If you have a company called Rockets of Awesome, we are going to assume that you are freaking awesome. And Rachel Blumenthal totally is.
Rachel is the founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome, which sells stylish,high quality, affordable kids clothing. The company delivers super cute – and super soft – items (think joggers, bomber jackets, and other must-have styles) all for largely under $38.
Since starting the company three years ago, Rockets of Awesome has grown to include e-commerce, subscription and even a brick and mortar location. Between running a powerhouse clothing company and parenting, Rachel took some time to chat with us about her entrepreneuring journey and how the birth of her children changed her business plan.
Grab the Opportunity
At just twenty-three, Rachel founded her first business. I don’t know about you, but at twenty-three I was still learning how to cook things that weren’t ramen. This leads us to so many questions. How, at twenty-three, do you make the business leap? Rachel was happy to give us the lowdown.
“I always say that I’m an accidental entrepreneur, because I never said, I’m going to go build a business, or launch a company. I never said ‘I want to be a founder.’” In 2003, Rachel, who was working as a PR professional, simply designed a ring. She did it in her free time, yet found herself quickly presented with an opportunity to have that ring, and herself, featured in Lucky Magazine. This feature allowed her to step out into the fashion world as a new jewelry designer.
“I think today I say no more than I say yes, but so many opportunities have come in ways that I would never have expected if I hadn’t been open-minded. I think the advice I give most is to always be open minded. Say yes to a conversation, say yes to a new day. Just be curious.”
From the momentum she gained with the feature, Rachel would go on to build jewelry company Rachel Leigh, which she ran for 8 years. The brand grew to sell in more than 500 stores worldwide and included a private label for American Eagle.
But soon, Rachel’s attention focused on a new baby to nurture: her son Griffin. It wasn’t long after his birth that the wheels started turning and the entrepreneur in Rachel started connecting the dots on building a business around the needs of a new mom.
“Like every new parent you think that you have the newest, greatest idea of how to improve the baby space. But what I recognized was there was an opportunity to make identifying and buying baby products easier for new parents.”
Rachel started Cricket Circle, which curated product recommendations for parents.
“We built this incredible community and as we were doing that we just kept hearing over and over again the gratefulness that we had created this environment to have a really direct and honest dialogue with new or expecting moms. But what we also got to hearing was ‘that stroller recommendation was super helpful, but now that I have a kid, I’m not super stressed about the sippy cup, or some of the other things…what’s really frustrating is that my kids keep outgrowing their clothes and they’re doing it with this speed that I can’t even keep up with.’ It’s really hard to find cool clothes that aren’t expensive.”
Enter, Rockets of Awesome
Going With the Flow
One of the questions we always ask our mamas is how they prepared for baby.
Like a lot of our Boss Moms, Rachel admits to being a super Type A personality, but during her pregnancy she made a very conscious decision to avoid projecting that trait into baby.
“I didn’t want him to feel my nervous energy. I purposely didn’t read a single book when I was pregnant. I didn’t read a single book after I had him, because I really wanted to let him take the lead and I wanted to follow him. I didn’t want to worry about ‘oh my God, the book said he’s supposed to do this on this day and this hour, and he didn’t do it yet’ and totally freak out.”
“I think what I realized is when having a kid, you can control very little. The minute you acknowledge that and let it go, the more that you can enable yourself to enjoy those moments, be in those moments, and not be so stressed out.”
However, there was one thing she did research:
“I definitely watched five YouTube videos before taking my stroller into a taxi for the first time. I was profusely sweating because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Rachel, who today is mom to Griffin (8) and Gemma (4), shared some of the things her children have taught her.
“[Having kids] definitely forced me, and taught me, to prioritize. I think that working parents are the most efficient and most impactful because they only have so many hours, so they have to dedicate their time to the items that are going to drive the business in the most effective way. And then they’ve got to get out of there and get home to dinner, or bedtime, or whatever it is.”
“I think, again, being a parent has taught me to not take things so seriously. Of course I take building a business, having a team, and the responsibility incredibly seriously, but I don’t sweat the small things.”
Rachel says that it is important to recognize that you truly cannot do it all and, at times, something just has to give in order to focus on your priorities.
“That doesn’t mean that your personal life has to give. It doesn’t mean you can’t work out anymore. But something does have to give. I’ve given up being hard on myself. I’ve given up ever pretending that I was going to cook a dinner meal, because I’m just never going to do that.”
Rachel also shares that her and her husband have had to learn how to take time for one another between the balance of parenting and working, so have committed themselves to Date Night every Tuesday.
“We go through phases where we’re like, ‘Should we have dinner with so-and-so?’ And we’ll do it on Tuesday. Or we’ll have phases where we both decide that our own independent plans that night are going to be more important than date night together. But we try to be pretty disciplined about it.”
“It’s those moments where you can just have a meal, the two of you, where nobody’s screaming…to have a conversation. And then on the weekends we drive out of the city. We drive at night, because our kids sleep. That’s also a time where we can spend talking, because we’re not distracted by our phones or anything else.”
When we ask moms to describe their first year, it sometimes can be hard to sum up the roller coaster of changes, emotions, and development that occur in those 12 months, but we feel like Rachel pretty much hit the nail on the head when she shared her one word: Blur.
“It’s all a blur. In a good way, in a bad way. There are moments of blur that are just smiles and baby cuddles. And then there are moments in the blur that are late night tears and just stress and being overwhelmed. But it’s a lot of a swirly blur.”
Talking with Rachel was like sitting on your balcony on a crisp-night drinking red wine with your best friend. She was a down-to-earth open-book with every question and taught us that sometimes life’s journey isn’t a straight-path, but that the curvy, swirly, occasionally blurry path can lead to amazing things.
We know Rockets of Awesome’s future is exciting, and we can’t wait to see all the awesome that Rachel does next.