Are you happy at the moment?
I am happy, but a mimosa right now would push me to enthusiastic.
If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
Learn to love reading now because it forces you to become smart by expanding your thoughts. We are who we are based on what we read, see, experience, touch, etc. But the one thing that I hated to do was read. I could rarely get into a good book. I think it was because I was so socially involved that I didn’t have a lot of downtime, but I know that college would have been much more palpable if I had trained myself to read daily. This is something that I am pushing with my own children now.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
I didn’t so much learn this, but it was reinforced; my instincts are pretty darn good. When I was deciding what to major in at Penn State, I decided on business logistics, the study of getting products from the point of extraction to the point of consumption. I wanted to work in field that was growing and had its hand in every aspect of life. But when I got out of school, I had a hard time finding a position that was exclusively focused on logistics. Now, its everywhere. When I started my online store, it was rare to find products of comfort and support for prenatal and postnatal. When I first told people about the store many laughed. Now I laugh because it is an additional stream of income for my family and I don’t see any signs of it declining as women will always have babies and the need for comfort is always present.
What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
One statement that I always hear from women is, “Why didn’t I know about your store (Belly Button Boutique) when I was pregnant?”. Marketing an online store is HUGE. My goal is to appear as a pregnancy comfort expert on national television; showcase my online store’s products and how we help women achieve comfort during and after pregnancy. I think of that pregnant woman getting ready to go to work and loathing the thought of how uncomfortable her day is about to be. She turns on the television and sees me on a morning news show talking about the various products that support pregnant and postpartum women. She feels a sudden sigh of relief that she isn’t the only uncomfortable pregnant woman; that she doesn’t have to suffer anymore. This image plays in my mind often because it was me, except there was nothing really available to help me through my uncomfortable pregnancy.
What’s your secret to happiness?
Incremental planning. If I find that I am not spending enough time with friends or family, I pause and schedule the time, make the commitment on paper. I find that maintaining the fibers of friendship and family keep my spirit happy and full. I’m goal oriented, so if I can break down things into smaller parts, I eventually achieve a lot more.
What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
I pray with my son in the car enroute to school. This is something that my husband and I both started doing when they were very young. I know that I can’t be with them everywhere they go, but I pray for supernatural intervention when I cannot be near.
What’s your biggest regret?
Not finishing graduate school. My father told me, along with his consultants, that an MBA would just teach me how to work for other people. It wasn’t designed for someone who wanted to be a business owner. You see, I am a third generation entrepreneur. The goal was always to take over the family business. So at the time, I left school and went to work for the family business, but it always bothers me that I didn’t complete something.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
My boys are 6- and 4-years old. The only lesson they have down pat, at this point, is putting the toilet seat down. But lately, I have been noticing how amazing they are with their friends. They share and are very considerate. I hope that those qualities stay with them for life because they are important…as well as the toilet seat.
What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
Trying to be digital when I need to write everything down. I find myself checking my email and messages on my cell phone and forget pertinent information. I am one that needs to commit everything to paper, a visual person. It causes me to be a bit disorganized at time.
Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
Starting my business while on maternity leave. I had a small window of opportunity and I took it. Now that I am 4.5 years in, I have grown into my new bolder self. A lot of times we resign ourselves to what life hands to us. We never push through to attain something that we really want for ourselves. I am proud that I pushed through. That I attained more for myself.
When were you happiest?
When I was able to pay myself for the first time from my own business. That moment, I tell ya. It’s so different from just getting a regular old paycheck. It’s seeing an idea that you had in your mind, come to fruition, become fruitful and allow you to harvest from that. Its powerful, its empowering, its intoxicating.
What ten words best describe you?
I had to go to crowd sourcing for this one. Dead sexy, innovative, tenacious, visionary, graceful, spirited, bold, driven, and dynamic.
Karla Trotman is the Marketing and Special Projects Manager at Electro Soft, Incorporated, an electronics contract manufacturing and engineering firm her father started 25 years ago. She also is the owner of BellyButtonBoutique.com, an online boutique that specializes in products of comfort and support for pre- and postnatal women.
Karla obtained a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Logistics from The Pennsylvania State University. Entrepreneurship is in Karla’s blood. Her grandmother owned and operated a successful restaurant for over 15 years, and her father’s business continues to thrive.
A Startup Nation “Leading Moms in Business” winner, Karla consults small businesses on successful implementation of social media into their current marketing strategy. As an expert in pre- and postnatal comfort, Karla has been featured on: NBC 10! Show, NBC 10 News, People Magazine’s Celebrity Baby Blog, CBSNews.com, Huffington Post Live, books, radios shows and countless blogs.