Necessity is the mother of invention. So what’s a dirty pacifier got to do with it? Everything, according to Doddle & Co CEO and founder, Nicki Radzely.
Doddle & Co. created the Pop, a clever pacifier that folds into itself when dropped. How many times have you watched in horror as the paci hits the sidewalk/bathroom floor/subway platform? With the Pop, the nipple stays clean — leaving us busy mamas with one less headache.
We asked the forward-thinking problem solver how else she makes life a little bit easier, both at work and at home. She’s also the latest success to come out of ABC’s Shark Tank and fills us in on the experience.
Your age: 36
Mommy to: Noah 6, Aiden 4
The place you call home: Montclair, New Jersey
Tell us a little bit about your day job (as CEO and founder of Doddle & Co.):
I am a true blue, working-from-home mom. I wake up at 7am-ish and get the boys to school and then head up to my office for the entire day and evening. I am working towards some balance to take a break, hit the gym, go for a run, or do something that separates work and life.
What do you love most about your job?
Creating something from an idea. This is by far my favorite job of all time and one that I cherish. I think it’s a big honor to make something that people are starting to love.
What do you like least?
I kind of like it all… I am a person who loves a big mess so I can organize it, sort it out, and figure out the best way to solve it. The reward of finding a solution is better than anything else.
How did you end up doing this for a career? Was there an “aha moment”?
The evening my friend, Jared, showed me his baby using one of the first prototypes … I hit the floor. I thought it was the most incredible design of an incredibly traditional product. I absolutely knew that nothing would be the same after that night.
How much, if any, input did your family have in creating the Pop (which is genius, btw)?
None! My partner, Janna Badger, is the industrial designer and inventor of the entire idea! I give as much feedback from the market to tweak it and make it better. I come into play on market insights and try be helpful in concepting new products and overall design improvements since I have a closer proximity to the market.
What do your kids think you do for a living? How do you explain your job to them?
My little one says it best: “Mommy helps babies stop crying”
My oldest says, “Mommy makes pacifiers that pop.” I’ve really got him trained!
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I had a ton of different dreams.. A political strategist, a race car driver, an actress, a doctor who worked in Africa, a professional surfer. Then I turned 10. I ultimately wanted to be self sufficient.
Did you or your business partner get a maternity leave?
Yes, when I had my oldest, Noah. Janna and our Art Director, Jane recently took maternity leave. We are working women and mothers – we totally figure it out and do the best we can.
Did you ever contemplate staying home after your kids were born?
Yes, and I did because I was laid off on the day I was to return. I didn’t mind because I loved staying home. I think it was the happiest time in my life. I finally had clarity on my purpose and it completely invigorated me. I learned to cook, I read novels, we had a ton of playdates and classes; I just all together enjoyed recreating childhood as an adult and getting to be a teacher of little things like words, colors, tastes…
In what ways has your work/life changed since having kids?
I am more efficient. I can do more things now after having kids. It is a different kind of tired and exhaustion, one that can also be coupled with joy and wonder.
What’s your best advice to a new mom coming towards the end of her maternity leave?
We all have to ask ourselves the hard questions — whether or not this baby has changed the previous plan (e.g. to go back to work or not).
I would say that one should think long term. Investing your time in a job that might not offer a significant financial contribution (after childcare) may offer you equity in your professional life. It might not be worth a lot when your paycheck is going to a nanny, nursery school, and summer camp; but it keeps you in the game — and that is priceless. The same is true if you decide to stay home. The equity in those first (or all) years can’t be duplicated and is therefore priceless as well. All require a long term view to make a decision that you will be content with.
If all else fails, go back to work and try it out. You can always leave.
Let’s be honest. No one can really do it all. What do you do less of to make it work for you and your family?
It’s so true. I ebb and flow. I work really hard for months, and then retreat and work really hard at being present for the kids. When that isn’t possible, I try to invest in the weekends or at bedtime as best as I can. I try to balance the time and quality of the time with work. I keep believing that it will all be worth it.
One thing you didn’t know before having kids that you wish you had known:
It’s really hard even when it is absolutely wonderful.
What do you hope is different about work and the workplace when your kids are running the world?
I hope that leaving the office by 5pm is a sign of a smart and hard worker. I want that old mentality of leaving early to be revered, rather than [the current mindset of] burning the midnight oil.
Favorite M+A Products:
Love this unisex set. It’s a great gift!