Rebecca Rabson is the inventor and COO of the SmartSeat chair protector. See how this mom went from being a lawyer to a home-based business owner that creates innovative products that make life easier.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I am a mom to two wonderful boys, ages six and eight. I’ve been home with them full-time since my oldest was born in 2002. My boys are the best, but they are also very messy.
I invented my product, the SmartSeat Chair Protector, several years ago after we renovated our dining room and kitchen and bought our first nice dining room set. I really wanted to be able to eat family meals in our new dining room, but I also was concerned that my boys would ruin my new chairs.
I looked for a waterproof seat cover, but couldn’t find any on the market that I liked. Vinyl seat covers are unattractive and uncomfortable to sit on (they stick to bare legs and squeak when you move). Full slipcovers completely change the look of your chairs and aren’t waterproof anyway. Frustrated by the lack of options on the market, I decided to come up with my own design.
My design worked so well that my husband encouraged me to look into what it would take to have my covers made. Since neither of us had any experience in manufacturing, marketing, or consumer goods, we had a lot to learn, but it has been a lot of fun too!
How did you fund your invention?
We used our own money to fund the company. We also partnered up with a friend, who also chipped in.
What did you do before launching your own business?
Before launching SmartSeat Chair Protectors by pb&j Discoveries, I was a stay-at-home mom. Before kids, I was a lawyer.
How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent in your home office?
I don’t keep track of how many hours I work. As a lawyer, I always had to do that. Part of what I love about having my own company is that I don’t have to do that anymore!
I work as much as a can while the kids are at school and in the evenings after they go to bed. Virtually all of my time is in front of my computer. I spend my days working on SEO, reaching out to other mompreneurs, responding to customer inquiries, etc. Once a day, I take a break to deliver any orders that have come into the post office.
How would you rate your success?
I consider it a success that we were able to bring a product to market at all. It was a challenge to find a manufacturer, build a website, and figure out how to drive traffic to our site. Though we’ve only been selling our covers online since August 2010, our sales have been steadily growing each month. That feels like a huge success to me!
What has been your biggest business struggle as an inventor?
I think that the biggest business struggle has been funding. We were very lucky that we had some money that we could put into the business. But, realistically, we could only put so much in. It has been a challenge to grow our business with limited funds.
What advice would you give to an aspiring inventor?
To find a mentor! In the beginning, I was very lucky to be introduced to some other women who had started their own companies. These women were such great resources and so willing to share information and be helpful. In fact, one of the best things about having my own business is connecting with all of the fabulous female entrepreneurs out there. So, I would definitely recommend trying to find someone who can be a mentor. And these days, there are a lot of great websites that can help make that happen.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I feel very blessed to have a job that is flexible and gives me the time I need for my family and personal life. Of course, I struggle to fit everything, just like everyone else. And there are times when things just don’t get done. But I try to keep positive and continue to do my best every day.
Thanks to Rebecca Rabson for sharing her story!