Thursday, October 18 , 2018, 4:43 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

After 14 Years, ParentClick Founder Rachael Ross Steidl Readies for New Challenge

Online pioneer sunsets her popular parents resource site to embark on drive to put sharper focus on families with teens

Rachael Steidl founded ParentClick in 2002 to be a resource site for parents and families just like hers. Husband Jamie and their three daughters — twins Ashley and Whitney, and Emily — have all worked in the business and have been tireless ambassadors for the endeavor. Click to view larger
Rachael Steidl founded ParentClick in 2002 to be a resource site for parents and families just like hers. Husband Jamie and their three daughters — twins Ashley and Whitney, and Emily — have all worked in the business and have been tireless ambassadors for the endeavor. (ParentClick photo)

When ParentClick founder Rachael Ross Steidl launched her parents resource website in 2002, she had an infant daughter and 3-year-old twin girls.

Frustrated at the absence of a centralized place for parenting information in Santa Barbara, the mompreneur turned to the Internet and created a dynamic online community for busy parents, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Fourteen years later, Steidl’s mission has come full circle.

With her daughters now all in high school, she’s ready to tackle a new challenge, one just as vital as the first: the absence of adequate support services for parents of teenagers, and the youths themselves.

Late last month, she announced in an email to the ParentClick community that she is “sunsetting” the endeavor.

“Having teenagers made me realize we don’t have enough services for families with teens,” Steidl told Noozhawk. “So many kids these days seem to suffer from anxiety and even depression, but parents are finding that ‘the system’ is geared more toward adults.

“We need more collaboration between families, schools and our existing organizations. And I believe my experience with ParentClick is a good start.”

She’s not wrong.

Steidl was involved in several “mom groups” after her twins were born, but she noticed that everyone was doing the same research for resources like babysitters, preschools, tutoring and child-friendly activities.

“As a Santa Barbara native, I thought I had a pretty good pulse for the community, but even I felt challenged,” she said.

A compilation of pictures tells ParentClick’s 14-year story of bringing together parents and the businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve them. Click to view larger
A compilation of pictures tells ParentClick’s 14-year story of bringing together parents and the businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve them. (ParentClick illustration)

Her brainchild, initially called SBParent.com, was part Internet portal, part bulletin board and part community calendar. It all added up to a hit for local parents.

“Our demographic was pregnancy through kindergarten because I assumed that, as a parent, you have everything figured out by the time your kids start elementary school,” she laughed. “I was so wrong!”

Within 18 months, however, Steidl says the company was profitable. Keys to its success were her effectiveness at bringing together businesses and nonprofits — and keeping the site affordable for their advertising, sponsorships and directory listings.

It wasn’t long before people in other communities were contacting her for help in launching their own sites. Sensing another opportunity, she decided to license the ParentClick technology to them instead.

At one point, she had sold nearly two dozen site licenses in communities as far away as Hawaii and New York.

Ultimately, Steidl released each of the licensed sites so she could keep her focus local. She and ParentClick have been a high-profile presence in the community, sponsoring more than 50 events a year and hosting scores of contests, business mixers and philanthropic initiatives.

The most popular program has been the ParentClick Expo, which made its debut at Goleta Beach Park as the Mother’s Day 5K & Family Festival. After a few years, the 5K was phased out and the event found a more convenient home at La Cumbre Plaza.

Ashley, Whitney and Emily Steidl have all grown up with their mom’s business, ParentClick. Click to view larger
Ashley, Whitney and Emily Steidl have all grown up with their mom’s business, ParentClick. (ParentClick photo)

Although Steidl’s family — husband Jamie, a UC Santa Barbara seismologist; twins Ashley and Whitney; and youngest daughter Emily — have all been “freely” involved in the business over the years, she says she couldn’t have run the operation without the help of her team. Former ParentClick editors Julie Sorenson and Becca Eliasen were stalwart contributors, Sorenson for seven years and Eliason for four.

ParentClick’s list of email subscribers has topped 100,000, and Steidl says she’s averaged about 500 business clients a year for the last 10 years.

Although she declined to reveal her revenue numbers, ParentClick’s longevity speaks for itself. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only “about half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.”

Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, on whose board Steidl serves, calls her a visionary digital pioneer.

“It has been inspiring to watch Rachael grow her business in an emerging industry,” she said. “She’s a pioneer in digital information and marketing, and she successfully bridged the gap between local small business and the families who make our communities so vibrant.

“She’s a persuasive advocate for small businesses, and the ParentClick business model used innovative ways to communicate to a previously underserved market.”

Steidl is open to selling her business, but is proceeding with the work of unwinding it. The website’s directory and community calendar will remain accessible through early spring, but e-Bulletins have been halted and the ParentClick Kids Expo has been postponed.

Since announcing her change of plans, Steidl has been inundated with messages of gratitude for ParentClick’s many positive impacts on families and the community.

“When I look back on what we’ve achieved, I think that’s what makes me the proudest,” she said. “We made a direct difference in people’s lives, and it was a labor I truly, truly loved.

“But now I’m eager to get started on my next adventure.”

Click here for more information about Steidl’s teen resources initiative.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Cimme Eordanidis
Cimme Eordanidis
"Since I truly enjoy doing what I do, interacting with people and representing them during one of life's most exciting events is very rewarding."

Full Profile >