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Inventive Moms - The Carriage Trade: Stay-at-Home Moms Get Entrepreneurial

An article this week by Rachel Zimmerman in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), rounds up stories on women who left the corporate world to raise children, only to find their creativity still directed toward the marketplace instead of the home. As one of those women who climbed the walls when I was staying at home with the kids, I think these women provide a very valuable role model, providing a new alternative to just working or just staying at home.

For many women who leave the work force to care for children, motherhood is making invention a necessity. The daily routine of child-care presents such a minefield of little problems that they turn to tinkering, and then market their brainstorms. This month Ms. Monosoff signed a book deal to write a guide for aspiring inventor moms while she runs her company and Web site to promote other mothers' products. This month's featured mom invented the Bellybra, an exercise girdle for pregnancy.

Betty Chin, senior vice president of merchandising at the Right Start, a children's-product retailer in Calabasas, Calif., says the uptick in mom inventions began in the late '90s, when a Colorado English teacher, Julie Aigner-Clark, came out with Baby Einstein videos -- educational tapes for infants and toddlers on fine art, classical music and poetry.

An entire support network is developing that takes some of the pressure to become an entrepreneur off those mothers like me who want to create and participate in the market, but not run a company.

Ms. Caspi now runs Parents of Invention, a company offering licensing deals to parents who have an idea or prototype but don't want to manufacture the product. Her company is selling 11 different items, including a plastic pop-on toilet handle shaped like an alligator or hippo "to encourage flushing," a vibrating nursing pillow that fits overweight women and a key chain that dispenses antibacterial wipes.

Jill Avery-Zuleeg, Michele Free and Carmela Zamora-Robertson met when they worked in the same marketing group at Apple Computer. In the mid-'90s, they all got married and started having children.

These days the women work on the video business three nights a week from 9 until 1. "I'm always tired," Ms. Avery-Zuleeg says.

Well, there's no panacea.