Dianne Grossman, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, has always taken up challenges head-on. Ten years ago, when she read an article claiming that women make over 80% of flooring decisions while men sell 80% of flooring, she had a vision to open a female brand flooring company and to be her own boss. So, with a love of design and beautiful rugs (and hope to make the process fun), Dianne rose to the challenge and opened The Carpet Girl in Springfield 10 years ago, offering design services in her room. exhibition or at a customer’s premises. Yet in 2017, an unthinkable challenge occurred: After months of relentless bullying at school and online, her youngest daughter, Mallory, 12, ended her life. While living her life without Mallory was unbearable, Dianne knew she had to speak up to make a change and ensure that no one had to suffer like Mallory again. Today, she spreads the word and speaks openly about bullying and suicide through her foundation, Mallory’s Army, helping kids embrace kindness, educating parents, being an educational tool for schools. and end the harassment. We spoke to Diane (also mom to Kristen, 31, Ryan 29, and Carlee 19) on how she always dreamed of being her own boss, how she thinks social media played a role in the rise in Childhood suicide rates soar and in coastal New Jersey her family is calling their date.
Tell us a bit about your professional background. How did your previous professional experiences play into the start of The Carpet Girl?
I’m not sure I’ve ever looked for a particular career in terms of income or a passion for a specific thing, but all of the positions I’ve held have been conducive to creating the lifestyle I wanted. I have held a variety of jobs, always in sales or managerial roles, and have always chosen them to complement the work-life balance that I wanted at the time. For example, when I was a travel agent, it was at a time in my life that I wanted to see the world, and it allowed me to travel. And some of my other jobs, like being a recruiter and daycare director, were working well for me back then because my kids were young, and it was a great way for me to be at home. for them and still earn a living at the same time. I think it’s important to note that your career can give you the lifestyle you want.
What was the “aha” moment that made you take the step towards entrepreneurship?
Basically I didn’t want to have to respond to anyone. Most women with children who work for someone else will face the difficult situation of receiving a call from school when their child is sick, so they should let their supervisor know. Even if they get the green light to go all day to be there for their child, the employer gets angry. I hated having to choose between my job and my kids. I wanted to choose my hours and responsibilities and hold myself accountable to myself and my family.
How has the pandemic affected The Carpet Girl?
When we reopened, we had to make some infrastructure changes. I had to find out who my client was, because not everyone is a client. As a business owner, you have to be okay with this, especially during a pandemic. We were no longer able to offer “home store” services for security reasons, potentially exposing ourselves and our customers to COVID-19. And another thing we removed was our free estimates, as these are often for buyers, not buyers, and avoiding additional and unnecessary exposure is more important to us and the safety of our clients at this time.
What would you like to know about being an entrepreneur before starting your business?
The two things every business needs are the time on your side and the money to invest in your business. Without it, you don’t have a sustainable business. No matter how good your business is, it always takes time to build a customer base, reputation, experience, capital and income to invest and reinvest in your business.
What do you hope Carlee learns from watching you run your business and your foundation?
In general, women have a very uncomfortable relationship with money and business. We are the most powerful force in our economy. For the most part, we decide where we live, what schools our children attend, what clothes they wear and what our family eats. We’re the strongest retail entity out there, but we’re not leveraging it the way we should. I want Carlee and all the girls and women to recognize their power. And I would also like them to know that it’s not their gender that runs the business, it’s their brain that does.
Tell us how you launched Mallory’s army.
My daughter, Mallory, has been bullied, both in school and online, from the 5the grade and up to 6e class. It was typical relationship bullying, aka “mean girl syndrome,” which is possibly the most dangerous form of bullying. After 9 months, she ended her life – she was only 12 years old. I started the foundation because the day after Mallory passed away my friend told me I needed to talk about it and encouraged me to do so. I have decided to speak openly about this uncomfortable topic of child suicide because nothing will change if we don’t recognize it and talk about it. Over the past 15 years, there has been a 200% increase in the suicide rate among children between the ages of 10 and 14. And a lot of that can be attributed to bullying behavior, which is now gang behavior thanks to social media – it’s not just the 2 or 3 people putting you down and humiliating you, but those 2 or 3 more. their 900 followers. Mallory’s Army is working to fight bullying and raise awareness about an epidemic that is robbing our children and their childhoods. We promote how powerful and damaging words can be through presentations in schools, TV appearances, meetings with different groups and organizations, and we are also present at many sporting events.
What is one thing everyone can do to help end bullying?
First and foremost, you need to lead by example and be the kind of person you want your kids to be. If they see you doing something, you don’t have to tell them to do it. For example, if you want them to hang up their phone, you can’t be on yours all the time. It is also important to get involved in education: show up at school library lectures and presentations and know your local school board members. It’s a great way to educate yourself and your kids about topics that they might not be able to cover independently. And finally, know that the childhood of our children is in danger. Don’t let an iPad look after your kid and don’t overload your kids’ schedule. They need time to play outside, explore, and just be kids.
How to reset after a particularly difficult day?
I practice what I preach when it comes to unplugging. We have a motorhome in Saugerties, upstate New York, where we spend almost every weekend. While it might seem a bit closer to glamping (we have showers and air conditioning), we swim in a cove, throw rocks, and stay away from any technology. After a weekend away, I am so relaxed!
What are your favorite things to do in NJ with your family?
Riviera Maya Rockaway is the perfect place to sit outside and grab a margarita after a long day at work. And, when we go to shore, Ocean Grove is our benchmark. We enjoy the beach, have a scoop of ice cream and walk around looking at all the beautiful historic houses. And, because I’m very active in public, I like to keep my free time on the quiet side, so one of my favorite things to do is spend time cooking with my daughter and maybe trying some recipes. together.
What words of wisdom do you have for other NJMOMpreneurs?
Take your chance and do it, and don’t be afraid to fail. You never know what obstacles you will be facing, so give it your all and go for it. When I made mistakes, I don’t blame myself. Instead, I view them as opportunities that have brought me to where I am today.
For more information on Dianne Grossman, The Carpet Girl, and Mallory’s Army, please visit The Carpet Girl’s website, Facebook, Instagram, and Mallory’s Army, as well as Facebook and Instagram pages.
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