Joyce Shulman-CEO of Macaroni Kid
What is the best part of your job as CEO of Macaroni Kid?
First, I get to work with an amazing community of Macaroni Kid Publishers. These are smart, dedicated, hard-working women, many of whom gave up their full-time careers when they had kids and now bring Macaroni Kid to their communities each week. It is an honor to have such talent in the Macaroni Kid family and a pleasure to work with these creative, passionate women (and a few special men).
Second, I know that we are having a huge impact on families in the communities we serve by connecting them with all of the fantastic programming made available by their local libraries, rec centers, park departments, and so many others. I receive emails practically weekly from parents sharing how Macaroni Kid has touched their lives and enriched their families.
Finally, I believe in the power of local businesses and their importance to our local communities and local economies. Macaroni Kid Publishers are working with literally thousands of those local businesses and that is extremely gratifying.
What inspired you to start Macaroni Kid?
My husband and I were running an alternative media company we had founded and I had two young kids at the time. I was a pretty involved mom and there are a ton of great events and activities for kids and families in my community, but I found I still sometimes missed things. And I’d been watching the rise in e-newsletters and thought, “If someone could just get community-focused, hyper-local information about what’s happening in a given community into the hands of the parents who need it, that would be great.”
In addition, I was absolutely certain that there was a tremendous talent base among stay-at-home moms who wanted to work, wanted to contribute, but who didn’t want to go back to work full time. I thought, if you could marry those two ideas, you’d really have something. And Macaroni Kid was born!
What advice do you have for girls who want to start their own businesses?
Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. If you have a vision you believe in, take the leap of faith but be prepared to fail. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart and failure is part of the prescription. Macaroni Kid is my fifth business and it is still extremely challenging every day.
How did you decide to transition from being a lawyer to an entrepreneur?
I was a corporate litigator and I wouldn’t trade the education and experience for anything in the world. I’m one of those crazy people who loved law school. But I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, in fact I started my first business while in law school (something I don’t recommend). I’ve also always loved having a partner in crime, so shortly after my husband and I got married, we cooked up an idea for our first business — it was called the Rover Group and we made 42 different dog treats, horse treats, and cat treats — quit our jobs, sold our apartment and moved to our weekend house. It was a disaster, but it put us on this wonderful, exciting, challenging path and we’ve been working together ever since. That was 18 years ago.
What is a personal mantra you try to embody every day?
Wow, there are so many and they change every day. Some days, I have to remind myself that it is a marathon, not a sprint and that success is the result of a thousand small things rather than one great idea. And every day, I focus on trying to make my corner of the world better, to practice kindness and to embrace challenge.