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Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Not all business

Lifestyle | Four 'mompreneurs' and their unusual callings

Issue: "Warrior class," Aug. 28, 2010

Kim Hall was a college athlete and coached the North Carolina State women's volleyball team for nine years, but coaching at the Division 1 level "was not my deal." She's found her "sweet spot" coaching competitive and everyday athletes "not to be awesome or to win" but to train their bodies to serve, and to view their bodies with thankfulness.

She runs her business All About Athlete from her Austin, Texas, home, working 20-25 hours a week while being the primary caregiver for her four kids, ages 5-15. She coaches groups of athletes (someone going through chemo, another recovering from hip replacement surgery, off-season professional and college athletes, parents and children, husbands and wives) four times a week at pre-scheduled sessions, but she also does invoicing, develops schedules, coaches the other coaches, and encourages her athletes: "Physical hours and mental hours seem to mingle and take up a good part of the day. . . . I work in the nooks and crannies of my day."

Hall is a "mompreneur," a term coined by Ellen Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe in the late 1990s to describe a woman who runs a business from her home while still caring for her children. Being a mompreneur combines the opportunities and challenges of starting a business and the challenges of mixing work and family life. WORLD interviewed four mompreneurs to get a sense of what it takes to be successful.

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Beth Haut lives in Lexington, N.C., with her husband and four children, 2-7. She homeschools the oldest two while running a business, Light of Mine Photography, which she started a year ago.

Her business has to fit around her family's schedule. She spends 5-10 hours a week on it, depending on how many shoots she schedules. She says her husband plays an essential role: "He encourages me, helps by watching the children whenever I have photo shoots scheduled, and takes care of the boring paperwork side of the business." She edits and makes phone calls "after the kids are in bed, or during afternoon rest time."

Haut's business provides a creative outlet that uses her training in graphic design. It also gives her a way to serve others: She offers free portraits to children in her county's foster care system who wouldn't otherwise have "quality portraits made."

Shannon Eddings started her business, Clapping Tree Design, about three years ago when she worked for a stationery and invitation company. She says she realized, "'Hey, I can design this stuff-not just sell it,' so . . . I started designing for friends and for the store."

Last year she got her tax ID number and made the business official. Before her son Porter was born three months ago, she worked about five hours a day, fulfilling orders and custom invitation jobs, and designing new styles: "I loved my time that I could spend getting lost in the creative world, just designing anything I wanted."

She says she's still trying to figure out how to juggle work and the new baby. "I basically work when Porter is napping or when my husband is at home." Despite the time constraints, she has designed three wedding invitation jobs since his birth: "I love to create and connect with people and my business allows me to do both."

Eddings has a website and Facebook page, but much of her marketing is word of mouth: "I never know who my next client will be. . . . It's fun when it's a young couple getting married that love the Lord." The hard part for her is financial record-keeping. She hopes to grow big enough to hire an accountant and advises any mompreneur to "be meticulous" about keeping expenses straight for taxes, but the most important thing is to love what you do, "otherwise your business won't be fun."

Kristen Stewart was a hobby photographer in Birmingham, Ala., shooting lots of pictures of her own two children-then other people started asking her to take pictures for them. The business grew so that over the past three years she has worked 20-plus hours a week, shooting family portraits, weddings, and some commercial projects. Stewart says, "having your own business means wearing all the hats and working independently. The flexibility can be enticing, but working until 3 a.m. and then getting up at 7 with the kids is wearying."

She found "the more work I had, the less I loved it"-so she's stepping back. It was too hard for her to "balance running a business, being a wife, mothering, and keeping a home. . . . On any given day I can be truly excellent at one, good at two, or mediocre at three or four."

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