Building a Sustainable Brand..

Whenever our family is able to take a trip somewhere in the US, we always make an effort to stop in to a new Pump It Up facility that we have never been to before. As the President, I was so busy when we were opening all of them, that I have only made it out to maybe 30 of the 150 that opened in the first few years! I enjoy visiting various Pump It Ups (PIUs) and visiting with the owners. I feel a kinship with them – even the ones that have opened since my departure. After all, I have a lot in common with those who are passionate about the same things!

Recently, we were blessed with a trip to Virginia to watch my son Jake play in the Babe Ruth World Series. While traveling from the airport in Washington to Leesburg, we drove by a Pump It Up right on the highway frontage! What great signage! I had to pay a visit.

I recalled meeting the Flynns, owners of the Leesburg location, while they were in franchise training. Unfortunately, they were out of town this particular visit, so I kept my stay short. As I walked into the PIU, I was greeted warmly, and asked if I needed help. I could feel the positive energy in the front lobby! There were a few children with their parents in the waiting area, watching a video and laughing… “Wow,” I thought, “I love Pump it Up. I love the joy that is created over and over and over again”.

The girl running the front counter was busy checking in a family who was there for a party. The front entryway looked just like every other Pump It Up; bright primary colors, checkered floor, great signage, clean and inviting. The girl was pleasant. When I introduced myself, she spoke eloquently, yet, as she was interacting with the customers, she had a slightly more animated, joyful voice – the voice and temperament of the perfect Pump It Up employee.

The inside of the arena smelled of freshly cleaned floors — it was early in the morning but this isn’t easy to obtain in an arena of carpeting, with smelly feet running on it all day!! Prior to the acquisition of PIU, my partner, Terry and I secured an agreement with Clorox to have our facilities “Clorox clean.” Boy, was this one Clorox clean!

As I left, I realized that the mission statement and branding promise of the business, which I began 10 years ago, was still alive and breathing in every Pump it Up across the country, and soon around the world, because we are expanding internationally right now.

Here is the branding promise we created for Pump It Up ten years ago: Pump It Up is the entertainment experience that provides a private, safe, and stress-free party environment when celebrating with family and friends. We did it then, and we still do it now! That is what I call a sustainable brand!

I really enjoyed seeing Leesburg Pump It Up. Congratulations to Pump It Up of Leesburg owners, the Flynn’s, for maintaining an amazing facility and to PIU Corporate for continuing to nurture the culture throughout the franchise system! It is truly exciting to see.

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Invented by Moms

As many of you know, I have a new facebook page, Empowered MompreneursThis has become an amazing way to connect with moms in business. As I have been meeting these amazing ladies, I have come across some pretty cool products.. all began as a need, and then became a huge “AH-hah!” moment for these moms– just as Pump It Up was for me.

These three mom entrepreneurs have come up with solutions to our never-ending dirty kitchen chairs, messy bottle feedings, and hard-to-put-on baby jackets.

Read on about their great products and their stories of how they invented them:

The SmartSeat Chair Protector was invented by Rebecca Rabson, a mom who found a solution to protect upholstered chairs with comfortable fabric seat covers that are waterproof, stain resistant, reusable, and machine washable.

In an interview with The Mom Writes, Rebecca was asked what inspired her to create The Smart Seat Chair Protector and she replied: “My boys! I have two very adorable, but incredibly messy boys. We purchased a new dining room set a couple of years ago and I wanted to be able to eat meals together as a family. But I also didn’t want my kids  to ruin my new chairs. I looked for a waterproof seat cover that would discreetly protect my new chairs, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked. I didn’t want a vinyl seat cover. I didn’t like the way that they look and my boys didn’t like the way that they feel when you sit on them. I also didn’t want a full slipcover – I loved my new chairs and didn’t want to entirely change the way that they look. The  SmartSeat Chair Protector was my solution – an attractive, waterproof seat cover that is easy to use and comfortable to sit on.”

Monica Guerra Jones is the mom inventor behind BUNCHEES Baby Bottle Bibs (a solution to messy bottle feedings).

Monica writes:

Who knew that a dribbly bottle-feeder and a stretchy hair accessory would inspire me so much!

My baby boys were so messy that every time they ate from their baby bottle, their bib would became so soaked that I had to literally change their outfit after each feeding. The messy bottle feeding not only left them soaked but myself as well. My oldest son’s cheeks and chin became red and chapped from the wetness and constant dribble coming out of the corners of his mouth while he ate that would run down his cheeks, chin and down into his neck.  At bathtime, it was a chore to wash his neck folds, where formula and messy dribble would collect and become crusty–ick! Having had enough, I decided to search for a solution–so off I went to Babies R Us, where there was nothing available for this specific problem. I then went to Target, Wal Mart, Baby Depot and all the other big-name baby stores but to no avail, there was nothing on the market for this.

I began using pricey but better quality bibs to help absorb the dribble, but then my baby became quite good at pulling his bibs off while I fed him and they didn’t absorb the gap in between the neck and bib opening. And so I was destined to deal with it until he was off the bottle for good. Fast forward three years later, when I had my second baby who began having the same issues with bottle-feeding, I became determined to find a solution this time, but how? He was only a few weeks old when I was feeding him and happened to notice my scrunchie on my end table. I was having trouble with a leaky baby bottle at the moment and for some reason, I wondered if I slipped the scrunchie underneath the bottle cap, would it be able to help with the leakage? And so I tried it, feeling a little silly and then not so silly after all! It worked like a charm, soaking up most of the bottle leaks and I officially had what Oprah calls the “a-ha” moment. Another huge a-ha moment was when I held the edge of the scrunchie underneath his lip, it caught the dribble running out of the sides of his mouth! I decided to make a much more absorbent version out of a microfiber kitchen towel and added three mini-bibs to extend and absorb what was coming out of his mouth. Along with my baby, I enlisted my friends and family members who had just had babies to try them out, and they all thought it was ingenious and one of the coolest baby products ever.

Hoping to help other moms and dads who had this problem with their messy babies, we launched Baby Bottle Bibs on our website in February of 2008. We have received worldwide acceptance and very positive feedback from those who have used our product. We even won a prestigious award from iParenting Excellent Baby Products for 2008! I have my baby boys to thank, they (along with my “vintage” scrunchie) were what sparked my creativity and allowed me to invent this great product. My boys continue to inspire me and I find myself thinking of more and more ways to help our lives a little more fun and easier for us all!

Betsy Dolan invented the Wrapeaze (a hooded wrap that envelops a child in warmth quickly and easily-with one hand)

Betsy writes:

Running errands with kids can be a hassle, especially when you have to take jackets on and off constantly.

WrapeazeTM is a unique product that was created out of sheer necessity! As a mother of two young boys, I often cringe at the idea of running errands with the kids in tow. While I love my boys endlessly, I don’t love the quick trips to the grocery store, daycare, the post office or the dry cleaner. Everyone is happy until the car stops and it is time to get out of the car seats and get jackets on. …The pleasant experience of running a couple of “quick” errands often turns into a long, miserable chore. I can’t imagine I am alone!

In our busy world, parenting sometimes means maximizing the few minutes or hours you have with your kids each day. I have saved precious minutes and been spared many tears and tantrums by avoiding jackets and simply wrapping up with Wrapeaze.

Once the initial product was developed, with the help of my crafty sister in law, my boys wore their wraps everywhere. I got stopped daily by other parents who asked where they could purchase one for their little ones. After many revisions, we have come up with a quality product I know your little ones will love!

The original Wrapeaze is a hooded wrap that envelops the child in warmth quickly and easily-with one hand. No more wrestling with little arms and sleeves while you stand in a cold parking lot. Your child will love that their movement is unrestricted, and you can avoid tantrums and tears. There is no better way to fuse utility with style!

These are such inspiring examples of moms who used their everyday life experiences to create something great to share!

I am going to continue featuring mom invented products and businesses on my blog. Please send me an email if you would like to be featured (brendadronkers@gmail.com)!

Peace and love,
Bren

Mom Inspired Products

More and more moms are becoming entrepreneurs as they’ve developed product ideas from their everyday lifestyles. I’m sure we’ve all had that “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment when we hear about a new child-based product that has come out and is extremely useful. As moms, we are constantly thinking about our children– so if we figure out something that works for them, why not share it and make it available to all moms out there too?

As the founder of Pump It Up, I am always looking to encourage and support other moms on the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The road can be rocky, but the rewards can be amazing in so many ways. Like most moms, I created PIU to solve a problem. Most mompreneurs have done the same. As they have raised their little ones, they have realized a need or a problem and then have created the solution for not only their own children, but hopefully for millions of others.

Mom Invented features moms who have created products and business ideas, and I wanted to share some inspiring examples:

Kiss-u-Tissue Tubes were invented by mom Amy Davis (tissue dispensers that fit into car cup-holders).

In an interview with Mom Invented, Amy stated: “I had never worked in business in any way before I started this company. It all began when I was driving my kids to a friend’s house in September of 2007 when one of them cried out for a tissue. A quick glance in the rear-view mirror told me that this kid needed a tissue NOW, so I quickly began to search my immediate surroundings: the seat next to me, the floor, and the hold-everything bag next to me; only to come up short. And then as I reached behind me to search the floor of the back seat I glanced up at the road just in time to swerve out of the way of my neighbor’s fence.  That was a wake-up call.  I pulled over to the side of the road so I could attend to one thing at a time.  And I thought, ‘I can’t be the only one with kids who have autumn allergies and wait until the last minute to cry out for a tissue.”

Tammany Atkinson is the mom inventor behind Bee’s Knees (patented baby pants with neoprene in the knees to protect babies while crawling on hardwood and tile floors)

In Tammany’s interview, she said: “I started Bee’s Knees when I noticed our son Jackson’s knees were red and bruised from our hardwood and tile floors. I tried crawling around to see what it felt like and I felt so badly for him that I was inspired to create a solution.”


The Zaky is one of the best mom-inspired product story I’ve ever heard of (saved the best for last).

Mom Invented shared Yamile Jackson’s story behind this great product:

In 2001 Yamile Jackson gave birth to her son Zachary 12 weeks prematurely. He weighed less than 2 pounds, and when he was 3 weeks old, Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston, shutting down power and water in the hospital. The hospital staff, Yamile and her husband, Larry, had to keep Zachary alive by hand for nine hours until he could be evacuated, and at that time Yamile made a promise to do whatever she could to help all babies — and prayed for the opportunity to do it on Zachary’s behalf, not in his memory.During the 155 nights Zachary spent in the hospital, Yamile spent at least 10 hours a day with him in the neonatal intensive care unit, but she hated leaving him at night. She had learned from the nurses how to use her hands to comfort him — how to hold him and how to touch him to give him boundaries, but she wanted something to continue to comfort Zachary in her absence. So she sewed hand-shaped pillows, which she slept with to give her scent, that she could leave with her son to keep him feeling warm and secure.

She could see a difference in Zachary’s monitors when he was being cradled by the pillows, and seeing that he was at ease helped Yamile feel more relaxed. Two weeks after she finally brought Zachary home, Yamile got a call from the development director at the NICU to see if she could make her “little hands” for the other premature babies, and she knew this was how she could keep her promise to help babies and their parents.

Yamile spent the next three years refining her hand-sewn design and bringing The Zaky to market. It’s now available in many retail and online stores, is used in hospitals nationwide, and has won numerous product awards.

 Whether it’s an itty-bitty product idea, or a huge life changing business concept, moms can use their day to day experiences to help them become successful in many different ways. Let your ideas soar!

I will be highlighting one or two businesses in my blog, as well as on my new podcasts that will be out soon. Please send me an email if you would like to be featured (brendadronkers@gmail.com)!
Peace and love.
-Bren

The Cross in the Sand

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was at my Pump It Up corporate office as usual.

My office faced the beautiful mountains and I spent many hours staring out my glass window, hoping to catch just a glimpse of a deer, since many wandered that hillside. I chose that particular office because it had the most beautiful view to me..it made me feel peaceful, when it seemed that the walls of my once small, now bustling business were caving in on me.

This particular day, I was sitting at my desk, working (as usual), when my long time best friend walked in to discuss a very big, life changing decision for both of us…. As she sat across from me, I sat, with one hand swinging the pendulum arm of my newly purchased sand pendulum. This pendulum had been a recent gift to myself while on a family trip to Maui.

As we were speaking of praying to God for direction, my friend looked up, and noticed deer walking on the side of the hill. She walked to the window, and I swung my chair around to smile at the beauty of the deer.

Just then, my nephew, Matt, walked into our office. As we retreated back to the desk, Matt noticed something in the sand pendulum.

It was a perfectly created cross. This cross was intricately detailed, with scallops, and beautiful lines! The most exciting part was that the point of the pendulum was set inside of a ring of sand. We immediately called in all of my staff to witness what had just happened! We stood in awe as if we each felt that if we didn’t keep looking at it, that it might just go away! We cried, we hugged, we prayed.

As we went back to work, I am not certain how each person felt, by I felt alive! I felt Blessed! Then, unfortunately, after a few naysayers began to become negative, I felt confused, concerned, and unsure.

I will write more about this event later, and post better photos, once I find them,
but it makes me wonder…

How many times do you feel as though you have been touched, or that you have been spoken to, only to discard it as something else?

Well, that is what I did. What I didn’t know, was this was the beginning of a spiritual journey for me, lasting for years. More to follow… Peace.

It’s a Highly Sensitive subject…

As many of you know, I have ducked out of sight the past couple of weeks. I have been taking some time to learn about the newly defined ‘gift/curse’ that I have been identified with. For me, this has meant days of research on these subjects, with many more to come!

I am an Empath. Yep. There. I said it out loud to the public for the first time….

There are various types of Empaths, so I am still on a journey to figure out my capacity. I have also learned that I am also an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) /HSS (High Sensation Seeker).

For me and for my family, this is an answer to our prayers, and the final answer to all of my ailments, as well as many other things! All these years of migraines, IBS, anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia..why? Well, as an HSP, I was born with a nervous system that responds to stimuli much more than the normal nervous system. Wow! Profound. No wonder doctors have never been able to find a cause for my ailments! Here are some of the other characteristics of an HSP and the Empath, both of which I am. I will get into the HSS (High Sensation Seeker), a very small subgroup of HSP, at a later time.

Highly Sensitive Person Traits
(15-20% of the population is HSP) – (http://www.hsperson.com)

• Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
• Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
• Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
• Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
• Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
• Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
• Do you have a rich and complex inner life?

The Empath (Traits according to http://www.spiritual.com)

Here 16 common traits of an Empath. Remember that these are generalisations and they may not always be obvious.
1. Empaths are quiet achievers but expressive in area’s of emotional connection. They find that talking about emotional issues is a great outlet that aids in undertanding themselves and others.
2. Some empaths can be the opposite of what an empath ‘should’ be because they are overwhelmed or unable to handle emotion and what they feel in the world around them so they block their feelings.
3. They can be focused outward, toward what others feel, rather than themselves. This is a common trait to many people who have not gone through a process of self development.
4. They avoid disharmony caused by emotionally turbulent situations. This type of situation can easily create an uncomfortable feeling because an empath feels this emotion.
5. Empaths are emotionally sensitive to violence and general chaos.
6. Empaths are sensitive to loud noise and televison. In particular, television programs that depict emotional drama like the news and police shows.
7. Thery struggle to comprehend acts of cruelty and crime that involves hurting others.
8. They struggle to comprehend suffering in the world and are often idealists who theorise about fixing the worlds problems.
9. Are often found working as volunteers, with people, animals or the environment.
10. They are expressive so they can often be found in areas of music or the arts.
11. They often have the ability to draw others to them. This includes children and animals as they have a warmth and compassion that is beyond normal You may find that strangers always talk to you if you are an empath.
12. They can be good listeners as they generally have an interest in other people.
13. Empaths can be moody or have large mood swings due to overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotion.
14. They are likely to have had, other paranormal experiences in their life. This could be astral projection, psychic ability or a variety of other experiences.
15. Empaths are daydreamers that have difficulty keeping focused. This is common with people who deal more IN emotion and neglect other area’s of their mind.
16. Like many people on a spiritual path Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. This is something that occurs to everyone however empaths are often more aware and therefore ‘look out’ for it.

I will share more as I learn. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I am happy to pass along any information or resources you need if this too sounds like you!! Take care.

Oh, that Bittersweet Feeling…

I felt it…that tug…in your heart…one of those bittersweet moments as a mom. I have had it before with my older kids, Matt and Jenelle, when they were younger.

I am in Utah, as many of you know, to watch my son, Jake’s team compete  in the Babe Ruth World Series – 13yr. olds.  It has been a long road to the series, with many games behind us.

When we found out that our team had made the World Series, it was met with a huge smile and lots of parental pride, of course!

Jake flew ahead with the team, Ron, Jenelle and Matt drove out and I flew the next day. By the time we arrived in Utah, Jake had already met his host family, and was moved into their home. As a mom, I felt both excitement for him, and sadness for me, as I wasn’t going to be right there for him to pick up his mood if he had a bad game, or to celebrate his wins….. heck, I hadn’t even met them yet. What if Jake doesn’t like them. What if they are mean? I was having a classic mom’s headtrip, no doubt.

Despite my initial concern, Jake has thrived in his host family’s home, and he is having a ball. He barely has a moment to call us (OK, he does have time, but he says he is too busy). Hence, the bittersweet moment,… My little boy is growing up whether I want him to or not.  And I really wouldn’t have it any other way. ;)