With school back in session, it’s time to wrap up our “Smarty Mom Summer Survival Series” and get back on track to fully highlighting the endless women in this community who live Smarty every single day. I’m excited to introduce this week’s Smarty Mom, Lori Martin, founder of the Purple Martin & Co.
Lori is mom to Emma (8), Charlie, (5) and Molly (2). She is married to hubby, Andy, and they have lived in Charlotte for 6 years. In her “previous life” (that would be prior to staying home with her children:-), Lori was an investment banking analyst with experience in New York and then Charlotte. She and hubby moved to London, England where their oldest, Emma, was born. Upon returning to the US in 2002, Lori came back to Wachovia in the Business Development group for Mergers & Acquisitions. After a few more children, Lori gave birth to a new baby, the Purple Martin & Co. I’ll let her tell you all about it. Here’s Lori:
Tell us about the Purple Martin & Co. What inspired you to start it?
I create customized family resources, with gorgeous paper, primarily for busy moms. I founded The Purple Martin & Co. on the single principle that an organized, regularly updated, family handbook should be a staple in each household. Paper is truly the only shareable resource around. My mother, babysitter, or other caregivers would not be able to reference my blackberry or my computer, would not interpret which babysitter to call from my address book and definitely would not know my carpool routine OR the chart number and my kids favorite “back-up” pediatrician in a pinch.
This need for a single family resource became abundantly clear to me in
2004. Five days following the birth of my son (now 5), I was sent back to
the hospital for nearly a week. I had unknowingly torn a major artery and
was in serious condition. Following surgery and a significant transfusion, I
was strong enough to return home but still too weak to care for my family.
My well-intended care-givers (mother, mother-in-law, husband, babysitters,
neighbors) all desperately wanted to help me. I had a 2-year-old and she
needed constant supervision, a newborn son, and I was silently grieving the
traumatic experience I had been through.
I had thought of it all. Emergency numbers were taped to the inside of my
pantry, the extra insurance card was tucked away on my memo board, the
daycare phone number was taped to the fridge and my computer held the daily
routine I would print out in case we wanted to go out of town! Wasn’t this
all someone would need to understand how to help in an emergency? The short
answer was, no.
I found out the hard way that this was not a good way to communicate my
daily “mom life” to others. I could understand someone needing to ask me
about the details, but the big picture of my daily routine was not mapped
out anywhere. My husband even had to ask me which day to put the trash out.
Not his fault – I just always took care of it.
After recovery, I decided to never put myself in that position again. I
started working on my first “Martin Family Handbook.” My husband jokingly
called it my “dork book,” and yes, I had to agree. I became passionate about
chronicling my children’s schedules, doctors, medical chart numbers, the
foods they liked & didn’t like, the babysitter contacts, the air conditioner
repair man, etc.! Every piece of information I used to run my daily “mommy
job” was documented. It was essentially a living & breathing document for
our family and served as “command central.”
Fast forward to today … I definitely don’t live my life anticipating
another emergency, but what I have discovered is that having all of this
critical information in a single place has been a wonderful blessing to my
family. I literally use my handbook every day and I take a smaller version
(the “on the go” book) with me everywhere. It gives my family a safety net for emergencies, but even more importantly a command central where anyone can reference critical information in a pinch!
You recently published a “What’s Up Charlotte?” calendar. How do I get one?
I love this calendar! I got the idea from a client. I always ask my
clients what their “biggest data dilemma is.” This client said she hated
finding out after the fact when concerts and other fun events were happening
in town! We are so busy as moms that sometimes taking the time to look up
fun things (for our family or ourselves) to do can take a back seat. As
moms, we also like to plan … and I quickly realized that there are enough
predictable events in town 12 months in advance!
I put the original calendar together for her and then added a contact list
of other “mommy things to do in town.” The calendar took on a life of its
own from there. I am printing calendars through Sept 30th and anyone can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will ensure they receive one. They are $15 which includes a $1 donation to The Relatives.
The Calendars are all printed in color, nicely bound and subscribers have
the option of receiving a monthly email with additional events that were not
available at the time of publication (i.e the circus, Charlotte Checkers
schedule, additional concerts at Verizon, Uptown Amphitheatre, Bobcats
Arena, festivals in town etc.). I must say, even though it was initially
geared towards moms, this calendar really does appeal to ALL age groups.
The Purple Martin & Co has a big heart. Tell us about the Relatives and how you are supporting them?
The Relatives is a very special place. It is the only emergency shelter in Mecklenburg County for runaway, homeless and other youth in crisis for kids ages 7 to 17. The home is located on East Blvd in Dilworth. I chose this philanthropy because it is a place I can support both financially AND personally. I like to be “hand’s-on” with places I support. For example, I helped organize a “back-to-school success night” for the current residents this past week. My daughter, Emma, and I provided dinner while Laurie Martin (with the home organization business, Simplicity) led a discussion on back-to-school tips & organization ideas! We surprised the kids with backpacks LOADED with brand new school supplies which were donated from The Purple Martin & Co., Simplicity, Carolina Pad & The Board of The Relatives. The evening was so much fun and the smiles were from ear to ear!
Financially, I donate a percentage of each handbook sale back to The Relatives and my daughter, Emma has sold hats with The Purple Martin & Co’s logo with 100% of the proceeds going directly to The Relatives. Charlotteans can feel great about their calendar purchases because $1 of every calendar purchase is going directly to The Relatives. I have a personal goal of raising $200 from calendar sales for this special home.
What is the biggest challenge you faced as a stay-at-home mom who ventured out to start a new business?
The biggest challenge has been balance. I have one idea and that leads to another idea pretty quickly. I become easily wrapped up in my new idea then stop to remember …. the bread is burning in the oven! My kids have enjoyed my excitement for what I am doing but sometimes they need me to just “turn if off.” They are my biggest fans but being a great mom is my first priority.
You are the queen of being organized! What is your best tip for moms as they enter a new school year?
It’s really 3 tips combined ….
1. Keep your critical information updated
2. Keep your critical information in one place &
2. Don’t rely 100% on technology.
Technology is fast, convenient and very portable but it is not easily shareable and does not convey our intent for our family. As much as we hate it, so much of our mommy lives is driven by paper.
I tell clients who love their Blackberries & i-phones (I love mine too) to
ensure they link the devices to their PC’s, to back up their entire operating systems regularly and to also print out any critical family information they update (schedules, contact information, school information, medical facts etc.).
OK, tell us more about what you like to do in this town. What is your favorite family activity?
Time at the beach. Everyone has the freedom and space to spread out, run, swim, play and just enjoy each other!
What is your favorite “mommy-time” activity?
“Dance Party” with the kids when we just all need to be silly. When the dinner / bedtime / bath routine gets crazy I crank up the music and we dance and sing to change the tune from “whining” to “off key silly singing!”
Favorite date-night spot?
The Wine Shop in Foxcroft Shopping Center
Favorite girls lunch spot?
Lulu’s on Central
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Funniest thing your children have ever said to you?
My 8-year-old said to me (when her mouth got her in trouble one night) …. “Sometimes my brain controls my mouth and I just can’t help it …!”
My 5-year-old said to me (during an adventure to the mall) … “I just
ran out of power … I will not walk one more step.”
What has been your favorite CSP article thus far?
I loved the blog Randy kept while Jen went to Florida this summer! My favorite part was when Jen would check in at the end of the day and tell us how she was doing! It was such a wonderful way to see their sweet family dynamics and how they work as such a team & support each other’s need to have a break.
Smartiest way you save $?
For birthday party gifts, I always buy my gift bags & tissue paper at The Dollar Tree (everything $1) and I love to give books for children’s birthdays. I recently purchased amazing hard cover books (great authors with wonderful illustrations) at Tuesday Morning for less than $5.00 piece. Shhhhh… I shouldn’t gift and tell but it is SUCH a great way to save!
Best birthday party you’ve attended?
My husband and I just attended a 40th birthday party for a dear friend. People from all walks of his life were in attendance and his wife gave the most wonderful speech in his honor. The event reminded me how important family and friends are. In times like these, putting relationships first brings so many things into perspective.
I could not live without my…
“On The Go Family Handbook”… I love my Blackberry but will never be able to do without my paper! I am so visual and information cannot be retrieved from my Blackberry the way I need it in a pinch. I want to remember when my 2 kids eat lunch at school every day ~ that is on my “School Info. Page.” I want an entire list of babysitters, when their birthdays are, days they prefer to sit, etc. and I have that all on one page.
I have all of my contacts, calendar dates, service providers, family members, vet information, ALL doctors, business contacts, carpool lists,class lists, school contact information, activity rosters …. you name it I have it with me at all times in a 6 x 9 binder. You could essentially call it my brain in a “mini-book!”
Thanks, Lori. I too have become obsessed with my Purple Martin Handbook, especially this week with back-to-school. How many times am I going to have to remember my insurance card number and address? Thanks to my handy handbook, it’s all in the same spot! Do you have a mom or dad you’d like to mominate? Please email us – we would love to hear from you!