|Jeans Gone Green sandals
More than half of all businesses in the United States today are home-based. And more women than men are behind them, says Julie Weeks, president and CEO of Womenable, an Empire-based research, program and policy development consultancy. In fact, she says, 58 percent of the women-owned businesses in the nation are home-based. The Ticker caught up with three local women who have launched their own innovative home-based businesses to great success.
The Biz: Traverse Traveler, an app about all things northern Michigan with nearly 8,000 downloads, and Meal Tickets & Unusual Ideas, both owned by Brandy Wheeler, 39, a Traverse City native.
Getting There: When Wheeler lost her graphic design job post-9/11, she decided to explore an entirely different career path. “I always imagined I would end up working on my own.” A brainstorm session with her dad led to the start of Meal Tickets & Unusual Ideas, which places in more than 70 area hotels, wineries and resorts pocket cards with uber-local travel information and maps.
Flex Time: Wheeler services clients throughout Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau counties, so a lot of out-of-office road time is involved. “I definitely work more than a 40 hour week,” she says, “but if it’s a great, beautiful day and my kids are home, I have the flexibility to change my schedule.”
The Biz: JustBSweet, a special-occasion treats business, owned by Heather Budnik and Julie Phend.
Power of Two: While at lunch one day, friends and neighbors Budnik and Phend determined tapping into their creative sides made sense now that their kids were of school age. “I thought I was pretty good at making cakes, and she makes some awesome cookies,” Budnik says. And just like that, JustBSweet was born.
Getting Busy: The friends work mostly out of Budnik’s home, whipping up delectable desserts for baby showers, birthdays and other special events. “We came up with a name and sort of flew under the radar at first. But we didn’t fly under the radar for very long. It’s sort of taken on a life of its own. We’re really busy … which is a blast.”
The Biz: Jeans Gone Green, up-cycled sandals created with rescued denim, owned by Jennifer Lett.
Pay It Forward: The three-year-old business puts its tagline, "Good People, Good Things" into action by buying denim from charitable thrift shops and working with Grand Traverse Industries to create the sandals. (GTI provides employment for individuals with special needs and limited employment opportunities.) “I love what I do now and really can’t imagine doing anything different … we’ve been able to go in a direction that’s been able to help people in the community.”
Home and Away: Lett continues to work out of her home, but also experienced enough growth to secure warehouse and production space. A team of women assemble the sandals in their homes. The sandals are sold locally, and are proving especially popular in boutiques in southwest United States.
Men and women, do you run a business from your home? Click the comment button below and tell us how and why you started. You might be profiled in an upcoming article in the Ticker or Traverse City Business News.