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Child Care Products
Entrepreneur and inventor Sharon Mullen may be a perfect illustration of the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." This Hampton, New Hampshire wife and mother established her own company, Inventive Parent, in 2000 after her son was born. She quickly found that caring for a newborn required innovative solutions to problems for which helpful products did not exist. She was surprised to find, for example, that attachable blankets did not exist for baby carriers and car seats for children over one year old.
Mullen became frustrated when she took her son out for walks and was constantly picking up a blanket that would fall off, drag on the ground or blow in the wind. She created her own design for an attachable blanket, the Original Car Seat Cozy, which attaches to car seats, joggers and bike seats. When friends began expressing interest in her design, she decided to investigate the juvenile products marketplace.
Mullen visited an international showcase where she saw many other products invented by parents. That convinced her the best products were not designed by large corporations, rather they were created by parents who came up with solutions to problems out of necessity.
Shortly thereafter, Mullen decided to create an online store to carry her products as well as other products for children and child-care created by parents. She launched the Web site, Inventive Parent, in June of 2000.
By 2001 Inventive Parent grew enough to force Mullen to move into larger offices, with more than 30 products available to consumers. Operating with the mission statement, "Great products invented by real moms and dads, now available for your family. We've been there. We understand." Inventive Parent now sells items such as the Car Seat Cozy, Cozy To Go and Cozy For Two, as well as the Baby B'Air, Mighty Tite, My Own Shower and Snuggle Nest. Mullen plans to offer more than 70 parent-invented products by the start of 2003.
Mullen earned a bachelor's degree in Administration and Theatre from the University of New Hampshire and a master's degree in history from Tufts University. She spent 11 years working for Tufts as manager of a campus theatre and arts center. At Inventive Parent, she reaches out to the community through donating products to needy children and through publishing a n ewsletter which gives subscribers the opportunity to donate a percentage of their purchase to selected organizations and charities. In February of 2002, she was the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Balance Oasis for outstanding female entrepreneurs. She plans to use the grant to increase awareness of Inventive Parent through an improved Web site and creating a professional booth for trade shows.