Editor’s note: This is the second in a series highlighting working women living life by their own definition. It comes out of a belief that each of our stories can help each other and we can support each other by trading our tips for how to make things work.
I am the founder of Suitcase Swagger, a travel design agency focused on special interest travel. Think wine lovers tour of Bordeaux, foodies tour of Italy, book lover’s river cruise with a famous author. I began Suitcase Swagger four years ago as my “fun job.” I ran it “on the side” as I maintained my career in the telecom industry. And I loved it! In October, I was laid off from my telecom job and after a lot of soul searching and strategy planning, I decided to pursue my travel business full time and make my living doing what I love. I’m working now with fitness centers, senior centers, wine clubs, art organizations and some other affinity travel groups that have a strong community. I work from my home in Catonsville, MD and am ramping up for a breakout year for Suitcase Swagger.
I am married with two wonderful children ages 9 and 11. I grew up in Baltimore, MD and attended the University of Maryland where I earned my bachelors degree in International Business. While having my own business is overwhelming at times, forcing me to learn ALL aspects of running a business, even those things that are out of my comfort zone, being my own boss has provided me with even greater flexibility to be available when my family needs me. Late nights – check. Work on the weekends – check. In the classroom for kids’ activities – check!
Did becoming a mom affect how you look at your career?
Absolutely! Before I had children, I worked A LOT. I spent early mornings and long nights at the office regularly. After getting married, I pulled that back so that I could have dinner with my husband. And once we had kids, I began working from home and only went into the office on occasion. I still have ambition and I still want to be very successful. I have spent a lot of time working on the employee satisfaction committees in the companies where I have worked since I’ve had children to influence their culture around work life balance.
How do you handle childcare while working?
Since I work at home and my children are old enough to busy themselves when at home, I have them come home after school on the bus and they do their thing while I work. In the summer, we put them in enriching camps.
What tip would you share with working moms trying to figure out how to juggle work and family?
I think that it’s critical for at least one parent to have a job that provides flexibility. Sick days, snow days, doctor’s visits…these are the norm rather than the exception at times. I also have come to realize that it’s important for the children to help out around the house. At 9 and 11 years old, there is no reason my kids can’t vacuum, do laundry, help with dinner…almost anything that has to be done around the house can be shared among all four of us.
What’s your go-to quick meal for busy weeknights?
What’s a non-negotiable part of your weekly schedule?
One of us being home when the kids come home from school.
Do you exercise? If yes, what do you do and when do you fit it in?
Yes, I exercise everyday. I begin every morning with a several mile walk, I try to lap swim twice a week, and about 4 days a week I “You Tube” 30 minute workouts and do them in my basement. I typically swim and do my video workouts around lunch time during the week.
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