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A Q&A with Melanie Notkin – CEO and Founder of SavvyAuntie.com: Part 1, Inspiration

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A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this article about a new online community, just for aunts. Since I live in the online community world I was interested in learning more about how this site came about. After checking out Melanie Notkin’s (founder and CEO of savvyauntie.com) blog ,and following her on Twitter (@savvyauntie), I asked her if she would want to share her experience creating her own business and helpful hints for budding entrepreneurs.

Kara: What inspired you to start a blog about creating savvyauntie.com?

Melanie: I am very active on Twitter and am engaged in a number of conversations about entrepreneurship and start-ups with people on Twitter whom I have really grown to respect. After a while, I began getting questions from many of them on how I was starting my business, and when I was launching, etc.

The natural next step was to ask the same community if they would be interested in reading a blog about how I started my company, along with a behind-the-scenes look at the business. I was already sharing some of it on Twitter, which is micro-blogging anyway, and wanted to know if the same community would be interested in a more traditional blog.

The response was very positive. And so I Twittered asking for a designer to design my blog (@domesticchicky designed the template) and a couple of weeks later, I had my first post. And 30 or so comments. That many comments for a first post is pretty encouraging. I have Twitter to thank for the support – and the inspiration.

Now that I’ve launched, the Savvy Auntie Blog enables me to communicate directly with my readers and Savvy Auntie members in an authentic and transparent way. Some larger businesses create business blogs to respond to a crisis or to communicate changes in a sensitive way. I believe that a CEO at any size company needs to be authentic from day one, ensuring that good or bad, she knows that communication and her members/consumers are the keys to her success. My readers share my ups and downs. They understand that there is a dreamer behind Savvy Auntie. They root for me. And I pray that if God forbid something goes amiss, they will still be there for me as we sort through it.

Kara: Your site has four different components, what convinced you to add the community element?

Melanie: I don’t think I ever needed to be convinced about the community area for SavvyAuntie.com . There are a plethora of online communities (and offline communities) for moms and parents. Yet, there is nothing for non-parents when it comes to kids.

As aunts, we’re used to asking each other for advice and support. SavvyAuntie.com centralizes the Sunday morning brunch discussion with girlfriends about their nieces and nephews. They ask each other what to do with a visiting 12 year old niece, what to buy newborn twins, or how to manage a hurtful sister-in-law. Plus, Forum discussions on fertility on a non-mom site was important to offer, as well as Groups where aunts of a specific stripe could connect. Finally, I wanted a place where the world could learn about Aunt-hood through story-telling. Our Aunthology is a collective blog about being an aunt, our own aunts who are our mentors, godmother-hood, etc.

I also want to make it clear that I am not “The Savvy Auntie.” While I do have a bit of a handle on being a cool aunt, I want to learn from all the other Savvy Aunties out there. And they want to learn from each other. If there was no community, there would be no exchange of ideas. And how could we grow as a movement if there are no new ideas?

Kara: What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? An aunt?

Melanie: You may have heard that I call myself an “Auntrepreneur.” I coined that phrase after reading about inspiring mompreneurs for years, wondering why it took having kids and finding alternative careers for these women to become successful and have their dreams come true.

Then the answer came to me – If mompreneurs launch businesses because they have kids, Auntrepreneurs launch business because they don’t. In other words, if not now, when?

The happiest day of my life was the day my nephew was born and I became an Auntie. It is very possible, that, after the birth of his sisters, that the day my site launched was the other happiest moment of my life. My favorite part is the joy and pride that come with both. I am very fortunate.

Check back tomorrow for Part Two of this Q&A where Melanie gives tips on social media, technology and being an entrepreneur.

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