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January Member Spotlgiht-Elysse Fleece of Kozzy Bottoms

January Member Spotlgiht-Elysse Fleece of Kozzy Bottoms

Meet Elysse Fleece. She is a military wife and a mom to her Little Monster as he is called. She started Kozzy Bottoms from a love of cloth diapering and her passion for crafts. Its been a great way to keep the family together and it’s soothing for her. She has always loved to craft and to be able to do this for others is amazing. She never would have thought this would be her!
Please tell us about your business and the service that you provide.
Kozzy Bottoms is a online children’s boutique. We carry many “green” products that are associated with cloth diapering and parenting. Along with the accessories and diapers we hand make hair accessories, tutus, clothing and more. It’s a great way to get all your shopping done at one place.  www.kozzybottoms.com

What motivated you to start your business?
We started cloth diapers later in the game and loved it. We listened to everyone in the start how we would hate having cloth diapers and then when I actually saw a cloth diaper I was shocked! There are no pins to stab or boiling or trouble. You simply put them on just like a regular diaper and then wash it vs. trashing it. After doing cloth we found the advantages to be so amazing we wanted to help other families see this. The money you save, better for your baby and the environment and they potty train sooner. Its just a great thing to try, at least try.
What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field?
We cloth diapered our son and I remember vividly how intimidated I was when I bought my first used diaper. I was so scared and confused when I got it home. I wanted to help other from feeling that confusion and its harder to step in and try cloth diapers later. We cloth diapered my son before his first birthday so we have been there with the confusion and the frustration.
What trends do you see in your current industry?
Cloth is becoming a huge baby product! Its so great to see how people adapt to it and want to try it. The stigma that was associated with it; the pins, and tucking, and folding and diaper services and the poop are all a distant memory now. You can find pretty much every style, color or print of diaper that you want so there is no excuse. They are a great investment and as people have to pinch money now they are seeing the value in cloth diapers. It is so great to see how people are wanting to do better for their babies and themselves and cloth is something that people should consider.
What are the most demanding aspects about your business?
Time management. As a military wife I have to manage with a deployed spouse and the demands of his job, a very active toddler who is a boy (enough said right!) and still taking care of the family and house and create our products. Being able to give each thing the attention it deserves is something that I am still trying to figure out a year later.
What are the most rewarding aspects about your business?
I love getting pictures of children in our products. There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a smiling child because they are so happy. Or a parent who was so confused about diapers and then just seeing that moment when it clicks. Being able to help someone is such a great honor.
Being able to be home with my son is another reward all on its own. I love that I have been here for all his firsts. As hard as it can be to manage everything seeing my son happy and getting involved too is so much fun.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours?
Learn time management and do your research. It is so much harder to implement things then it seems. It all looks so easy on paper but to actually time things is so much harder. And ask for help, there is nothing wrong about asking for help.
What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?
That my son is able to see his mom take something she truly enjoys doing and create a business from it. It is a great thing for my son to see that he is not limited by dreams and that with hard work he can make it a reality. That my son is also following in my footsteps already! He actually makes a couple of our products which is fun to sit down and create together. It’s a great bonding and learning time and to be able to do that with my son and still make it a business is the best.
How have you been able to balance your time between work and your family?
I still have the worst time with it. I find it makes for very very late nights where I am still trying to get things done but I am learning to ask for help or to just put things on the back burner. No everything needs to be completed right then and there; there is a time to do everything. Just make sure it’s on the calendar or I forget! I must have at least 6 calendars in my house just to keep track or orders, appointments, play dates and even when the garbage goes out. Its learning to find the balance that works for your and your family.
What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself?
Facebook and word of mouth. We try all avenues for getting our product out there and we have great friends who have helped us along the way.
Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family?
The ability to one day take a family vacation! We want to be able to take our son to Disney and have a actual family vacation. There is always something preventing us from having a real family vacation and one day we hope to be able to turn off the phones, the computers, pack away the combat boots for a while and just enjoy time together as a family.

This is not the path I started out on

This is not the path I started out on

Remember what we were like before we became parents?

Barely, but yes.

When my husband and I decided to create a family, for some stupid reason we thought our children would just easily fit into our busy lives like a new puppy. We had no idea the culture shock…the physical, mental and emotional transformation that would come about once our children became the centerpiece in our lives.

No matter how much we had prepared, how many books we read, how much research we did – everything took a detour once baby made 3.

For many of us, the desire to become our own boss didn’t fully transpire until we became parents.  Our careers may have suited us just fine before we took on the parenthood project. We didn’t necessarily leave our careers because we didn’t have time for them anymore. All of a sudden we had a new love, something that filled our hearts and gave us more purpose than before.  The dilemma came when we realized we still had more to give.

Now more than ever, there should never be a question how necessary it is that we claim our success and stand up for our smart and savvy selves. No one can travel down your path, hold your actions accountable, or celebrate your story as well as you.  All this requires is a little creative discipline, and you really can fit it all into one life. This may not have been the path that you started out on, but if your look closely, you’ll see that this one is better….for awhile.

Nothing stays the same.

Don’t mean to freak you out, but your kids will be grown and more self sufficient before you know it. I used to DREAM of a time that they could walk themselves to school and entertain themselves without interrupting my work day. I couldn’t wait to have time to myself to accomplish MORE.

Well, here we are.

We’ve accomplished a lot and now it’s time to venture back into the career (and the salary) we deserve.

If you are already there, and ready to bring all of your entrepreneur skills and experience back into the corporate workforce, you may be facing an uphill battle. Thousands of highly qualified women with prodigious value to offer are being ghosted and denied employment. We get it, and we are here for you. Our nonprofit services were created with you in mind. Visit us at OurMilkMoney.org to learn more.

My Journey to Becoming a Self-Employed Parent

My Journey to Becoming a Self-Employed Parent

When I think back to before I came home to work and take care of my new son, I remember how “stuck” I felt.  I envied other women and men who had their own businesses and I believed that the only reason that I didn’t have one was because I lacked the motivation.
No, actually that wasn’t the only reason. Now that I think about it, I had a whole list of why I couldn’t be my own boss: I didn’t think I could hold myself accountable if I didn’t have a boss, I was sure I’d never get out of my pajamas during the day, I was afraid I might blow off all the work I was supposed to do and I’d eventually run my business into the ground, this little business of mine would end up being a hobby of some sort ike a never ending project of scrapbooking, I didn’t know what the start-up costs were, I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have a unique idea or a business plan, I was sure that I lacked whatever skills I needed, I was certainly not organized, I didn’t know the first thing about becoming a business owner, or about financing, taxes, or even the slightest notion what I could actually DO. I’d also had way too many jobs (more than I care to share, actually) where bosses had convinced me that I was capable of very little. The sad thing is that I really believed them.
Now that I am self-employed, I look back and laugh at how absurd I was thinking that I couldn’t pull this off, and I wonder what took me so long to get here. I know that it was the fear of the unknown, but had I really grasped what it would be like to work for myself, I would have started 10 years earlier, and spared myself all of those confidence crashes, not to mention the most difficult year of my life while my infant son was in daycare.
The really crazy part is that I know how many others still feel stuck the way that I did, and are probably surfing all over the internet right now for the answer. I have no problem admitting that 90 percent of my corporate salary was spent surfing the internet for a way out. I found that to be so ironic when being a stay at home parent pays nothing and is literally one of the most difficult jobs there is. 
If you are looking for a quick easy answer, sorry to tell you there isn’t one.  I do not have a fool proof business to sell you, I personally don’t have a job to offer you, and I certainly don’t have any specific answers. But I promise you… you can do it, because anyone can. If you have a skill, you can work for yourself. So many people do not realize that they already have what it takes to become self-employed. The simplest question is this: What are you doing for someone else that you could be doing for yourself? Without making a single excuse, just answer the question. Make a list of your skills. Then, trust that you will figure out the rest. You’ll find ways to market, to connect with others, to tap into resources that will give you whatever information you are lacking. Trust that you will find the answers and that there will always be someone to help you.
The internet is an amazing thing and has given us unlimited resources as far as information is concerned. Plus, it connects us to just about everyone on the planet, so when you do decide to venture out on your own, you will have help and support. The possibilities are endless. All you have to do is ask.  I had no idea a year ago that the internet community existed to support one another the way that it does. I have been blown away by the generosity of those that I’ve met in my first 2 years as an entrepreneur. I am astounded every day at the passion others have to see ME succeed. Why? Because my success means their success. I GET IT NOW.
So the reason I wanted to write this article is because it wasn’t out there when I was looking for it. I wish that back when I was feeling stuck, someone had invited me to THIS party, just for a moment. I needed to be taken by the hand and introduced to this encouraging world of self-employed parents. Perhaps I wouldn’t have quite realized the compassion and the support that it contained, even if it was staring me directly in the face, but I do know that it was something even greater than what I was searching for, and others need to know that it exists as well. So if this is you, then welcome to the party. You’ll love it here.

Self -employed Parent Enthusiast Ally Loprete is the Founder of OurMilkMoney.com, a nationwide online business directory of self-employed parents, and the host of This Little Parent Stayed Home, a live weekly radio show, on The Toginet.com Radio Group which can be downloaded on iTunes.  Ally is on a mission to help other’s deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of leaving a full time job to start a new business, while running a full time household and raising kids. She is resolute about creating a haven in which parents across the nation will continue to thrive and obtain the support they need in their personal journeys. Visit more at www.ourmilkmoney.com. Private coaching is available at www.thislittleparent.info

What Does Your Milk Money Pay for?

Seriously, I want to hear from you. You’ll be doing me a favor, yes. I am going to use this information for my upcoming book. The publishers apparently need to see proof that this is a trend, and parents really are becoming self-employed as an alternative to daycare and long hours away from home.
So, help me out, and you’ll be helping the movement.
It’s the revenue that you bring in from your home based businesses. Its the funds that help you give to your family, and lead lives of freedom. Milk Money does not make you rich, we all know that, but its filled with value. It’s filled with the freedom to be your own boss and to be able to make your own choices in support of your kids. Leave me your comments. I’ll go first.

Parents Unite!

Parents Unite!

Face it, you are not the person that you used to be.

Ever since you became a parent, you have a hard time recognizing yourself. Perhaps there is a bit of sadness because you’ve lost your own childishness, but there is no denying that you’ve developed a maturity that has absorbed itself into every fiber of your being.

You’d been in love before, but when you children came along, this love encompassed you in a way that you never could have predicted. This metamorphosis might have even been painful for you, but only because the intensity of this love was so vast and unanticipated, perhaps even astonishing.

Becoming a parent has driven you in ways you never thought possible. Parenthood has made you more devoted, more committed and more determined to succeed in providing for your family.

For some of you going back to work was never an option. For others, working for someone else to get that steady paycheck seemed like the only option. It doesn’t matter what kind of parent you became.

We understand your devotion to your children and the intense fervor you feel to provide for them.

Our Milk Money is an Organization that was built for parents like you.
But we are much more than just another business directory. We are an organization that provides a support network for parents who have chosen to stay home with their children, and we do what we can to encourage each of our members to make their purchases from each other- keep the money we are already spending “in house” because it’s more valuable to families than it is to large corporations.

We believe that we have a chance to make a difference, but we must all work together.

Our concept will succeed if everyone does their part. No other group has taken on a task so great, and the reason WE WILL SUCCEED is because we all have one thing in common: Our devotion to our children. We must not fail them.

You don’t have to be a member, or even a parent to participate in this concept. If there are children in your life and you want to make a difference, we welcome you to take part in Our Milk Money. Link your site to us.

We are not just another business trying to move up the ranks. We are an organization dedicated to parents who need support their children. If we all commit to this concept, we all have a better chance of rising up TOGETHER.

Imagine the possibilities.

We’ve started a campaign that will educate consumers on the value of purchasing from a mom or a dad. We believe that in time we will have created a mini-economy, and a better means of survival- especially during this recession where every dollar counts. We want parents to feel that they can make their own choices in how to raise their children, provide for them, and how much time they spend with them. Not be a slave to a job that promises a paycheck, or a boss that represents keeping that job.

Join the Our Milk Money Organization, and you will know immediately that you are contributing to a good cause, because it’s your own.