1) What inspired you to open Room for 2 and when did you launch?
In 1983 I was a young mom with two children under the age of four. I was teaching prenatal classes and was a labour and birth doula. While pregnant with my 3rd, who was a winter arrival, I was looking for gently used maternity clothing, as my first two children had arrived in the summer. I had difficulty finding good quality used maternity clothing, so decided to open my own consignment maternity store. Room for 2 was opened in February 1984 as a sole proprietorship (in what must have been a post-partum haze, as now I had three children under the age of four!) and began with gently used consignment maternity and nursing clothing. In 1989, my mother joined me as a business partner and throughout the years we have morphed into a baby and nursing store, with a tiny bit of maternity. We also discontinued selling used products.
2) Do you have a company mission/vision?
We have been on Commercial Drive for 27 years now, and our mission is to hear and respond to the needs and desires of the parents in our local community. The other part of our vision is to offer every nursing mother the products and knowledge that she needs to make breastfeeding, which is such an important part of new parenting, successful and easier. To provide this, we focus on breastfeeding bras, pumps, clothing, accessories, advice and support. The mission of our business is to be able to pay the bills, employ some people and provide a job for the owners. Our vision is to do this with fair and honest business practices by treating customers with respect and integrity.
3) What was the biggest challenge that you faced during your journey opening the Room for 2?
Being an entrepreneur is so exciting because of the challenges it offers and the opportunity it gives us to grow. The biggest challenge that I have encountered has been to ensure that the staff that I’ve hired share the same vision for Room for 2 as I do. It’s a difficult and demanding job to learn all the benefits and important features of every product that we carry, and requires months of dedication to learning. I feel blessed that I have been able to find who I think are the most wonderful staff imaginable. I credit them with the reason that we have been in business for so long, as people vote with their wallets.
4) What is the best part of what you do as the owner of Room for 2? What part could you live without?
I love researching and searching out new products to offer to our clientele. I could do without increasing rents, taxes, and failing economies!
5) How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have 4 adult children, aged 31, 29, 27 and 21.
6) What is the best part of what you do as a mom? What part could you live without?
I have loved every stage of parenting, each having its own challenges and joys. Currently, I am loving being the parent of adult children, which has such a different dynamic than parenting when children are younger. Being able to discuss the world and its events and philosophical questions and being on more of an equal basis as adults is fun and interesting. The best part is the realization for both parents and children, that no matter what age our children are, they will always be our children and we will always be there to offer support and encouragement.
7) What has been the most helpful product that you have encountered?
The most helpful products that our customers tell us they’ve encountered are less common bra sizes that larger stores do not stock, breast pumps that really work efficiently and with ease, PumpEase, amazing baby carriers, comforting swaddle blankets, cotton diapers, bamboo diapers, silicone teething toys, stainless steel baby bottles, toys made of sustainable fabrications and the list goes on.
8) Do you have any inspiring stories to tell us about someone you have met or something that has happened since starting Room for 2?
Yes, but there are too many to list!
9) What is the "next big thing" for Room for 2?
The next big thing for Room for 2 is to get all of our stock on the computer, update our website, get more familiar with social media and its role in business, and set up an e-commerce website. But... doors open tomorrow, and the priority is serving our customers!
Lorena has generously offered our readers 25% off regular priced merchandise when shopping in-store at Room for 2 for the whole month of April. Simply mention this Retail Partner Spotlight and be sure to “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Limit one transaction per customer.
So, the other day my friend and colleague, Claire Reid of Claire Reid Photography, sent me this video - a vignette if you will - of all the family sessions we've had with her over the last few years.
I had to get out the Kleenex.
And so did my husband Mike.
Besides our family photo sessions, Claire also does all the photography for Snugabell and PumpEase. Headshots too. She is amazingly talented. When I tell her my vision for a shoot, she is always excited and always bubbling over with harmonious ideas to help bring my vision to life. And when we're in studio, the energy is palpable; we really just connect. (And if you were standing outside the door, you would hear lots of oohs and aaahs and excited giggles.) She is also exceedingly patient with my ahem... attention to detail.
When she is shooting us as a family - something we have done with Claire every year since Michaela, my youngest, was 18 months old or so - she can get the most amazing shots out of the girls. Even an hour into it when they are getting cranky/tired/bored/cold.
Claire is now offering these unique keepsake videos to her customers. These video journals offer a unique way to immortalize a special time in your life, capturing your style and story as only Claire can....
My only regret is that I hadn't met Claire yet when the girls were teeny tiny. :-( I have pictures, but they are of the generic department store type quality. Not awful, but not great either.
If you're in the lower mainland of British Columbia, look Claire up. You won't regret it. She is blogging now too and doing a bang-up job!
If you're out of town, do you have a favourite photographer that you keep returning to, to capture for all posterity the growth of your family? Go dig out all those photos and look at how much they've grown. Remember the Kleenex. And please share below.
A few days later, I found myself on the LunaPads website reading blog posts and such, and when I navigated to their home page, I was greeted by this gem:
"Thanks to Lunapads and The DivaCup, upwards of 1 million disposable menstrual products are diverted from landfills monthly."
It made me smile as I remembered Suzanne, Co-Founder of LunaPads, recounting how she and her hubby sat on their couch reverting, if only for a moment, to their inner geeky, "bean counter" persona (her words) to crunch some LunaPads numbers and come up with this riveting statistic.
And then I remembered Elena's post on PR in Your Pajamas...
The study stated that 900 babies and $13 billion in health care costs could be saved if 90% of moms exclusively breastfed for six months.
$13 BILLION in health care costs.
I was inspired to crunch some numbers of my own and this is what I came up with...
"Thanks to PumpEase, four babies' lives and almost $70,000,000 in US health care costs have been saved. Not to mention those thousands of babies who've received their mamas' milk (while their mamas worked, played, or just relaxed, since they didn't have to hold onto those pump flanges!)."
I calculated the health care figure FIVE times. Surely it can't be THAT much money!?! I read it out loud. And then I read it out loud again. And then an overwhelming sense of pride washed over me. We ARE making a difference to the health of moms and babies. We ARE saving US Health Care millions of dollars. We ARE enhancing mothers' breastfeeding relationships with their children. WOW!
What is YOUR bold and outrageous statement? You don't have to own a business; write one about YOU. I highly recommend this exercise to open your mind and think outside of the box. Please leave a comment below...
By now, you've probably heard that the IRS has reversed their ruling on breast pumps as a medical expense. Prior to February 2010, they weren't approved; that meant they couldn't be purchased with health spending accounts or deducted on tax filings. Given that things like penis pumps and astro turf qualified, this was a pretty raw deal for new moms!
Luckily, the IRS revisited the subject and decided breast pumps can be deducted on taxes or purchased with health spending accounts (they're now known as "tax sheltered"). This is a major victory for moms!
"The Internal Revenue Service has concluded that breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code because, like obstetric care, they are for the purpose of affecting a structure or function of the body of the lactating woman. Therefore, if the remaining requirements of § 213(a) are met (for example, the taxpayer’s total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income), expenses paid for breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are deductible medical expenses. Amounts reimbursed for these expenses under flexible spending arrangements, Archer medical savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, or health savings accounts are not income to the taxpayer."
Basically, this means that the money spent on pumps and pumping supplies (like PumpEase!) is tax-deductible, or doesn't count toward the total income on which you'll pay taxes in a given year. The government isn't buying any breast pumps and they're not giving out tax credits (actual cash-money that you could collect); they're just saying that you don't have to pay taxes on the money you use to purchase these items and that they can now be bought with money in your pre-tax health spending account.
It would be great to see an itemized list of what qualifies, but since there isn't one (or at least there isn't, yet), we'll have to do some trial and error. If you have a health spending account, you can submit a reimbursement claim for your pump, pump accessories, and PumpEase. Each company that administers health spending accounts is going to have their own interpretation and rules, so you may find it helpful to call and speak with them about your reimbursement claim. While you can't show that your PumpEase definitely IS a qualified expense, they can't show that it's excluded, either. And hey: any mama who's pumped can attest to the necessity of hands-free pumping!
The other option is to deduct the cost of your pump, pump supplies, and PumpEase on your taxes. However, since only 1/3 of Americans itemize their taxes (as opposed to taking the Standard Deduction), this won't be practical for everyone. Many companies offer health spending plans in their benefits packages, though, so it's worth a call to HR to find out if that's an option for you.
You won't need a prescription from your doctor or any other kind of verification to deduct the cost of your breast pump, pump supplies, and PumpEase from your taxes or purchase them with your health spending account.
The best thing to do here is TRY! Since things are currently very open-ended and undefined, it's absolutely worth a try to either purchase your PumpEase with a health spending account or deduct it from your taxes, if you itemize. We'll be watching for further developments and details on this subject, so stay tuned!
Have you submitted your pump, pump supplies, or PumpEase for reimbursement through a health spending account? We'd love to hear about your experience!