People 01 May 2017
For nearly ten years, Lindsay Pinchuk worked in publishing, advertising, and marketing at Hearst, The Tribune Company, and Time Inc for brands including Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated, and Nickelodeon. While preparing for the birth of her first daughter, Pinchuk debuted her mom started business, Bump Club and Beyond. Launched in March 2010, Bump Club and Beyond was created as a way to connect with other new moms and at the same time provide them with the best of the best resources.
Now the largest social event company in the country for parents and parents-to-be, Bump Club and Beyond connects its audience with the best information, experts, products, and most importantly, with each other- both online and through dozens of premier events per month in over thirty cities across the country. Since launching Bump Club and Beyond, it’s revenue has grown over 3,500%, making it one of the fastest growing brands for parents and parents-to-be in the country. SWAAY talked to the founder and CEO of Bump Club and Beyond, and Chicago’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, Lindsay Pinchuk, to find out.
The epiphany for Bump Club and Beyond did not come while Pinchuk was pregnant, but rather, before she was even thinking about having children. “Pregnant women can’t just navigate this journey on their own when they have so many questions,” she says. While trying to help a pregnant friend look for a community of expecting moms in Chicago, she came up empty-handed. “I knew that when I wanted to start a family, I would want to have pregnant friends to lean on.”
So, before starting her family and her business, Pinchuk and her husband ventured off to Argentina for one final trip. “I took my computer on vacation and started building a basic website, and that’s when I said to my husband that there is really a business here,” says Pinchuk.
Soon after coming back from Argentina, Pinchuk got pregnant. “I actually announced Bump Club and Beyond a couple of weeks before announcing my pregnancy,” Pinchuk says. Thus, with the first event of a prenatal workout, Bump Club and Beyond was officially born. The second event that BCB held was a shopping event at a maternity store in downtown Chicago, at which over fifty women showed up. At the shopping event, mothers and mothers-to-be were shopping and talking to each other, and there were gift bags and raffle prizes.
“After the shopping event, people kept asking what was next, so we started hosting educational dinners for expecting parents,” says Pinchuk. The first educational dinner had fifty people attend, and from there it snowballed. “Five weeks after giving birth to my first daughter, Jordyn, we hosted our first new moms brunch and we brought in a sleep consultant because everyone was just so tired.” Now, Bump Club and Beyond is hosting events in over 25 cities across the country, with a database well over 200,000, and is working with some of the biggest brands in the world.
One of BCB’s biggest events is hosted in fifteen cities and is called Gearapalooza. With guest attendance between 150 and 300, Gearapalooza offers a “chance to meet many of the top baby brands in the world, learn what to register for and add them to your registry through Babylist.com, and have all of your questions answered by The BabyGuyNYC,” according to the event’s website. “The parents spend the first part of the even walking around and meeting all the different baby gear vendors, which can range from fifteen to thirty.” The vendors at Gearapalooza are doing demonstrations of their product, talking to parents, answering any and all questions, and educating parents on their product. Following the time with the vendors, attendees can grab a sandwich and sit down for the featured speaker, baby gear expert, Jamie Grayson, The BabyGuyNYC. At the end of the event, everyone goes home with a giant gift bag, which is worth over two hundred dollars. Attendees purchase tickets to attend which start at $50 and go up to $300 (which include a crib mattress!)
In addition, Bump Club and Beyond hosts events with companies such as Target, Nordstrom, and The Honest Company. “Companies hire Bump Club and Beyond to create an in-store experience or brand experience,” says Pinchuk. These events include Mom's Night Out with The Honest Company, and BCBasics for Target: Registry 101. On top of that, BCB also hosts a series of webinars. “In Chicago, we were doing a ton of educational events for parents up to age five: potty training, sibling preparation, discipline and others. Parents across the country wanted to hear the talks too, so we moved them online creating a webinar series that parents all over can access and watch.” Webinars are hosted two to three times per month, and range in topics from expecting parents, new parents, and toddler parents.
To attend a Bump Club and Beyond event, all you need to do is sign up online. Some of the events are paid and some are free, all depending on the nature of the event. “We also have a parent perk program called BCB VIP, which has an enrollment fee, and gives you access to multiple discounts,” Pinchuk says. The BCB VIP program provides exclusive discounts on products, services, and fitness facilities across the country. In addition, BCB VIP gives discounts to any events or programs through Bump Club and Beyond. So, if you are a BCB VIP, you can attend any webinar for free, but if not, you must pay ten dollars to tune in.
Lindsay Pinchuk (center) and friends.
“Being a mom and having both of my children have been huge moments for Bump Club and Beyond because it allows me to connect with our audience, in a way that is totally unique from any other business owner,” Pinchuk says.
The long-term goal of Pinchuk for her business is to become a household name. “I want it to be the source, support, and authority for expecting parents and parent,” says Pinchuk. One of the main things that make Bump Club and Beyond different from other companies is the level of trust that they have with their audience. “The parents trust us in terms of our product and service picks and trust the experts we put in front of them, which I think is one of the most important things that BCB has done for our audience.”
With a staff of six full-time employees, including Pinchuk, BCB has never received outside funding. BCB also has a group of contractors and brand ambassador moms who help run events across the country. “We did two hundred events last year, our Instagram has over 20,000 followers, and our Facebook page has over 93,000 followers,” Pinchuk proudly states. To learn more about Bump Club and Beyond, visit their website and follow them on Instagram or Facebook.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.