Member Articles

Write an article!

Starting My Own Business

Making the Transition From Lawyer to Entrepreneur

by Julie Cole  |  2513 views  |  1 comment  |       Rate this now! 

After years of always chasing after my kids’ stuff, I decided to do something about it. Together with three relatives, we created Mabel’s Labels, to make fun, durable labels for the stuff kids lose.

At the University of Waterloo, I brought together the four future Mabel’s Labels women. After graduation I went to Graduate School at New York University where I met my husband, Simon, who is now a Partner at Deloitte. We lived abroad for five years where I kept busy pursing a law degree and giving birth to three kids. Today my husband, five kids and I live in my hometown, Burlington, Ontario.

Shortly after my eldest son turned three, he was diagnosed with autism. I needed to commit to managing his intensive ABA program, his educational needs, and being a full-time advocate. Starting a business provided the best opportunity to strike a balance between work and family life. No longer would the inflexible hours of a legal career suit our family.

Our Hamilton-based business began in 2002 as a part-time venture for each partner. It is a web-based business sold via the Internet and also in person by Mabel’s 180 agents throughout North America. We incorporated in 2004, and for the past few years, due to Mabel’s Labels success, all four partners now focus on Mabel full time.

Sales also stem from fundraising programs at schools, charities and daycare centers, as well as through a strong summer camp program Mabel’s Labels has established in the U.S. and Canada. Our global customers hail from as far as Brazil, Israel and Malaysia.

Having a background in law afforded me an acute legal perspective on managing a business. As for the day-to-day operation of the business, I learn from personal experience, my partners, other strong mom entrepreneurs and by managing what is, at times, a chaotic household. I have had a strong support system to help integrate my life as a mom and an entrepreneur.

Being a mom has certainly helped with the success of Mabel’s Labels, particularly since it is generally a children’s product. All partners are mothers so we have a strong sense of who our customers are and what they want from us. Because we have something in common with our customers, we feel very connected to them.

From the start of our business, each partner has been responsible for managing a certain aspect of Mabel’s Labels. I manage public relations and media activity; Tricia Mumby previously worked in graphics and printing and is in charge of design, the website, and advertising. Cynthia Esp, a former teacher, runs the human resources and production departments; and Julie Ellis, formerly a financial planner, now manages the company finances. Mabel’s Labels also employs seven full-time and 12 part-time employees who handle the manufacturing, information technology, the agent and fundraising programs, and the sales needs, including processing and shipping orders within 24 hours of receipt.

About the Author

Julie Cole is the co-Founder of Mabel's Labels, based in Hamilton, Canada.

Read more by Julie Cole

1 comment so far...

  • Wow! Mabel's Labels is a GREAT idea! REALLY useful! I, too, am an entrepreneur and mom of two and really enjoy the flexibility of working for myself. I enjoy hearing about other moms doing the same. PLUS, I'm writing a second book about businesses women can start while also raising their children. If anyone would be interested in having their own business included in my book, I'd love to talk with you! Thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mary Davis, Author, THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MOM on 4th October 2007