This time of year especially, it’s easy to forget to engage in self-care. Families are locking in holiday plans with distant relatives over their precious time off. Parents are searching for the most thoughtful gifts for their children, while retailers are trying to get the attention of busy customers in the form of holiday gift guides, window displays and various other marketing tactics. “The most wonderful time of year” is often the most hectic, which is why Mother Snacker, the subscription box startup providing “sweet breaks for modern moms,” is especially timely this December.
“My vehicle is desserts and pretty things in a box, but really what I want is just for moms to know that they can take time for themselves. That they aren’t alone. That taking time for yourself isn’t selfish,” smiles Leah Brushett, founder of the seven month-old small business, Mother Snacker, which has a growing subscription base extending as far as Alaska and the Southeast. Not only does Leah operate her own small business, she works full-time for a startup company in the game industry and is a full-time mom. At the end of the day, “you just gotta make it work,” she reflects.
Leah launched Mother Snacker after taking Business Impact NW’s Launch & Grow program in 2016. “I had been laid off of a game development job that I’d had for seven years. They were closing our location. So, rather than go through unemployment, I participated in the SEAP program,” or Self-Employment Assistance Program that allows those who have become unemployed to receive unemployment benefits while working on their small business dreams. Leah began Launch & Grow with the idea of growing her graphic design and events side gig into a business, but discovered a better niche as she went through the program. “It just hit me one day that the customer I was serving through my party business, was not really the customer I wanted to serve and that it wasn’t really scalable and it wasn’t really, I don’t know, for the lack of a better word, lucrative. Like obviously people are very successful at it, but it wasn’t like my heart of hearts was in it. Then one day, it was probably like three weeks before the program ended, I was like ‘this is what I’m gonna do,’” reflects Leah. “Sometimes I get this 30 minute window, after my son is in bed and my husband is still in the shower…I get like 30 minutes to myself on the couch. I get to watch something on Netflix – no one else has an opinion – it can be whatever I want you know, and I have my little treats and I was just like this experience should be in a box. So that’s kind of how it happened.”
Inspired by fellow mom and Launch & Grow graduate, Coté Soerens, who went on to win the Impact Pitch Competition’s Best Startup Business category in 2017, Leah entered Mother Snacker into Impact Pitch this year. “If she can do it, then I can do it,” thought Leah. And the rigorous work involved with each stage of the competition not only pushed her out of her comfort zone, but it really paid off for her business. “When I started the business I wrote a business plan. I thought about what my profit margin would be and the cost of goods, but to really sit down and have an exact spreadsheet and to think what’s next. What’s next year look like? What does three years look like? [This] was so helpful. And I think that’s why the competition was designed, to get business owners who are at the startup or at the idea phase to really think those things through – each step. It’s so smart.”
Leah’s business plan is smart too. “A subscription box is its own niche. Subscription boxes for moms is its own niche…subscription boxes for moms who have a sense of humor about motherhood and like deserts, is like a niche within a niche which is the sweet spot I think,” exclaims Leah. But she’s delivering more than deserts and laughs to mothers. In each box, Leah’s packages in a small but meaningful piece of her thoughtful, open and generous spirit. On the Mother Snacker website, Leah is honest about the difficulty she experienced adjusting to motherhood. She wants to help moms know they’re not alone in feeling that while motherhood is beautiful, it can also be really hard. “I didn’t have the easiest time when I entered motherhood, when my son was young. So I think about when he was brand new if something had come to my doorstep saying ‘You’re not alone. This is hard. It’s o.k.’ like that would have been huge for me,” says Leah. “Even if it’s just this little stranger out in Washington sending you a box.”
In addition to helping moms across the country, Leah donates product and proceeds to Babies of Homelessness, the Team Lily Foundation and the Dravet Syndrome Foundation, and supports women-owned small businesses by purchasing their products for her subscription boxes. When asked what her favorite thing is about being an entrepreneur, Leah replies “Getting to support other people’s small businesses.” When you’re shopping for loved ones this holiday season, consider supporting small business and giving the mothers in your life the gift of self-care.
About the author
Megan is Business Impact NW's Development Coordinator and a candidate for Seattle University's Arts Leadership MFA program. She holds a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Montana and is passionate about storytelling of all forms, nature and developing community by elevating our unique stories. Megan grew up on her family's farm and ranch in Montana and is especially inspired to empower small business owners from underserved rural and urban communities.