Entrepreneur sells organization
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: June 8, 2004)
love of order led Pamela Socolow to invent and market a
system for organizing the hundreds of pieces of information
needed in managing the average household, such as the kids'
soccer schedules, immunization records, and the menu for
The plan for running her business, however, is in a more private
"As most people say, I have it all in my head," said Socolow,
38. She runs the business from the Mount Kisco home she shares
with her husband, attorney Brian Socolow, and two children.
Her product, the Family Facts Family Life Organizer, is a central
data bank with a decidedly low-tech design. Customizable pages
and pockets are collected in a "durable yet stylish" three-ring
binder, according to the description on her Web site (www.family-facts.com).
In an age of personal digital assistants, low-tech is part of
Socolow's strategy. Her organizer is designed to be simple enough
for both adults and children to use, and available to anyone when
they need it the husband, say, who needs to find the name
and telephone number of a child's doctor if his wife is away from
Sales have been modest since she introduced the organizer last
fall. Socolow said she has sold 350 of them at $25 each out of
500 she had initially produced. She is gearing up for the fall,
when back-to-school activities create more of a demand for bringing
order out of chaos.
Socolow likes to write out her schedule for each day. A recent
schedule had times listed for sending her children off to school,
meeting with a designer to discuss the organizer, meeting with
a reporter from The Journal News, and welcoming the children back
"It shows I don't have a lot of time left," she said, looking
over the day's activities.
A former buyer of advertising for clients who wanted to promote
products, Socolow discovered she needed help in organizing her
life after she had her first child eight years ago. She had used
binders in her work with business clients and found the model useful
in her home life.
In researching whether she could produce and sell an organizer
as a business, she sought advice from friends and acquaintances.
A close friend's college roommate's father had worked in the office
supply business and offered guidance and referrals on the subject
of binders. A person at the gym where she exercises provided the
name of a designer who helped create the look she wanted for the
Her husband helped with copyright and trademark work, and she
found more free advice on the Internet through the Small Business
Administration. When Socolow took a prototype to a trade show to
find potential retailers, she got good news and bad news. The good
news was some of the exhibitors were interested in the product.
The bad news was the price; everyone she spoke to said it couldn't
cost more than $25, exactly $19 less than she had hoped to sell
That meant returning to the drawing board. She discarded sections
in the organizer devoted to travel and parties that helped reduce
Socolow said she has invested $25,000 of her own money into the
business since starting last year. She said she doesn't have a
business plan and is unsure when the business will be profitable,
but the undertaking has its own rewards.
"I like being busy and I like being my own boss," she said.
Two counselors at the local chapter of SCORE, from whom she sought
advice, said they were impressed with Socolow's enthusiasm.
"I think what she's done, she's done in a real short period of
time," said Seymour Finkelstein, who worked with Socolow about
nine months ago. The need for a formal business plan is not necessarily
essential for an entrepreneur, until he or she heads to a bank
for financing, he said.
"It's early in the game yet," Finkelstein said. "She's bright
and she's got drive."
Reach Jerry Gleeson at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 914-694-5026.Reach Jerry Gleeson at email@example.com