Menu

How one mom + dad duo entertains Canadian families—with the help of a business plan

“One of the things you should do before you launch is write a business plan.”

How one mom + dad duo entertains Canadian families—with the help of a business plan

What

does it take to go from business idea to lady boss? This column features an


entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process

of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality. If you missed our

last article featuring Jenny from Fawn Design on how social media contributed

to her success, you can read that here. This week, we’re discussing the sixth

step many modern entrepreneurs need to make on the journey to success: building

a business plan.

The best time to create your business plan was a

year ago. The second best time is today.

A thoughtful and well-researched business plan not

only keeps your business on track, but helps you to realize when you’ve

accomplished something. In the world of being an entrepreneur there’s always a

million and one items on your “to-do” list, which makes it difficult to realize

when you’ve achieved something remarkable. A business plan can help remind you,

validate you, and guide you to the next stage of your business.

Kim

Thé runs Pebble Star Productions, a children’s

entertainment company that she co-founded in 2012 with her husband &

musician Will Stroet.

She

recently started a booking agency within their company in addition to handling

the tour planning, marketing, event planning, community partnerships and grant

writing for Will’s career.

With

two girls, Ella and June, she juggles her family, her marriage and both her and

her husband’s careers with a kind of zany grace. Never working on less than

three things simultaneously, she is a master at multitasking.

I recently

got to sit down with Kim to find out how she keeps it all together—and thrives.

You’re in a fairly unique situation managing your husband’s career. Tell

me what he does and what role you play?

Will is a

performing, touring musician for kids and he tours across Canada now. He also appears

on Wills Jams airing on Kids’ CBC weekday mornings. He does anywhere from 150

to 200 shows a year and has done more than a 1000 performances for kids across

the country.

I act as his Manager.

He started

writing kids music when we were first together, before we were married, when he

was studying to become a teacher at the University of BC. Things really took

off when he got a contract in November of 2005 to record and release his first

album which ended up being called “Let’s All Dance.”

I was working

for a children’s charity at that time as their Marketing Manager and I had a

background in Marketing so I started helping on that front. We haven’t really

looked back since. Now it’s a full-time job for both of us!

Before Wills Jams became a television show, what did his musical career

consist of and when did you come in to the picture?

Basically, when

he started in 2005, I had a full-time job in Marketing Communications. As he became

busier and got more popular, I got more involved with the management of his

tours and schedules. In 2012 we incorporated as Pebble Star Productions.

We both

realized that things went smoother if I organized and scheduled him, as well as did the pitching and negotiating for him.

As an artist it’s very hard to negotiate for yourself because people always want to undercut you. So it was much better to have me do it.

How did things change when you had kids?

When I

was pregnant with Ella, I booked him solidly after her birth, not knowing what

it was going to be like as a new mom. So he was basically booked solid for the

first three months of her life. He actually almost missed her birth.

I booked him

for so much and then I realized, okay well, maybe that wasn’t the smartest

thing to do.

It’s a lot,

solo parenting. Luckily I get tons of

grandparent help.

Why do you think his music is so popular?

Will has many

talents, but the most obvious one is connecting with kids. He really truly loves kids.

He’s a big kid himself and he knows how to speak to them, how to make them

laugh and smile. I call him the Pied Piper. He’s just a natural at what he does

because very few people can connect with kids that genuinely.

Will’s got a gift. ‘Cause he’s really truly is like that himself. He’s very kid-like.

How did the television show come to be?

That was a

long process! It must have been 2009 or 2010 when

we started making the music videos. One of the first ones was the “Bike Safety Boogie”. We approached Turtlebox Productions, a husband and wife team to produce the first nine videos, the would become “Will’s Jams”.

that are

video producers. They were excited about the idea and wanted to help us make

the music videos into a series that we could pitch to networks.

So we worked

with them over the course of a year to create and film this series, and then in

2011 we decided to pitch the show to broadcasters. Will and I knew very little about how to pitch to broadcasters. We went to the Banff Media Festival, in Canada, and I had lined up a

whole bunch of 5 minute meetings with all the kids TV executives.

Our first

meeting was with Kim Wilson, the CBC creative head at the time and the

first thing she said in our meeting was, “Hey Will! I totally know who you are,

we were just listening to some of your songs! CBC music is launching

its own kids portal and I actually hand selected some of your music for it. I

love it and I love your videos. How many do you have? Nine? Well we need to do

more. Let’s talk business.”

It was crazy!

We were just on

this high! She kept her word and we worked with Turtlebox to produce two more series - 18 episodes in total - in the next

year and a half. Each episode is 2-5 minutes long and they’re branded as Will’s

Jams. Now they have 27 in rotation and they play twice a morning on CBC, Monday to

Friday.

How do you model the business to make it work for you financially?

Most of our income is still from live performance.

A small portion is from merch, and a growing portion is from songwriting royalties.

A word to any

other musicians out there, don’t sign up with a label. It just makes absolutely

no sense these days.

If you’re a

budding musician, try to do it independently as much as possible because there

isn’t much of a pie and if you sign with a label, they’re going to take a huge

part of that small piece of the pie.

Do you tour with Will?

Absolutely not. I mean, it doesn’t make any financial sense, we have kids. My life is here and I’m working. And besides, life on the road is not glamorous.

I’m not working from a tour bus, in a hotel with a mini bar, you know? Not with two kids – no way!

How important is creating a detailed business plan?

It doesn’t matter what kind of company you are, one of the things you should do before you launch is write a business plan.

We did a five-year plan and every year we look at it, update, and compare our performance to

it.

Did we meet

our objectives? Did we actually meet our targets? What have we achieved? It’s

funny, when you’re in it, you forget your objectives. It’s good to reflect and see

actually how much you’ve actually accomplished. It’s usually more than you

think.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs just writing their business

plans?

Don’t be

scared. You have to be kind of fearless and that should be reflected in your

business plan.

As an entrepreneur

you have to be willing to take risks, but calculated ones, right?

Never go in blindly without doing your research, but don’t be scared.

Join Motherly

How important do you think it has been to have those clear objectives?

Very

important. My background is in marketing, and you always start with objectives.

It’s not only important to have them,

but to write them down and stick to them, referring to them often.

What has been the hardest part of working as a

husband and wife team?

Separating

who does what so you each have your own job description, and sticking to that

because once you start interfering in each other’s areas, you’ll definitely have conflict.

But finding

that separation has been so good for both of us. That and outsourcing the

pieces that we can.

Why is confidence important when building a brand?

You

have to be fearlessly confident in your brand to have success. If you’re going

to try to sell your community or audience on your brand, you have to be

passionate about what you do and wholeheartedly believe in it.

People can smell deceit or hypocrisy from a mile away!

I can’t imagine Will doing what he does

if he didn’t like children and wasn’t confident on stage with them. Kids are

such an honest audience—they would cry, scream and run away and shout “I don’t

like this” and never come back!

How does being a mother impact the way you run your

business?

It

impacts our business every day since we’re in the business of children’s

entertainment and gives us great insight into what parents and kids really like

and want—especially when it comes to creating good music that won’t annoy

parents after the 100th time they’ve heard it in the minivan!

Will

gets inspiration daily from our own kids and their friends – Will wrote one of

his best songs about fruits and veggies called “Full of Beans” while our

first daughter Ella was learning to eat finger foods. It’s now one of his most

loved songs and really works to get your kids to eat their veggies.

It goes,” 1, 2, 3 broccoli, 4, 5, 6 carrot sticks…”

For

me, being a mom to two girls has taught me how to be extremely organized with

my time in work and my personal life. There’s no more time to waste unless I

want to accomplish very little in a day. I’m still trying to maintain a

work/life balance but find that being an entrepreneur allows me to fit in way

more in a day because I can manage my own schedule and work in a bike ride or

Bollywood dance class around my kids’ schedules and my own business and

housework!

Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to

aspiring lady bosses?

The

most important piece of advice is that you CAN do it! A wise female

entrepreneur friend told me that “You can have it all but you just can’t have

it all at once.” I try to remember this daily so that I don’t get as anxious or

frustrated by the many interruptions that stop me from achieving a “perfect”

workflow in my day.

I’m learning that “perfect” doesn’t really exist in life

and it especially doesn’t exist when you have two kids under seven. I try to

reflect on my successes more often with Will so that I don’t

forgot all the great things we’ve achieved together. The list of things you can

do never ends so it’s really important to take a moment to pat yourself on the

back and say, “I can do this! In fact, I am doing this!”

I’ll end with saying to all lady bosses out there, “You’ve got this!”

Will’s

kids’ TV series, Will’s Jams, airs weekday mornings at 7:25 AM and

9:25 AM on Kids’ CBC in Canada and is available in the U.S.

and globally (outside of Canada) on Kidoodle.TV

To

try Kidoodle.TV for free for a month,

click on this link and use the promo code “WILL.” You can also check out

Will’s Jams on Kids’ CBC’s TV for Me app for

iPad or on YouTube (Canada only).

For

more about Will and his music, check out www.willmusic.ca and connect

with Will on Facebook, Twitter @willstroetmusic, Instagram @willstroetmusic and YouTube. You can connect with Kim on Facebook @Pebblestarpro and Twitter @pebblestarpro

Join Motherly

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News