THE BLOG

Women in Business Q&A: Eileen Sloan, Founder/Product Development, EZLeaps

02/04/2015 11:15 am ET | Updated Apr 06, 2015

Eileen is a wife, mother of two adult daughters and a former elementary school teacher who witnessed first-hand the struggles children face when learning new skills. As a mother and teacher, Eileen would often seek out products to help her be a more effective educator.

Shoe Tying was definitely a problem to be solved. The length of time it took Eileen in her own classroom to teach one child was exhausting, not to mention a class of 30 first graders. Eileen knew if the laces could be held in place as "pause points" the children would learn so quickly. There were no products on the market to help, so Eileen took the task to heart and she sought to devolope her own solution. She went home and cut holes and slits in plastic coffee can lids. When using her new "invention" with her students, the children were learning in just a few tries and then transitioned perfectly without using the tool. Eileen knew she had something. She took the leap of faith and started her full-time business EZLeaps. It's always been her passion to solve problems and make life a little easier for children.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
As a mom and teacher, I know kids need to meet milestones. When it comes to shoe tying, I've witnessed first-hand the frustration associated with learning. Since developing and offering EZLeaps Shoe Tying tool, parents, retailers, teachers, therapists and other professionals now look to me for support when teaching this important life skill.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at EZLeaps?
As a former first grade teacher, I found many of my students did not know how to tie their shoes. I witnessed children tipping over laces and getting hurt. We needed a solution. I created EZLeaps just to solve the problem in my own classroom. But when my students learning so quickly and it was a game changer for my class, I knew it could help others.

I did research and found there are 18 million kids in the US who need to learn to tie at any given time. This motivated me. I took my love for teaching and passion for helping kids and turned it into a business.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at EZLeaps?
Highlights: Teaching children to successfully tie their shoes.
Challenges: Marketing the product with a minimal budget.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
I suggest putting together an advisory board of people who have experience in different business fields and who you trust to be candid throughout the steps of starting a business. They will help you reach short and long-term goals.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Being an entrepreneur with a home office, there is the potential to work 24/7. I make it a priority to schedule my daily personal time starting with early morning quiet time, exercise and nightly dinners with my family. I also make time to volunteer in my community.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Maintaining the work-life balance... especially when your children are young.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I continually seek out entrepreneurs during each level of my growth. They have shared valuable information about their professional experiences both successes and failures. Learning from others has kept me on a very positive track.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Ann Moore is the inventor of the Snugli and Weego. She is an amazing woman and mentor to me. Ann lives in my town and is very generous with her time, talent and advice.

What do you want EZLeaps to accomplish in the next year?
I'm focusing on teaching groups of kids how to tie shoes through preschools, shoe stores and shoe tying clinics. I am also witnessing tremendous results from children in the special needs community, those with autism and other developmental disabilities.