Austin "mom-preneur" scores with social media

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by CLARA TUMA / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on February 3, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 3 at 6:36 PM

Last August, Austin mom Jennifer Reyes was trying to clean muck from a sippy cup straw.

"I had pulled out a moldy, icky cup from in the car that had been there for probably 2-3 days that I didn't know had rolled underneath the seat," she said.

She tried cotton swabs and pipe cleaners, but the muck stayed. She then thought it would be great if she had a nylon bristle cleaner small enough to go inside that straw.

"I thought there had to be a better way," she said.

That was the beginning of the Sippy Straw Cleaner, which Reyes designed and began selling in November. In less than four months, she is selling the nylon brushes in boutiques all over the world -- all thanks to customers who found her.

"I haven't stepped stepped foot in one store where I had to sell my product," Reyes said. "It's incredible."

The not-so-secret to her success is the Internet. Reyes writes about her product on social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and so-called "mommy blogs." From there, customers have been reaching out to her.

"I don't have a degree in business," she said. "I don't have a degree in marketing, yet now my product is distributed all over the United States because of Twitter."

The cleaners are made in China and are BPA free.  Reyes sells them on her website for $3.98 apiece.

She says her business is already making money even though she's just been open for business since November.

She has three tips for those wanting to follow in her footsteps.

First, document everything from the moment an idea is conceived. She recommends writing down everything from design ideas to phone calls made in a hardbound notebook.

Next, read a book called the Mom Inventor's Handbook by Tamara Monosoff. Reyes says the book  includes invaluable information about selling a new product.

Finally, dive into social media.

"I have 1,500 followers on Twitter," she said. "I have 500 followers on Facebook in a Sippy Straw Cleaner fan page, and every day, we're getting new orders just because of the exposure on Twitter and Facebook. and not just individual orders. We're getting wholesale orders."

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