Company: Baby Einstein
Year started: 1996 (Acquired by the Walt Disney Co. in 2001 for undisclosed amount)
Industry: Infant Education & Entertainment
Current Start-up Company: MommyMade
Offices: Littleton, CO
Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA
Activity: Series of educational and entertainment materials for babies
Attended: Michigan State University
Degree: B.A., Secondary English Education, 1988
Company website: mommymade.com
“To be successful you need to have someone who REALLY believes in you and what you’re trying to do.”
Driven by love for her children and the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of other kids, Julie Clark has found herself at the top of the child entertainment industry. Disappointment with the lack of quality videos for babies and toddlers sparked the idea for Clark’s first company, Baby Einstein. The stay-at-home mom had taught English and art, and was eager to expose her own daughters to these and other cultural experiences. Clark had been inspired by MSU professor Arthur Athanason’s passion for teaching and literature, and that carried through to her own endeavors. With borrowed video equipment and $15,000 from her own savings, Julie and her husband Bill created, designed, packaged and marketed the first Baby Einstein video from their basement in Alpharetta, Ga.
Within three years, videos from The Baby Einstein Co. were being sold in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. The videos showed baby-friendly images interspersed with poetry, classical music and art, and were a hit with children. Parents were pleased to have a new option in children’s entertainment and snapped up the videos. Within five years, Baby Einstein grew to be a multi-million dollar franchise, with revenues of over $22 million.
In 2001, Julie and her husband sold The Baby Einstein Co. to the Walt Disney Co. for an undisclosed amount. Clark admits that she most likely would never have started her own company if it had not been for her husband’s encouragement and support.
“If you can be successful in business while changing someone’s life for the better, there is nothing more gratifying.”
The thrill of starting her own successful company and desire to continue her work with children inspired Clark’s next company, The Safe Side. Videos, teaching materials and a music CD are being produced by the not-for-profit company, which helps teach kids how to be safe in potentially dangerous situations, both with strangers and on the Internet. All of the proceeds from Clark’s second business—more than $250,000 —have benefited The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In 2004, and again in 2008, Clark was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her decision to write a children’s picture book about the importance of love to a parent battling cancer became a mission to not only educate, but to raise money for breast cancer research. Proceeds from her book, You Are the Best Medicine, have funded over $40,000 in research. Grateful for all that life has given her, Clark is happy to give back.
Photo credit: Aspen Clark