Nina Restieri has an agenda: To help other moms get their agendas in order. We spoke with the president, chief executive officer and founder of momAgenda in 2009 about staying organized as a mom and finding ways to balance work, life and travel. Back then, her kids were 4, 8, 9, and 12. Flash forward 10 years and Nina’s kids have grown along with her business which is continually expanding.
Nine Restieri, Mom with an Agenda
Nina Restieri’s struggle to keep her children’s appointments straight was the impetus for the momAgenda family planner and other products sold through her Web site.
The former stay-at-home mom with years of marketing and advertising experience says she woke up one morning with the idea for a “mom planner.”
“It was like I had a dream about wedding planners and thought, ‘Why do brides have wedding planners for one day of their lives, but as a mom, you don’t have a planner and you need one every day–not just for one day.’ ”
A visit to a Staples store clarified the idea. After missing so many birthday parties and double booking play dates, Nina went to the office supply shop to find a planner that would help her keep all of her kids’ schedules straight.
She found a calendar sold to physicians. “You know those calendars they have in the doctor’s office, when the doctor has three partners and there are columns for each doctor, so there are three columns in each book,” she says. “I got one of those. I put my kids’ names at the top of each column so I had a separate space for each kid in one book. When I decided to do this wedding planner for moms, the key feature for this book was that there was going to be a separate space for each child for each day. That’s what makes it different.”
Restieri built her business using the Internet and local sales reps so she doesn’t have travel much for business. “I only travel with my family; I only travel for pleasure,” she says.
Our Interview with Nina Restieri
TravelingMom founder Kim Orlando talked with Restieri in 2009 about her company and how she balances work and family. Her kids were young and Blackberries were the go-to device for managing business while on the road.
Kim: What was the first trip you took after you started the business?
NINA RESTIERI: We launched in May 2005 and in July I went on vacation to Cape Cod. I had a new BlackBerry and I spent the whole time on my BlackBerry.
Kim: What did your kids say about that?
NINA RESTIERI: My kids didn’t say anything, but my husband couldn’t believe it. It was such a role reversal. He said, “I can’t even get mad at you because then I’d be a hypocrite.” It was a stressful time. I was hiring a new publicist; I was hiring a new Web developer.
Kim: As the business owner you know you will have to conduct business even on vacation. How do you make it less intrusive?
NINA RESTIERI: We only stay in places where we have high-speed Internet access. Because it’s my company, I have to be available. The next trip was a ski trip, so I worked a lot at night. I still went skiing with them and I went out to dinner and then worked at night.
Kim: What about you and your husband getting away by yourselves?
NINA RESTIERI: We had a ski trip in January, just the two of us. We go to Vermont a lot as a family; it’s one of our favorite places. As a family we probably went to Vermont four or five times this winter. Larry and I went once just the two of us, to go skiing together … which is really funny because he is an advanced skier and I’m a perpetual beginner. He’s very patient with me.
Kim: Did you take your BlackBerry?
NINA RESTIERI: Yes.
Kim: Do you take it on dates?
NINA RESTIERI: Yes. I don’t check e-mail on dates, but my BlackBerry is my phone.
Kim: Do you have a fantasy trip?
NINA RESTIERI: A cruise around Europe.
Kim: You’re going on an Alaska cruise this summer. Do you do a lot of cruises?
NINA RESTIERI: This Alaska cruise is our first. A friend of mine from college took a cruise with her whole family and she said it was the best trip they ever took. That really sold me because I trust her opinion. I work hard and when I go on vacation, I want luxury. I want to be spoiled and not have a care in the world.
Kim: Let’s talk about starting the business. How did your life change?
NINA RESTIERI: My life changed a lot. There was a six-month transition period where the kids were upset, I was upset, I was feeling guilty because I was not at their beck and call every minute.
Kim: Because you weren’t working at home?
NINA RESTIERI: Right, I went out and got an office right away. The baby was at home with my nanny. I was working from 9-3 and then I was picking up the older kids from school, so there really was no impact on them at all. But they had a hard time just knowing I was at work. After the first six months, we all adjusted and it became the new normal.
Kim: What were some of the conversations you had with your kids when they were adjusting? What were some of their concerns?
NINA RESTIERI: They would ask: “Do you like working better than being with us?” That just broke my heart.
Kim: How do you respond to that? There are moms out there who are going to get asked those kinds of questions.
NINA RESTIERI: The answer is I would rather be with my kids than do anything else. No question about it. But I am a better mom because I work, and I think I am doing them a favor by working.
Kim: How so?
NINA RESTIERI: I am a happier person. I am a more balanced person. I always wanted my own business, and I am doing that. I’m still with my kids a lot, but now I am a much better mom than I was when I was a stay-at-home mom. I hate to say that because it makes me feel weird, but it’s true.