After having three kids in three years, Aylmer, Quebec-based Costco member Joanne Lalonde Hayes was a tad overwhelmed. However, she quickly realized that the key to retaining her sanity was to be organized, especially when it came to feeding her family healthy meals that could be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
“I surveyed 100 women at my community centre and realized everybody needed a system,” recalls Lalonde Hayes. “I thought, ‘if they want it, then I’m going to do it.”
“I’m very proud of the millions of families we’ve helped through More Time Moms; people always tell us about how they’ve been able to make a better home life because of our products. It’s very rewarding to hear. – Joanne Lalonde Hayes
In 1993, with all three children now in school, Lalonde Hayes launched More Time Cooks, a cookbook with meal planning tools. As her company grew, so too did her family’s time management challenges, so she introduced the More Time Moms Family Organizer, a 16-month wall calendar with large squares to write in, a pocket for the relentless influx of papers that fill school backpacks and hundreds of stickers for hockey practices, dentists’ appointments and birthdays.
Lalonde Hayes knew that families needed a command central and believed her product would become just that. We were the very first to put out an organizing tool for mothers,” she says, noting that starting her own company forced her to push through her fear of failure. “When I first started out, I collected money from everybody I knew and printed these organizers without knowing if they would sell. I remember people telling me, “You’ll never get in the stores.” People always say you can’t. But one day, after almost crying in my mom’s basement, where I was putting together the calendars, I suddenly felt really strong. From that day forward, I never doubted myself; I got out of my own way.”
Two things worked in Lalonde Hayes favour when she launched the Family Organizer: Because she had already toured the country promoting her cookbooks, she knew that she could market her new product as an invaluable tool for moms. “Also, I’d already been selling my product at Costco, and when I brought the organizer to the Costco buyer, she loved it,” she recalls. “You have to have something that you believe in because then it becomes worthy to other people and they will buy it.”
ITEM AT COSTCO: More Time Moms Family Organizer
QUOTE ABOUT COSTCO “[Costco was] so helpful when I first brought the Family Organizer to the buyers: they knew there was nothing else out there for this specific niche market. Also, it’s been important to my business to build relationships with extremely competent people who have great integrity.” – Joanne Lalonde Hayes
Of course, 25 years ago, before smartphones, people relied on paper agendas and calendars. And while technology may have slowed down organizer sales somewhat, having a visual command central is still the go-to solution for most families, Lalonde Hayes insists.
“When you’re trying to manage a bunch of family members. It’s much better if everybody can see all the information on the paper when they are going out the door or when they’re coming in the house,” she explains. “It’s really hard to feel organized from a little tiny screen on your phone. Calendars also inspire children to be involved: They can put stickers on their own things and feel in control of their lives.”
From the beginning, More Time Moms has committed to giving 5 percent of it’s profits to charity, especially ones benefitting women, children and education. Lalonde Hayes has been involved in many causes, including Vital Voices, a US-based organization that assists women entrepreneurs worldwide. She has also supported an orphanage in Kenya since 2006. “We followed 42 kids and put them through grade school,” she notes.
Throughout her successful entrepreneurial journey, Lalonde Hayes has truly appreciated her family life and support of her husband, Jeremy. “I would not have had any success without him,” she says. “I’m very proud of the millions of families we’ve helped through More Time Moms; people always tell us about how they’ve been able to make a better home life because of our products. It’s very rewarding to hear. “
By Wendy Helfenbaum (taketwoproductions.ca) is a Montreal-based writer.
Reprinted from the Costco Connection July/August 2018