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Becoming a parent seems to take some people to a new world. For Elise Nappi ’87 and Eileen Fisher Schneidman ’88, it took them to a different planet. The Pi Phi sisters walked different paths before coming together to create their own company, Planet Mom T-Shirts.

Nappi, an international affairs graduate, landed a job in television news after earning a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University. Schneidman blended art and psychology majors into a marketing and advertising career.

While those jobs are glamorous and appealing to many, they couldn’t compete with motherhood. Still, there are only so many conversations about teething one can handle, and the alumnae longed to have a business on the side to do together.

“We had nothing in common except that we were moms and very much into being stay-at-home moms,” Nappi says.

Schneidman put together the web site, designed the logo and marketing materials, and handles operations. Nappi writes the copy for the apparel lines, established the retail presence, “and is gifted at PR,” Schneidman says. “We divide and tackle as necessary.”

With Nappi’s writing flair and Schneidman’s creativity, the two combined their irreverent senses of humor and created Planet Mom. As any mother can attest, Schneidman says, “[Motherhood] is a selfless, often maddening, but thrilling adventure. Moms have plenty of shared experiences, many of them hilarious, so we figured why not embroider them on shirts and sell them.”

“We are having a blast with Planet Mom,” she adds. “We are still stay-at-home moms, but now our phone calls are about PR strategy and retail pricing, while carpooling and grocery shopping.”

Their 100 percent cotton, fitted T-shirts with embroidered messages like “Trophy Wife,” “I need a playdate,” and “Botox free” have caught people’s attention. Planet Mom has been featured on ABC’s “The View” three times, the Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Connolly Small Business Report on WCBS Radio, the New York Post, the nationally syndicated Satellite Sisters on ABC Radio, and will soon be seen on CNN. The alumnae launched last summer and sell the shirts in boutiques in Fairfield, Conn.

They’ve noticed some interesting demographic shifts. For instance, “Botox free” is popular in cities but not as much in the middle of the country, and “Whine no, Wine yes” became a surprise hit.

“I’m happily surprised at the reaction,” Nappi says. “You never know who’s going to share your sense of humor.”

Her years at Lafayette instilled Nappi with confidence. “I think that because it was that close-knit community, it taught you how to network,” she says. “I’ve read about what my classmates have done and achieved [and thought] ‘if they can do this, I have the same education, I can do this too.’”

Schneidman cites Ed Kerns, Clapp Professor of Art, as a mentor who led her toward advertising. She conducted an internship during senior year with Lew Minter, director of the art department’s media lab. Schneidman learned she didn’t have what it took to be a graphic designer, but she ended up with a job at Grey Direct, a top advertiser.

“I adored [Rothkopf Professor of Art] Diane Ahl’s energy and passion for art history,” she adds. “She made works come to life and inspired me to love whatever I chose to do.”

“Lafayette is a wonderful community with plenty of opportunities to try something new,” Schneidman says. “But the friendships made during those years — and that I still have now — are the best part of my college experience.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles