“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world,” according to poet William Ross Wallace. For proof, one might look no further than The Local Moms Network, an online platform for parents with hyperlocal information and resources, as a way to keep mothers in the know.
Begun in 2016 as GreenwichMoms.com, the service has grown over the ensuing three years to encompass over 100 hyperlocal sites, providing everything from listings of family-friendly events to guides to relevant websites, podcasts, and articles.
What is now The Local Moms Network began when Layla Lisiewski returned to her hometown after six years spent working at Merrill Lynch in New York City to start a family.
“Even though I grew up here, I didn’t feel a connection between the community and myself,” Lisiewski said. “Parenthood can be very challenging and I couldn’t find my place. It felt isolating.
“Selfishly,” she said with a laugh, “I started Greenwich Moms to create a community for me.”
Her strategy was fairly simple.
“I began reaching out to local businesses, museums, schools, play spaces to get a feel for what was available in the town,” she said.
Carefully curating what would appear on the site, she began publishing a calendar and list of activities on the site.
“I never wanted to include everything,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be a generic place, and the events had to be local. I didn’t want parents taking their family for an hour-long car drive for a half-hour event.”
The response, she said, was almost immediately overwhelming.
“It was amazing to see how many moms appreciated what I had created,” she said. “It grew a lot faster than I’d imagined.”
Within six months of the launch, she was approached by moms in New Canaan and Darien who found themselves in a similar situation.
“They had no one-stop shop with the kind of helpful resources they were looking for,” she said. “We’re not mommy bloggers or a Facebook group, and they saw that we have the best of the best when it comes to those resources.”
After consulting with her web developers, Lisiewski made the decision to duplicate Greenwich Moms for other locations. A few months later, another pair of inquiries — this time from Westport — came in, and the beginnings of the network were in place.
By the end of 2017 there were seven sites in operation. As of January 2019 there were 82 sites around the country (eight in Fairfield County) and today there are over 100 in 25 states.
Together with a team headed by Chief Operating Officer Megan Sullivan, Chief Marketing Officer Jessica Blouin and Community Manager Stefanie Horn — who also manages the Stamford Moms site — Lisiewski fields requests from interested “mompreneurs” around the U.S. Successful interviewees then go through several weeks of onboarding as they learn the intricacies of web design, development and management and benefit from a guidebook on how to grow their business, marketing materials and support from the organization’s sales team.
“Then they’re pretty much ready to go,” Lisiewski said. “We can provide them with advice on what kinds of content do really well,” including editorial content overseen by Editor-in-Chief Amy Levin-Epstein.
Recent articles include back-to-school prep, profiles of successful women in various industries, spotlights on vacation sites and a multipart series on dealing with gun violence.
But hyperlocality remains key.
“Obviously, they’re going to know what the best things to include are in their own town,” she said.
A mother of three — with a fourth child due in March — Lisiewski noted that further expansion is very much in the cards, although “sometimes we’re trying to catch up” with requests.
“We don’t want to grow so fast that we end up running it into the ground,” she said.
An inquiry from London is tempting, Lisiewski said, but the focus will likely remain on the U.S. for the short term.
With the network’s sites run by mothers from their late 20s to their 50s, she said her team is already considering adding spotlights on grandmothers.
“Grandmas have been there and done that,” Lisiewski remarked. “A 27-year-old has ideas that a 50-year-old may never have thought of, and vice versa. That generation knows what life is like and can provide valuable life lessons.”
Not that there isn’t room for dads as well. “Stay-at-home dads use our content all the time, so they can go to their wife at the end of the day and say, ‘Hey, look what I did with our kids!’ ” she laughed.
The focus will remain on women, however. “Our tagline is ‘Giving moms the gift of time,” she said. “There are a thousand things being thrown at moms every day. We want to help them cut through the clutter.”