Julie Aigner-Clark is the stay-at-home-mom-turned-entrepreneur whose dissatisfaction with children’s programming in the late ’90s led to the creation of the multimillion-dollar The Baby Einstein Co.
Aigner-Clark, a native of Grosse Pointe and Michigan State University graduate, will speak about her experience building Baby Einstein on March 6 at the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s sold-out Top Women Owned Businesses event.
Her talk, “Raising a Business,” will focus on her personal journey. It’s a journey that began in her home where she filmed images that her baby enjoyed, with classical music serving as the soundtrack. That led to her attendance at the largest international trade show focused on children’s toys with the needle-in-a-haystack mission of finding a particular company representative, and finally to her products’ success on store shelves.
“Overcoming obstacles is a huge part of what I talk about, because I was really starting in a basement,” Aigner-Clark said. “I was a teacher and I didn’t have any experience in business at all — and how much I learned along the way! In some ways, I really felt like — and feel like — common sense is really what makes the most sense.”
Aigner-Clark will share the 10 tips she says are critical to anyone starting a business. She said she hopes her talk will inspire others to follow their passion.
“Mostly it’s about doing what you are passionate about.”
After selling her business to The Walt Disney Co. in 2001, Aigner-Clark founded The Safe Side, which produced two videos, “Internet Safety” and “Stranger Safety,” in collaboration with “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh. The profits from those ventures benefited the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
She also faced one of the biggest obstacles anyone can face: a battle with breast cancer. Upon receiving her diagnosis, she wrote the children’s book “You Are the Best Medicine.”
This year, Aigner-Clark is about to launch her newest venture. Baby Bytes is an app development company focused on apps for children age 1 and older. The company also will publish a series of fun and creative e-books focused on birds and historical figures.
Aigner-Clark said that once someone catches the entrepreneurship bug, it’s hard to stop coming up with new ideas.