Car Talk: You're CEO of Mother Proof.com. So, just what - or should we say, who? - are your qualifications?
Kristin: My two daughters. Catalin just turned 8 and Cade is almost 6. They even have their own business cards!
Car Talk: What are their titles?
Kristin: Back Seat Test Drivers!
Car Talk: Figures! So, how did you come up with the idea for Mother Proof?
Kristin: When Catalin was getting ready for pre-school and I wanted to carpool, I realized I couldn't fit another car seat in the back of my Subaru Outback. So, I started looking for car with a third row. But, there was no one out there writing about moms and cars. And, I wasn't about to drag my kids around from dealership to dealership, swapping car seats in and out of cars so I could test drive them.
Car Talk: How is a Motherproof review different from the usual car review?
Kristin: When we look at a car, we're really doing it from a more qualitative approach rather than spouting a bunch of numbers. For example, how does this car interact with your life? Does a certain feature make this car more friendly or less?
You shouldn't have to be a gear head to understand whether a car is right for you. We hope reading a Mother Proof car review will be like sitting down chatting with your friend about the new car she just bought.
Car Talk: As a Chief Executive Mom, what's an average day like?
Kristin: It's a juggling act. My day usually starts out with carpooling in a test car. I drop the kids off at school, come home and squeeze in a couple hours editing articles for the website. I manage a team of writers who are doing reviews and features.
Then, it's back to school pick up my preschooler. We have lunch together. While she's having her quiet time, I get back on the computer to go over reviews. After that, I'm off to pick up my other daughter from school.
My life is very bipolar. I have this "suburban mom" life like everyone else on my block - and then I've got my life in the automotive industry going to car shows, vehicle launches, and test-driving new vehicles. When I first started Mother Proof, I didn't know anything about the auto industry. It's been a really steep learning curve. It was really heartwarming to see how Mother Proof has been supported by my colleagues in the auto industry. People knew this idea was necessary and valid.
Car Talk: As the only mom on the Car Talk staff, I'm dying to ask: what does the back seat of your car look like after a long day of toting the kids around? Would it qualify for Superfund money?
Kristin: It has books and stuffed animals and pretzel crumbs ground into the carpet. There are juice boxes and toys and all sorts of stuff back there. It's a total wreck! Sound familiar?
Car Talk: Unfortunately... yes. What new cars are you test-driving now?
Kristin: Well we just had the BMW M3 hardtop convertible and my heart sank this morning when I had to give that up and get the Ford Taurus X and Hyundai Veracruz. My fantasy world ended.
Car Talk: What do you think of the Taurus and the Veracruz?
Kristin: Actually, I love them both. The Taurus has automatic flip and fold rear seats. You push a button and the middle seat folds, so you can have easy access to the third row. It's fun!
Car Talk: Drive any car recently that made you swoon?
Kristin: I was deeply in love with the Audi R8. It is the car that was featured in the Iron Man movie.
Driving the Audi R8, I suddenly found myself trying to justify purchasing a $130,000 car! The R8 creates a total fantasy world for the driver. You can leave the dirty diapers and loads of laundry at home.
That's very appealing to a mom. As moms, we don't get the pat on the back at the end of the day. We don't get a paycheck or recognition for what we're doing. But driving the R8, you can't help but be noticed! People turn their heads when they see it on the road. It's a total departure from reality!
Car Talk: But, let's say you can't have the R8? Not to burst your bubble, of course.
Kristin: It's okay. In reality, I'm a very frugal person when it comes to cars. It's a waste of money to spend a lot on a new car. I just need something to get from Point A to Point B.
Car Talk: What do you look for, when you're evaluating cars?
Kristin: It's really about this: does this car make my life easier or more difficult? I look at the ease of entry and exit, not only for me, but my kids, too. People using infant carriers want to know about the height of the vehicles. Are they going to get permanent back damage lifting a heavy infant carrier in and out? I look at the seating configuration. How easy is it to access a third row when you have car seats installed in the second row? How well does the driver's seat adjust to different statures? You might have a husband, wife and teenager all driving the same car. Does the car fit those three people comfortably and safely?
Finally, I look at the ergonomics. Can I conveniently reach the AC, stereo, and storage compartments? Are there convenient places to organize your things? It's not just about putting what you need in the car. It's also about safety. A sippy cup can turn into a projectile and cause injury if there's an accident.