My Story: Working-at-Home With a Toddler

contributed by Charisse

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I have been in business for myself since 1991 and have enjoyed the rewards of being a stay-at-home mom at the same time. I am an artist/graphic designer with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from a prestigious college in the Cleveland, Ohio area. I worked both on the client and agency side as an Art Director and Creative Director for both large and small companies before starting my own business.

When my daughter was born in 1991, I had a desire to stay at home with her and raise her in a loving Christian environment. I also found myself needing an outlet for my creative side and decided to start my own graphic design/ advertising agency. Right from the start, I knew I made the right decision.

I have always had a fairly easy time finding clients and juggling the demands of running my own business and still raising a family. It has not always been easy and there have been times when the business took a back seat to my family. I have to say that most of my clients have been understanding when hearing my kids screaming in the background or my dog barking while talking on the phone with them. I have even taken my kids with me when meeting with clients. Although I do not recommend this as a usual practice, there were times when I just did not have a choice. Most of my clients appreciate what I do and were willing to put up with a few distractions when needed. It has also taught my kids some really important life lessons as well.

My daughter would busy herself for hours, as a toddler, in her own little work station located right in my office. She would even pretend to talk on the phone with clients like Mom did. It was pretty amusing sometimes. It became much harder when my son was born three years later. He was more demanding and my time was really stretched thin. I persevered, and to this day, I do not regret it one moment!

Both of my children are teenagers now and things are easier for me from a business standpoint. I really do not think I could go back to work for someone else ever again. I love the freedom owning my own business has provided to me.

I just recently joined a networking group in my area called Business Networking International (BNI). It has been a great resource for me in adding new clients this year. They only allow one person per profession to join each chapter so members are not competing with each other. I would highly recommend this organization to anyone who owns a business. Visit the BNI website at for more information on the Ohio chapters. They are an international organization and have chapters all over the world!

I used to be very good at using "cold calling" as a sales tool. In the last six years or so, I have found it much harder with voice mail to reach potential clients and actually talk to a live person. So I have found that professional networking has taken the place of those cold calls as an effective marketing tool for my business.

You can contact Charisse by with any questions regarding advertising or marketing your own business. She is also available to take your questions regarding Business Network International.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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