Mom on the Move Shelly Ann Winokur

Lives: Lutherville
Children: Annabelle, 9; Maxwell, 7; Zachary, 4; Baby Winokur, Due Jan. 2019
Occupation: Founder, Kiss Kiss Goodnight

Tell us about your new business and what inspired it.
Kiss Kiss Goodnight is natural, nighttime skincare for baby (and mama). We’re here to help create a comforting bedtime experience that relaxes baby and nourishes mama, so baby can drift off to sleep with ease. And mama can, too. I developed the 3-in-1 Baby Bath Gel while completing a formulation certification with Formula Botanica, the International Organic Cosmetic Science School. I came across the oleogel (oil gel to milk) chemistry and I thought it would be perfect for baby’s skin. The massage application and transformation into a milk are both soothing and gentle. The oil-based gel also suits the needs of baby’s sensitive and developing skin. After months of pondering, I made a prototype and shared it with my family. Everyone loved how excited I was about my new product. I knew I needed to develop the brand as much as the formulation and spent 18 months doing both.

How hard was it to start a project like this?
The hardest part about starting a company is being disciplined enough to stick with it. You need to create your own milestones and hold yourself accountable. There are also many decisions that need to be made to shape the business and you always wonder if you are making the right decision. For example, am I spending my start-up funds effectively? Good mentors really help with the decision-making process. Also, hiring is tough for small businesses, but when the right people come on board, it can really shape the company. For example, most people who start a skincare company are experts at branding and marketing, and outsource formulating and manufacturing. I am the opposite. My expertise is in formulating and manufacturing, and I hired a great team to help with branding and social media marketing.

Have you encountered any surprises along the way?
It’s 10 times harder, takes 10 times longer and costs 10 times more than you expect. Everyone tells you this, but you don’t believe them until you experience it for yourself. Every so often, I run into an obstacle I think could dissolve the company, including trademark and raw ingredient issues. But now I’ve worked around and ploughed through enough obstacles that I feel confident I can tackle whatever comes our way. My pregnancy was another surprise. It was planned, but I was surprised how sick I became during the first and second trimester. It was difficult to work, and it delayed my business plans, but I am excited to share my pregnancy and mothering experience with the Kiss Kiss Goodnight community. So, there is a silver lining.

Tell us about your career before Kiss Kiss Goodnight.
Before Kiss Kiss Goodnight, I worked in product development and process engineering. I brought product ideas from the lab to the pilot plant and manufacturing floor. I worked in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries. I have worked on diabetes drugs, transdermal patches, nail colors, teeth whitening strips and lipstick. My most recent experience was at McCormick, where I was a process engineer for the extracts department. I worked on the manufacturing and bottling of vanilla extract, one of McCormick’s legacy products. I loved smelling like vanilla and seeing tanks of vanilla being made and bottled. I can’t wait to see my products being made at that scale.

How do you manage the work-life balance?
My husband and I continually struggle as we try to juggle work and family time. We are the kids’ primary caretakers, but we still depend on a network of caretakes to help us get uninterrupted time to work. I’m a morning person, so I get a few hours of work done before the kids wake up and while they are at school. My husband is a night owl and he tends to work after the kids are asleep. We both have flexible hours, which means we can attend a school function during the day, but then we may take turns working nights and weekends to make up the hours. Sometimes it goes like clockwork and sometimes we need Netflix to babysit a little to meet a deadline. We have also learned to simplify tasks and outsource tasks like grocery shopping and lawn mowing. Yes, everything goes upside down during the summer.

What is the best advice another mother gave you?
The best advice I have received is to share my experience and my journey with my customers and community. They want to hear my unique story, the behind the scenes, how I do it. They love seeing the final product, but they appreciate the final product more, when they know and experience where it is coming from.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time is scarce these days. But to unwind, I read. I’ve always loved reading the classics, right now I am reading Charles Dickens, “Great Expectations.” It is going to take me a while. I also like learning new skills. Right now I am learning how to use my DSLR camera. But really, if I have a chunk of free time, you will find me in my lab. I have hundreds of raw ingredients and I am constantly dreaming up new formulations.

What’s next for you?
We have so much planned. We will start reaching out to retailers and begin a search for brand ambassadors. We also plan to release more products soon. We hope to grow our community; we would love for our community to follow our journey as we simultaneously grow the company and our family.

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