"There was nothing on the market that I felt was any good, so I decided to make something myself," – Julie Aigner-Clark
Julie Aigner-Clark is probably the ultimate momtrepreneur. Yet she didn’t start out with any grand ambitions in the world of business, but rather just wanted to be a better mother and to help others in her situation as well. As with many others who start off in a particular field and aspire to greatness as an entrepreneur, Julie needed a catalyst to reveal the hidden inner self — simply, she just needed a baby! Becoming pregnant changed everything and revealed hidden passions that she did not realize she had. By creating a range of educational products tailored to the little ones, she eventually grew a business empire that would make her a household name among doting parents everywhere.
Julie began her professional life as a schoolteacher, following graduation from Michigan State University. She was enjoying teaching English to high school students, but everything changed as soon as she learned that she had, with her husband Bill, a daughter on the way. It just so happened that an outbreak of chickenpox at the school relegated her to a lengthy stint on the sidelines, out of an abundance of caution for the baby.
It was during this downtime that her mind became really creative and thus, as she was so engrossed with her daughter and her capacity to learn, she decided to look around for material to help her really advance the little one’s development. Being disappointed by the lack of available products she started to think about making a video just for babies, "something stimulating and positive," as she put it. With the help of her husband they created a simple video, using rudimentary tools, in the basement of their house. With money that they had invested, they produced a DVD and called it "Baby Einstein," a title that Julie dreamed up."Everything I did in the first video was based on my experience as a mom. I assumed that what my baby liked to look at, most other babies would, too."
Slowly but surely the video spread across the country and in the first year of distribution the intrepid parents made over $100,000 in revenue. From that point they did not look back and by 2001 and still with a very simple company makeup, they grossed over $20 million in sales.
Aigner-Clark had hit on something that touched a nerve with parents everywhere. "It was an entirely new idea — no one else had videos for babies. During the first 5 Â½ years, we never ran an ad" and word-of-mouth spread like crazy, as the product evidently filled a need within the marketplace.
The Baby Einstein franchise was becoming quite the handful to operate and was losing some of its attraction, therefore. As Julie already had some levels of communication with the Disney company, she decided to ask them if they would like to buy the concept. Although she would eventually be unhappy that she lost any element of touch with her creation, Baby Einstein was indeed sold to Disney and remains very successful.
Since that time in 2001, Julie has continued to expand her role as the doting momtrepreneur, creating other products and videos aimed at education and safety. With John Walsh, of America’s Most Wanted, she helped to form The Safe Side, creating videos to teach young kids about how to avoid dangerous situations. She also diverted revenues toward other projects such as Walsh’s Missing Kids initiative and is also involved with another video-based project, this time aimed at people suffering from memory loss diseases, such as dementia.
Using simple philosophies and a creative passion fueled by a mom’s love for her kids, Julie Aigner-Clark continues to make a difference in the lives of children (and other groups!) around the world.