I always knew if I was going to return to the work force after being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, it was going to have to be in a job that provided me with the flexibility to continue juggling the needs of my two special needs sons. I was also determined to find a job, which provided an outlet for my creative side. As well, I wanted to ensure I worked for an employer who gave me freedom to decide my own hours and wouldn’t constantly watch over my shoulder because he/she trusted I was a self-starter and highly motivated employee. That’s a tall order by anybody’s standard! In the end, I decided the only job I would be truly happy in was a position I created myself. Now the big question … what kind of business should I start? People are constantly asking me how I came up with the idea of creating helmet covers; in particular, animal helmet covers. First of all, I decided I wanted to create a product that encouraged more people to actually wear their safety helmets. I will always credit my ski helmet with saving my life after a serious accident where I skied in to a tree at full speed. I was distracted momentarily while skiing when one of my sons called out my name. My helmet shattered in the incident and the ski patrol that witnessed the accident told me I was lucky to be alive. It’s been five years since the start of Tail Wags Helmet Covers and even I have to pinch myself on a regular basis to make sure it’s not all a dream. What started in my basement with me in charge of all cutting and sewing has grown in to a manufacturing company that is selling helmet covers internationally for ALL makes and models of bike, skate, ski, snowboard, toboggan and equestrian helmets. There are 40 different Animal designs including the Fairy Princess, Mighty Moose, Fifi the Pink Poodle and the Big Stinker Skunk. The entire product line can be viewed at http://www.tail-wags.com. Definitely the most enjoyable aspect of this business continues to be the design work! I am always writing down new ideas for animal designs. I also love the contact I have with my customers (both retailers and individual consumers). When I receive customer testimonials and photos of customers wearing their favourite Tail Wags helmet covers, I am certain all of the hard work is worthwhile. And the interaction of my customers on the Tail Wags’ Facebook site is proof that Tail Wags is a FUN product! Owning my own business has had its difficulties too! The biggest challenge has been the adjustments my family has had to make to me working full time. Laundry was piling up until my husband took over that responsibility about 2 years ago, homemade dinners are a luxury rather than an every day occurrence and the house has been turned into a warehouse. My teenage sons are particularly frustrated they have to watch television in the basement family room between boxes of inventory. The good thing is that my sons have learned to be more independent – a totally appropriate response at their age! Furthermore, I initially started with a domestic sewing machine but after breaking two machines in one day, I decided to invest in industrial equipment. Starting my own business required a great deal of personal investment. Fortunately my husband believed in what I was doing and supported my efforts. As well, cash flow was a problem for the first 3 years. Fabric is purchased and seamstresses are paid long before I receive payment from my retailers. If you had told me three years ago I would be the owner and creator of a successful company selling online and in retail stores across North America and overseas, I wouldn’t have had the self-confidence to believe you. Goes to show you that anything is possible when you have a dream and are willing to work hard to achieve it.
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