Las Vegas mom turns daughter’s invention idea into a successful family business
Today we are welcoming our very first Mompreneur Rockstar interview of 2014, Jackie Zlatanovski, founder of Flik Flops. Jackie Zlatanovski had no idea she was about to launch or for that matter even invent a product. It was her youngest daughter’s brilliant idea that took this family by storm and got them to launch their one-of-a-kind flip flop business. These flip flops are not only cute but they are unique as well. Read on to learn how this mompreneur’s “FlikFlops” could help keep kids safe.
Welcome to Mompreneur Media! Tell us a little bit about yourself:
By day I am a Vice President of Marketing for a major hospitality company in Las Vegas. By night I am a principal founder of Flik Flops, makers of LED light up flip flops for kids that are fun and provide added safety at night. In between, I am a wife and mother to three kids under the age of 10.
My career has taken different paths since graduating from college: working in retail, becoming a licensed Customs Broker, to making a radical shift and moving cross country to Las Vegas without a plan, a job or place to live and starting all over with an entry level job in the casino industry. Eventually I rose through the ranks to become Vice President of Marketing which was one of my biggest goals. Although I’ve taken a traditional career path thus far, freeing the entrepreneurial spirit is by far most rewarding.
What sparked the idea for Flik Flops?
While on a family summer vacation in California back in August 2012 our then seven year old daughter came up with a fun and novel idea. Our family was crossing an intersection on foot in Laguna Beach when the flickering pedestrian crosswalk gave our eldest daughter the idea.
While watching the flickering safety lights in the crosswalk, Izabella said “Wouldn’t it be neat if they made flip flops for kids that flicker so cars and parents could see us better at night?”
At that moment, her idea made me wonder if such a product already existed. This then spawned into an evening of family discussion and creative brainstorming to entertain Izabella’s idea. Her younger sister, Gabriella contributed that such a product should be called FLIK FLOPS due in fact to their flickering safety lights.
What made you take the first step to bringing Flik Flops to life?
My husband and I told the girls we would research the idea further when we got home to Vegas. After a few online searches on the car ride back, we couldn’t find a product like the one Izabella came up with. We shared with the girls this might be a new idea that could be successful.
Upon returning to Las Vegas, day-to-day responsibilities led to months of the idea lying dormant. Izabella however, had yet to let go of the idea. As a fledgling entrepreneur, she along with her younger sister and brother summoned a meeting with my husband and I. She reminded us that we had made a promise to research the product further and try to launch the business.
Izabella coming to us about not supporting her idea was a dagger that hit me in my most vulnerable spot. It was at that moment, I realized if we want our kids to follow their dreams and believe in their ideas, we had to model that behavior and follow through. The next nine months were centered around designing, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and bootstrapping a family business.
FLIK FLOPS is proof that children sometimes have the best ideas.
What’s your favorite thing about running your business?
The blend of creativity and business sense required to build a brand from the ground up. I love solving challenges and I thrive on taking an idea and making it reality. Having to map out the necessary steps and taking the initiative to grow the business is very fulfilling. The most rewarding part is the ability to create your own future and know all your efforts have meaning.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a mom entrepreneur?
Balancing the demands of a full-time day job, being an integral part in the lives of my 3 kids under 10, and launching a business at night is quite overwhelming at times. All this coupled with nurturing a relationship with my husband leaves little time for me as an individual.
In the end, the biggest challenge is the lack of time to get it all done as quickly as I’d like and making as few sacrifices as possible. I want it all and I want it now.
What was the most rewarding/exciting event for Flik Flops?
As a new company, the biggest reward so far was our product launch at the ABC Kids Expo this past October in Las Vegas, one of the largest baby and kids products convention. Showcasing at the event was a huge step for us as we unveiled the product to 10,000 attendees and were willing to take feedback which can be nerve-wracking. Everyone who saw the product said, “What a neat idea. I’ve never seen this before.” And when we made our first sale, we were estatic! We have high hopes for our product and there’s even more rewarding events on the horizon.
What advice can you offer moms wanting to start their own business?
Believe in yourself. Perseverance, courage and a willingness to learn are the keys to success. You might not know all that’s involved with launching a business, but do the research, talk to others who have been there before, and put vulnerability to the side. Rejection will be easy to come by but use that as a springboard to move your idea forward. Others who discourage you from becoming an entrepreneur are primarily doing so because their risk tolerance is a lot lower than yours.
Two quotes that I refer to quite often are “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear.” And more importantly “There is nothing impossible to him or her who will try.”
Connect with Jackie
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