line. He is my biggest supporter (emotional, physical, financial, the list goes on…) and without him, I wouldn’t have been able to carry my most recent pregnancy and care for my girls. He allows me to be the best mom that I can be and I love him unconditionally for it.

  • RaeC

    I must say how georgeous these stools are! We are currently using this horrible blue and white plastic one… I wish I had heard about these sooner!

    As for my mommy must have… my smartphone! I keep my life in that thing! Between photos, twitter, emails, calendars, to-do lists, important phone numbers, directions, etc., I could not imagine my days without it. I have a folder of apps and games for my 3-year old daughter to play when we are out and about.

  • Brandi Dragoo

    My 3 year old daughter would love those stools. She tots her old princess baby potty around as a step stool right now.

    I have to say my mommy must have is wipes. Wipes are used for everything, food, dirt, grimy hands, sticky faces and fingers, spots on the floor, wipe noses, wipe off my makeup, just about everything.

  • Lauren Doane

    These stools are adorable and would def help with the battle my two older children have with the one stool we have! My mommy must have is paper and something to draw with (pen, pencil, etc.). My two older children LOVE drawing me pictures and when they start fighting or both needing my attention at once while their younger baby brother is needing me also, the drawing saves me! I am a very busy mom with working, attending school, and having three children so I am very fortunate that they have something they love to do so much and keep themselves busy with when needed!

  • stacey barnett

    You have such bueatiful children they seem to be happy all the time. I’ve been married 20 years this march the 14th I got nothing thats fine. I just want to know if there is a charity that helps animals she is 6 and can’t see 2 feet in front of her but the surgery would cost four thousand dollars I’m not asking you for it I just need some organization that would help. The Dr. said she would be able to see the very first day. I’ve tried the Human Scocity. I’m on dissability and workmans comp I got fired because I had to have surgery. Please let me know we live in a house (rent) for the last 7 years we lost our home when I lost my job. I have steel rods and pins in my back but I/m more concered about Coconut’s. I think you and your family are great. Stacey

  • DairyFreeMama

    My must have is wipes. They are great for cleaning hands to getting spots off of clothes.

  • Kristy McNeil

    How adorable these stools are!! What a great way to complete a kids room, MUCH cuter then the plastic ones!! My mommy must have(I actually have 2) are a Boppy and a Bumbo seat! These are both amazing inventions and I dont know what we did before they came along!! LOL!!

  • Leslie

    What cute stools! I still have the stool that my parents bought for me when I was a toddler, and I love that it’s a unique stool and not a mass produced one.

    As for a mommy must have: a good baby carrier!! They’re a great way to help keep baby calm, and enjoy extra snuggle time.

  • stephanie Jones

    Adorable chairs do not make effective time out chairs for my children, They may tend to always want to sit on their “time-out” chairs..

  • stephanie Jones

    I speak from experience, my kids argue about who gets to sit on the time out stool. LOL

  • Cinnamon

    I have to agree with the other moms, baby wipes are a mommy must have! I have them in several rooms in my house, in my purse, in my car! They can clean anything!!

  • wendy MacDonald

    Love these stools! My mommy must have are handy snacks. You never know when you will need them. Especially with two little ones who like to eat :)

  • Brianne Ward

    Very cute stools, adorable!

    My mommy must have (my daughter is 3 months old) is a wubbanub pacifier. It’s a soothie pacifier with a plush toy attached – genius! When she spits out her paci it doesn’t fall to the floor, she is able to grab it and put it back in her mouth.

  • suzanne3

    My mommy must have is rotating toys! It’s amazing how much excitement comes out of a toy that has been put away for as little as a few weeks.

    The stools are wonderful!

  • Abby Chancellor

    I have been Looking for a great stool for my two little ones! My must haves are yes #1 baby wipes #2 travel snackes and #3 well a great stool for at home! Blessing Everyone

  • Rhett Templeton

    I hope I win one of these, I love her stools and she is such a great example of what a true momprenuer is! Congrats on all the success Katie :)

    Both of my children LOVED their paci’s so my must-have was a pacifier holder. Once I realized how much of a necessity it was, I created my own that was more functional for our needs. I call it the Heirloom Bijou Bracelet.

  • Heather Coggins

    They are so cute! I would love to know how she stays ahead of the competition or from DIY making their own. How did she send those seats to all of those celebrity new moms – great PR!