The Macaroni KID community celebrates its 14th birthday in November. Fourteen years is a long ride! We have several publishers who have been with Macaroni KID for a decade or more. I thought it would be illuminating to hear from 14 of them on how Macaroni KID has impacted their lives, families, and communities. I also asked them to reflect on how life has changed for them since they started with Macaroni KID.
I recently celebrated my first anniversary as the CEO of this incredible business and community. After an extremely challenging, but exciting year — from the pandemic to integrating Macaroni KID and CertifiKID (my other business founded in 2010) — all I can see ahead of us are rainbows and sunshine.
I love everything about what Macaroni KID means to me and our hundreds of publishers throughout the United States and Canada. Our publishers' impact on their communities, local businesses, and millions of families is enormous and so inspiring to see.
Are you interested in becoming a Macaroni KID publisher? I don't think there has ever been a better time to join the Macaroni KID family than now in terms of the opportunity, potential, and our efforts to grow an even stronger and more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community! We are recruiting — find out more now ... and read on to learn about some of our fabulous veteran Macaroni KID publishers:
Publisher of Macaroni KID Richmond, Va.
Why she started her Macaroni KID site: I started publishing Macaroni KID when I relocated to Richmond, knowing no one and nothing. Not only did I learn and explore to connect with our community, but helped so many others see all our town has to offer.
What looks different: As a special needs parent, there was little to nothing being shared for our children in my community. Today, not only do many typical events include accommodations, but many events now plan and offer special need exclusive events! How great it is to feel included!
Publisher of Macaroni KID Harrisburg & West Shore, Pa.
Why she started her Macaroni KID site: I started Macaroni KID way back when I was a 24-year-old mom of a one-year-old with no idea what to do with kids in a community I just moved to. I had no idea where to even start to find the information I desperately wanted and was overwhelmed. All these years later I still enjoy being a resource for local families to make it as easy as possible for them to find family fun, farmers markets, library programs, and great businesses in the area I love.
The Macaroni KID impact: I've gone on to have two more kids and am now entering the teenage years with the kiddo who was just a baby when I began this journey. My kids have grown up being literal KIDS of Macaroni KID: Going to community events, helping take photos for campaigns, going on trips with me, attending concerts and shows with me, and all of the other fun parts that come with being the kid of a Macaroni KID publisher. They've experienced countless fun experiences that were possible because I was a Macaroni KID publisher.
Publisher of Macaroni KID New Orleans, La.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: Macaroni KID has been an incredible opportunity for me over the years. It’s a jumble of so many things — being a great resource for my community by helping parents find their family fun; being my own boss; earning money; helping businesses promote themselves; and being part of a wonderful company and community of MK publishers from all over the country. Plus it has given me purpose outside of being a mom. Thank you Macaroni KID!
What looks different: When I started my kids were 10 and 8 years old. Now one has graduated college and is living on his own and the other is a sophomore in college!
Some of our publishers joined Macaroni KID owners Jamie and Brian Ratner on a recent trip to Punta Cana.
Publisher of Macaroni KID Cedar Rapids, Iowa
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: Being a Macaroni KID publisher has brought me and my family so many amazing opportunities. From traveling to amazing places like Universal Studios, to trading with local businesses for things like Botox, house cleaning, family haircuts, senior pictures, dance classes, and free tickets to shows. I've even bartered with a local car dealership to drive a free car! I love that I have been able to connect local businesses to families and have become the go-to resource for family fun in my community.
What looks different: Cell phones. Fourteen years ago it was almost unheard of for young kids to have them. Now, almost every kiddo has a cell phone ... including mine. (#Guilty) Heck, they have nicer ones than mine!
Publisher of Macaroni KID Layton - Farmington, Utah
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: I am a mother of five and my kids grew up being spoiled by Macaroni KID! Our family enjoyed free movies at Cinemark, unlimited passes at the local fun center, iFLY, rock climbing, skiing at Park City & Deer Valley, and lots of awesome birthday parties. The list goes on and on! We were even able to trade advertising for braces! Macaroni KID blessed our lives and we were able to invite other families to share the fun. How cool is it to have a job where I find wholesome recreational activities families can enjoy together in our community?
Publisher of Macaroni KID Duluth, Norcross, Suwanee, Johns Creek & Peachtree Corners, Ga.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: Macaroni KID has provided me with the opportunity to connect with my community and to give them the opportunity to attend events that would otherwise be too expensive for families with two or three children.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her family: Since I began as a publisher, I treasure all of the priceless memories shared with my children and my grands! My grandniece Katie is an accomplished actress aspiring to a professional career on stage. In a recent interview, she attributed her success to her early introduction to live theatre, by me. That would never have happened without Macaroni KID.
Publisher of Macaroni KID Western Monmouth, N.J.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: Macaroni KID has given me and my family opportunities that we would have never had. I've made so many wonderful connections and am beyond thankful to be a part of such a wonderful group!
Publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo.
Why she started with Macaroni KID: When my kids were younger, Macaroni KID gave me the flexibility I wanted to be able to work around their schedules. I could work during naptime or after bedtime, and I never had to miss out on being a field trip chaperone because of a work conflict. I got paid to play with my kids, and our love for our community — and each other — grew stronger because of the opportunities Macaroni KID has given us over the years.
What looks different: Since I began publishing, Douglas County, where I live, has grown so much! There are even more events, and more wonderful local businesses. Our area is thriving and I am so proud to be able to support families and small business owners through Macaroni KID.
Publisher of Macaroni KID Greater Danbury, Conn.
Why she started with Macaroni KID: Macaroni KID has become the premier, go-to online resource for all things family fun here in my community and I couldn't be more proud. It has provided my family, and thousands of others like mine, the gift of quality family time through experiences we might have otherwise never known about. Launching Macaroni KID as a brand new mom who was fairly new to the state and community, I didn't know a whole lot about what my community had to offer for family fun back then. Becoming a Macaroni KID publisher not only helped me to acclimate into my community and discover what it had to offer families, but also created a wonderful network of fellow moms and small business owners who have become my biggest cheerleaders over the years, inspiring me to expand my business from simply sharing information about local events to actually creating and producing them as well. All of my events also have a charitable component, which has enabled me to give back to my community in new ways that I am especially proud of.
What looks different: There are many things that are different, but what stands out to me is the fact that my daughters (ages 12 and 9) have grown up with Macaroni KID. They have gone from sitting in a double stroller with sippy cups and snacks behind my booth at events to helping run the crafts at my booth years later to now helping me set up for my own events and checking in guests. They also help me write reviews of fun places to go, providing quotes from a kid perspective and have contributed creatively in many other ways. I'm very grateful to have these two kiddos as a reliable soundboard for ideas that I didn't have when first starting out! I'm excited to see how their creative contributions continue to help shape my business into the future.
Publisher of Macaroni KID Appleton-Waupaca-Oshkosh, Wis.
Why she started with Macaroni KID: When I found Macaroni KID, I had been a stay at home mom for two years and had been feeling unfulfilled professionally for a while. My job at a publishing company had moved out of state right after I found out I was expecting my first child and it had been really hard to find more than a few odd freelance jobs since. I wanted more for myself, but also wanted to be able to stay home with my daughter. Then my sister-in-law sent me a link to an event on her local Macaroni KID site that she thought we could all check out together. But the "Be a Publisher" button caught my eye, so I filled out the application and THEN I looked at the event. Just a few days later I became a publisher and was going to "try it out for a few months"... and here I am 10 years (and another kid) later.
What looks different: The most notable thing for me that has changed over the last 10+ years is technology... so many new programs, apps, communication tools, and phones that make life, and running a Macaroni KID business, so much easier. And thanks to all that tech, we have an AMAZING training program for new publishers. When I started we were low-tech with printed training materials and then we did a lot of trying new things and learning on the go. It's a great time to be part of MK!
Ashley Cass Morse
Publisher of Macaroni KID Palm Beach Gardens-Jupiter, West Palm Beach, & Wellington-Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
Why she started with Macaroni KID: In 2010, I was taking a break from my "other" career as an attorney and found myself with extra time, but not ready to go back to work out of the home. When I heard about Macaroni KID, I jumped on board immediately and found it was the perfect fit – I love that MK has allowed me to stay at home, work with such an amazing organization of strong and powerful women, and that I am instrumental in providing such a great resource to so many moms in our community. Being editor and publisher has not only been successful for my family financially, but I love how it has allowed us to participate and be a part of so many great community events, meet thousands of wonderful local parents, and work with such inspiring and amazing small business owners and community leaders.
What looks different: I was the founding publisher of the Palm Beach Gardens-Jupiter edition and published the first newsletter in November of 2010. At that time, there was nothing like Macaroni KID in our area – and when I learned about it from a couple of friends (one in NYC and one in Columbus, Ohio) I felt there was such a need for it locally as there are so many great things happening for kids right here in our community and I imagined how cool it would be to have all of these activities listed in one place. And, I was right! Since then we have grown by leaps and bounds and have seen many fresh incarnations of the format of the website and newsletters and I am excited that we are now able to offer great deals and discounts to our readers with our new parent company, CertifiKID!
Publisher of Macaroni KID Bloomington-Normal, Ill.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: I’ve been with Macaroni KID for over 10 years, serving as a local publisher all the way up to Executive Vice President until just before the acquisition. It’s meant so much over this time – a hobby when I needed something of my own outside of my little ones, a career and labor of love when it was time to stretch my skills and grow professionally, and now a passion project as I focus more on my family. I’ve gained so much thanks to Macaroni KID, but the friendships and memories will always be most treasured.
What looks different: So many things have changed! But the technology that makes our work easier stands out the most. It’s been wonderful to see the brand evolve and grow, especially in the past year.
Publisher of Macaroni KID Kitsap, Wash.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: Having never missed a newsletter in 11 years, my community has grown to rely on Macaroni KID Kitsap as the go-to resource for everything kid-related. It's been rewarding to play such a significant role in connecting families with local events, activities, businesses, organizations, and each other. Being part of the MK family has brought a unique joy and fulfillment to my life.
What looks different: My children have spent most of their lives as Macaroni Kids. They have helped me at events, listened to my 'elevator speech' a million times, gone with me to drop rack cards, stood by (mostly) patiently while I talked with a potential advertiser, been embarrassed when I approached random parents in the store, seen me on my laptop the majority of every day, and eagerly attended ticketed events and shows with me. Now teenagers, their interests are different, their lives are busy, and they are forging their own paths. They are no longer little helpers like before, but instead they give me their support, encouragement, and understanding, which is what I need most.
Publisher of Macaroni KID Fremont-Newark-Union City, Palo Alto-Redwood City-Woodside-Portola Valley, Hayward Castro Valley, Calif.
What Macaroni KID has meant to her: Macaroni KID has allowed me to provide fun experiences and events not only for my community, but my entire family as well. The love to get involved and help at events, "boo" our community, try out new products, and so much more, and none of that would be possible without Macaroni KID.
What looks different: 14 years ago, my youngest two children hadn't been born yet. When I started Macaroni KID Fremont just over 11 years ago, our kids were 8 months, 2 years, 14, and 17 years old. Back then it was a struggle to find time to devote to Macaroni KID, now it helps me fill my time with something I enjoy that blesses not only me and my family, but also my community.
Interested in joining our incredible group of publishers? We'd love to have you join us as we begin our 15th year in the business of connecting families to local fun. Find out more about becoming a Macaroni KID publisher now!
Jamie Ratner is the CEO of Macaroni KID and CertifiKID. She is a mom to two, and lives in Maryland.