Every parent can appreciate a service that provides a personalized touch, makes the parenting journey a bit easier, and understands that only the best for their kiddos will do. Cue Citrus Lane, a company that does all that and more. Your Totally Awesome pick for best subscription box service, Citrus Lane mails out thoughtfully selected products based on the age of your kid. It’s a community, a trusted product resource, and a handy service you won’t believe you lived without.

Founder Mauria Finley recently took the time to chat with us about what makes Citrus Lane so awesome, her advice for aspiring business owners, how to balance business with parenthood, and more. Read on:

Red Tricycle: Congratulations on being voted “Most Awesome” by your community! What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Mauria Finley: I believe our customers truly value the discovery and delight that Citrus Lane brings into their homes each month. We carefully select the toys, gear, snacks, and other goodies that go into our boxes, listening to customer feedback to include “parent-approved” products that kids love. And since each box is based on the current age of the child, kids love opening their Citrus Lane boxes to see what goodies arrive each month. Busy parents love discovering amazing new products for their family—without having to spend hours researching online or in stores. Our customers place a lot of trust in us and expect to receive only top quality products, so we work hard to earn that trust each month.  Every product we put in our boxes comes highly recommended by real parents. We ask our incredible community to give feedback on each and every product they receive, and then include the products they liked best in future shipments.

RT: What inspired you to start your business?

MF: I was inspired to start Citrus Lane after I became a first-time mom. I wanted the best for my baby so I emailed all my mom friends and asked which products they loved the most. I was flooded with emails recommending everything from pacifiers to swaddle blankets. I was overwhelmed with all the product choices! Being a parent is an amazing experience, but it’s not an easy job. That’s why I created Citrus Lane—to help parents discover innovative products, share information, ask questions and find inspiration from one another.

RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?

MF: A lot of entrepreneurs, especially women, ask me for advice on how to get started. I’m always happy to help if I can, especially because I’d love to encourage more women to start companies. The first piece of advice I give everyone is ‘find a big market and get to deeply know your customer’. It sounds cliché, but it’s critical to success. My second piece of advice is to pick an idea you love and build a team that inspires you. I sometimes joke that Citrus Lane is my third child, because I love the experience of helping the company grow so much. Not that I could ever love a company as much as my boys, but sometimes the experience of being a mom and a CEO have a lot of similarities! Growing Citrus Lane, I have felt many of the same emotions that I feel watching my children grow—incredible  joy when its working, pride when I share its success with others, fear when I’m not sure what to do next, frustration when things aren’t going well, etc. Starting a company will be an emotional journey, so I suggest picking an area you love and working with a team you want to see every day.

RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?

MF: This may sound like crazy advice, but my big breakthrough was giving up on trying to do it all. I call my strategy ‘thoughtful flakiness’. Early in my career, I answered every email and was on top of every detail. As a mom, I just have fewer hours in the day to work. Now, I stay laser focused on my top priorities at work (a key hire, a strategic partnership, supporting my team), and I let most of the other stuff go. I do the same at home. My husband and I try to do as close to zero housework as we can. That means we live with a lot of toy clutter, messy cars, and stacks of unopened mail, but we spend every second we aren’t working with the kids, instead of on chores. We are home for almost every breakfast and dinner; we are on the soccer field every Saturday morning, and we make it to most school events even when they are at awkward times. So our house isn’t perfect and my email is overflowing? I prefer to spend all my time with my two little bears, my awesome husband, and our incredible team at Citrus Lane.

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

MF: I always love hearing how Citrus Lane has brightened someone’s day or helped out a new parent. I especially love the pictures our community shares each month of their super cute kids enjoying their boxes. Seeing cuddly babies and adorable toddlers enjoying Citrus Lane toys and goodies reaffirms why I stared this company. Recently, I was very proud of our team on the launch of our Citrus Lane Guides. In one month, we received a million votes from parents on what products have worked the best for their children. We took all this information and created easily searchable Guides in categories like Best Bathtime and Best Boardbooks to help parents navigate all the choices out there.

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?

MF: Yes! Red Tricycle readers can get $10 off their first box with code TAKETEN on any subscription!

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