If you’re scrambling to find fun activities in your area to take your child to this weekend, look no further than Macaroni Kid. Created by Eric and Joyce Shulman, the mega media giant publishes weekly, local e-newsletters and websites featuring events, activities, products and places for moms, kids and families, each managed by local moms and dads. We spoke with Joyce about being a woman in business, what it’s like to work with your spouse, and why sometimes in business, it’s the fourth time that’s truly the charm.
What were you doing prior to Macaroni Kid?
I’ve always been very entrepreneurial and actually started my first business while I was in law school — something I don’t recommend. When I graduated from law school, I worked as a commercial litigator for about a dozen years, but I was always cooking up business ideas in my head. Finally, one day my husband and I had an idea we thought was brilliant and we quit our jobs, sold our apartment and moved to the East End of Long Island. Our first business — the one we thought was brilliant — was a disaster. Macaroni Kid is our fourth business and it appears that the fourth time is the charm.
How did the idea for Macaroni Kid come to be?
I had been watching the rise in email delivery of super-targeted content. At the time, there were just a few companies doing it well and I thought the ability to deliver super-targeted content to a highly-engaged readership was really interesting from a business standpoint. At the time, I had two young kids and am fortunate to live in a community that offers tons of great programming for kids and families. I’m a pretty involved mom, but still found that I would sometimes miss things. Those two things came together into my “aha” moment.
What was Macaroni Kid like in its inception, and where is it today?
We started by publishing a weekly email blast just in our local community. Now, Macaroni Kid publishes 550 weekly editions that serve more than 5,000 communities and reach close to 2 million moms. We also publish an additional nine monthly, national editions.
What are some of your plans for Macaroni Kid for the future?
We are in the midst of building a new site to update the way our community interacts with our local Publishers and our content, but that’s a secret. Oh, wait, did I just say that aloud? And we continue to grow our community.
For the 1 person on the planet who does not know Macaroni Kid (!), how would you describe it?
LOL and thank you for that! Macaroni Kid publishes local e-newsletters and websites that focus on community events, activities, products, places and great things for kids and families to do. I’m fond of saying that we answer the question “Mommy, what are we going to do today?” for nearly 2,000,000 moms. In addition, our nine national editions focus on niche content including Macaroni Kid Family Travel, Macaroni Eats, Macaroni Kid Family Safety and several others.
How does it differ from other sites that offer local event info for kids and families?
Being the first in this space has provided Macaroni Kid with tremendous depth in the communities we serve. Our local Macaroni Kid Publishers know their communities better than just about anyone and are passionate about sharing all that makes that community special. And those Macaroni Kid Publishers are the most extraordinary, hard-working, fun, engaged and fabulous people I’ve ever had the honor to work with. Really, it’s about the people.
You work with your husband Eric on Macaroni Kid. What is that like?
Eric and I have been working together since the day we quit our “city” jobs more than 15 years ago. It definitely took some time to find our groove, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. He is smart, hard-working and we share the same goals, ambitions and values. Why would I ever want to work with anyone else? The downside is that we also share the same pressures and tensions and a bad day at work usually means a bad day for us both. But we’ve gotten pretty good at navigating all of that.
How do you balance such a busy business with your family life?
A big part of “balance” is accepting that my life won’t be balanced on a day-to-day basis. Some weeks I will be in the office tons or away from home traveling while other times, I will work from home so I can get the kids, Mason and Madelyn, off the bus. We have dinner together as a family most nights and really try to make time for the things that are important.