About a third of America’s nearly 30 million small businesses are owned by mothers, many of whom pass on their enterprises to the next generation. In honor of Mother’s Day and National Small Business Week, we examine Teacher Created Materials, a local mother and daughter school materials company active in Mihaylo’s Center for Family Business.
From clothing stores to beauty salons, mothers start and operate millions of businesses in the U.S. and abroad that help form the backbone of the global economy. One such enterprise is Huntington Beach-based Teacher Created Materials, which was founded by Rachelle Cracchiolo in 1977.
From Hobby to Global Business
“Nearly 40 years ago, Rachelle was an elementary school teacher in the Fountain Valley School District,” says her daughter Deanne Mendoza, the executive vice president of the company. “While she was pregnant, she wrote an art education book, Quick Fun Art. She went to three publishing companies, but no one would publish it. She finally decided to self-publish. It began as a hobby, but became the global business that we have today.”
While the enterprise writes materials in English and Spanish, the company’s corporate partners translate teaching materials into 12 languages, giving the materials a global reach. Covering reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and the sciences designed for students from preschool to high school, much of the company’s international business is focused on English-language education – a growing demand in many parts of the world as English remains the world’s most widely spoken language.
“Despite differences in culture, classrooms all around the world have more similarities than differences,” says Mendoza. “We are committed to meeting the needs of teachers, wherever they are. We have a tremendous respect for teachers and education and sometimes joke that we want give educators their weekends back.”
The Challenges and Benefits of Family Business
Mendoza says that working for her mother is rewarding, but it also has unique challenges. “My mom is the hardest boss I’ve ever had, since she knows my strengths and weaknesses from before I can remember,” she says. “On the positive side, we are working together as a team and can stay very family focused.”
While Mendoza encourages Mihaylo students to start small businesses after graduation, she cautions against joining an existing family enterprise without gaining valuable experience from other employers first.
“There was never pressure for me and my sister to join our mom’s business,” she says. In fact, Mendoza was 26 before she joined the company as a sales representative. In the interim, the USC art and communication alumna interned for Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, helped organize the 2000 Democratic National Convention at the Staples Center, worked for Coca-Cola North America and earned an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business.
“Working for someone other than your family is good for your own self-development and the company’s success,” she says. “When you finally take up the family business, it gives you respect from the people you work with that your job wasn’t merely handed to you, but that you have truly earned the position.”
Cal State Fullerton Involvement and Job Opportunities
Teacher Created Materials is a member of the Center for Family Business, which advises enterprises on how to develop versatile business models that can be passed down across multiple generations. “The center has taught us such great things,” Mendoza says. “It has helped us realize what the typical pitfalls and opportunities are and how to keep thriving. We really appreciate Director Ed Hart, who is a great leader.”
Mendoza says her company offers an endowment to graduate students in Cal State Fullerton’s College of Education. There are also many positions, such as sales and administrative roles, open to business majors. These include summer jobs and internships. The company actively works with the various Cal State Fullerton colleges and departments to recruit talent. For more about working for Teacher Created Materials, visit their careers page.
The Center for Family Business offers regular speaker events designed to educate family businesses on a wide range of topics and sponsors a course open to Cal State Fullerton students and the broader community, MGMT 335 – Family Business Dynamics. For more information, visit them online or stop by their office at SGMH 5284.