Subscribe for 50% off
Subscribe

These 2 Moms Reached 1 Million Followers in 10 Months. Here's How They Did It.

The co-founders of Big Little Feelings share their advice for entrepreneurs looking to grow and discuss how they created a massive following of parents and caregivers through their Instagram account and digital course.

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a proud toddler parent and someone who loves to learn about child development, I was ecstatic to come across the Instagram page, Big Little Feelings during the pandemic. Child therapist Deena Margolin and parent coach Kristin Gallant joined forces to bring this page to life. Margolin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) whose practice specializes in helping children ages one through six. Margolin focuses on mindfulness, mindsight and interpersonal neurobiology.

Gallant studied maternal child education at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University before co-founding Big Little Feelings. She has worked with special-needs children in places like Thailand, and in underserved communities here in the U.S. She has worked with children for a decade and is a parent coach.

In addition to creating content for Big Little Feelings on social media, the duo also created a digital course to empower parents and caregivers with practical tips and life hacks. I sat down with the childhood friends to discuss how they reached one million followers in 10 months, and how you can grow your community.

Start by telling us how the two of you met.

Deena Margolin: We actually met in high school. We played softball together and we couldn't have been more different. I was super academic, I was studying all the time, very regimented. Kristin was a little bit more of a rebel, didn't really go to class, super laid back.

Kristin Gallant: Sorry, mom.

Margolin: We hit it off though and became best friends.

I love that. What made the two of you come up with this idea to start Big Little Feelings?

Gallant: We had this idea of what Big Little Feelings is: a community of parents of toddlers where we provide tips and strategies for real life problems — not those big vague ideas, but really like day-to-day problems — and an online course, which is like a toddler manual. We really had those two zoned-in ideas from the start.

It came from a really organic space, which was when I was a mom of two toddlers and I found toddlerhood to be incredibly challenging. I read every single pregnancy book, every single pregnancy page I was following it, baby book, baby page, baby app. And then I felt like once you got to the toddler age, once they turn one and they start talking and they start having tantrums, it was just like, "Here you go, good luck. Raise a great human."

And I found myself texting Deena because she's my best friend and she's this great child therapist. She had her own child therapy practice. So once Lulu, my oldest, hit the toddler stage, I was texting her all day long, just like about potty problems, about the pacifier. How do you take it away?

At the same time, I was the Instagram mom. When I had my first baby, I was the first one [in my friend group] to have babies. So, I needed the mom community, and Instagram was where I went. What I saw was really, really clean houses and moms wearing their makeup, and they had the selfie light and these perfect crafts. Long story short, nobody looked like me. Nobody sounded like me. I like to swear, I'm wearing a mom bun, I'm covered in spit-up. My house is a dumpster fire. And I was just like, wow, I must be a really shitty mom. Honestly, I must just be really not cut out for this.

When we had this idea, we wanted to create this space where you could go to at the end of a really tough day if you need some helpful advice, maybe you want to celebrate a win. Maybe you want to ask a really honest question and have no judgment and no shame attached to the answer, Instagram filter-free, where perfection is not a requirement to be a part of this community.

People often fall into the compare-and-despair trap, and they're comparing themselves to people's lives that aren't real. I think it's so healthy that you share what you share. What was the first step that you took to get all of this off the ground?

Margolin: In late 2019, we started to kind of kick the idea around and we're like, "Okay, we see what we want to create. It's clearly missing, we need it." I would say our first real step was doing a writing retreat where we left our families for three days, rented a house and just saw our vision and brain dumped together. We just let ourselves dream up what we want to say, who we want to talk to and we kept coming back to something over and over while doing that, which was we want this page, we want this course to be real and authentic, our full selves.

We want to show the beautiful mess and chaos that parenting and toddler really is. And at the same time, we wanted to bring in practical tips and gameplans that are backed in research in all my years of being a child therapist, working with parents and families, but so practical that you can put it into action today. So when you're exhausted, it's 6:30 p.m., and your kid is refusing that time, you have a plan. You know what to do. You know what to say, you feel empowered.

How did you lay out your course?

Gallant: Our goal with this course was to create a toddler manual, and within that one course is everything you could possibly need from ages one to six. Throughout the whole course we cover overarching things like tantrums, accepting feelings in order to get emotional resiliency, lots of that stuff from the psychotherapy side. And then also [we added] truly an index of every single toddler problem that you could possibly think of.

When I was in it, I was just thinking, "What if I could just pop up something, a two to 10-minute long video about bath time? Because that's what I'm struggling with today. What if I could pop up something about eating? Hey, we're struggling with eating, let's get to eating, let's do potty, let's do bath time, bedtime, leaving the park, you name it, pacifiers."

We put it all in order in a quick index.

Tell me about the community that you've created.

Gallant: Really what we created was this community of parents, honestly, and what we're really proud of is not only how quickly we grew this community, getting a million followers in one year.

What we're more proud of is how diverse our community is. We have parents from all kinds of socioeconomic, religious, racial backgrounds, but then we have two-mom houses, two-dad houses, non-binary parents, we have grandparents, we have nannies, we have single parents, we have working parents, stay-at-home parents.

What advice do you want to share with other entrepreneurs who are trying to grow their communities?

Gallant: Always put the one person first. Whether we had 500 followers, whether we had a thousand followers, we were never like, "All right, this is fine, but what can we sell? How many courses can we sell? What can we get out of them? How do I get to 20,000? Let me hire this person so I can get to 20,000."

It's not about you and it's not about your product. It's about that one person and that thousand people and then those million people. What does that mom, dad, grandma, nana, what do they need? And then creating something for them.

Kristin, that is such valuable advice. Deena, I want to send this back to you. What advice do you have then for caregivers who are with a toddler or multiple toddlers at this moment in time?

Margolin: Don't expect yourself to be perfect. Especially during this whole pandemic, as parents and caregivers, we've had to play so many roles all at once. We're moms, dads, teachers, bosses, coaches, friends. I mean it's a lot to do. It's so much.

So mindset shift to understanding it's not always going to be perfect and that is normal, that is healthy. It's okay to not be okay all the time, and we just do our best. At the same time, I think carving out some self-care time, some "me" time to really restore and take care of yourself, which as a new mom I struggle with this. It is so hard for me to find time to put myself first. Yet even those five, 10 minutes are just so important to being able to get back in there and be a patient parent.

Gallant: Could we just normalize working-at-home as parents in a pandemic? Let's all just stop pretending that our toddlers are not going to burst into the door. And let's all just not pretend like we have to put it on mute if we're pumping at the time of Zoom calls. I think we could just normalize right off the bat, "Hey, I'm here, my toddler's in the next room. She's watching Sesame Street and she may come in at any moment." When I hear somebody say that on a Zoom call, I am so relieved because I'm like, "Oh, me too. Don't worry."

We're all doing it. So, let's keep the pressure off. Sometimes when a toddler is not taking a nap and it's exactly during the time and I'm stressing and I'm sweating and you know what, we're all doing it. We're all going to do it, so it's okay.

Latest

How to Identify Your X Factor So You Can Monetize Your Gifts

The founder and CEO of Rock Your Gift shares what to ask yourself to find your X factor, and explains how he's helping coaches and speakers define their unique message to grow their platform and visibility to attract consistent clients.

Here's How Investors Can Tell If You Are as Passionate as You Say You Are

On this bank-breaking episode of 'Elevator Pitch,' see who gets funding and who gets called out.

This Woman Launched a Multi-Million Dollar Company Out of Her Dorm Room in College. Now She's Helping Kids Launch Big Ideas of Their Own.

Founder of Headbands of Hope and Mic Drop Workshop, Jess Ekstrom, talks about her new interactive book Create Your Bright Ideas.

Bam! Emeril Lagasse on Kicking Your Business Up A Notch

Interview with celebrity chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse about his new Roku TV series, putting relationships first, and creating media with a purpose.

5-Minute Mentor: Is My Idea Ready to Be a Business?

Here's how to test your idea and bring it to market in an impactful way.

Do You Have Toxic Office PTSD?

A dark cloud of doom seems to have followed you all the way from that cruddy job to your new desk.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf CEO Sanjiv Razdan on Mentoring New Business Leaders

Interview with Sanjiv Razdan about making the most of nontraditional opportunities, brewing customer curiosity, capitalizing on user-generated content, and inspiring industry leaders with the nonprofit GLEAM Network.

Is Staying Remote the Best Thing for Your Business?

Here's how to unlock the unbeatable benefits of a remote setup.

3 New Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus

To boost focus in the face of distractions, you need a new approach to success.

Watch the Pitch That Results in Life-Changing Investment and a Lot of Tears

Emotions and investment dollars run hot on the new episode of 'Elevator Pitch.'

10 Years Later: The Skimm Co-Founders are Transforming the Way Millennial Women are Taking Charge of their Futures

Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg of theSkimm sit down with Jessica Abo to look back at the past decade and talk about the future.

Knead Hospitality + Design Co-Founder Jason Berry on Innovative Leadership and Employee Retention

Interview with the cofounder of Knead Hospitality + Design about loving what you do, a revamped restaurant work week, and leading by committee.

How to Prepare for a Performance Review (And Not Lose Your Mind)

Annual performance reviews are a time to shine — and a time to freak out.

These 30 Questions Will Help Determine Your Success

In this video, Ben Angel breaks down why 70,000 entrepreneurs have answered the questions that predict their chances of succeeding or failing.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.