This is the second article in our Mom Inventors Series. Here’s another Mom who’s creating something really useful for Mums – a Pacifier for Weaning a Toddler off Pacifiers!
Penny’s Invention: Ditch the Dummy, is a modification of a regular pacifier.
A hole is placed in the nipple at time of manufacture, to render the pacifier unsatisfying to the child. This is a proven technique for pacifier weaning.
Penny says, “Trying to wean your child off his or her pacifier can be a daunting task; I know I’ve been through it!”
For decades, parents have poked holes in their child’s pacifiers for weaning purposes, however, this “do it yourself” technique can be harmful to the child. By compromising the integrity of the nipple, bits can break off and create a choking hazard or slivers of silicon can become in-bedded in the child’s gums.
As the hole in Ditch the Dummy is a manufactured hole, we have created a simple, safe and affordable product. Most children wean themselves within a matter of days after realizing that sucking on a pacifier really “isn’t all that”!
Here’s our Interview with Mom Entrepreneur: Penny Angela, Inventor of Ditch the Dummy
What do you do for a living?
I was customer service & sales for a communications company. Right now I work 3 days a week as a test centre administrator, administrating tests for CPA’s, Doctors etc. and I also work for a local author. I’m her Copywriter, Marketer and Business Administrator. And then of course, I work on my own business, Ditch the Dummy.
Which takes most of your time?
At this stage in my business for the product, it does take a lot of time, just brought on board a marketing administrator for that part of the business. That was taking up my most of my time, which is changing drastically now. Within the next week he’ll be taking over all marketing. The marketing for my product was my least favourite thing to do.
Creating the product? Was that exciting?
There were a lot of hiccups along the way, really not easy. Coming up with the product was the easy part, but trying to source a manufacturer was the most difficult part. That’s what took most of the time, from creation to development.
Where’s your manufacturer? China.
Always the best manufacturers at the best price…
Oh my goodness. I sourced manufacturers in the States and we couldn’t afford to use any of them. The price difference was so drastic. It was amazing, it was an eye-opener.
When did you become a Mompreneur?
I first started on development of the product in Dec 2015. It took us till the end of September to get the product. We picked up the product from Miami in the dock.
How many products did you get in your first shipment? 20,000
How did you fund that?
We have a 401K in the States. If you work for certain companies, it’s kind of a like a retirement fund where they match what we put in. I cashed in my 401K and used a good portion.
How many years have you been working to accumulate that? Is it your whole life savings?
No. Only 5 years – just the length of my previous job.
Where do you work most days?
3 days a week, I go to my job. The rest of the time, I’m home online working for the lady author or working on this business. Most of the time, I’m at my home office.
How old are your children?
I have 1 little boy called Joey, he’s 6 now.
Which job title best describes you?
Online Small Business Owner. We’re selling through Amazon and doing quite well.
Oh yes, lots of sales. Through the website, we’re selling internationally, so it’s not just the States. We’re selling to Canada, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the States.
Are you selling to wholesalers or to individuals?
Most people buy between 2-4 units per sale. We have not fulfilled any bulk orders at this time.
I’m interested to know why parents buy more than 1 unit when their child is going to wean within a few days?
Parents usually buy more than one at a time because they’re used to having more than one regular pacifier at hand. One is being used by the child, one in their purse etc. When using Ditch the Dummy, parents must make sure all regular pacifiers are out of the child’s reach. And as a parent of a child with pacifier addiction, you always make sure you have spares.
Aah, that makes sense. My son never took to a pacifier, so his addiction is to nursing. 😉
How many days per week do you work, on average?
Less now, since I started this new job. Probably 2-3 days a week. It was 5 days a week but now down to 2-3 days, just on the product.
How many hours do you estimate you work per day, on average?
Probably about 7 or 8 hours a day. That will go down drastically as I’m bringing on a Marketing Manager. Marketing is not my strong point. I’ve been doing Sales my whole life, so Marketing is not my thing. (I’ve done all kinds of Sales. Face to face. Also telesales.)
What do you hope to earn as an Entrepreneur?
I’d like to retire on this one day. It’s a very simple concept. It’s not a difficult business to run. To actually purchase the product itself is amazingly cheap (what I’m selling it at per unit), yet there’s an enormous profit margin. Hence we can afford to pay somebody to help out. My marketing is going to be automated with the new Marketing Manager.
What do you find more Challenging? Being a Mom, or being an Entrepreneur?
Being a Mom, definitely! Joey’s adopted. We fostered him first when he was just 20 months old. He was 2 years before we finally managed to adopt him. And I was all over the place having such a young child. I thought we’d probably end up with an older child. I hadn’t ever changed a diaper. That was my level of experience. It’s still ongoing, comes up with new challenges every day. It’s amazing, but I have got him to age 6 without any serious injury, so I haven’t done too badly (laughing).
Yeah, I hear you. My son is 3 and usually very good when we go out for our walks but today he ran right across the road in front of a car. Luckily the driver saw him in time, slowed down and stopped. But I was in total shock. I couldn’t believe he would do such a thing. I asked him why he did it, and he said he was being a teenage mutant ninja turtle. I’ve really got to watch him now. He believes he has super human powers.
Aah, I know, I have a little ninja turtle myself. I just enrolled him in karate classes, 3 nights a week and he’s learning to be a ninja turtle. I would highly recommend it because he is loving it. When your little boy gets older I would definitely enroll him in something like that.
I am really keen on Martial Arts, I’ve read up about martial arts and how good it is for them, to learn to focus and concentrate – and also to expend energy because boys need to expend a LOT of energy.
Yes, it really is, and we’ve noticed his attitude is changing. He’s a lot more polite, he’s a lot more attentive, we can see the difference in just 3 weeks. He’s getting along better at school. He got an award for the most improved in behavior. I’m putting that down to the martial arts.
3 times a week, that’s amazing. So it’s obviously nearby?
It’s about 30 minutes away, but we have nothing nearby. We live in the middle of the woods, out in the middle of nowhere. We have satellite internet, we don’t even have proper internet. We have 10 acres in the middle of nowhere. I’d say Daytona Beach is closest to us. We are about an hour away from Orlando, Florida.
I’m interested to know how you landed up fostering and adopting?
Myself and my husband, we’ve been together for 14 years and we never had children. So one day we just decided to adopt. It was just one decision and we went forward with it.
The easiest way to adopt a child is through the fostering system. Once you’re in the fostering system, if a child you’re fostering does come up for adoption, you have first right of refusal. We had a friend who had gone through the system and he said, you’re helping children, you might foster quite a few children before one comes for adoption. And also it’s not thousands & thousands of dollars to adopt.
Was he the first child you fostered?
Yes, he was the only child we fostered.
Is his school also 30 minutes away?
We’re very lucky to have a very small village, 5 miles away, with a store, post office & his school.
Lovely. It sounds like a beautiful place to grow up. He’s a lucky boy.
Well, we’re lucky to have him.
What do you find more fulfilling? Being a Mom, or being an Entrepreneur?
Oh, being a Mom.
Do you consider yourself a Successful Entrepreneur? It sounds like you are already successful in this venture.
Yes, I do.
When did you take the decision to become an Entrepreneur?
I came up with the idea and did a bit of research and that was about December 2015.
Why did you take the decision to become an Entrepreneur?
Well, first of all we knew it worked because we used it on Joey. We took a regular pacifier, we snipped a little hole in it and it worked, so we knew it worked. A friend of mine weaned her children the same way. We just thought that if we could get it manufactured cheaply enough, it should be a hit.
And that’s exactly what you’ve done. Did you have to get it patented?
We have a Patent Pending on it now. It can take a couple of years.
Do you feel there’s a difference between Mother and Father Entrepreneurs?
Definitely. I think fathers get away with a lot more than we do. They have a lot more time to do what they like than we do. Even though we’re both working, we are the ones who end up also doing the housework and then the cooking and stuff. And I think they’re also probably taken a lot more seriously than we are.
Would you like to share any highs or lows in your career (as a Mom Entrepreneur)?
The definite high in the business is obviously when we make sales. That’s the definite high.
And the lows I suppose were, I could do in 3 months on another product what took me 12 months the first time around. When you’re trying to source manufacturers & get information, there are a lot of companies on the web that are not so trustworthy. There are a lot of scams out there. So you’ve got to kind of wade through a lot of crap before you find someone that can do the work. I think that was one of the biggest downers in the whole thing.
You could be speaking to businesses for 2 or 3 weeks before you realise that’s not the way to want to go, that’s not where you want to take the business, and that can be a huge time-waster. So there’s a lot of weeding out, you’ve got to learn about what to do, where to get a proper manufacturer, where to get the plans started, so you’ve got to wade through things like that. So I wasted a lot of a time, but I didn’t lose any money, let’s put it that way.
My husband’s in freight forwarding and clearing and he had a client over here, importing goods from China and she started working with a new manufacturer, and when her 3 containers arrived from them, there were no goods, only sand. So that happens. And you know how long you wait, you pay your manufacturer upfront and you can wait a long time for your goods to manufactured and shipped to you and then, of course, you pay your shipping costs. Everything is on your account and to land up with nothing is terrible. So I’m glad you found the right manufacturer, right from the start.
Exactly. We did have a problem with the artwork. They had to change the artwork on all 20,000 products before they shipped. They weren’t protected from the heat.
How long is your manufacturing process?
About 2 months. From placing the order, to have them landed in Miami it takes about 2 months. We didn’t pay separate shipping. That was included in the unit price.
And did you pay Customs duty?
Yes, there is 1% customs duty. Although that might be raised by Donald Trump. We have a Customs Agent in Miami who handles the paperwork, and we hire a trailer for the day and my husband and I go and pick them up.
What has been the number one highlight of your career (as a Mompreneur)?
I think my highlight right now is bringing on board this Marketing Manager. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. He’s going to be doing the online marketing and social media marketing.
I run the Amazon side of it and the Amazon side of it is easy because they do the fulfillment of it as well. I just ship a box whenever they need it. They take 15%.
Aah, I thought they took 40%? It depends on the product you’re selling.
I’m looking to sell a book on Amazon.
Are you looking to publish on Create Space or Kindle? I publish books on both for my Author and you really don’t get a lot at the end of it, so that would be a very high percentage. Create Space, you know she loves to get her books on paperback. That’s why we do Create Space. Both of them are very, very simple, but she won’t become a Millionaire out of them. On Create Space, if you sell a book for $10, you end up with less than $3. So not a lot on Create Space, Kindle is better. 8 books published now to date on Kindle and Create Space. She makes changes but it’s fairly easy to do.
Aah, wonderful to have advice from someone who’s already doing what I’m about to do. Thank you.
What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome in your career?
The decision to run with it, we’re going to go ahead and do it. It took a lot of guts.
Is your husband in the business with you?
My husband sells Harley Davidson motorcycles. He works for the largest Harley Davidson dealership in the world, in Daytona Beach.
What has been the number one highlight of Motherhood for you?
I think it’s the hugs and the kisses and the I Love You’s. He’s at that very loving stage and it’s probably not going to last that much longer, but he’s at that very loving stage right now. It’s just adorable.
What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome as a Mother?
Pacifier Weaning and changing that first diaper! (ha ha)
Has it been tricky balancing your work and home life?
Yes, especially when I was trying to learn and do the marketing myself. It seemed like as soon as you came into the office and started working, your day would be gone and you were having to stop what you’re doing and go pick him up from school. I don’t know where my days went. I might have had some resentment there when I had to be called away. I love working, you know. So I think, if I had to be truthful, that there was some resentment at having to stop work. My days flash by. I think that just felt like 5 minutes.
Once you fetch him from school, do you stop work for the day, or carry on working?
No, you can’t do anything once he’s home, nothing at all. I pick him up at 5, 5:30. And on the weekend, I can’t do anything when he’s here. And my husband’s in retail so he works most weekends. A lot of weekends it’s just me and Joey.
What do you love most about being a Mom Entrepreneur?
I’m finding I’m a lot more relaxed now. Now that I’m not putting all those hours in, I find that I want to do the Mom thing and not the Entrepreneur thing. I find I’m backing away from the hours I used to spend on work and I can relax now, whereas before, I was more anxious about it and worried about it and now I can step back and relax more. And I feel a lot better taking that step back from the business, because it can be all consuming, and it was all consuming for a lot of months. So I’m just glad to be taking a step back.
And well done for getting to this point, it’s such a huge undertaking and I can’t believe you did it in 12 months, to me that sounds extremely fast – especially to be getting sales already.
All things considered, do you feel it was a good decision to become an Entrepreneur?
Definitely yes. I have another stream of income now that will be pretty much automated. There will be very little to do on my end now, just to make sure that everybody has their products. Which means just placing the order and a trip to Miami every now and again.
Do you think you will add to your product range, now that you have the manufacturer in place? Do you think you might come up with some other ideas?
No. I’m not adding, definitely not. I don’t have any more ideas.
Do you work from home? If so, what does your room or desk look like?
I have a separate office where shipments can come in and go out. And yeah, I can shut the dogs out. It’s a nice little office. I have my laptop, laser printer, a whole office set-up here.
Do you think it’s harder to balance work and home life working from home?
I think so, yeah. I think it can be. It’s very tempting, on the weekend…. I have to try not come into the office of the weekend to try get some work done. Before this, I worked in the same office for the telecommunications company for 5 years.
Do you feel you are living your passion? I believe I’m getting into that phase now.
Do you feel you have already created your best work? Yes
If you were to die tomorrow, would you be at peace knowing you had lived a full, happy and meaningful life? Or would you feel you were dying with your song unsung?
I think I’d be okay with that. I’ve travelled a lot, lived in different countries. I didn’t get married till later on in life, I’ve had a lot of experiences. I’d be peace.
I lived in Israel, in Jerusalem for 2 and a half years, I lived in Southern Ireland for 7 years, Scotland and all different parts of the UK.
I’ve actually visited South Africa. We stayed at Sun City. I’m actually English. I was a Sales Manager in England before I came to the States, we came out on a Company Vacation.
Where you born in the UK?
Yeah. I was born in the UK. I moved to the States in 2003. My husband is Portuguese. The only American in the family is Joey.
That’s interesting, because one of the Moms I recently interviewed on Inspiring Mompreneurs is also British and now living in Florida. Helen Vella is a Life Coach. See Helen Vella’s Interview
Do you have a message you would like the world to hear?
If anybody has a dream, if anybody has a good concept or an idea and they want to move forward with it, I would say, “Don’t just dive in, but research it first”. There’s a lot of research they have to do before they go ahead and do it. There are a lot of pitfalls, a lot of learning curves.
It’s a long journey and you have to be committed. I would have wasted a lot of time and money if I only got half way through this journey and stopped before I actually got to the end gain. So I think it’s a great thing to do as long as you have full commitment and you finish it. Also, it must be something you’re passionate about, or should I say, something you believe in, you need to have full faith in it.
Is there a book or a song or a movie that has had huge significance or meaning in your life?
Not so much a book, but there are a few people online who have helped me quite a lot.
In particular, a company called Micromentor.org. It’s an online community where you can pick mentors to help you in different stages of your business. I had probably about 6 different mentors help me with 6 different stages of the business. I can definitely recommend micromentor.org, and it’s a free website.
Once you’re in touch with a mentor there’s different ways you contact them, on email or Skype, depending on how they like to work. It’s a great tool, it’s a great resource.
So when they’re mentoring you, it’s also free?
Yeah, totally free.
That’s amazing. So it is just people who’ve already been down this track and they want to share what they know?
Yes, and I’m sure it’s great to have on your Resume that you’re a Mentor as well, but nobody gets paid for it. They’ve been in business, or they’ve been down the same road. Say for example, they’re helping you with Marketing, they might run a Marketing company and they might get business from that. So they might pick up some clients through the mentoring.
Is it just open to residents in the US, or is it worldwide?
I’m pretty sure it is worldwide. I had a mentor from India.
Which tools of the trade have been enormously helpful for you?
Fiverr.com, I’m sure you’ve heard of that in South Africa.
Yes, I’ve just started getting business on fiverr. Check out my Top Selling fiverr Gig here. Join Fiverr here.
I’ve had my logo done on fiverr. Also my mini commercial, that was done on fiverr . I was so pleased with the mini commercial, it was only $40 and it was fabulous.
Neil Patel – A gentleman who’s a millionaire in London. He does a lot of webinars, if you get on his email base you get some really good stuff from him.
And anyone who likes to learn from videos on You Tube. I got a lot of tips on social media marketing from an Australian guy called Lazy Ass Stoner. He’s great, he’s really easy to learn from, the way he speaks, there’s no fluff, he’s straight to business. It’s worth just watching some of his You Tube videos.
Did you come across Timothy Ferriss at all? No.
Aah, because maybe that’s a good next step for you, because he teaches all about automating. His first book, The 4 Hour Work Week, talks about how he took a product to market, and found that 80% of his sales were coming from his wholesalers and 20% were coming from individuals. So he changed his whole focus and started only selling to his wholesalers because the 20% were taking up all of his time. I would imagine you’ll have wholesalers approaching you quite quickly, and they’ll get your product into pharmacies and stores. It’s a great way to go. Timothy Ferriss says he works 4 hours a week and he’s a multi-millionaire.
That sounds wonderful, because I don’t want to put my product into any stores right now, I’m really not going down that route at all.
What happens is, people find you and then they do it. That’s what you really want… you want people coming to you and saying, can I have the exclusive rights for South Africa, or for India… or wherever, and you give them that and they just run with it. It’s wonderful.
What advice would you give someone just starting out as an entrepreneur? I think you answered that in “Do you have a message for the world?”
Oh, one thing I would say is: Make sure the name you come up with is not Trademarked already.
The name I came up with first was Binky Stop and we set up the website, we had everything set up to roll with that name and then found it was Trademarked. We wasted a lot of time having to re-do the website. Make sure there are no Trademarks.
If we didn’t find out that it was Trademarked, that would have been 20,000 units we’d have had to throw away. It would have been crazy.
How did you find out?
I was actually speaking to the CEO of another company that dealt in baby products. I was looking to see if she sold private label products on her website. She didn’t but we did get talking and she had created a type of baby wipes for cleaning off pacifiers and such, but unfortunately she chose the same name as an existing product. And apparently the company sent her a cease and desist letter and offered to take over the units. That cost her $12,000.
That was really by chance, just by speaking to someone else in this business who had experience with that.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you knew when you started out as an entrepreneur?
Everything. Every stage is a learning curve. Every single step is a learning curve, you’re learning all along. And it’s a minefield.
There are avenues I went down I should have avoided, just not knowing anything about it. No-one does, until you make the journey you don’t know what to expect. So you have to take the journey.
Yeah, everything, everything really. This time last year I knew nothing.
So it’s been an incredible year for you.
It has, I’ve been very busy.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you knew when you first became a Mom?
I think that’s the same kind of thing, you just have to learn as you go along, really.
And I have no regrets. I couldn’t imagine him not being here. And I’m still learning.
Is there anything you feel you missed out on by becoming an entrepreneur?
I think I missed out on time with Joey. I didn’t give Joey as much attention as I should have done. I always felt like I should be working all the time. Now I seem to be taking a step back, I’m a lot calmer, I’m not snappy. It’s very stressful and it’s hard to try be that perfect wife and mother when your head is up your ass, you know.
Is there anything you feel you gained by becoming an entrepreneur?
We have half a garage left, a lot of boxes (laughing). A wealth of experience.
So, once you’ve sold this first shipment, your first 20,000 units, will you be in the green? Will you have paid off everything you’ve invested? Or are you already in the green?
The person we’re taking on board will be doing it for a percentage he’ll be getting a certain dollar amount per product sold on the website. And as we’ve just raised the price of the product, it shouldn’t affect us that much. And the person who’ll be doing the marking, that’s all he does. He does the marketing for various companies.
We met him through a society called 1 Million Cups. Entrepreneurs get together every morning down in Daytona Beach, and they do this in lots of different States. They run Presentations every Wednesday morning. They do a presentation on their business and their website. I did a presentation and the gentleman who’s going to be helping us, he’s one of the organizers, and he said it was one of the Top 5 Presentations he’s ever heard. He was eager to come in with us and get on board.
At the presentation you get questions and feedback from a lot of good business minds. What came out of the feedback from a lot of them was that we were selling the product too cheaply. So we took their advice, raised the price of the product and we’ve put that money to good use, as some of it goes to our new Marketing Manager.
So you’re not losing anything and you’re gaining his expertise. That’s fantastic. And he’ll also be doing really well with it as well. When you’re selling millions of them off the website he’ll be making a fortune along with you because he’s not carrying any of the costs.
Yes. We’re paying him off sold units. But what would take me 8 hours to do, would take him 8 minutes, because he’s a Specialist.
Do you feel you chose an easy path or a difficult one?
Definitely a difficult one. Now at this stage, with changes we’re making right now, from now on it should be extremely easy.
Yay! And it only took you a year to get there. That’s brilliant.
Which people have been enormously helpful to you?
My husband has been 100% behind me. I’m a complete technophobe so he’s done a lot of the website work and such. One of my mentors built the website and my husband makes changes on his days off. He’s been great.
Are there any courses or studies you feel have been essential to your success? I would imagine your entire life everything you’ve done has contributed to your success.
I don’t know. Not really, because this idea just came out of the blue. I never thought of anything like this, I’ve never been in retail or done anything online. It’s a completely new experience to anything I’ve done in my life, it’s an experience that I’m glad to have come out of the other end.
When I first started out, I thought it would be wonderful to do everything myself, all the marketing myself until I actually realised I can’t stand this. I’ve never been a big facebook person at all. I’ve never been into the social media side of things. And that’s a huge thing you have to get into to promote a product like this. I thought it would be great. And I know this is what you do and you love it because you’re a blogger and such and I definitely thought it would be great, but it wasn’t. It’s just not for me.
That’s interesting you say that, because I’m actually not on facebook at all and my websites are not on Facebook or Twitter. I love Pinterest, I absolutely adore Pinterest. But I don’t like Facebook or Twitter, and it might be my downfall in the future, or I might have to hire someone to do my Social Media at some stage like you’ve done. Because it takes too much work. Facebook and Twitter, you have to be posting all day, every day. I don’t have that kind of time.
Exactly, we’re on exactly the same page. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do, and it’s been like hell for me. Pinterest, I haven’t even tried to get my head around that side, and now, thank goodness, I don’t have to. And also, Reddit, whatever I did on Reddit, I seemed to get a slap on the wrist.
Oh, Reddit! You know, I look at Reddit and I just think that’s a waste of my time, too much energy you have to put in to get anywhere with Reddit.
Yeah, that’s I’ve been trying to do it 4 or 5 months, and it’s been hell.
I agree with you, building a social media presence takes a lot of time and hard work. It makes sense to hand it over to someone who is further down the road than you – and loves it.
Yes, you have to love it, that’s it.
Great that you found someone who does.
Who is your target market? If I were to give you a referral, who would I be looking for?
Females between the age of 25 & 44, who are parents of toddlers.
(And I would like to add, Wholesalers to those people. You’ll see what I mean when you read Timothy Ferriss’ book.)
Do you have any relatable quotes you’d like to share?
I have an affirmation that I’ve known for years, if I’m on my way to an important meeting I’ll say this affirmation 3 times.
I am a powerful and dynamic woman. I am open to the universe and all its abundance. Every part of my body is working perfectly and my income is constantly growing.
Editors Note: Found some great books on Pacifier Weaning on Amazon:
Purchase Ditch the Dummy on Amazon or directly off Penny’s Website: Ditch the Dummy.com
Follow Ditch the Dummy on:
You can have this effect just trimming the tip of pacifier, but it involves chooking hazard as you are compromising the structure of dummy and some of it can fall apart so this one, which is specially manufactured maybe is a safer solution. I can recommend a guide from parental-love.com with bunch of pacifier weaning systems.
Yes, I believe the homemade version is not safe, Bella. Thanks for the heads up on that post.
Hi, nice article….I loved information regarding Australia guy, Lazy Ass Stoner’s Youtube videos.
Hi Rajinder, thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed!