Going Beyond Baby Einstein

Ever wonder if you could go from stay-at-home mom to multi-millionaire? All you need is one good idea and the perseverance to see it through.

Julie Aigner-Clark stumbled on that idea nine years ago when she was looking for videos to entertain and educate her baby. Finding nothing age-appropriate on the market, she began creating them herself. The result is Baby Einstein, a company adored by moms and tots alike.

Now, Aigner-Clark has a new project: helping parents keep their kids safe.
Don't miss her interview with The Early Show on Friday morning.

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Aigner-Clark and her husband, Bill, were hoping sales of their Baby Einstein video would cover its $15,000 cost.

"That first year, we did about $100,000 in sales," she says. "And for me that was a miracle. I was making $20,000 a year as a teacher."

Just days after the release of their second video, "Baby Mozart," they hit a stroke of incredible luck they call "the Mozart effect."

Aigner-Clark explains, "All kinds of research was done that said 'Listen to Mozart; Mozart is great for you.' There are wonderful studies showing that listening to Mozart will stimulate your mind. And I had a video called Baby Mozart. So I was really lucky."

The little homegrown company became an Einstein empire.

Aigner-Clark says, "We were a million dollars in sales in year two; $4.5 million, year three; $10 million, year 4. I mean it was amazing. And by our fifth year, we had done over $20 million in sales. As the business grew, and grew, and grew, and we were this tiny little company, we just felt like the stress of running that business was a lot. And other than that, it was really time to move forward. I mean we had to take the company to the next level."

So three years ago, the Clarks sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company. Through new videos, books and juvenile products, Baby Einstein brought in $170 million for Disney last year. But the Clarks aren't looking back. There are new challenges, including an unexpected diagnosis of invasive breast cancer.


"Horrifying, shocking, life-altering," Aigner-Clark says. "There's nothing you can say about it that can convey how afraid you are when you hear that word - cancer."

She had a double-mastectomy, and found the experience changed her outlook.

She says, "I was left as many people are, with this amazing respect for life; this amazing ability to look at every single thing and be so thankful and so grateful for it. And in many ways, it made the work I had been doing prior to my diagnosis much more important to me."

Her work took on new purpose. Her newest project, "The Safe Side," instructs elementary-aged kids about safety around strangers. The video teams her with John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted."

Aigner-Clark says, "I feel as if I am making something that can hopefully change children's lives and help them to understand what they need to be aware of, in a really fun, engaging way.

"I think so many parents don't know where to begin, so it gives parents a real launching pad to start this conversation."

Aigner-Clark has always seen the launching pad in life. Where others might see problems, she's found opportunity. Her paperweight says it all: Every wall is a door.

She says, "If you're passionate about your idea, if you really, really believe in it, I think that's the most important thing."

The Clarks are also at work on another project, a soon-to-be released video for Alzheimer's patients called "Memory Lane."