Every Day’s A Miracle
For Long Island Mom
Article reprinted from: QueensParent Magazine - Jan 2003,
by Meryl Feiner
Donna Bliss didn’t plan
on being a stay-at-home mom running a business from her basement. But
sometimes things don’t always go according to plan.
Bliss was working at what
she calls her “dream job”, in the marketing department at a large computer
software company on Long Island. She had just given birth to a healthy baby girl after years
of fertility treatments and three miscarriages.
Things seemed to be going her way.
Then she lost her job.
“I didn’t know what to
do,” says Bliss who had never considered the possibility of not returning
to her career after giving birth.
But soon she found her passion.
“I love baby clothes, the look, the feel, the smell.” After years
of avoiding the baby department in stores because of the painful emotions
attached, Bliss says she lived in “Babies R Us” after the birth of her
daughter, Jillian Nicole.
“My daughter was always dressed
to the nines,” says Bliss. “A
friend suggested that I try to sell the used baby clothing on Ebay.
I started to dabble and saw that there was a market for discontinued
Soon Bliss bought herself
a $500 lot on the auction website and got a good response to her items,
but found that she couldn’t make much profit after paying the fees to
“I can’t recall the day I
decided to set up my own website.
I was comfortable on the computer.
There was not much that scared me, but I didn’t know much about
So she spent countless hours
surfing the Internet. She went to child-related sites, found ones she liked, and
contracted the webmasters. Pretty
www.mymiraclebaby.com was launched.
The site now offers infant, toddler and children’s clothing at
deep discounts and also has a large selection of “pre-loved” gently used
With her website up and running,
Bliss took her 20 years of marketing experience and put it into action.
She set up direct mail campaigns, issued press releases, designed
promotions, and researched places to list her site on the Internet.
The site has been up for nine months now. “In the first week, I had $41 in orders.
Last month I had $20,000.”
But she has had to do her
homework every step of the way. New to clothing retailing, she had to find sources that would
sell items at wholesale to a small company.
“I found deals,” she says.
“There are clearances and liquidations of last year’s styles.”
Bliss sells name brand merchandise including The Gap, Carters and
Osh Kosh B’Gosh. All items
are first quality unless they are in the “Bargain Bin”, where some small
irregularities are clearly noted.
Bliss is constantly finding
new ways to expand her business.
She has tapped the resources of many “mom-based” organizations
found through her Internet searches.
One group that she belongs to, called the “Mom Packs”, distributes
packets of direct mail advertising for various home-based businesses.
She has also teamed up with other mom-based businesses-affiliates-to
broaden her product line. For
example, she now offers personalized items.
Customers place orders through
Bliss says her business has
definitely experienced growing pains and she is still learning as she
goes, however. “I think I
over-bought for Christmas,” she says, adding that orders were heavy through
November but then dropped off sharply at he start of December.
“Then I added a banner on the website that guarantees delivery
by Christmas on orders placed by December 20, and suddenly we got another
surge of orders.”
Other lessons learned involve
the nuances of accepting electronic credit card payments.
Bliss uses a service for credit card processing but has found that,
on international orders, there is no company that will verify the credit
card information. “We recently had an international customer call Visa to dispute
a $400 order. The customer
claimed they never received it, despite the fact that we had shipping
receipts. Visa debited the
money from our account and fined us $50.
For a small company, that can be devastating.
We have to sell $5,000 worth of goods to make up for that loss,”
is more than just a shopping site.
After all, the inspiration for the site was Bliss’s true miracle
baby. Bliss shares her story
on the website and invites others to share their miracle stories, too----for
a $10 gift certificate.
Bliss puts in long hours growing
her business, which now has five employees, but says, “When you find that
thing you love, the hours fly by.”
Her advice to other moms considering launching a home-based business
is to “pay attention to details, look professional in everything you do.”
She advises getting an 800 number, to answer the phone with your
company name, and to set up a post office box.
“You don’t want to look like a mom and pop shop.
People want to deal with reputable companies.”
She says one of the hardest
things about having a home-based business is drawing the line between
business and home. “No matter
how much my husband supports me…and he supports me a lot… it is still
hard to draw the line.” But
all the reasons that make it difficult to work at home also make it worthwhile.
Bliss’s daughter, now 2, goes to day care around the corner.
“It’s ideal. I can
drop her off late, pick her up early, and I can visit her during the day
when I drive by.” And when not at day care, Jillian Nicole always knows where
to find her mommy.