Meet Julie Cole, mother of six and co-founder of Mabel’s Labels. Like so many Moms, Julie reached a moment in her life where she felt she needed to transition out of the traditional workforce– the moment when her son was diagnosed with autism. Facing a 40-hour per week Applied Behaviorial Analysis therapy program and armed with an idea for a product she felt was missing from the market, Julie and her partners decided to start Mabel’s Labels. Mabel’s Labels has enabled Julie to work in a more family-friendly workplace and to be there as an advocate for her son and all of her children.
“In the early days, we were working out of a dingy basement and I was pregnant with my fourth child and wondering how I was going to do it all– working with no sleep– I just went on autopilot. It was crazy.
And with six kids, this is life in the trenches. It’s all fun. I try not to take myself too seriously. Some days I say, “This is hard” but most days I say, “This is awesome.”
“We were early adopters of social media. We knew we had to build a community because we are so like our customers and we recognize how important community is to us and other moms. We’ve had a full-time social media coordinator for a couple of years now. A lot of the success has been due to our blogger outreach. We send a blogger our product and if she likes it she’ll blog about it. Moms are more trusting of other moms than they are of traditional advertising. Companies can’t expect people to be brand ambassadors without giving them something for it. Social media provides a lot of value. It gives a real voice to companies.”
Not only does Julie have her Mabel’s Labels responsibility, she also writes for many organizations: The Yummy Mummy Club, Life with Kids, Canadian Parents and PTPA Media. She’s been published in Exceptional Families and Chicken Soup For the Soul–Power Moms. She speaks at conferences and has been on a myriad of television appearances from The Mom Show to Metro Morning and more. How does she fit it all in and still have time for her blog and being on Twitter?
“I post once a week or every second week. Twitter is easy. I can pop on at the grocery store and do a quick tweet. I don’t watch TV. I love Twitter because it allows me to engage in conversations and keeps me engaged with our community. It makes me feel very connected. And the thing about having the time? Social media is a part of our company culture so it’s something we make time for. It’s a priority.
Social media is something the small businesses have gotten right because it is affordable and accessible. And the now the big companies are playing catchup. They sometimes have difficulty in understanding it – they see twitter as something people use to share useless information, such as what they had for breakfast. But it is these little conversations that help build relationships, which is good for business. Word of mouth is the best advertising and social media is a vehicle for that.
An example of how twitter has helped my business: There is NYC mom with a popular parenting site who tweeted she would be in Toronto. I responded to that tweet, and it resulted in her profiling me on her site. As a result, 100,000 Moms found out about Mabel’s Labels.”