Women to Watch in 2012 : 20 women

Last year Mommy Perks launched our first “Women to Watch” campaign: Women to Watch in 2011: 12 Moms in Business

Each mom was hand-selected by myself. In 2011 I decided to open the floor and allow others to nominate women they felt were watch-worthy: doing something special, unique, kind, helpful, etc. The judging panel (four women) then read through each entry and chose 20 winners.

Without further adieu (in no particular order), our 20 “Women to Watch in 2012” winners are…


Ellie Hirsch

Ellie Hirsch of Mommy Masters 

The nomination entry:

“My wife is the hardest working woman I know.  She takes care of, guides, and loves our 2 boys while starting up an amazing business that I know will be a success.

Her creativity is astounding which shows through in her children’s music CD, which she is writing, singing and producing, along in her blog and Facebook page she maintains.

In addition to her full time job as mom all day, she heads into her office at night and starts her 2nd job.  She is truly a woman to watch in 2012 and I know she is going to be a star!”


Ellie Hirsch, The Mommy Master™, is the lucky mom of two amazing little boys, a baby on the way, and a Goldendoodle, who inspire her every day. She has been working on building the Mommy Masters brand and will be releasing her children’s music CD soon. In the future, she plans on incorporating children’s and parenting guide books, television components and interactive activities. In addition to the great articles and parenting tips here on the Mommmy Masters blog, you can visit Ellie’s Facebook page to participate in fun discussions, ask for parenting advice and read updates on her music.


Jessica Marr

Jessie Marr of Mom Vantage

The nomination entry:

“Because she is a hard working mom of two and always goes out of her way to be supportive of other working moms.  She is has grown her blog/business significantly in the last year and has not wavered from being true to herself and her family.”

ABOUT Jessie

am a 26 year old stay-at-home with two wonderful, crazy, funny, amazing children. My daughter, 5, is very witty and bright. She has an opinion about everything, and is the most loving little girl that I know. She is a phenomenal big sister to her little brother, 2, who looks up to her like crazy. My son is a sweet and gentle little boy. He loves to play with his sister, and really enjoys the mischief they get in together.

Life with two kids is always an adventure! They keep me on my toes and are always making me laugh. We have two cats that add to the fun, craziness and constant activity that is our home. Most recently, we have adopted a year old dog that has quickly found his place within our family.

It isn’t always easy being a mom, but it is the most rewarding adventure of my life.

About MomVantage

MomVantage is a family friendly blog that strives to provide exceptional reviews, giveaways and information on the best products available for moms and their families.



Wendy and Sherry

Wendy and Sherry of Kiboomu

The nomination entry:

“This team of women are social media movers, always creating new and fun things for toddler and preschoolers. They are wonderful women, excited about their product and are always willing to help others.”

ABOUT Wendy and Sherry


Wendy Wiseman is an award-winning entrepreneur and a platinum award-winning singer/songwriter. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience, Wendy is
a born entrepreneur.

Wendy built her children’s educational music company, KIDZUP, from scratch, in the
garage of her home in 1994. She also started a foundation with her husband, Mark
Diamond, that fed and vaccinated millions of children worldwide.



Sherry Segal, a former school teacher, is an award-winning children’s book publisher. Her vast collection of book publishings sell throughout North America and have been translated into dozens of languages for world wide sales.

Sherry also has over 10 years of sales and marketing experience working for Fortune 500 companies, such as Pearson Education and Reader’s Digest.



Leah and her sons

Leah Derewitz of Peacock Pottery

The nomination entry:

“She has inspired me with the growth of her business. She is an inspiration – so positive, she sells a beautiful product, she believes in the product and the love of her business shines through.”


I have LOVED Polish Pottery since my husband and I lived in Warsaw, Poland. Before we returned to the States, we went shopping and purchased a full set of Polish Pottery dinnerware, bake ware and serving dishes to bring home.

After I arrived home to the states, we started a family.  I am a stay at home mom and love every minute of it!  But my dream, since I was a little girl was to own a boutique.  When our son turned 2, I started thinking about that dream once again.

After researching many franchise and direct sales options, nothing really grabbed my attention. My husband mentioned that maybe I should start selling the Polish Pottery; it certainly was an intriguing option. But how would I start? I contacted a woman in Poland and started internet research and as they say “the rest is history”. A few months after that conversation, Peacock Pottery was brought to life in November 2005, with the website going live in January 2006.



Jenny Deramo

Jenny Deramo of The Peaceful Housewife

The nomination entry:

“Jenny is helping families take control of their household environment by teaching them to make their own natural household cleaners and also making them available for purchase.  She’s also inspiring moms everywhere by openly sharing her life, struggles and triumphs with her readers. Jenny is definitely a Woman to Watch in Oklahoma.  She’s doing great things!”


I wouldn’t be The Peaceful Housewife if it weren’t for my Lord and Savior. I received Christ at the age of 5 and grew up in church. I married my high school sweetheart at 19 and quickly fell into depression as I realized that, despite our friendship of 9 years, he wasn’t who I thought he was. During this time, I withdrew from everyone around me, including God and my church. My first husband and I divorced a few years into our marriage and I continued to search for happiness in temporary things.

Shortly after divorcing, I met my handsome prince…



Sara Nesbitt

Sara Nesbitt of Sara’s Soap & Such

The nomination entry:

“She is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known. She is a wife, a mother to 2 girls, a thriving and successful business owner and she homeschool’s her older daughter.  On top of that, she volunteers in her community regularly, assist others in her industry and beyond and is a super caring person with much to give and share. She blogs regularly and is now starting to work out things to begin offering teaching videos on her craft.

Not only is Sara extremely knowledgeable about her craft, she has also brought her oldest daughter into the business, teaching her the craft and business logistics, with daughters own line of products. She is just simply amazing and definitely a woman to watch.”


Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such began ten years ago when Sara was on Summer Break from Divinity School and found herself with too much spare time, too little money and an idea for inexpensive yet meaningful Christmas presents. The following Spring, someone suggested she start selling her wares, and three months later, Sara was the proud owner of a business name and a license to sell.

At the first, Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such offered handcrafted glycerin soaps, lotions and bath salts primarily, with an emphasis on soaps. Over time, the product line has expanded to include body butters, lip balms, bath fizzies, tub teas and, most recently, premium, luxurious handmade soaps, none less than 96% natural.



Darla (pictured next to the bride on right)

Darla Hutson of The Preschool Toolbox

The nomination entry:

“Full disclosure, she is my MOM.  I saw your post on her FB account and had to nominate her.  She is a great Mom and has loved and cared for kids all of my life.  She NEVER does anything for herself except to do business(es) that she cares about.  She deserves it all and not only because I’m partial, but because she works hard and gives to anyone who needs it.

We went to Chicago together this weekend and there were all kinds of people asking for money.  My mom gave to each and every one of them and bought literally nothing for herself.  We told her those people were probably FAKING need…her response, we never know…only GOD does.  That is how she is. Thanks.”


I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science Education from Eastern Illinois University.  I have taught children ages birth to 5 in a licensed Family Childcare Home for the past 25 years.  I have 6 children of my own and am passionate about Early Learning!


Kristin Race

Kristin Race of Mindful Life Today

The nomination entry:

“Dr. Race is a family psychologist who started the “Hang Up & Hang Out” challenge for parents to turn off their phones and hang out with their kids, as well as several other smart initiatives to help parents connect with their kids. She also produces meditation CDs for kids, to help them fall asleep. I think she’s a great mom and a great inspiration for other moms!”

ABOUT Kristin

Kristen Race PhD is a parent of two young children, as well as an expert in child, family and school psychology. Dr. Race is the founder of Mindful Life, which provides brain-based solutions for today’s families as they try to manage the stresses of modern day parenting. All of her products and services are rooted in the science of the brain with influences from the fields of mindfulness and positive psychology, designed to improve brain function and brain development in adults and children.



MariLee Parrish

Marilee Parrish of Picking up my socks

The nomination entry:

“Because she takes on so much and is such an inspiration (and with her as my boss that is saying A LOT!!!). She is an author and runs Mommy Bag Marketing Inc.”


MariLee is a wife, mom, author, speaker, and freelance musician who’s desire is to live a life that pleases God (aka: “Picking Up My Socks!”) and help others become all that He intends for them to be. She has authored multiple books and her most recent title is “50 Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Husband” available at stores nationwide. MariLee is the founder of Mommy Bag Marketing,Inc. and the Christian Moms Business Resource.

MariLee graduated from Malone College (now Malone University) in Canton, Ohio with a degree in music and a concentration in Business Administration. She has been a worship leader for many years and has been involved in ministry for most of her life. MariLee can be found “picking up her socks” in northern Colorado with her husband, young son and infant daughter.

MariLee is available to speak to your women’s groups, moms groups and worship teams.



Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward of Pigtail Pals

The nomination entry:

“Her innovative line of clothing for kids that help to break down gender stereotypes and sexualization of children. Where I look I see evidence of KGOY – Melissa has her finger on the pulse and is fighting to change this.”

ABOUT Melissa

Pigtail Pals was created by Melissa Wardy, a mom and entrepreneur who was fed up of the limitations and stereotypes found in children’s clothing. Melissa wanted role models for her daughter that exemplified courage, intelligence, and imagination.

She doesn’t want to confine her little girl to the pink and purple world being marketed to her. When Melissa couldn’t find what she wanted, Pigtail Pals was born. It is our intention to show girls that they may be bold, adventurous and heroic just like the boys!

A Pigtail Pal doesn’t wish upon a star and wait for her prince to show up. A Pigtail Pal gets into her rocket ship and finds that star all on her own!



Debi Taylor

Debi Taylor of Spirit of Autism 

The nomination entry:

“Autism support with a heart. Single mom, autistic child, huge heart, asks for NOTHING in return when helping people.  Amazing woman! Inspirational.”


Debi Taylor is an Autism Specialist with over six years of research and implementation of real-life tools and solutions for children and families affected by Autism. Through her experience and dedication to her own child, she created a transformational system for children on the Autism Spectrum that covers fitness & nutrition, tips and tools for identifying sensory vs. behavior, coping strategies, calming techniques, Autism safety, emotional support for parents and more.

She is also a Special Needs Counselor for Emergency Responders. Debi has been an active co-founder and volunteer with DeKalb County Fire Rescue Reserve for the past six years, which inspired her to create several Autism training curriculums for Police, Fire, Disaster Response, and CERT groups. She founded Spirit Of Autism to educate and empower families and public safety sectors. She is grateful for her journey with her own Autistic child, which drives her to keep searching for ways to make a global difference with healing and support for the increasing number of children on the Autism Spectrum.



On right: Stephanie Navarro

Stephanie Navarro of The Card Cache

The nomination entry:

“Not only has she come out with a fantastic (and super useful product) but she gives back as well! She collects unused gift cards and donates them to various charities and organizations.”

ABOUT Stephanie

I really wanted a designer wallet. My hubby gave me one a few years back on Christmas. I loved that wallet and carefully began loading it up will all of my stuff. That wallet began to grow and grow like a balloon ready to explode.

I had so many cards in it! Loyalty cards, discount cards, gift cards, coupon cards, frequent punch cards, frequent flyer cards, casino cards and business cards. Ahhhh-cards, cards, cards! My wallet busted at the seams.  I was mad.



Erica Langley of Ecotopia Life

The nomination entry:

“Her business was born from trying to help her son’s eczema.  She sells products made from bamboo.”


In May of 2007 our youngest son Jonathan was diagnosed with a severe case of Eczema, food and environmental allergies.  His eczema covered his entire body.  We realized early that he could not wear certain fabrics without his skin being severely irritated.

We tried cotton then organic cotton but the irritation continued.  We started to search for a fabric that was 100% organic, hypoallergenic and naturally antimicrobial (which does not require any pesticide or herbicides throughout the growth process) hence we found BAMBOO. We found it to be softer, way more absorbent, hypoallergenic, totally organic, and whisk moisture from the body like an industrial fan.



Lara Audelo

Lara Audelo of MamaPear Designs

The nomination entry:

“She accomplished a ton in her first year in biz! People who achieve things are pretty cool. Moms who inspire others to do something – now that’s worth watching.”


In the Spring of 2006, I found out that I was pregnant with my first child and I immediately knew that once my baby was born I would do whatever necessary to breastfeed him.  I was fortunate enough to have a baby who knew right from the start how to suckle, and then and there, a beautiful relationship came to be.  I have since had another baby and I am enjoying nursing him just as much as I did my older son.  In short, my journey through motherhood thus far has created a passion for breastfeeding.

In my own personal experience I have found such joy, that I strive to help other moms-to-be realize the possibilities in the beautiful relationship that awaits them should they choose to nurse their babies.  I also strive to encourage my friends who are also breastfeeding moms, when they encounter an issue that involves breastfeeding.



Joann Woolley

Joann Woolley of Sign 4 Baby

The nomination entry:

“She is an amazing sign language instructor and is great at connecting people. She deserves to be recognized for her work!”


Joann Woolley, instructor and owner of Sign4Baby, learned to sign as an infant. Her mother is deaf and it wasn’t until entering Kindergarten that she realized her unique gift. Wanting her own children to be able to communicate with their grandmother, she began teaching them to sign from the day they were born.

Soon she realized that all of the media attention on the subject of baby sign language was valid. Her daughter Amberly first signed “milk” at just 4 ½ months and by her first birthday she had a signing vocabulary of 50 words. “I never had to wonder what my baby was thinking, she was constantly telling me what was on her mind and about her experiences through sign language.” Kyle, her 10-month old son, first signed at 7 ½ months and loves to sign the word “music” before showing off his dance moves.



Lisa Hill

Lisa Hill of Lehla Shop

The nomination entry:

“Lisa is the creator of Magneblooms, interchangeable accessory via a “snap” magnet. Magneblooms are an original, trendy accessory that is also sold in Tori Spelling’s stori InvenTORI in LA!”


Lisa Hill is the Founder and Head Designer of Lehla Shop. Prior to founding Lehla Shop, she worked as a Purchasing Manager for nearly a decade. A native of Wayne, New Jersey, she currently resides in Bossier City, Louisiana with her husband and daughter. Upon graduating from Wayne Hills High School, she studied at William Paterson University and completed a Creative Writing course at LSUS.

Lisa has been the creative force behind Lehla Shop since 2009. She ventured into this business by making the ever-popular tutus for her daughter when her hobby quickly evolved into a fashion for passion. She set up an online boutique on the Etsy web site where she experienced success and repeat customers. Shortly after, Lehla Shop was selected as an “Official Sponsor” in the 30th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Award swag bags and participated in the “Babes in Toyland 3” Celebrity gifting with Distinctive Assets. In 2010, her personalized superhero t-shirt was requested by Tori Spelling for her son Liam’s 3rd birthday party and the custom shirts were featured on her reality show “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood”, which aired on the Oxygen channel.

While she searched for her creative niche she was asked to create a flower headband for a friend’s daughter. On a whim, she decided to design the bloom so that it was interchangeable by magnet, which would eliminate endless amounts of headbands. To her surprise, the demand soared for her new product line, which continues to experience rave reviews and feedback.

Magneblooms™ was featured in the August issue of City Life magazine and is currently seen
by A-listers in Tori Spelling’s retail shop “InvenTORI”. When she’s not conquering the fashion industry, she teaches ZumbAtomic as a certified Zumba and ZumbAtomic instructor. Lisa is also a freelance writer, has written for Red River Moms in the past and currently serves as Beauty Editor for a new local magazine, ZeltaMae. Additionally, she has authored a children’s book and just completed her Level 1 training as a YogaFit Instructor.

View Lisa’s products on the Tori Spelling website


Shay Olivarria of Bigger Than Your Block

The nomination entry: (Shay received multiple nominations but for the purpose of this post we are using just one of the nomination entries.)

“Shay is making a POSITIVE impact on the economic future of our society beginning  with our youth who are our leaders and consumers of tomorrow!  She does so with authenticity, passion, confidence, and purpose! I am inspired, excited and proud to watch Ms. Shay defy all of the odds of being a  minority female who as a product of the foster care system!  I’m SURE there are so many others who will too!”


Shay Olivarria grew up in poverty. At thirteen years old she went into foster care. She got her first job at sixteen, moved out, and didn’t save any of her earnings. At seventeen she aged out of foster care, graduated from high school and got a low-paying job.

While in undergrad at CSU Dominguez Hills she started reading all she could about personal finance. Sometimes she read with two books on her lap at a time. One was the book she was reading, the other was the dictionary. While in graduate school at the University of North Texas, Shay started investing in mutual funds. Yep, it took her over five years to feel comfortable enough to start investing her money.

While running youth programs (truancy and after school) in Philadelphia she realized that many people, teens especially, had similar feelings about personal finance.



Second from the left: Di Mayze (finalist for Most Innovative Product trophy from Ann Widdecombe at EMDA, 2011)

Di Mayze of Buggytug

The nomination entry:

“Being a new mum is a hard enough job on its own, but Di invented the BuggyTug when her son was just a few months old. It went from prototype to launch in just 4 months, and within 5 months of its launch BuggyTug is now available at 27 stockists including Asda, John Lewis and (from 2012) Boots! Di’s enthusiasm and passion for her product is an inspiration. She’s definitely a woman to watch in 2012! ”

ABOUT Di and Buggytug

The closest thing you can get to an extra pair of hands!  TugTrio is three buggy straps in one box.  ToddleTug which connects your walking child to the buggy, TeddyTug which connects a favourite teddy or toy to the buggy and BuggyTug which connects the parent to the buggy.

Introducing the award winning BuggyTug, the UK’s first branded pram wrist strap. Never worry about your pram rolling away from you again.

Mission: Keep babies safe and give parents and grand parents one less thing to worry about.


Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Lisa Sabin-Wilson of EWebscapes Design Studio

The nomination entry:

“Lisa is an author of several books on WordPress, owns two design business that focus on designing the web and spreading the word about the open source community and WordPress platform.  She is also a regular public speaker at national events, WordCamps and conferences on the topics of design, social media, writing and WordPress. Lisa is very encouraging of women in technology and works towards lifting the perception that women are a minority in the tech field.”


Lisa is the founder of E.Webscapes Design Studio, a blog and web site design and development company specializing in premium WordPress themes, made to order to your specifications. She has designed and developed over 1,000 personal and professional WordPress web sites.

Lisa launched E.Webscapes, a WordPress design & development company, full-time  in 2003 where she leads a team of creative design professionals and technical development experts in helping business owners, large and small, create and launch their presence on the web using the WordPress platform.  Lisa has designed and/or developed over 1,000 WordPress powered web sites since 2003, and continues to feed her passion and obsession with the WordPress platform on a daily basis through ongoing development and working  with clients and users, worldwide, to bring awareness and education on its prowess as a full featured content management system that can accomplish anything!



Dr. Julia Chicken of Advice with Dr. Julia

The nomination entry:

“Dr. Julia Chicken is bound to take the world by storm. Her funny, thought provoking advice coupled with her hysterical cartoons make her a Wom-Hen to Watch! Dr. Julia Chicken is full of it – wit and wisdom, that is. She gives the best advice for all types of situations. She make me think and at the same time, she makes me laugh.”


So you want to know a little more about us. Well, I suppose that I could tell you a few things and not end up behind bars (or a in a straitjacket). Just keep in mind that I am leaving a lot out.

Being very young at the time, I remember very little about my birth. Yes, that is an old joke, but it is stinking funny and bears repeating whenever the opportunity arises.

My recollection of my childhood is likewise a fog, which is understandable considering how long ago it was. However, a few things do stand out, and those are the things I’ll share with you now.



*Winners were listed in no particular order. Thank you for the entries we received! Mommy Perks wishes each of you much joy, peace and grace as you continue on your path and journey: both in business and in life.


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