Editor's Note: RPV Patch's own mom columnist and contributor Jeana Bobich works for Juice in the City. We also wrote about a local mom's similar business model in .
Menlo Park resident Sarah Eisner brings new meaning to the term “stay-at-home mom.”
As co-founder of the daily deal web site JuiceInTheCity.com, Eisner is one of the most successful stay-at-home moms around. Now, with 11 markets up and running across the country, Eisner employs more than 150 people to source local deals for Juice in the City—and every single one of them is a stay-at-home mom, just like her.
Daily deals web sites are all the rage these days. Chicago-based Groupon.com was one of the first and has grown by leaps and bounds since its launch. Other sites like Townhog.com, GotDailyDeals.com and San Francisco-based LivingSocial.com have since followed suit.
However, Juice In The City has a unique twist that sets it apart from the rest—the site is run by moms, for moms.
”We are basically deals, done by and for moms,” Eisner explained. “We do not feature any businesses that local sales moms have not tried, personally. So, the moms source the deals themselves.”
In other words, Juice in the City features deals on the best local businesses in 11 markets across several states—that are targeted toward moms. Think coffee shops, boutiques, summer camps, tickets to children’s shows, yarn stores, spas and more—all mom-tested and pre-approved, and all signed on by stay-at-home moms, whom Eisner calls her “local business consultants.”
All of this, and Juice in the City (JITC) has not even celebrated its first birthday yet.
JITC launched in May of last year, on the day after Mother’s Day. A veteran “mom-preneur,” Eisner had just switched gears from running her last successful at-home business, called “Juice Box Jungle”—a weekly, online talk show in which she and a friend discussed mom topics.
“We would take a topic like immunizations, breastfeeding, or co-sleeping, and feature different parents' opinions on the topic,” said Eisner.
“Juice Box Jungle” became immensely popular. More than 500 mom-bloggers would comment on the show each week, and feature the widget on their sites. Eventually, the show started to bring in serious money through sponsors like cosmetics company Sephora, among others.
It was there that the idea for JITC was born, Eisner said. So many of the show’s sponsors wanted to offer their viewers coupons and special deals targeted to moms, that Eisner and her partner got the idea for a mom-centric daily deals site.
The name “Juice in the City” was a tribute of sorts to “Juice Box Jungle.”
“Once, Entertainment Weekly referred to ‘Juice Box Jungle’ as ‘Sex and the City’ with kids, because we were kind of snarky and lightly controversial and fun,” Eisner recalled. “And we wanted to keep ‘juice’ in the title, so that’s where the name came from.”
It started out with just Eisner, going around in her local Menlo Park community all on her own, trying to find businesses interested in offering deals on the site. So, she started with the tried and true—the businesses she, as a local mom, loved to frequent.
“I was the first local mom finding the deals. So, I immediately went to two of my favorite places in Menlo Park— and ,” she said.
Today, Borrone and Kepler’s are two of JITC’s most loyal clients. Eisner says they are perfect examples of JITC’s business philosophy—only aligning with mom-friendly, local businesses, and supporting the local economy.
In other words, no huge corporate chains—you won’t be seeing places like Starbucks on JITC anytime soon.
“We don’t like to do businesses with huge companies that cannibalize local businesses,” Eisner explained. “By naturally aligning ourselves only with the best local vendors, that draws local bloggers in to talk about the deals.
“You can advertise as much as you want with mediocre deals and pay to get lots and lots of subscribers—and with a lot of subscribers, someone's going to buy—but we'd rather put out a product that people naturally are going to want to talk about.”
In the true "mom-tested" spirit, each deal features a testimonial from the local mom who sourced the deal, telling why she loves to patronize that business.
As an example of how powerful mom-centric deals can be, recently, JITC customers practically bought out the entire theater for a show of “The Berenstein Bears” on stage at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City.
Eisner, who took her kids to see the show, said it was incredibly gratifying to walk up to the box office at the Fox Theatre and see a line around the block of people waiting to get in with their JITC ticket stubs.
“We [JITC customers] pretty much sold out all 250 seats in the theater,” Eisner said.
After that night, Eisner decided to conduct a survey of all the JITC customers who had bought a ticket to the show through the site, to ask if it had been their first time at the Fox, and whether they would ever return and pay full price for a ticket—excitingly, most answered yes, and yes—proving that JITC’s business model indeed has something to it.
“And that's what this whole model is about. Since we target local moms, our repeat customer rate is fantastic,” Eisner explained. “When moms like a place, they'll go back over and over—and buy for other people too, not just themselves.”
Fellow Menlo Park mom Laura Purpura says, it’s qualities like that, that drew her to want to work for JITC herself.
Purpura was one of the first moms who signed on to work with JITC last April, before the site’s launch. She started out as a local business consultant sourcing deals, and today, she is the regional manager of the Bay Area market, training new local business consultants, working with vendors, scheduling deals and dreaming up new kinds of deals to source.
“The job has just grown and grown,” Purpura said, thinking back.
Purpura said the majority of her job is done from home, in just 25 to 30 hours of work per week, on average—pretty handy, considering she has four children at home, ranging from preschool to the eighth grade.
“The best part of this job is the flexibility,” said Purpura. “I’m able to be there for my kids, which is great.”
Purpura said she appreciates JITC’s business philosophy, of creating close, lasting relationships with local vendors, and supporting the local economy.
“We really pride ourselves on that,” she said.
She also appreciates the opportunities JITC gives to stay-at-home moms.
“I love [working for JITC],” she said. “The flexibility is perfect for me right now at this point in my life—I’m able to feel like I'm working on my own career, but still able to be there for my kids, as a mom, as well. Because, it's always such a dilemma for moms to choose between their kids and their career. So, it's been really great.”
Purpura said she loves it when she’s out and about in the community, and local moms who know she works for JITC will come up to her to talk about the site’s latest deals.
“They’ll come up to me and say, ‘Ph, I bought this deal,’ and ‘I loved that deal,’ and ask me what deals are coming up, like, ‘Are you going to have any deals on massages for Mother’s Day so I can tell my husband?’ and things like that,” she said. “That’s always fun.”
Fellow JITC local business consultant Teresa Swett, also a stay-at-home mom from Menlo Park, says working to help local businesses become successful through offering deals on the site gives her a great feeling, personally.
"I just really like their focus, which is saving local and promoting local businesses," Swett said. "I like helping businesses that are unique to survive, so that our communities have unique businesses rather than being a cookie-cutter town."
Swett added, sourcing local businesses has helped give her a new appreciation for her town.
"It's been fun, because I'm discovering all these great places that I'd never tried. That's great for me, because I tended to go to the same places that I know, so it's helped me to discover new places, which is fun," she said. "And, I get to know a lot of business owners, so that aspect of it is great because I get to meet new people."