Local Mom Entrepreneurs
Today women make up the majority of professional workers in many countries—including 51% in the United States. Yet in addition to their careers, the demands as caregivers to their children have not changed. As a result, talented women are forming companies, many from their homes, joining the ranks of some of the most notable home business success stories, including Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Julie Aigner-Clark of Baby Einstein fame, and Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder of Care.com.
Read on to discover a few of our area’s talented “mom entrepreneurs” who take multi-tasking to a whole new level. They’ve juggled midnight feedings and 9 a.m. conference calls to bring their entrepreneurial ideas to prosperous fruition—somehow finding that elusive balance between work and family.
By Karen Wilson
Jonesy Wood Designs – Jonesy Wood (pictured above)
Jonesy Wood began her foray into jewelry design when she owned a local boutique that specialized in designer clothes for women. “I was always interested in creative design, and I love jewelry,” she says.
After closing her retail business to focus on family, she continued practicing the art of making jewelry, wearing her creations and selling only to friends and family. As she concentrated on raising her three children, she also began expanding her business scope from friends and family to placing her jewelry line at 10 retail stores. Since then, she’s grown her market to include 75 stores across the country.
Jonesy creates all her jewelry in sample form before training her two full-time and three part-time employees to make each piece as ordered by different stores. She is conscious of placement and the regional market, as she doesn’t want customers to see someone else wearing the same jewelry everywhere they go.
For the future, Jonesy wants to develop international retail outlets for her line. In the meantime, she focuses her work schedule around big retail market shows in the fall and spring, which allows her to plan her work and family accordingly.
“I’m a stickler for a schedule and believe in quality work and good customer service. I want to set the example for my three daughters that you can take something you love and turn it into a successful business,” Jonesy says.
Jenn Busch’s Ahimsa clothing line is an offshoot of her life philosophy—kindness and thoughtful consideration of other people and things. “What we wear is an extension of who we are,’’ she says.
As a master yoga teacher, Jenn carries the same mental and physical focus from her teachings into her business. She strives to give her customers comfort and fashion with a bohemian vibe and a sense of freedom. But as with most businesses, challenges abound. Since her first collection hit stores in 2012, Jenn admits there has been a learning curve.
“I’m learning how to run an international business,’’ she says. Her clothing is made in Los Angeles, printed in Iowa, and shipped to Chattanooga where she supervises the distribution. Her use of Instagram and other social media has helped to introduce her clothing to an international market, and she believes that if you drive a product through the right resources, it will sell.
The mother of three includes her children in many aspects of her company. “They mirror what they see me do,’’ Jenn says. “It’s a lifestyle of work. My 15-year -old daughter has taken one of my Ahimsa shirts and styled it, making it her own.’’ Jenn believes, whether they wish to become entrepreneurs or not, that it is great for them to see how a business operates.
After saying Namaste when they concluded a yoga class they both attended, Margaret Smith and Carrie Fowler decided to brainstorm some business concepts and eventually developed an idea for a company out of the desire to share what yoga means to them. And as both women have three children each, the concept of self-discipline that yoga teaches is not lost on them.
“We wanted to support the mental exercise that yoga supplies, as well as reinforce the positive self-image that yoga helps to develop,” Carrie says.
Their ideas came to fruition in MantraSpots, stickers that are applied to yoga mats with words and phrases like “Breathe”, “Forgive”, and “No Limits.” “The idea was a sticker with a mantra that would not only offer inspiration but also a spot to focus on during yoga practice,” Margaret says.
Carrie and Margaret launched their company, My Mat My Mantra, in 2013. Their next step was figuring out how to have the stickers manufactured and distributed, and after the persistent duo called on many people, they determined that they could have their product produced locally. Since then, the company has grown to the point where MantraSpots are now distributed nationally—available in yoga studios, online, and at major lifestyle festivals across the country.
“We want everybody to find his or her spot and spread the love,” they say. “We take it as it comes and try not to force the path. As our relationships grow with lifestyle festivals like Wanderlust, we hope to grow both our national and international retail outlets.”
Through her company, Sprouts Cooking, Allie Fincher is ready to empower the next generation with the knowledge to cook for themselves and their families. Her mobile cooking school is designed to introduce children to the power of whole foods and the joys of cooking with fresh, healthy ingredients.
Sprouts officially began in 2014, after Allie realized that too many children think dinner comes from a box or a drive-thru window.
“Our goal is to reach children while they are young, as they develop lifelong habits,” she says. “Children are like wet cement—they are so impressionable, so if we can reach them now, it will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.”
Sprouts currently works with local elementary schools to offer after-school cooking classes, taught on location at schools in the Chattanooga and surrounding area.“We take all the cooking equipment and ingredients. Each chef instructor follows a lesson plan designed to encourage the kids not only to create healthy foods, but to actually enjoy and crave them,” Allie explains.
As a mother of two, Allie understands busy schedules and the convenience of fast-food, but she’s hopeful that parents will become more enthusiastic about cooking if their kids show an interest in it.
“The children typically go home and share what they’ve learned, plus we provide a copy of each recipe to encourage them to recreate it again at home, which has led to an increased interest from parents,” she says. Because of this interest, not only are children eating healthier, it’s fostering more family togetherness as well.