In her former life, Julie Fry was the first employee of Chuckit!, the ubiquitous, bright orange fetch toy that dog owners use to launch balls long distances
When Julie was introduced to the company in 1999 she was at a park with her dog where the owner was selling the toy out of his van. At the time Julie represented small manufacturers to national retailers and was looking for another client to add to her portfolio. The owner agreed to let Julie attend Chuckit!’s first trade show with him, and the rest was history. As the company’s National Accounts Manager Julie consistently met and exceeded sales goal, playing a role in turning the local brand into a household name. She was with Chuckit! for over a decade, but her position began requiring more national and international travel and as a new mother it wasn’t looking like a long-term fit for her anymore. So Julie began searching for companies to buy.
She had been looking for several years when Business Among Moms approached her
“This is perfect,” she said to herself when she became aware of the opportunity. “It marries my expertise in small business and passion for motherhood and spending more time with my kids. So I bought it in 2013 and ran it as a blog for a year and thought it was going to die because I’m just not a full-time blogger – it’s too introverted and too behind the screen for my personality. So I looked at it long and hard and thought I could either sell this and go and get a job, or I can pivot it.”
Using her years of sales management experience, Julie researched where there might be a need in the market and discovered the missing link – “events that were supportive and educational that catered to the mom-owned business.” She found that the events that did exist at the time were cost prohibitive, or took place in the evening or early in the morning, both challenging times to get a babysitter. So Julie started doing local meetups that were small, intimate and that considered the needs of busy moms’ schedules. The event and networking arm of Business Among Moms organically grew from there.
Today the business has seven locations in Seattle and 19 chapters across the country, each with their own events
Each Business Among Moms Chapter receives a full leadership launch kit including leader training and development, two monthly training calls and an online leader retreat. The Success Summit Conference is the peak event for the Business Among Moms community, providing mom entrepreneurs and other women in business the opportunity to grow their business connections and learn how to run a fruitful business. Centered on actionable steps to success, the Success Summit culminates in a day of implementation where attendees can work on concepts they’ve learned from sessions the day before alongside speakers who are there to assist with hands-on learning and help answer questions.
“One of the pieces I love the most is programming – designing sessions for our conference, coming up with new offerings that might be of benefit to our community,” says Julie. “I love hearing the stories of how our community helps each other.”
As the Chief Mom Officer of Business Among Moms, Julie has received mentorship from Susan Perreault, the Washington Women’s Business Center Program Director. When asked what she would recommend to women entrepreneurs just launching their business, Julie adds “I think the best thing you can do when you get started is don’t silo yourself. Go out and find people that you feel connected to and get support and learn. And be judicious about how you spend your money. Use free resources like the Washington Women’s Business Center and Business Impact NW. There are lots of great free resources out there that can get you what you need until you’re ready to make those bigger investments in your business.”
To purchase tickets to Business Among Mom’s upcoming Success Summit on May 16-18, go to bamsuccesssummit.com.
You may also meet Julie at the Washington Women’s Business Center’s premier event, Celebrating Dreams on May 30th where Business Among Moms is a community partner. To purchase tickets for Celebrating Dreams, visit businessimpactnw.org/dreams.
About the author
Megan V. Torgerson
Megan is the founder of the storytelling initiative, Reframing Rural. She is an MFA candidate at Seattle University and holds a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Montana. Megan grew up on a farm and ranch in Montana and is inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of rural communities.