Case

Cindy Christine Parker & Ooh La La Mama, LLC
Dr. Ooh La La - Funky Clothes for Little Monsters and Girly Girls

I am often asked by my emergency room patients why I became a doctor. I knew at the age of 13 that I would become a doctor. During my 8th grade year my father's car was hit by a drunk driver. He was thrown across the passenger seat and ejected through the passenger side window. His head trauma was so severe that the paramedic who was first on the scene initially thought my father was dead, but he saved his life that day. My father was in a coma for 6 weeks. Years later, my father gave this paramedic the repaired (but still badly scratched up) watch he had been wearing that fateful day as a graduation gift, after the paramedic finished medical school.

 

I grew up watching my mother work multiple jobs to support her two daughters (my sister was 8 at the time of the accident) and my dad. My father is now fully recovered. He recently retired but he is fully functional, drives, swears at the dog and still tells really lousy jokes. We are blessed.

For me, I never considered another job (except maybe paramedic). The doctors that cared for my father and brought him back to us were (and still are) like heroes to me. The medical care they provided was totally amazing to my 13 year old mind. The caring attitudes that they treated me and my sister and mother with will always be with me. I now think of these physicians when I have to tell anyone that their loved one is, "Not out of the woods yet." I sometimes also get to deliver babies and I do have a job that occasionally allows me to save a life. That's a pretty cool thing.

I met my husband in medical school. We married, became ER docs and had 2 beautiful children. Like many moms, I wanted to find fun, funky clothes for my children. Frustrated with the lack of edgier designs and prints available - I decided to launch my own kids' apparel line www.oohlalamama.com.

We printed our first onesies in 2007. The response from my family and friends was overwhelming. In fact, my husband Scott and I spent many a late night or morning on our living room floor tagging and boxing up onesies before and after our ER shifts. I am terribly lucky to have such a supportive husband.

Our initial problem was how to get sales. As ER docs we had no formal business or fashion or marketing education or experience. We knew we had a product that we strongly believed in and with this knowledge we knew we would not fail.

In the summer of 2007 I timidly walked into our first boutique in southern California and got my first "real" order - 400 pieces in several designs. I knew at this moment that Ooh La La Mama, LLC was going to be more than just a hobby. We then were introduced to The Dressing Room in LA's fashion mart. They became our first show room and we started getting tons of wholesale orders right away.

Problem #2 for us: How to manage sales and production? By the summer of 2008, we had more wholesale orders than we were able to efficiently manage. Enter Chris Maeoka, childhood friend, who had just finished MBA school and was looking for a company to run. Initially we were both very hesitant to mix business with friendship but I can happily say that this has been a wonderful experience. I am very fortunate to have such a talented, hard working friend to run our company.

Ooh La La Mama currently counts approximately 250 boutiques in the US and abroad. We have showrooms in Canada, Los Angeles, Colorado and Texas. We also do internet sales. Chris runs production out of our office in San Diego. My husband and I work in Orange County as full time ER physicians still. Luckily, this is the age of the internet and much of my business can be managed remotely. Plus, San Diego is not such a bad place to visit. My family and I plan regular "business" trips down as often as possible.

Chris and I recently launched our second line - Kissu Kissu, LLC. With the current economic situation we decided to make a more affordable onesie. We have new prints, still fun and funky fresh that can be found on Target.com under our new label Kissu Kissu. We are all very excited to see where this new line takes us.

This brings me to my current personal challenge of managing time with my family and my 2 jobs. I believe that this time management issue is very real for most working and SAHM's that I know. The decision to work or stay at home is a very personal one and I do not feel that I have always made the best decisions about how I manage my time. There have been many days (and nights) that I have been away from my family and this has not always been easy.

Working in the ER will always be important to me. Being a physician is an essential part of who I am. I am sure that my father's car accident is hugely responsible for many of my professional decisions. I try to be kind to my patients and to their very worried family members. I like to think that I am good (if one can be) at delivering bad news. I hope that I have a kind and gentle bedside manner that might make such moments maybe just a tad less horrible. And - I am a good doctor. I am aggressive and fast and I know my patients appreciate my medical decision and care.

Running kids' apparel company, Ooh La La Mama is another entity altogether. Moving Ooh La La Mama production and sales down to San Diego has helped me maintain a healthy balance between business and family. Even though it is still time consuming and truly does require more time (than if I only worked in the ER) - Ooh La La Mama does help balance me. It is a really fun job. I get to be creative and no one dies. We have had a lot of fun opportunities and received a lot of press. I maintain our blog to update friends and customers about cool happenings at Ooh La La Mama and it provides a great place for me to share fun stories about my life and my kids.

Plus, I get to chat with the occasional celebrity. Laila Ali put her new baby, CJ, in one of our onesies for her first OK! Magazine photo shoot. Jenny McCarthy's new book (coming out this year) will feature 5 kids all dressed in Ooh La La Mama with Jenny. And SLASH (form Guns 'N Roses rock band) puts his kids in Ooh La La Mama t's and his wife Perla emails me pictures of the kids. I love this part of my business. It is truly fascinating to step out of my scrubs and into my Ooh La La Mama mode. I have enjoyed philanthropy though my company: We donated $1000 of apparel to "Carousel of Hope" Celebrity event sponsored by Mercedes Benz and silent auction for the Children's Diabetes Foundation. In addition, Ooh La La Mama adopted 6 families this past December for Christmas. We provided Christmas trees, bikes, gifts for 23 children and their parents. This was truly the highlight of our year.

My goals for 2009 and for the future of Ooh La La Mama, Kissu Kissu and this ER doctor? I would like to see our clothing lines continue to grow. Currently I provide a full time income for one of my best friends and my mother (also one of my best friends) makes a little extra money doing our accounting. I would like to be able to give more back to the community. More sales and profit allows us to do this. We are talking about doing a bigger, more organized drive or fundraising event this year at Christmas. We would just love to sponsor more families and be more involved with giving something back.

I have been truly blessed with this life and with my opportunities and achievements. I believe we are all capable of achieving our goals. Nothing is out of reach. I have found this to be true - with a passion and drive anything is possible. While I do not expect to win this very cool contest - I do hope that my little story will help inspire other young women to reach for their dreams and to KNOW that they can get there.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Cindy C. Parker

ER doctor and founder of Ooh La La Mama, LLC and Kissu Kissu, LLC