Frugal Living Interview

Darcy Cruwys

Photo by Alicia Caine

Swap Mamas is a free social network for moms of all ages whose motto is "Smarter, Greener, and Kicking the Economy to the Curb"!

It is a little like a cross between Facebook and a consignment shop where moms make friends, post pictures of their children, and swap everything from recipes and coupons to baby clothes and handmade craft items.

This wonderful site is the brain-child of Darcy Cruwys, and I am pleased to welcome Darcy to Frugal Living Now to share a little bit about herself and about Swap Mamas.

1. Hi, Darcy, thank you for sharing your time with us today! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came up with the idea for Swap Mamas.

The idea started rattling around in my head about six years ago, when I had my daughter. I was fortunate enough to have a close circle of friends scattered across the country who mailed clothes to my daughter as their own daughters outgrew them. Being a single parent, it was a Godsend. I was so grateful for the help, and wondered about all the moms out there who needed a little help and DIDN'T have that circle of friends. Why not introduce them to some new friends? Perhaps other moms who have things to give?

2. I really like the idea of "karma". Can you explain the role of karma as you see it in the context of swapping?

The simplest answer is that if everyone on the site GIVES, everyone on the site RECEIVES. I live my own life by the strong belief that when you're good to others, the good comes back to you. As far as swapping goes, the good that comes back to you may be something material that you really need. It may be something that you might not need, necessarily, but really want. It may be the simple satisfaction gained by helping another in need.

3. In your opinion, how important is the social aspect of the site?

The social aspect is absolutely key to the success of the site. There are plenty of wonderful outlets for anonymously donating items to others in need. There's something kind of wonderful that happens though, when you make a connection with someone and give them something that once played an important part in your life (and vice versa). For the most part, women are naturally social beings. Moms are naturally giving people. These two qualities together are what make the site work!

4. Do you have any tips for new members to help them make the most of Swap Mamas?

Start slowly. Take a few days to play around with the site before starting to swap. Click on everything. See how others are doing things. Most importantly, join as many groups that interest you, and read the rules (located under the HELP CENTER tab at the top of the page). You'll have the hang of things in no time! And remember, you DO pay postage, so if you're on a budget, as most of us are, consider swapping only for "needs."

5. How has your life changed since you you left the corporate world and became self-employed? Is there anything you would do differently if you had it to do over again?

I believe 100 percent that everything happens for a reason, so I wouldn't change a thing. I've worked for start-ups and I've worked for huge corporations -- both have positive qualities, but I've always known that someday I'd be self-employed. There were three requirements for whatever venture I launched:

    1. I had to be free to make my own hours, so I could be with my daughter as much as possible;

    2. I had to be doing something that helped people;

    3. I had to be passionate about it.

Swap Mamas is all of that.

6. Do you think that the recent economic downturn is resulting in more people returning to old ways of doing things (such as bartering)?

Absolutely! Not only does bartering make sense, it brings people together, and we all do better with a little support. I'm all for capitalism, but morally, I have a really hard time with companies that exist solely to sell consumers things they don't need, especially in these trying times. It strikes me as especially unconscionable. Not only does it make a lot of people WANT more (instead of being happy with what they have), it makes them feel badly when they can't have it. That's messed up. (Remember Lloyd Dobler from the movie Say Anything? "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that." Yeah, I'm Lloyd Dobler.)

7. Darcy, thank you so much for doing this interview with us today. For my last question, I would like to ask you to tell us about some of your goals for 2010? Do you have anything new planned for Swap Mamas or any other projects in mind?

We'll be adding a few little goodies in the near future, including forms and labels members can print from home to help them organize their swaps. We'll be creating a whole set of new groups specifically for our Canadian Mamas; and I'm hoping this year, as advertising picks up, to launch a type of "scholarship program" for worthy Mamas ... stay tuned!

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