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Finally! A way to eliminate the agony of finding the perfect 'surprise gender' baby shower gift

Have you ever had an innovative idea pop into your head only to find, after a Google search, that it wasn’t exactly your own? As entrepreneurs, we know that frustrating feeling all too well. But what if you came across that one brilliant and simple idea that, to your own amazement, no one else had come up with yet?

That’s what happened to Twotara founder Kate Janeczko, who came up reversible baby clothing product line that could eliminate the ambivalent gender-neutral outfits of baby showers forever. One side is pink, the other is blue: a concept that is basic, brilliant and, fortunately for Janeczko, undeclared.

We sat down with the founder to discuss how top 40 tracks keep her motivated in the office and at the gym, and her unusual career path that led from television to insurance sales and finally to entrepreneurship.

What’s the story behind Twotara?

It was October of 2010 and five of my closest girl friends were expecting their first babies. Four of the five of them were not finding out if it was a boy or a girl. That month I went to so many baby showers that were the gender-neutral variety: the yellow duckies and the tan teddybears.

I just felt like there should be something better in the marketplace for these moms who were not finding out. I had my lightbulb moment and I thought: why couldn’t the garment be pink on one side and blue on the other?

I scoured the marketplace. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t have something as simple as reversible clothing, but sure enough it did not exist.

From that moment forward I was focused on getting this new innovative product out to the moms that were waiting for the surprise and Twotara was born: pink on one side, blue on the other.

When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve always wanted to start my own company. I have a broadcast journalism background. I worked for the CBS affiliate in Peoria and then St. Louis and at 23 I’d earned an Emmy for my performance as a newscast director.

At 23 you don’t really want to be at the top of your career so I thought, Hm, where do I go from here?

I don’t know how it happened, but you know how in life sometimes doors open and you walk through them? I ended up as an insurance broker—something I never would have thought in a million years.

Through selling insurance products I found that I love sales and I love interacting with customers. From a certain standpoint I was running my own business because I was 100 percent commissioned, so I dictated my days.

But I was selling a product that made people miserable -- a product that was described as the “necessary evil.” Who wants to sell a product that’s got the word “evil” in it? I was just wishing and hoping and praying that I could introduce a product that would bring people joy.

So I, like so many entrepreneurs that I’ve heard of, kept a journal where I recorded every silly little idea that popped into my head, whether it was a dishwasher organizer or a certain coffee table book.

It was funny because I was always pretty much set on doing a product-based company. I didn’t want to be in the service business where the business was tied to me being there and being present because I didn’t see me as being very scalable, so I wanted a product.

I kept this journal until October of 2010 when I had the idea that I felt I really could gain some momentum with. I felt like there was a void in the gender-neutral clothing industry for infants and I really wanted to run with it. Once I had that it fulfilled my desire to sell a product that brought people joy.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I get asked this question so often and I wish I had a good answer. This is probably the hardest question that you could ever ask me because every day is so different.

I wish that there was a standard -- I wish that I could plug in certain hours to do be doing different tasks, but at this point I’m the sole founder/president of this company and I’m running every single role.

Depending on the day I’m either in a sales position, or a marketing position, or I’m wearing my logistics hat, my fulfillment hat, my sourcing -- I’m working with China -- my customer relations, both online dealing with my customers and my retail partners. I’m working on all those sales relationships and I’m out networking in the community.

There is no standard to the day, which is probably why it’s so much fun. Every day is so totally different, but what you can count on is that every single day I spend a lot of time on the phone, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer, and then when I desperately need a break you’ll find me at Starbucks.

What was your first job?

My first job out of college I was a newscast director at WMBD TV, which is the CBS affiliate in Peoria. The newscast director is the person that works behind-the-scenes production, wearing the headset, and during the shows is actually calling the shots of the show.

“Ready camera 2, take camera 2.” Moving the cameras, rolling the tape, actually calling out the commands that the technical director is pressing the buttons to put everything on air.

When you’re working in live television there are no do-overs. What I learned from that was a keen ability to multitask because you not only have to be present in the moment, you have to be looking at the script a few pages down so that you can make sure that you don’t get entangled in a mess. You get really good at focusing on a lot of incoming sources, processing them quickly, and making decisions.

I think I’ve seen a lot of people in life and especially entrepreneurs, who can get to a point where there’s so much coming at you that you’re paralyzed. I think my TV background taught me to make a decision.

Sometimes indecision is just a problem and you can really further that disaster. I’ve learned to take in a lot of information and process it and make decisions in the moment. 

What tends to be your daily soundtrack around the office?

I love satellite radio. That’s another thing you can totally count on. I’m totally a top 40s girl. I’m listening to all the latest and greatest from Nicki Minaj and Usher and David Guetta. Partly because I’m a part-time spinning instructor at Flywheel Chicago.

I find that music is really inspiring in a spinning studio. I always have my music on in the background so I can be looking ahead to what new songs I can be introducing to my Flywheel classes when I go and teach.

If you could add one person to your team right now, who would you choose?

It would be a COO and that’s exactly what I’m looking to do right now. I’m looking for somebody that is strong where I am weak and we can come together and really take this company to the next level.

I am really strong at strategy and sales and planning and having a vision for the company and I get bogged down in a lot of the day-to-day logistics of running the company.

I love systems. I would love to have somebody come in and help me put some systems in place. But right now I don’t have time to create the systems so it’s like treading water just to get through the everyday stuff.

I don’t know if you’ve ever done Myers-Briggs testing. I did that way back when and I’m an ENFP and I got advice that I need to hire an ENTJ -- somebody that’s going to be more analytical and have that financial brain, who has operations experience and can come in and help me put some systems in place.

Who that person is I have yet to find out, but hopefully in the next couple of months that person presents themselves, because I will be looking.

What are your hopes for Twotara in 2013?

We are looking at some national chain store partnerships. Since the launch of the company I’ve really focused on proving the concept and getting customers engaged and excited with our brand.

In one year we partnered with about 130 independent boutiques and the demand was strong. I sold out of my first two production runs and I went on back-order twice. People are really embracing our concept and our brand so I’ve started now to get the attention of some of the national stores.

Our goal would be to start increasing our national scope, partnering with some of the bigger chain stores and department stores across the country, as well as adding new styles, new colors, new patterns, and really making this a fashion brand for babies.


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Corey Cummings