Shalom Life | April 16, 2014

Upping the 'Auntie'

Melanie Notkin is empowering women via SavvyAuntie.com.

By: Helen Hatzis

Published: March 26th, 2010 in Culture » Society » Interviews

Upping the 'Auntie'

Everyone and their mother are starting a blog or website these days but very few will receive the attention that the founder of SavvyAuntie.com is receiving.

Meet Melanie Notkin, a ‘savvy’ Canadian-born, New York-based marketing expert. Having launched her website – or ‘Family Site’ – in 2009, it has already been nominated for a Webby Award for Best Family/Parenting Site.

In a short amount of time, Notkin has become the voice for the approximately 45% of American women through age 44 (based on the 2006 US Census Report of Fertility) who do not have children of their own. And according to Notkin, the statistic in the Jewish community is greater. “Counterintuitive to fertility research, some women are not having children, for many reasons. For me it is circumstance. I have yet to meet that person who will be the father of my children,” said Notkin. Notkin also noted that Jewish women are more likely to have a bachelor’s or graduate degree, thus pushing the childbearing years to a later age.

For many women, it is a proactive choice to not have children and whatever the case, they are all valid reasons. The point is that most women have a child in their life whether by relation, by choice, friend-of-friend and so forth, who they love and adore. And this is where the concept was born. When Notkin became an aunt for the first time with her nephew, there were very few resources available for the cosmopolitan aunt. “Things seemed ‘Auntie Sadie’ when you thought about aunties,” said Notkin.

“My nieces and nephews are such an important part of my life. I love being and aunt, I wear it like a badge of honour.”

As Notkin stated, “There are many wonderful sites dedicated to moms and dads but there really wasn’t a place where women like me could feel at home. You feel a sense of trespassing because you are not a ‘mom.’” So with her 15-plus years of experience in corporate America learning about digital marketing communications (having worked at L’Oréal, gaining knowledge of the world wide web via New York Times online back in the late nineties, and having worked at American Express, which gave her insight into membership and loyalty), she garnered enough experience to put towards SavvyAuntie.com. From ‘go,’ SavvyAuntie.com was welcomed with open arms. Notkin officially launched July 9th, 2008 and within twenty-three minutes she received an email from a media buying agency for Hasbro. Two hours after that, an email from Sephora came through.

“It was what I needed, proof of concept that marketers understood that we buy toys for the children in our lives and we buy cosmetics for ourselves. And thankfully, over the one-and-a-half year plus, the site has received a lot of wonderful sponsors and media attention and for me, what is most rewarding is that so many women feel like there is a voice speaking for them. And that is a wonderful feeling.”

Above all, she is a positive voice for childless women who may be judged as being selfish and unworthy. “People make choices in life and they are all valid. Whether they consciously decide not to have children or physically cannot, there are reasons that should not be judged. Some of the world’s most famous ‘childless women’ like Oprah Winfrey and Mother Theresa have contributed tremendously to the wellbeing of children in general. So let’s empower childless women instead of putting them down.”

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