As a parent of three, Julie Cole, BA '95 was frustrated with the quantities of kid's supplies that left her house and never returned. Whether she left behind kid's gear at play group, daycare or a friend's house, the loss of the toys and supplies prompted her to discuss a possible solution with three others in her family. Together, they created the idea of Mabel's Labels—a decorative, kid-proof, personalized label making business which puts an end to children's lost belongings.
The Mabel's Labels team is more than just a family business it is also a partnership between four former Federation of Students staff. Mabel's Labels includes Julie, her sister-in-law, Julie Ellis Cole, BA '95, her sister Cynthia Esp, BA '95, and her new aunt, Tricia Mumby, a former Waterloo student, who is also a Waterloo staff member. Between them, they share seven kids with two new Mabel's Labels users on the way.
While they were on campus together, the group was heavily involved in the Federation of Students and campus-life activities. While Julie Cole was studying English, she was also a village don, drove the Student Affairs Van, volunteered at several student-support organizations and was an elected Feds executive - Vice President, University Affairs in 1994-1995. She then went to New York City where she received her Masters in 1997 from New York University (NYU), while using her University of Waterloo residence skills to manage the student housing program. At NYU, she met her now-husband and moved to Australia where she studied law at the University of Melbourne. Julie is a part time lawyer and Mabel's publicity and marketing coordinator.
The other Julie in the Cole family, Julie Ellis Cole, also was a village don, a member of Student Council and the Feds Board of Directors. She worked on Feds elections and policy development issues and regularly performed in shows of the now defunct Department of Dance. After uWaterloo, she began working at the Royal Bank as a Financial Planner and as such, is now the financial wizard at Mabel's Labels.
Cynthia Esp, sister to Julie and sister-in-law to Julie Ellis, was also a village don and the supervisor of the Student Affairs Van in the former Campus Centre (now the Student Life Centre). Cynthia left uWaterloo for teachers college in London, England where she studied and taught for several years. She met her husband there and now lives in Canada where she teaches part time and acts as the "Production Goddess" at Mabel's.
Tricia Mumby, one-time friend and now Julie and Cynthia's aunt, worked on various Feds programs, including the launch of the Off-Campus Don's program. During school, she worked part time at University of Waterloo Graphics where she is now a manager. Tricia, who covers the technical side of Mabel is finally in the parenting club - expecting the birth of her first child later this year. Now she can use Mabel's Labels for her own sippy-cups and toys.
Mabel's offers three types of colourful labels to keep tabs on kid's stuff, including the "original" sticky labels, which are great for toys, bottles and dishes that babies and kids often need. The "original" has evolved into a hardy shoe label which is extra tough and sticky and adheres snugly to the heel of a child's shoe. The iron-on labels stick to most fabrics and help kids and parents keep tabs on team uniforms and favourite blankets. Even beyond the realm of kid's stuff, adults find the labels handy for garden and beach paraphernalia.
Mabels' Labels took two years to fully develop into the business it is today as the four busy moms needed to fully explore their concept and finalize the label technology. They have been in business for over a year and call Hamilton, Ontario Mabel's headquarters. While the initial target of their business is for parents of small children, their business is expanding into other areas such as summer camps and senior citizens homes.
Written by Jude Doble, Office of Alumni Affairs