How can two infants start a new company that helps military families and veterans?
I mean, they can't. But.
They can inspire their parents to begin building a new business that supports military and veteran families. Our story begins with a problem familiar to mothers everywhere — dressing a baby.
Leslie Maneen is a mother of two beautiful daughters. She loved to put them in beautiful outfits when they were babies, but there was a problem. When she would place commercially made baby headbands on them, the band would just slip down around their necks. After much frustration — and trial and error — she developed a two-piece system that could be adjusted to her children as they grew.
Leslie and Adam Maneen with their children.
Leslie knew this was a widespread problem, so she decided to try selling them on Etsy, but when she began to research, she discovered that there were over 200,000 baby headbands already listed. How could she stand out in a crowded marketplace? Her husband, Captain Adam Maneen, saw her frustration and mentioned that it was a shame there was no way to specify that she was a military wife because people would probably want to buy from her.
At that moment, the Patriotic Online Marketplace was conceived (like a baby — get it?). The marketplace is geared toward active duty, veterans, and their immediate family members to sell products and start online businesses without fees.
It's become a success, with an ever-expanding vendor list and over 4400 products for sale. By focusing on the military and veteran communities, new businesses have the chance to be found and to build a customer base, without fear of being lost in the shuffle of goods. The products sold range from clothing to makeup, books to outdoor equipment, and baked goods to jewelry making supplies. There truly is something for everyone on the site, and the appeal of knowing you are helping military and veteran families is an additional draw.
Patriotic Online Marketplace founded Leslie Maneen.
Not only do the customers feel good about doing business with POMPUSA, or the Patriotic Online Marketplace, but the vendors are also very happy with how easy it is to set up their online storefronts and begin selling.
"I love your website, it has the simplicity of Etsy but all the functions of an actual website," is a testimonial from one of their clients, Tattered Flag Designs.
The Maneens understand that time is precious, especially when you have a family. That understanding has helped them to build a company that values their vendors' time and allows them to quickly set up their ventures to provide for their loved ones.
As Adam is still active duty, both he and Leslie split the work involved with Patriotic Online Marketplace. She handles the day-to-day operations and customer service and functions as the social media manager. Adam handles everything else in the evenings and late nights. He is thankful for his military career, as it has given his family a secure base to live off of while he and Leslie build their business.
As he puts it, "My kids are going to eat, be clothed, and have a safe place to sleep and those are non-negotiable. My sleep is negotiable."
Leslie never had the opportunity to place her headbands on sale, but she doesn't regret the time she invested in POMPUSA. She believes this new venture has been a blessing to her and her family. The opportunities and the community they are building are far more satisfying, with plans to offer coaching and incubator services to military and veteran-owned small businesses in the future.