Welcome to the Lifestyle
Owning a business is more than a career choice. For some, it’s a lifestyle decision. Being a business owner allows some women the opportunity to do meaningful work with flexibility and to capitalize on personal talents. Starting and running a business definitely comes with ups and downs — but for these five women, the rewards are worth the risks.
Amanda Maschia, The Good Food Factory, San Diego, CA
After becoming exhausted, jaded, and disillusioned with her advertising career in New York, Amanda Maschia made a 180. She moved to San Diego and launched The Good Food Factory to teach children how to cook and enjoy healthy foods.
“I wanted what I did for work to matter,” Maschia says, “so I set out to create something that people would want to see, to make a difference in the lives of children and families.”
The Good Food Factory produces a cooking show for children — which won an Emmy and a Parents' Choice Award in its first season — and offers cooking classes and camps that “are the gold standard for teaching kids to cook in our area,” Maschia says.
Even when it’s rewarding, entrepreneurship isn’t easy, Maschia admits. “There are definitely days I want to quit, but then I get an email from a parent saying how much their child learned from me, so I decide to keep going,” she says. “There are days that are wonderful, where I have to pinch myself to believe that this is my job. But mostly there are just days when I work, and work hard, and can take pride knowing that my job and my business are inherently good. I sow seeds of joy and health. I do it my own way and without compromising my morals, beliefs, or joy. And hopefully, at the end of my life, there are thousands of children out there who will say, ‘I remember Amanda! She taught me how to peel a carrot!’”
Mandy Nagel, I Thought of You, Cincinnati, OH
With a background in digital design and traditional marketing, Mandy Nagel has worked for top brands including Apple, Dunkin Donuts, Microsoft, Warner Brothers, and Xbox. But she wanted something more out of her career — “to influence for the better, to bring positive change, and to leave a real mark.” She searched for a new job, but couldn’t find one that met those requirements.
So she decided to launch I Thought of You, an online jewelry and accessories boutique. I Thought of You also provides a life-changing business opportunity for the women artisans who create the products: They live in developing countries and otherwise probably would be unable to sell their wares in the States. Nagel says the sustainable and fair trade products are “not only beautiful, but also have a beautiful stories behind them.”
“Being able to use my marketing and design experience for good is my passion, and I’m thankful to have found it relatively early on in my career,” Nagel says. To date, her team has bought more than 47,000 pieces of fair trade goods, and continues to grow steadily.
Denise Zannu, Black Mermaid Handcrafted Soaps & Products, Snellville, GA
A former teacher, Denise Zannu enjoyed her career in education — but she also loved making handcrafted soaps for family and friends. In her spare time, she developed a deep knowledge of herbs and aromatherapy to create natural soaps.
When someone asked to buy her soaps, Zannu realized that she had the makings of a successful business. In 2012, she launched Black Mermaid Handcrafted Soaps & Products, named for the legendary creature who was said to offer healing to those who came to her shores. The company now makes a variety of soaps and bath products, which it sells internationally on a retail and wholesale basis.
For Zannu, business ownership offers an opportunity to use her creative talent and passion for brightening others’ lives on a daily basis. In an effort to “build customers for life,” she regularly solicits feedback and customizes many scents in response to customers’ skin care concerns.
Lysa Miller, Ladybugz, Inc., Southborough, MA
After Lysa Miller’s second child was born, commuting to her job as an e-commerce project manager became too difficult. Her company allowed her to telecommute for one year, but when that option evaporated, launching her own business seemed like the best way to keep working and manage her still-growing family.
Miller launched Ladybugz, Inc., a Web design and strategy firm focused on serving local small and medium-size businesses. With four children now, Miller has been able to set her own hours and be an involved parent while making a living.
“Owning my own business has been essential in providing for my family,” Miller says. “My husband is in telecom sales and that industry has been up and down over the years, so having a second income has been financially life saving at some points. It also alleviates the stress of one person earning all the income, and when there is extra income I can scale back work if I wish.”
In addition to earning needed income, Miller says Ladybugz has allowed her to continually learn, meet new challenges, and do work she enjoys. “I truly love my job and I love helping local businesses,” she says. “I have learned so much about finances, business, HR, and more. Being an entrepreneur is a flexible, fun, and challenging career.”
Edda Collins Coleman, The 316 Group, Alexandria, VA
As a mother of two with a husband who frequently works out of town, Edda Collins Coleman found that her job in a global public affairs firm was “not so family friendly.” So she launched The 316 Group, her own boutique firm focusing on public affairs and advocacy.
“Entrepreneurship allows me to have the flexible schedule I need to be a great parent,” Coleman says. “Owning my own public affairs firm, not only am I able to be a great parent, but also a great business owner and manager. There's value in that and most employers aren't able to see the ROI in that, long term. I can and do.”
Coleman also understands that flexibility is similarly important for her employees and clients. “My firm employs women who are mothers, who are expecting, and people who want a flexible schedule to fit their work-life needs,” she says. “The key is to be flexible with others so that they will be flexible with you. I understand and accept the fluidity of schedules and scheduling conflicts. Flexibility allows me to be agile, responsive, and ensures that I have the ability to best serve my clients, no matter the circumstances.”