There’s a new episode of True Tori tonight at 9/8c on Lifetime, and I’m super excited about it. I’ve been working on a new business venture, and tonight you’ll hear all about it. On tonight’s episode, you’ll meet my friend and fellow Mompreneur, Amy Brown. She and I have been working on an exciting baby and children’s product, called NOLAbles(™) that will be introduced tonight! Make sure to check out the website and like the Facebook page to stay up to date on our amazing new product!
Amy and I got together recently to work on the design of our product, and we had so much fun. We spent a lot of time talking about what a day in the life for a busy mama is like. I’ll be sharing my day in the life next week… and in the meantime, Amy put this blog together about her trip to LA to meet me and work on our product. Take a look…
My True Hollywood sTori
Part 1: The Phone Call
It’s 12:45 p.m. on a Thursday and I am in my Indianapolis office at work, having just wrapped up a feeding (the third out of five I will do that day) with my youngest and 4th child, Stella, who is 5 months old. My phone rings and it’s Jason, my business partner for my entrepreneurial endeavor, Inspired by Baby, LLC. That’s the company from which I have yet to make a dime. In fact, over the past 7 years, any bonuses or extra income I’ve earned from my “real” jobs (the ones that have paid the bills) have been invested in establishment of Inspired by Baby and the development and launch of my baby bottle and children’s cup labeling invention, NOLAbles™ .
I pick up my phone and, without saying hello, tell Jason that I have exactly 30 seconds to talk as I strap my daughter into her car seat. My saintly husband Kevin will whisk Stella away as I am scheduled to begin a meeting with one of my colleagues. Both of these men in my life are used to my extremely “Type A” and hyper-scheduled routine.
Jason is not offended by my shortness and simply says, “You’re going to want to hear this. ” He suggests I put the phone on speaker so that Kevin can listen too. Jason explained that Tori Spelling had just contacted us. Over the past year, we have been working with Tori on the design of a “NOLAbles by Tori Spelling” line of baby bottle and child cup labels. Just last week, we had finalized the designs, which includes 4 packaged sets of labels. Each set has a theme that is inspired by Tori’s beautiful children Liam, Stella, Hattie and Finn.
Even though I had never met Tori or her family, my team at Inspired by Baby and I had come to learn about Tori through her books and reality television shows. We had specifically targeted Tori as a celebrity partner for NOLAbles because she is a hard-working entrepreneurial mom whose children have inspired her own creative ventures. Also, it is clear that Tori is heavily involved in the day-to-day care of her children. We felt she could relate to both the practical and stylish features of NOLAbles.
So, back to the phone call. Tori had reached out to invite us to come to L.A. for a meeting to discuss the final designs and launch of the product. Because Tori and her family have been filming Season 2 of True Tori, our meeting was going to be on camera and featured on an upcoming episode. “What?!!!” I made Jason repeat this information several times. I had never dreamed that we would be invited to use the television platform of Tori’s reality show to introduce her viewers to our product.
Part 2: From Indiana to L.A.
When I shared my exciting news with my friends and family, the first question they asked was, “What are you going to wear?” A reasonable question, I suppose, for someone who was about to appear alongside a fashion icon on a major network television show. However, the first question I was asking myself was, “How am I going to do this?” After all, I do not have a simple life. I am a full-time working mother of 4 children; ages 7, 4, 2 and 5 months. The planning process required for basic daily survival is a feat, let alone making a cross-country trip with children in tow.
The opportunity, however, was too great to turn down. With the amazing supply of encouragement and support of my “real job” business partner and family—all who would play a significant role in allowing this trip to happen—I got on a plane from Indiana to L.A. Traveling with me was my husband Kevin, baby Stella, and 7 year old Nola, who is the namesake and origin of inspiration for NOLAbles.
It did not take long after arriving in L.A. that I was in a vastly different place than my hometown of Indianapolis. The lines and traffic were exhaustive, the weather was pristine, and the surroundings were posh. With the design meeting occurring the next day, we spent our first day doing “research” by visiting a few baby and children’s boutiques in Beverly Hills.
While at the first boutique, my daughters and I perused the fabulous products and clothing. As I was walking the aisles trying to imagine NOLAbles by Tori Spelling on the shelves, I saw it…a beautiful white crepe-silk layered baby’s dress hanging like an angel from its rack. While I was sure it would be expensive, I thought it would be the perfect souvenir for our trip. This would be a dress that would forever be in Stella’s baby memory box after she was too big to wear it. I gently removed the hanger from the rack and I flipped over the price tag…$750.00!
I suddenly felt completely out of place. What was I doing here? My product NOLAbles is meant for real parents who have to deal with every day logistical challenges of safely and sensibly providing care for their children. It is not for people who could afford a $750 one-time-use baby’s dress that would likely end up with spit-up and poop on it within one hour of wearing.
My confidence took a second hit later that day, while visiting a major talent agency for the stars. While there, a very smart and successful talent agent suggested that I have my hair professionally blown-out and styled for the on-camera meeting. It seemed I did not have the polished look that would be appropriate for such an event. Before I could respond, she promptly directed her assistant to dial a hair salon and made an appointment for me early the next day.
I went to bed that night not only questioning my naturally curly hair, but our entire strategy of partnering with a Hollywood celeb for the launch of NOLAbles. Maybe Tori Spelling wouldn’t be able to relate to me, or to the consumers for whom this product is intended, after all.
Part 3: The Shoot
The morning of the shoot did not start serenely. Nola, who was also going to be filmed, woke up with green hair thanks to the hotel swimming pool. I texted my sister-in-law for some green-removing advice and ran down the street to the Target awaiting her response. After a lightning speed purchase of baking soda, I headed back to the hotel to scrub Nola’s hair and get myself ready.
I had decided to forego the agent’s advice about my hair and instead follow Nola’s wisdom: “Mom, I like your curls. They look like ‘you’.” Sometimes your children know best. By 10:30 a.m., I was as ready as I was going to be— dark blue jeans with a belt, gold t-shirt, and copper colored wedge-heel sandals.
We piled into the car and began the 15-minute drive to Tori’s home. As we climbed the hill to Tori’s neighborhood, the homes got larger and more beautiful. Our nerves began to intensify and the anxious chatter subsided. All of a sudden, the silence was broken by… a blow out! And I’m not talking about automobile wheels. I’m talking about baby poop. Lots of it.
After an unglamorous diaper change in the back seat of the rental on Tori’s cul de sac, we parked outside of her home. We were welcomed on the driveway by Mehran, Tori’s best friend and business partner. He invited us to go to the front door, which was soon opened by Tori’s husband Dean. He very politely showed us in and made small talk while he laced up his shoes at the bottom of the large staircase in their entryway. So far, so good. I then got to meet Finn whose initial shyness reminded me of my own 2-year-old son.
By the time Tori came downstairs, we had set up the NOLAbles by Tori Spelling display on her living room coffee table. Nola and I had been mic’d and I had signed release forms for the television production crew. The meeting was ready to begin.
The next hour and half was a blur of dialogue with Tori, interruptions by our children, and attempts by Mehran to keep the discussion “on track.” While I can’t recall all that was said on camera or how much NOLAbles made it into the actual filming, I can remember all the ways Tori made me feel comfortable.
Upon meeting Tori, she first commented on how nice I looked especially after having a baby 5 months ago. She spent time talking with Nola and ooohh’d and ahhh’d over Stella. She paused to notice Hattie’s coloring and didn’t hesitate to stop mid-sentence to keep Finn from launching himself off the stairs. All of these things happened during filming and I suppose could have been insincere gestures at being relatable. However, off-camera, Tori remained gracious and down-to-earth.
When Nola said she was hungry, Tori made her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cutting her crusts without Nola having to ask. When I needed to nurse Stella, Tori led me up to Hattie’s room. She picked up clothes off the floor and made the bed while I changed Stella’s diaper. We talked about the pressure of being the breadwinners for our families and the twinge of loss we feel when we think about not having any more children.
I love that Tori is a mom like me. And, she has opened a door to launch my product in a way I never could have done on my own. In the end, my true Hollywood sTori made me so excited and proud that Tori agreed to partner with me on the launch of NOLAbles.
Thanks Amy! I’m so excited for all of you to see our product tonight on True Tori.
Is there a product that you absolutely couldn’t live without? Let me know in the comments!