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Mama's Lil' Guide Celebrates Three Years of Success

Based out of Warrington, Mama's Lil' Guide has become a reliable resource of local kid-friendly events and money-saving deals.

Sharon Cowell operates Mama's Lil' Guide out of her Warrington home. Photo by James Boyle.
Sharon Cowell operates Mama's Lil' Guide out of her Warrington home. Photo by James Boyle.
Three years ago, Sharon Cowell found herself at a crossroads. After more than 20 years in the mortgage sales industry, a bad economy got the best of her. Cowell now faced the possibility of a regular, 9-to-5 job, a future that did not sit well with her.

"In sales I had so much flexibility with my schedule," said Cowell. "The idea of sitting at a desk all day was not something I wanted. I thought to myself, 'What is my purpose?'"

Known amongst her friends as the mom who knew everything that was going on, Cowell decided to take her knack for finding the best deals and activities for the family and share it with a wider audience.

For the past three years, Cowell has risen to the top of a growing trend of "mommy bloggers" by doing one thing a little different from the dozens based out of Bucks County. She supplements her daily online and social media updates of local events and deals with a free magazine printed every two months.

"Print is not out, you just have to use it in the right market," said Cowell. "Mothers are busy, they can't check their Facebook pages all day. They need something they can stick in a handbag and have it ready if they are out and need a coupon or a good place to take the kids."

Cowell started in 2010 with a pallet of 5,000 copies and hand-delivered each one to businesses throughout Bucks and Mongtomery County. The circulation has since tripled to 15,000, all delivered by Cowell and other family members.

"It's cheaper and more reliable than hiring a delivery service," said Cowell. "Plus, it gives me an opportunity for face-to-face time with potential advertisers."

In return for carrying the free guide, businesses receive a shout-out to the combined 4,000 followers on Mama's Lil' GuideFacebook and Twitter pages. Cowell also runs regular magazine scavenger hunts, where readers have to find the answer to a clue within the pages. The booklet is advertiser-supported, but Cowell makes sure there is plenty of information available to her readers.

"I didn't want to distribute a big book of ads," said Cowell. "I also want to help out all the other moms out there. Most of the advertisers are run by other moms. When they call to place an ad, I also ask them for their story, to serve as inspiration."

Mama's Lil' Guide will mark its three-year anniversary on September 7 at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. There will be prizes, activities and a business showcase at the Canopy Gardens Hall. Discount admission will be offered to patrons that mention "mama" at the gate.

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