By Jane Bachrach
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
This Sunday the entire country will be focusing on moms as we celebrate Mother’s Day and show them our gratitude and appreciation.
For Carbondale mom Janine Cuthbertson, every day is a Mother’s Day of sorts as the focus of her work involves making every mother’s day a little easier.
Being a mom herself to daughters Aria and Tahlia, 7 and 5-years-old respectively, Janine understands the daily routines, challenges and joys common to all mothers. She also understands the need for moms to connect with other moms.
So, four years ago and after a few months of research, Janine gave birth to her first online community naming it “Carbondale Moms for Moms.”
Born on April 1, 2010, Janine’s creation was no joke and the website has grown beyond just Carbondale. According to the Carbondale Moms for Moms website, “Carbondale Moms for Moms is building a stronger community by offering connection, information, support and inspiration for local mothers.”
Janine conceived her idea after the Haiti earthquake of 2010. After organizing a relief effort to help quake victims, she realized how difficult it was to find and recruit moms to volunteer. There was only one local e-mail list that someone gave her. “I wanted moms because I found an orphanage in Port-au-Prince that needed help and I wanted to send them items for the children rather than money,” she told The Sopris Sun. She figured that local moms would have the kinds of items that were needed.
Following the relief effort, she started thinking that there’s got to be a better way for Carbondale moms to connect with each other. There were no resources so she decided to create one.
After some research, Janine found there were some online communities for moms. “These nationwide websites had thousands of moms but the problem with them was that they were too anonymous,” she explained. Few moms posted photos or used their real names and the websites were not geographically oriented. She said what makes her website different and unique is that “it’s geographic and hyper local and community oriented. All of the information is relevant to the Carbondale community so the level of trust on Moms for Moms is high.”
Just two months after Haiti, Janine launched Carbondale Moms for Moms. She initially invited the 45 moms that were on the original e-mail list to check it out. Janine said the immediate response was so positive and moms were so grateful that they had a way to connect with each other in the Carbondale community, that word spread quickly.
Because the response was so good, Janine wanted to launch more websites. So, within a month she launched Moms for Moms online communities in Aspen, Basalt and Glenwood Springs. In six months she launched Bend, Oregon and Whitefish, Montana websites. “Then a mom from Rifle asked me when there were going to be more downvalley. So we launched Rifle. I wanted to run them on my own but I was too busy. So I found mothers in each one of those communities to run the sites.” At one year she had five sites.
Adolescence and teens
Today, just four years later, there are 16 online communities in the U.S., each run by a local mom.
There are currently about 755 moms in Carbondale and 8,000 nationwide. Janine is about to launch her first international site in Australia, which will bring the total of Moms for Moms online communities to 17. The Australian site, she quipped, is called “Mums for Mums.”
The site itself
There is no fee to become a Moms for Moms member.
Each site contains everything from information on activities for kids such as summer camps, to forums, discussion groups and childcare exchanges. “The content is constantly evolving as kids get older,” she said.
With the help of her husband, Mike, Janine figured out the business side of things. “Each site is run as an independent business so all the advertising and promotion are done locally,” she said. Each online community generates revenue through advertising and promotions. Janine refers to her advertisers as “partners,” as all advertisers have to give back to the website by providing something that will benefit Moms for Moms members; items such as tickets to a local event, coupons or discounts. The only requirement for advertisers is they must be local.
If someone wants to start a Moms for Moms online community they must first sign a licensing agreement with Janine, or Moms for Moms Communities. The licensing agreement entitles them to the “business in a box” training guide, the brand and use of the site. It also includes having 24/7 access to support from Moms for Moms communities. Janine gets paid a monthly fee by each community owner.
Janine’s goal from the beginning has been “to give the gift of connection to mothers.”
Stay tuned. Our guess is there’s a lot more to come from this mom.