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The Mom’s Behind Earth Monkeys

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In our constant search for great start-ups, NetworkingStar sometimes stumbles upon a new company that makes us go, “Huh… They should have been in business all along!”  This is the case with newly created Earth Monkeys, a Medford, Oregon based start-up.

Earth Monkeys was started as a blog for mom’s back in June of 2010.  Founders Linday McPhail and Gena Hansen were born and raised in Oregon.  They are both moms that wanted to come up with a way to have a bib that they could take with them and stop purchasing the disposable kinds.

Instead of saying to themselves that it would be such a great idea and moving on, these two entrepreneurial moms actually started to design the bib they wanted.  They decided on recycled plastic material to be more eco-friendly and then sat down at a sewing machine in their home to design their product.  They sent their home-made prototype to the factory to have their products built.

“Obviously, because it’s a green idea, we wanted to have something earthy in the title.  We wanted to have something representing the green factor and we call our kids monkeys.”

Lindsay and Gena said they discussed the name for a very long time and even considered the name Dirty Monkeys as they wanted it to be centered around their 2 and 3 kids, respectively.  They call them monkeys.  Personally, I think they went with the better choice.

Lindsay and Gena started out smart.  They knew they had to build their social following in order to be successful so they started their eco-friendly mom’s blog,   They started out with a modest $20k and stuck close to that amount to get their business up and running. Gena says that Lindsay is guru and did all the web site development and social media on her own.

They say that they tried out all of their prototypes on their own little monkeys as test subjects.  The company is still in the money saving mode, though, and they don’t have any employees yet.  They have some long term dreams that they shared with me though.

“Our long term dream is to have a bigger warehouse in town and ship everything out of a warehouse that employs part time mom’s.  We would want to be flexible with their schedule and help meet their needs.  We have a vision to achieve that, long term.”

Earth Monkeys has been heavily leveraging their EarthMonkeyMoms blog with FaceBook for sales.  They have started a Twitter account (@EarthMonkeys) but are really trying to engage readers on their facebook page.  They say that 90% of their sales have come from Facebook fans.  They have also started some Google Adsense advertising but really the sales they are seeing are coming from FaceBook.

They also told me that they have no advertising budget period and are trying to take advantage of the free exposure where they can.  Tapping into social media is doing just that.  They’re off to a steady start.

“Sales have been about what we have expected, steady, and we are very pleased with where we are at so far and looking forward to increasing all the time.  We are getting a lot of orders for baby showers, a lot for gifts, and direct shipping to new mom’s.  We know we will spread to her friends and we love that people will love them enough to want to give them as gifts.”

Lindsay and Gena have a heart for the environment but, at the same time, they know how hard it is to buy all eco friendly stuff for your family.  Not only is it cost saving in the long run to buy reusable products, but it also is the best choice to ensure a cleaner Earth for your little monkeys to grow up in.  The Earth Monkeys products come with an attached carabineer to clip them to your diaper bag, briefcase, backpack, or purse.

The Earth Monkey goal is to reach out to those moms that feel overwhelmed with the idea of being eco-friendly and show them that it’s not that hard to get started.  As Lindsay and Gena said, baby steps to add up in the end.

When I asked how these two Medford had done it even after Lindsay’s two boys were diagnosed with autism, they said their family was a great support.  I asked how their family took the news that they wanted to start a new business and received a familiar answer.

“Our family was very positive, they saw how dedicated that we were, that we were up and running with our blog and FaceBook and the social media side.  Everybody saw that we were very serious about it.  Grandmas have helped out a lot when we go to photo shoots and meetings.  We couldn’t do it with out them.  And husbands, too!”

I had to ask if they would have done anything differently now they’re up and running in business.  The one thing that really stuck out in their mind was they would have really engaged their followers in the whole process of designing the products.  Earth Monkeys does all of their own designs but they would have liked to create more ownership in the followers by allowing them to help more in the creative process of creating the products.

They say they have learned a lot through the process and that their timing expectation for shipping was a little off in the beginning.  They didn’t realize it would take such a long time for their initial products to arrive from the manufacturer.  They would have taken that in to consideration had they known it would take 2 months.

“Because  there’s a little monkey in every kid… and a tired mom behind him just trying to survive one more day…”

February 14, 2011 by Staff Writer Lacy Sereduk. All rights reserved 2011

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