As an avid writer of all things to do with children’s fashions and accessories, I wanted to tell you about an entrepreneur, business owner, and mother who I think is especially relevant to your request.
Jen Greenlees started her online business, Sydney So Sweet, due to the fact that she’s a mother with particular needs. Sydney So Sweet speaks to those needs. Adorable, magically fashionable baby girl clothes that busy mothers can afford–even as little girls are rapidly growing out of them. In fact, Sydney (Greenlees’ daughter) was the catalyst for the business roughly 10 years ago. Her birth proved to be a creative inspiration for the ambitious mother.
Baby Sydney, she notes, had no hair. So Jen started making headbands, clippies, bows, and anything that would add a girly touch to her outfits. Greenlees began selling at craft shows and, predictably, she’d sell out instantly. Armed with the knowledge that there was definitely a market out there, she began selling on eBay, followed by Amazon, then Etsy & Walmart. Ultimately the website was launched. Greenlees expanded from hairbows to clothes and tutus for both kids and adults.
Today, Sydney So Sweet is a hub for magic and imagination, with the internet’s most irresistible selection of tutus and seasonal outfits for little girls on display. In fact, prior to running the business, Greenlees was a science teacher and was forced to quit her job in order to make room for the explosive growth her new boutique was experiencing.
Since Greenlees began the boutique to integrate seamlessly with her family life, she’s able to make it all work. When designing a cute bow for a particular purpose or curating holiday outfits for bouncing toddlers, she always knows she’s working on two very important things at once: helping her daughter and other little girls feel great about themselves, and growing the business to support her family. Best yet, she’s helping fill a need for affordable baby girl clothing, so all moms and daughters can fully enjoy those little-girl years together. Of course, there are drawbacks. Greenlees admits she has to pull back from overworking. Since her business is online, she can carry her laptop virtually anywhere, and fall into exceptionally long days. Learning how to set it aside and focus on other things was one of her greatest challenges.
The conflict reached its peak when she was still teaching. She’d wake up at 4 AM to ship orders, teach a full day at school until 3 PM, then go back to shipping orders until 9:00 PM. Greenlees overcame that particular challenge by quitting her teaching job and focusing full time on Sydney So Sweet and her family.
Greenlees also met other challenges. Testing products proved to be risky, and sometimes they didn’t sell. The savvy business owner copes by chalking it up to a “live and learn” lesson. No matter what happens, she never calls it a “failure.” There are only lessons to be learned.
Still, running a business and raising 5 kids has become a daily struggle. Her days are admittedly crazy, but she enjoys the perks of being able to work from her very own home, some of the time. Her day starts with the Sydney So Sweet business, followed by getting the kids ready for school, making her daily trip to Dunkin’, and hitting the office by 7 AM. She only has 4 employees, but they’re kept busy with varied tasks, which does allow for some choices in how she allocates her time.
By 3 or 4:00 PM, she’s ready to begin her soccer mom routine. She incorporates her job with her children, allowing her daughters to be involved by modeling for the website, and her son to help create commercials for the business. Her two other sons make themselves useful with their natural business savvy, so the business itself acts as both a bridge between generations and an adhesive agent for family members.
Greenlees’ advice for building a business and a happy family is to find a balance between work and family. The best part about running her own business, she says, is that she can plan her day however she wants. If one child is sick or has a field trip, she’s able to step out of the office. Balance is the best advice, according to Greenlees, because the two ultimately have to work together. It works out best for her because it’s something she started because of her kids.
It’s never a breeze, but it’s made as easy as possible by what she calls an “extremely supportive” family. Greenlees plans to continue growing the business while teaching her family hard work and good old fashioned family values. It’s worked so far, and she is sure it will continue to do so.
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