Naperville Mom-preneurs—Local moms transform their passions into businesses

May 2013 View more

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t—you’re right.” That’s the common thread woven through the stories of three moms who also happen to be successful entrepreneurs. Each believed she could succeed in starting her own business. Whether baking cakes, personalizing blankets, or creating a community for moms, these women embody true entrepreneurial spirit.

Dr. Cathy Subber—Connecting moms with resources and each other

N2013_05_01_075SMALLAs a mom of two boys, Dr. Cathy Subber appreciates the challenges parents face. Prior to becoming a mom, Subber opened Advanced Health of Naperville, a full-service chiropractic clinic. There, she met women who spoke about the challenges of motherhood. “Being a mom is awesome, but it’s hard work. My personal mission became to help moms feel good about the choices they made—whether it was to work or stay home,” said Stubber. In 2011, she began managing the Naperville Moms Network website. “It’s designed to connect moms with each other and local resources,” Subber explains. With more than 2,200 members, the website contains discussion forums as well as small interest groups.
Stubber’s latest business venture, Cafe N Play, grew out of online discussions posted on the NMN website. “Being a mom can consume all your time and energy. It can be lonely and isolating,” Subber points out. “Moms were looking for a place to go where they could meet while their children played. I wanted to create that place.” When space opened up next door to her chiropractic practice, she jumped at the opportunity. “It’s perfect because I’m able to run back and forth between the two businesses.” Parents can drop in with their children individually or come with an entire playgroup. While the kids enjoy the large play area, moms can socialize, get work done, grab coffee, or simply read a book. In addition to play times, children’s dance and art classes are also available.
To manage it all, Subber says it comes down to time management and scheduling personal downtime. “In the middle of doing 14 million things, I make sure to schedule breaks for myself to recharge. As I’ve gotten busier, I’ve become clearer about what I want my mission to be. I’ve gotten better at saying no to the things that don’t align with my mission,” added Stubber.

Jennifer Cannon—When life gave her lemons, she sold lemonade

N2013_05_01_076SMALLJennifer Cannon has been an entrepreneur since she was 17. She discovered her talent for baking during a cake decorating class in high school. After winning a contest, her friends and family began asking her to make them cakes. Word spread and she quickly found herself in business. “It got so busy. For each wedding cake I made, I’d get at least two to three more bookings,” Cannon recalls. “I really benefitted from referral marketing.”
After getting married and having two children, she scaled back her business to focus on her family. A few years later, life threw her a curve and she became a single mom. “It was so overwhelming. That’s when the entrepreneurial side of me kicked in. I thought ‘I did it before, so I could do it again’.”  Cannon really enjoyed the marketing aspect of her cake business, so she began studying marketing and learned how to create websites. Soon her services grew to include email marketing and social media.
Cannon ran a successful marketing business for more than a decade – until life threw her another curve and she became sick from undetected black mold in her home. Due to the severity of the infestation, she and her children immediately had to leave their home and get rid of everything. Being in poor health, she was unable to continue her marketing business. “I felt completely weak, but I had no income. I needed to figure out what to do.”
Once again she put her baking skills to use and started making cupcakes at her church. She soon founded Cupcake Whimsy and has been selling gourmet cupcakes ever since. Now that her health is improving, she is beginning to rebuild her marketing practice. “I’ve had the craziest life, but I’ve always had a guardian angel watching over me.” Her marketing group Legna, reflects that belief. Legna is angel spelled backward.

Ginny Jackson—Personalizing gifts that touch the heart

N2013_05_01_077SMALLGinny Jackson began selling personalized baby blankets in 1997. “I received some personalized baby gifts when my two oldest children were born. It was so touching to see all the personalized information, it brought me to tears,” said Jackson.
Looking for extra income, Jackson thought creating personalized blankets would be a great fit. “The gifts I received touched me so much, I thought, ‘I can do this’.” Even though Jackson hadn’t sewn much, she believed she could make the business work. “My mom was great at sewing. She really encouraged me and helped me get my first sewing machine,” added Jackson. Soon her company, Sassy Sprout, was born. Her instincts proved correct as her business took off. “It started with my cousin ordering a blanket for a friend. As people received the gifts, they would order them for their friends and family.” Jackson included a business card with each blanket and word spread. Soon she launched and expanded her product line. Today nearly 95 percent of her business comes from online orders.

As her business and family grew, Jackson began outsourcing some of the sewing to other moms. “One of my favorite things is that I’m able to help other moms make money, too,” said Jackson.
Sassy Sprout’s success hasn’t been without its challenges. “It’s hard at times to fit it in with my five kids’ schedules, especially when my husband travels,” Jackson explains. “It can be very isolating and you have to be disciplined. Keeping my work days on a strict schedule helps a lot.”
Now that all her kids are in school, Jackson is growing her business. “I’m excited to start pushing and see what I can really do.” Jackson plans to revamp her web site, have locally-made, private label blankets, and sell products in a local baby boutique. “I love doing something for myself. Whatever I put into it is what I take out.”


Advice For Mom-preneurs

  • Find your passion.
  • Make sure it fits your schedule.
  • Be realistic: Be prepared mentally and financially for your business to start off slower than expected.
  • Create a professional support system of people who can do the things you aren’t good at.
  • Be prepared to learn as you go. You don’t need to have all the answers when you start.
  • Don’t get down on yourself. Learn from your mistakes.
  • Align yourself with good mentors.
  • Believe in yourself.

Learn more by visiting these websites.