Belinda Wasser, Jamaica Plain, MA
Emily, 2 1/2
Blueberry Babies, which specializes in presents for mothers, babies, and siblings
How it began: In 2001 Wasser was laid off from her managerial job. With a 3-month-old daughter at home, she decided she needed to reevaluate her priorities. She drew up a business plan for a mothers-and-children gift company, using her management skills and setting her own hours. "I took a class for entrepreneurial women and learned how to think like a CEO," she says. "I also hired a business coach to help me through the early stages of the venture." Her coach, who had formerly been a business executive herself, taught her how to prioritize her goals throughout the process. "My problem has always been that I try to do too much," says Wasser. "She recognized that I was a nursing mother who was trying to run a business, and her pacing advice was very valuable to me -- because, obviously, I could no longer judge my stamina according to the standards of my prebaby life." The support -- and the hard work -- paid off: Within a year, Wasser was presiding over Blueberry Babies, with a full array of high-end items -- including baby stationery, gift baskets, clothing, and sterling-silver pacifier clips.
Toughest moment: For Wasser, the success of her company actually led to one of her most difficult decisions: "The business had grown so rapidly, I realized I had to move it out of my home." Yet the idea of relocating it was an emotional jolt. "I loved tucking Emily into bed at night and going into the Blueberry room to work," Wasser says. After all, spending quality time with her daughter is what prompted her to start her own company in the first place. Fortunately, she found a good compromise: an office space just a mile away, which allowed her to move freely between her work and her family throughout the day.
How to find it: Go to www.blueberrybabies.com or call 877-258-2379.