For Lindsey Laurain, mealtime with three boys was the ultimate hot mess. With bowls and utensils and placemats, it’s a recipe for food ending up anywhere but kiddos mouths. Clean up took longer than prep time and way longer than the meal itself — and she had had enough. So, she changed one thing that changed everything: she taped the bowl to the placemat, and ezpz was born. In just a few short years, ezpz has produced kitchen-and-sanity-saving products that connect your littles’ bowls with their placemats and suction that all down to the table (aka, no more flying food). Read on for her inspiration from her sons, her favorite role as a Mom, and what she has to say to the internet naysayers:
Name: Lindsey Laurain
Current Title/Company: Founder/ezpz
Education: Arizona State University, MBA and Undergraduate Degree in Business Administration
Children: Brody, 8, Chase, and Drew, 6-year-old twins
Did your career path change as your family started to grow? How did you decide to start your own business?
My career path has definitely shifted since having our first son. I started (and always thought I would be) in corporate America. I had our first son while in corporate America, stayed at home once I had our twins, and then started ezpz purely out of a personal family need. My business background and education have been helpful, but starting a business is really about hard work and flexing / figuring it out along the way. Luckily I have a lot of the innate qualities of what it takes to be an entrepreneur (driven, passionate, optimistic, etc.), so it all just seems to work.
You’ve said the inspiration for ezpz came from difficult mealtimes with your boys. What were the biggest challenges with mealtimes in your family and how did you decide to solve those problems?
As I am sure you can imagine, mealtime with three young boys was (sorry to say it) a nightmare. My husband and I were fed up with the messiness and cleanup time dedicated to each meal, and one night (in the midst of his frustration) my husband said, “There needs to be a better way.” My wheels started turning; I taped a bowl to a piece of paper and, from that day on, I was committed to creating products that made mealtime with kids ezpz.
What did the process look like to turn that inspiration into reality?
Starting and growing ezpz has been a lot of hard work. ezpz is self-funded and we have bootstrapped our way to success. As mentioned, I started by taping a bowl to a piece of paper and also ordered the Mom Inventors Handbook to help guide me through the initial company start up. We have proven that with passion, perseverance and by being genuine (and doing what is right!) you can succeed. Since launching, the majority of our growth has been grassroots and fueled by our amazing community. We also make sure to develop innovative, well-designed products and use our social channels to share what we believe to be valuable, helpful and inspiring content.
Our original mission was pretty simple. We wanted to make family mealtime less about mess and stress and more about fun.
The ezpz mats immediately made a difference in our lives, but we had no idea the impact our products would have within the special needs community. Thanks to the suction feature of our mats, there are many kiddos and adults with disabilities that are eating independently for the first time!
We now have a Speech Language Pathologist on our team and work with medical professionals throughout the world to make a difference. We are so proud of the positive impact our product has had.
ezpz is a young company, but it has had experienced phenomenal growth in such a short time. What are the biggest challenges and rewards that come with growing a business so fast?
It seems as though every day consists of a new set of challenges and a different set of rewards. The highs and lows of startup life can be overwhelming, but I do my best to remain positive and keep things in perspective. Luckily, I have a great team and phenomenal network of experts who help me deal with most of ezpz’s challenges. ezpz’s biggest challenges involve legal matters (copycat products, counterfeit, lawsuits, etc.), but we also have the “smaller” challenges that most startups and small businesses face. Because ezpz is still such a small, intimate team, most of the team is involved in the day-day challenges and we work together to overcome them.
In regards to the rewards, we (of course) love securing new accounts and receiving positive reviews and nice comments. Although it sounds cheesy, every new customer, retailer, distributor, Instagram follower, hashtag post, therapist advocate is special to us.
Tell us a little about your time on Shark Tank. What did you learn from that experience?
I have learned a tremendous amount from Shark Tank and am grateful for the experience. Although the filming and airing was nerve-racking and stressful, the exposure has been great, and the community of other Shark Tank entrepreneurs is a valuable resource. One unfortunate lesson I learned from Shark Tank is that people can be really mean and nasty (especially online trolls!) and getting bullied is not fun! Luckily I have somewhat thick skin and was able to move on and handle most of the comments that were said about my performance or my decisions. Short answer, one of my biggest learnings was that we need more kindness in this world!
You’re an entrepreneur who’s also a mom to three boys. What are the unique challenges that mom-owned business face, and how have you managed those?
The entrepreneurial journey (both Mom or Dad run) is both amazing and unbearably difficult (depending on the day). I wouldn’t change our path, though. Every day is a new adventure and, silver lining, most days I get to work in sweats with my best friends!
What advice do you have for other mothers looking to start their own businesses?
If you really want it, really believe in your product or service and are willing to WORK for it, then go for it! I suggest knowing your goals from the start. Why do you want to start the business and what do you want to get out of it? What is the end goal?
One thing I loved about starting my own business is that our boys get to see Brad (my husband) and I work as a team as we create our own life and journey. Inventing a product has given us a gift I never imagined; we have shown our boys that anything is possible with hard work.
Not sure I can ask for much more!
How has motherhood impacted you as a person and a professional?
I am a better person since having our boys. I am much more conscious of my decisions and the impact my actions have on our boys. I am definitely not perfect, but I do my best and try to honest and open with our boys and instill work ethic and kindness.
You mention that your team consists of women with whom you’ve been friends with for over 20 years. How has their support shaped your success?
Their support is everything to me and ezpz truly wouldn’t be possible without my team. Because of our history, there is an unspoken trust that enables us to work very effectively and efficiently. Since we are like sisters, we generally don’t take things personally and know that, despite contentious conversations about the biz, we’ll be okay (and within short order!). I am extremely grateful for my team and the commitment and hard work everyone has exerted towards ezpz’s success.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as you’ve built your business and grown your family?
Trust your gut, because intuition is real! The saying “mom knows best” is a saying for a reason.
What has surprised you the most about being a working mom?
Interestingly, I have been every kind of working mom – Corporate America Mom, Stay at Home Mom, and now, Entrepreneur Mom. What has surprised me the most is the type of mom that I love the most (Entrepreneur Mom) is the type that I never imagined I would be!
How do you handle work-life balance while also making time for self-care?
I am honestly not sure there is such thing as work-life balance?!
The balance we have in our life works for this chapter of our life, but it has taken a while to achieve and still isn’t perfect. The reality is that I stay up way too late and work way too much.
Luckily, I have a fabulous support system, so I make sure to take time for myself when I need it. Believe me…I love alone time and try to sneak it in when I can!
How has your view of motherhood changed since becoming a mom?
I have realized how much I don’t know, and I definitely no longer place judgment on other moms. We’re doing the best we can!
What’s the most rewarding and challenging part of being a parent?
The most rewarding part for me is knowing that (so far) we have raised three kind and generous boys. The most challenging part is not raising my voice when they are being wild and naughty. I always seem to forget the kindness piece when they are being mischievous.
When it comes to being a mom: what are you most insecure about and what are you most confident about?
I am confident that I am a good role model for our boys. I am insecure about the amount of time I spend with them (mostly due to ezpz). I know, these two statements (in a way) don’t align and contradict each other. #momguilt
If you could only pick one, what has been your favorite memory from motherhood so far?
I have to pick two memories, which are both of my deliveries. Delivering Brody (our first) was so special and then delivering Chase & Drew (identical twins) was also a miraculous experience.
Tell us about your morning routine.
My husband does the morning routine and is a total rock star (and a HUGE part of my support system!). Prior to ezpz, I was a morning person, but now I am a night owl and usually go to bed between 1-3 am (eek, I know). No question, I am one lucky working mama!
Lindsey Laurain is The Everymom…
Easy go-to family meal to prepare?
Noodles with a few veggies & olive oil. Ugh — I hate cooking!
Your dream vacation?
African Safari with the family or remote island with Brad.
Going to the spa solo. Ahhhhh.
Most embarrassing mom moment?
Running after the bus is not one of my proudest moments. We have three boys, so there are honestly too many to name!
Best mom advice you’ve been given?
To love our children unconditionally and to lead by example, teaching them the importance of integrity, kindness, and gratitude.