The Courage to Become | Jenna Zielbauer
Hi y’all! My name is Jenna Zielbauer, I am a 30 something mother of 2 living the dream in Austin, TX with my husband, tots, and high maintenance French bulldog. Our family moved to Texas from Chicago a little over a year ago and we never looked back! Just in case things weren't crazy enough from moving across the country on a whim, I went and invented RockEase™, the first compact & portable device that converts any standard 4-legged chair into a rocking chair for use as both a travel rocking chair and nursery rocking chair. RockEase™ can be installed in as little as 20 seconds. RockEase™ is patent pending!
What was one thing you always dreamt of doing, were afraid to do, but did anyway?
I have always dreamed of being my own boss. Perhaps it stems from my desire to work on my own terms, flex my creative and innovative muscles whenever I want, and/or wanting to be a strong powerhouse female in the working world. Whatever “it” is, I've always been driven to find gaps in the marketplace and give it a shot. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, but you gotta try.
I didn’t always have aspirations to become an inventor, but out of desperation when traveling with my then-3-month-old, I invented a baby product that will become a sanity-saver for both new and seasoned parents. Taking the leap forward to act on this invention was absolutely terrifying. The thought of failing: letting early investors down; letting myself down; my family down; losing the hard earned money that has gone in to the project - is enough to keep anyone from moving forward (and lying awake at night once they've done so). But the confidence I have in the product combined with the feedback I have gotten from parents is enough to propel me onward, even when I am questioning everything.
How did it feel getting started?
It felt liberating but also very scary. So much is on the line for me both financially and mentally - it's more than enough to make someone not take that next step forward. But if you believe in what you are doing, the product you are bringing to market, and even just yourself as an entrepreneur, it will get you through those tough times.
Tell us about some of the obstacles you faced when you got started starting your own business.
One of the first engineering companies we worked with did a really poor job implementing our vision; we had such a negative experience that we asked for money back. The owner of the company then told me that he bought www.jennazielbauer.com (as a threat, as if he would do something with it). It was the most insane thing ever. He ended up giving us money back and turning over the the domain — but it was bizarre, and we learned a lot about what to look for in strategic partners as a result of this strange experience.
What motivates you to move forward.
Being an entrepreneur, the highs are high and the lows are low. Without fail, when I’m going through a dark moment, I’ll receive an email or Instagram DM from a prospective buyer telling me how much RockEase will change their life as a parent or how much they need it ASAP. Hearing from prospective buyers how much we will impact their lives as parents keeps me going.
Which living person do you most admire?
To be totally honest I admire any entrepreneurial mother out there hustling Monday - Sunday. The sole job of being a mother is by far the hardest job of all. You combine that with the stressors (physically, mentally, financially) of owning your own business and it’s enough for anyone to cash in their chips. I admire those that keep going, regardless of how hard it gets. It’s inspiring for their children, their friends and other mompreneurs admiring from afar (like me!).
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to make anyone laugh. Just like rocking triggers a calming response in the parasympathetic nervous system, laughing decreases stress and triggers the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals). Laughter is truly the best medicine and I wish I had to ability make more more people laugh. There is some good stand-up comedy in ATX, maybe I need to get out there? ;)
What is your most marked characteristic?
I have been told over and over that I am a great utility player, meaning this: Assign me a task and walk away - doesn't matter what it is - you can trust me to get the job done. I don't need direction, I don't need my hand held, I only need to know what the end result needs to be, and for you to trust that I will deliver.
What is your motto?
"Embrace the Chaos" - my husband and I adopted this as our "theme quote" before our first child was born. We decided than in those tough parenting moments, when all hell is breaking loose, to just embrace it. Embrace everything about it. Because one day you'll wish you could have that moment back.
What are some things you are proud to have accomplished?
Most obviously my two adorable children, my apparel line Casual Friday that was in 350+ stores within a year and profitable within months of launching, developing RockEase when all it was was a drawing on a napkin, and successfully moving cross country with our family to put our roots down in Texas.
What keeps you going when you feel like you are knee deep in mud?
As far as work goes, knowing how many lives I will change for the better keeps me charging forward. And at home I rely on my tribe when I’m having those dark moments. I have a great circle of friends, all so different in their personalities, but I know who I can turn to when when I am feeling stuck and they’ll always guide me out.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to women who are about to embark on the journey you are on?
Make sure you are putting your resources into something you are truly passionate about. Find a great support network who will pull you up when you feel stuck or down, and who will truly be happy (not jealous) when you succeed. Overestimate your expenses and costs, use the cloud to stay organized, and Google, Google, Google - there is a TON of great, free information out there.
Essay by: Jenna Zielbauer
I'm Catia, a woman, wife, mama, sister, sister friend, you know -- I wear a million hats just like you.
One of my biggest whys is that I want people to feel good about ALL of who they are. Including you.
If I could choose ten words that best describe me I would say: honest, welcoming, giving, curious, loving, earnest, empathetic, spiritual, playful, and sassy. Let's add: adventurous. That's 11.
Nice to meet you!