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In the Media

 

How a Baby Headband Led This Soldier and Spouse to Create a Patriotic Marketplace 

Military.com By Elizabeth Hamilton and Sean Mclain Brown

 

If Necessity is the Mother of Invention, then its father surely served in the military. Military families know what it’s like to make do. Here’s how the Maneen family turned a simple children’s clothing malfunction into a business opportunity.

 

IMPROVISE, ADAPT, OVERCOME

 

The story begins with a relatively simple complaint: when Leslie Maneen would dress their two infant daughters, the pretty baby headbands would slip down from their foreheads to around their necks. With some ingenuity, Leslie created a design for an adjustable baby headband. She received rave reviews from friends and family and decided to try selling them online. But Leslie was disappointed when she saw that the Etsy marketplace was overwhelmed with vendors selling children’s headbands.

 

Her husband, Army Captain Adam Maneen, saw her disappointment. He said, “It’s too bad you can’t highlight the fact that you are a military spouse. I bet people would want to buy from you.”

 

Thus, the Patriotic Online Marketplace was born.

 

BETTER THAN ETSY

 

Patriotic Online Marketplace  (POMP) provides a dedicated marketplace for Service Members, First Responders, Veterans, or their immediate family members to sell their products to the public.

 

Sure, there’s other sites; like Amazon Marketplace and Etsy. Not only are they crowded but they cost more. POMP doesn’t charge listing fees, membership fees, and only earn 3% commission on sales compared to Etsy’s $0.20 listing fee, 3.5 % transaction fee and 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.

 

Patriotic Online Marketplace enables a business owner to start an e-commerce website with unique url for free and they claim that would-be entrepreneurs can be up and running in 10 minutes.

 

According to Kate from Tattered Flag Designs, "... It has the simplicity of Etsy, but all the functions of an actual [ecommerce] website."

 

Adam and Leslie understand the value of a simple and effective product. It's their hope to use POMP as a foundation to provide an accelerator and cultivate patriotic businesses and invest in their success. 

 

ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS FROM THE FOUNDERS:

 

When asked about the advice he would give aspiring military entrepreneurs, Adam and Leslie have these tips. 

 

  1. Moonlight while you can; Patriotic Online Marketplace would not have been possible without a steady income. We have been able to take risk along the way knowing our basics are covered.  
  2. Expect to sacrifice. My kids are going to eat, be clothed, and have a safe place to sleep and those are non-negotiable.  My sleep is negotiable.
  3. Ignore the white noise. Most 'friends' are indifferent to Patriotic Online Marketplace and others doubt we can become successful; the same will be true for you. We have less friends now than we did before, but the quality has gone way up.
  4. Research. Learn as much as you possibly can about your specific market and about business in general. Find a mentor, listen, ask questions, and learn from others before making your own mistakes. Most people are pretty open about business mistakes they have made, you just have to ask.
  5. Plan & execute. I hear so many people with 'ideas'. Having an idea and executing a plan are different; one involves risk and the other is just an idea.

 

 

Team Mighty
Mar. 12, 2018

 

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 founder 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.

 

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