When stay-at-home mom Leslie Haywood first started her company, Grill Charms, she called herself the naptime entrepreneur.
More Charleston ‘momprenuers’
When Lowcountry Parent asked for Momprenuers in the Charleston area on its Facebook page, they were flooded with recommendations.
Support these local moms by checking out their businesses:
Heather Speizman started Wine and Design as well as Art Buzz Kids five years ago and now has more than 30 studios coast to coast. www.wineanddesignus.com
Brandy Alexander started Sassy Shortcake Boutique, a women’s clothing store on King Street. www.facebook.com/sassyshortcake
Liz Price has been helping mothers get a good night’s sleep with her business Nurse at Night. www.nurseatnight.com
Elizabeth VanDyke Horton began a successful children’s clothing line, Nostalgic Graphic Tees, on Etsy and her clothes are now available in boutiques in seven states. www.etsy.com/shop/ elizabethhorton
Karen Rittenhouse became a nutritionist and wellness consultant to help her neighbors and friends get healthy through her start-up business Rit-Fit Nutrition and Fitness. www.rit-fit.com
Liz Gross-Reader is making children’s clothing and accessories for her business Urbane Baby. www.shop urbane.com
Rachel Sample sews retro fashions for women and children and sells them on her Etsy site, SweetHome Boutique. www.etsy.com/shop/SweetHomeBoutique
Her children were 1 and 3 years old, and Haywood did everything she could to sync their naps so that she could have an hour or two to work on developing her company each day.
Tips for ‘mompreneurs’
Graphics designer Hope Guyer of Summerville offers these tips for would-be mompreneurs:
Establish routines and a family environment conducive to working from home. We all have jobs to do at home and this helps to keep the family wheels in motion.
I do my best to forecast with my workloads. I have busy seasons and light seasons. When I have a busy season coming, I make sure I have enough resources available to get the job done. During light seasons, I try to get caught up on the things in life that I’ve neglected.
Without them, you’re doomed for failure. I set both personal and business goals for myself. I find that when I have these in front of me each and every day, it helps me move forward.
“I have locked myself in the laundry room to have conference calls,” Haywood says. “I have bribed my children with candy and sweets. I have gone to meetings with milk spilled on me.”
All those sacrifices paid off. Haywood’s Grill Charms are available in stores all over the world, she’s appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank” twice, and she recently sold her company to a large kitchen product manufacturer.
Haywood has become an inspiration for ambitious stay-at-home moms everywhere, but she never expected her life to take this turn.
She worked in the shipping industry in Charleston for nine years before deciding to stay home and raise her children. But then, at a dinner party, her husband accidentally served her a too-spicy piece of Jamaican jerk chicken and she started thinking about how to better distinguish between grilled foods that look the same but taste different.
She started sketching prototypes right away; the first Grill Charm she made was a roofing nail impaled on a penny.
“People think that inventing a product or bringing a product to market is this big complicated thing, but it’s just a series of steps, and if you break it down, it’s not like you go from zero to 100. There’s a process that you follow, a system that you go through to get to that point,” Haywood says.
“In today’s day and age, ‘I don’t know how’ is not an option. You can learn how to build a rocket on the Internet. Go online and find out.”
While Haywood is still collecting royalty checks on Grill Charms, she’s already working on ideas for new kitchen products.
“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” she says.
Hope Guyer, owner of Hope Guyer Creative, also spent years in the corporate world before deciding to work from home. Prior to starting her own graphic design and marketing consulting business, she had a successful career in corporate marketing management with various pharmaceutical and technological companies. But when her son started going to preschool, she realized she wanted a change.
“Growing up in Michigan, I spent much of my free time riding horses, climbing trees, and doing everything outdoors that I could,” Guyer says. “I wanted my son to have a memorable childhood as well. When my son began going to preschool, I wanted to be there to pick him up after school and spend quality time with him rather than send him to after-school care. Working Monday through Friday, 8 to 6, wasn’t ideal for me as a mom.”
She transitioned to an at-home position with her company, but it was eliminated after a buyout. That’s when she branched out on her own, relying on her husband for support. “He put up with me working crazy hours and picked up the slack wherever needed. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have been able to start my own business,” she says.
Guyer admits that even though she doesn’t go to the office every day, she still struggles to find a solid work-life balance. The self-proclaimed workaholic logs many more hours than she did in the office, yet she still deals with ignorant stereotypes.
“When I tell people I work from home, people usually say things such as, ‘You get to work in your pajamas, watch ‘Ellen,’ etc.’
“This is so far from the truth. What it really means is that I start my workday around 6 a.m. (because I have many international clients) and don’t usually emerge form my desk until it is time to pick up my son from school. Then back on the computer at night. I also work most weekends. Working from home certainly is not 9 to 5 for me.”
Amanda Brown, a former Berkeley County elementary and middle school teacher, is fairly new to the mompreneur life.
When some friends encouraged her to pursue her artwork as a career, she was inspired to launch Flourish Painting, a private in-home painting party service. Before long, she was able to quit her teaching job, and she now stays home during the day to homeschool her young children.
“This amazing business took what I love to do with the arts and people, and created space for me to pour into my kids and be the mom I have always wanted to be,” Brown says.
“Working through all the kinks of starting your own company doing what you love is not only personally rewarding and satisfying financially, it is amazing for your kids to watch their mom live her dreams and love what she does,” Brown adds. “Yes, some nights I stay up painting later than I should, but when a work of art is finished and I can share that pride and joy with my kids, that really is worth that initial leap of faith.”
One of Brown’s favorite parts of owning her own business is being able to schedule work into her life instead of the other way around. “I am in control of when I work, and that freedom is amazing,” she says. “My kids get the best of me and my clients still get my talent and heart because I want to be at work.”
For budding mompreneurs, she recommends doing research, investigating if your idea is in a market that is in demand, and comparing other businesses similar to your idea for pricing and hours.
“Remind yourself often why you are starting your own business, and then continue to do self-assessments to be sure that the path you are taking is focused on your end goal,” she says.
“Most importantly, have fun and love going to work!”