Monday, February 7, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Michele Zook of Zookies

This week I am our Spotlight Mommy is Michele Zook of Zookies.  Michele creates handmade diaper cover, as well as burp cloths and reusable sandwich/snack bag sets.  Zookies can be used over cloth diapers or as a swim diaper.  I just love the stylish patterns Michele using in making these items.  Michele runs a successful business as a stay-at-home of 2 children.  Don't forget to check back on Friday, where I will feature more Michele's products and also offer a giveaway -- a custom diaper cover -- to one lucky reader.

Name:  Michele L. Zook
Company Name/Product/Service: Zookies – handcrafted cloth diaper covers and other goodies
Company Location: Lancaster, PA
Company Website:
Twitter Handle: @ zookiescrafts
Age of Company:  6 months
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Favorite Book: Really too many to list.  The Outlander series comes to mind first.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.:

I am married to my junior high crush.  We have two children – 3 ½ and 5.  In my little spare time, I enjoy scrapbooking, reading, and playing great music with a local community band.

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?: 

I was introduced to cloth diapering through a friend.  We were trying to save money with only one income, so I decided to take the plunge.  I love being at home with my kids, so I began thinking of something I could do from home.  

What is a typical work day like?: 

Crazy, hectic, varied.  I get up early, so I can get some coffee and start sewing a bit before the kids are up and moving.  My husband works very early, so he is usually home by mid afternoon.  I sometimes will sneak in a bit of sewing then.  And then again, after the house is quiet. 

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?:  

Probably the biggest issue is working from home!  (chuckle)  If I went to somewhere out of the home, I could do my work without “distractions.”  I wouldn’t need to get someone something or be a referee for a disagreement over who sat in the chair first.

What did you do in your past work life?: 

In my past, past work life, I have worked in too many restaurants serving people their food.  In my more recent past life, I was an elementary school teacher.

What have been some of your major successes?:

What immediately comes to mind is not business related, but I love to share the story.  My father was adopted, and after two years of searching, I have found his mother.  She was young and her mother forced her to give him up.  His mother shared with us that it had upset her terribly because she did not even get to see him. We have learned he has 10 brothers and sisters.  As I write, my mom and dad, and my husband and I are going to meet her in two days.  My dad has been over the moon.  It has brought me such joy to see him be so happy!

What have been some of your major challenges?:  

Allowing myself to not be perfect – I don’t have to be (and never will be) the “super woman” or “super mommy”.  I have days when my kids (and me) eat junk; when my patience tank is on empty; when I feel….fill in the blanks for any of the multitude of reasons we women beat up on ourselves.  I work every day on allowing myself to be imperfect.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?: 
Being able to stay at home motivates me.  I truly am blessed to be with my kids.  Not to sound cliché, but life is too short.  I would rather be able to stay at home with them even if it means driving a car that is 10 years old (but paid for). 

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?:  

Still working on that one…..

What is next for your business?:

Zookies is new, so we would like to continue working marketing our business.

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?:

Ask yourself a lot of questions before getting started:  What do you enjoy doing?  What do you need to get started?  Research what it takes to start a business.  How big or small do you want to be?  How much money do you have to invest?   If struggling, search for other avenues for marketing your business.  Make customer service a priority.  Personally, I have left stores because of poor customer service. Thus far, I have enjoyed what I am doing.  Will I make my teaching salary?  No, but the perk of being home with my kids is priceless.

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