Natalie Walker, Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Graham, 7, and Nicole, 4
Aquaswimwear, a line of coordinated Mommy-and-me swimsuits, sarongs, and sportswear
How it began: Formerly a designer for such companies as Speedo and Nautica, Walker retired after the birth of her second child, with the intention of devoting more time to the home front. "But in 2001 I chaired a fund-raiser for my son's preschool. To help them generate some money, I designed swimsuits for little girls," she says. Walker raised $6,000 for the school. Her one-time-only fund-raising effort made her realize that she missed the creativity of her former career. So within a year, she'd developed Aquaswimwear, which soon became a lucrative business.
One reason for its success may be her postbaby-body-friendly bathing suits, with their built-in shelf bras and adjustable straps. As she says, "Not all moms are built the same -- some have shed all their baby weight, and others are still struggling with it."
Toughest moment: Without a doubt, Christmas 2003 was the craziest time for Walker. She was organizing another fund-raiser for her son's school, and there were three others scheduled for the following week. Meanwhile, holiday orders for Aquaswimwear -- including those for last year's popular custom-monogrammed mother-daughter baseball tees -- were pouring in, so in between filling the orders, she was running back and forth to the monogrammer. "One day, my son had a friend over who looked around our living room and asked, 'Do you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanza, because there's no Christmas tree here?' That's when it hit me that I'd been so busy, I hadn't even remembered to go out and buy a tree for our house!"
How to find it: Go to www.aquaswimwear.com or call 310-544-5559.
Bruce Kluger is Parenting's video/DVD reviewer; David Tabatsky writes plays and essays. Each is a dad of two.