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Saturday Small Business Spotlight: CarLahLah Involves the Whole Family

Jan. 18, 2013
Small Business
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In the second of our Saturday Small Business Spotlight series, NerdWallet talked to Dr. Beth Ricanati, owner of CarLahLah.  Beth’s unique business plan involves the entire family—her eight, ten and twelve year-old children serve as the Head of Product Development, Director of Sales and SVP of Online Merchandising, and they decided to donate a portion of their proceeds to non-profit organizations that offset carbon emissions. Beth shares her experiences running a family business as well as the impact this business has had on her family, and gives other entrepreneurs advice for how to use a family business to teach your children entrepreneurial skills.

NerdWallet will be featuring a new innovative business every Saturday.  Check back next week!

NerdWallet (NW): What does CarLahLah do?

Beth Ricanati (BR): “, the online retailer of stylish, decorative magnets, adds a little Ooh Lah Lah to help you take your car, or even your refrigerator door, from drab to fab. From cupcakes to butterflies to peace symbols, the six-inch magnets can be changed like you change your purse or shoes!  The magnets are strong enough to remain in place as long as you like, yet easily removable without causing damage to any surfaces.”

Lev Ricanati, 12 (LR): “We even tested them in Cleveland snowstorms and in car washes!”

NW: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you ended up with this idea. 

BR: “Three years ago, while living in Cleveland, OH, we embarked on a project with our children to create a company with them that utilized the local economy and that gave back to the community as well.  We noticed that cars were either unadorned, or had bumper stickers that could not be removed.   In fact, we didn’t place bumper stickers on our cars for this reason.  Therefore, we set out to design and manufacture stylish and decorative removable magnets.  We also worked with the kids to find a way to give back: since driving cars doesn’t help the environment, we all decided to do something help the environment.  So, the company donates a portion of the proceeds from each magnet to non-profit organizations that offset carbon emissions.”

NW: How is your family involved in the business?  How has opening the business changed your family?  

BR: “We run the business with our kids. Their input is important, and they make CarLahLah so fun and fresh. It has been a great bonding experience for all of us during our recent move from Cleveland to Los Angeles,” she says.  At the dinner table, Beth and her husband use the company business model to teach life lessons to the kids.  Eight year-old Mia serves as Head of Product Development and insisted on a cupcake magnet.   She had to get this past her ten year-old brother Lev, Director of Sales, who insisted that the sales figures support her idea.  Eli, twelve and SVP of Online Merchandising, has instrumental in the website’s design and content management.”

NW: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to start businesses that involve the whole family? 

BR: “Get them involved early and often!  Our kids helped come up with the company name, the logo, the website and the products themselves.  At every stage, their input has been helpful.  Not too mention, of course, how fun it is to do something creative with our kids!”