Monday, May 23, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Elysse Fleece of Kozzy Bottoms LLC

I am excited to share my interview with Elysse Fleece of Kozzy Bottoms LLC with you today.  Not only is she a fellow 2011 Babble Mom Entrepreneur winner, but she also struggles with time management issues like myself, and so many other mom entrepreneurs.  In addition, Elysee is part of a military-family owned business.  Please enjoy my interview with Elysse below.

Name: Elysse Fleece
Company Name/Product/Service:  Kozzy Bottoms LLC- A military family owned childrens boutique. We carry cloth diapers, diapering accessories and handmade accessories.
Company Location:  Colorado Springs, CO
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle: @kozzybottoms
Age of Company: 1 year

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

I am a military wife and mother to a 3 year little boy.  I come from a small town in Michigan and since marrying my husband 6 years ago I have seen more states then ever before. It has opened my eyes to how much I love to travel and see new places.  I love to sew and craft, talk on the phone and indulge in my gossip mags. I have a horrible addiction to coffee and my dvr!

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

Kozzy Bottoms was created by our love of cloth diapering. We started late in the game with cloth diapering, it was before our sons first birthday, and just loved cloth diapering! It continues to amaze me how much diapers have evolved. We started with just a couple different brands of diapers and have evolved to carry diapers, baby care accessories and even handmade hair items and baby care.

It has become a family affair. My little monster makes all our tie dye items using an all natural dye, my husband is our dryer ball maker and my baby brother is in charge of our blog.  Our whole family works on the business and its a great way to spend time together.  We brainstorm together to work on new items and my son loves to model for us!

What is a typical work day like?

I wish there was a typical day! There is never a real set schedule here at the house. Because we run Kozzy bottoms from the house and Little Monster is not in school I have to juggle everything. My favorite part of the day is when my son wakes me in the morning. Then it's cartoon and breakfast time. This is usually when e-mails get answered and calls are made. We don't live near either of our families so we usually get to Skype with them in the mornings. Then the rest of the day is spent juggling playing cars, house work, running errands and filling orders and updating the website.  Bedtime is when I get the most work done but it comes with very early mornings. You can usually find me still up and working until 3 am.  This is when sewing and ironing gets done and if I'm lucky I even get to talk with my husband. Since I work from the house it's hard not to work. I can't leave things at the office to get finished another day.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 

Time management!! I have always been a bit on the ocd side when it came to organizing and I make a list for everything but once we opened Kozzy Bottoms it's like that part just disappeared! I use to work from our kitchen table when we started so it was a kitchen/office and recently I got an office which has been a huge help. I have calendars in just about every room so that I can keep track of doc appts, meetings, stocks, and even what is supposed to be pulled out for dinner! My life is ran from those calendars some days. It is not only time management for the business but also the family. It has been a huge lesson for me to ask for help and to take time off to relax and spend time with my family. It took a long time for me to see that when I'm relaxed it shows in the business and more gets done. That and Pandora! If I have Frank Sinatra going then you know I'm knee deep in something and determined to get it done.  My son loves to help and being able to get help from others has helped me get things done. 

What did you do in your past work life?

Until I delivered my son I worked for the best family company in N.C. as a receptionist. I love clerical work, probably related to my ocd!, and I loved helping the customers. There was always something going on in the office and it was like one huge family.  They are amazing and were a great inspiration in starting our own company. You hear of horror stories of couples working together but we do pretty well together. We have our moments but then something great comes out of it! I also go to school on the side as well.

What have been some of your major successes?

We were listed as a top 50 Mompreneur of 2011 thanks to That was great and we are in a great little diaper store here in town. Through the store I have met some amazing women and it's a great way to get out and be able to meet other moms who have the same values as me. I love seeing pictures of our customers with their little girls in our tutus and items. Bringing such joy to little girls is so much fun. I don't have a girl so I get to make things for other girls.

What have been some of your major challenges?

Have I mentioned time management!! Just the overwhelming process of keeping up with everything. There are products to make, pictures to take and edit, paperwork to file and meetings to make. It's hard to do it all when you still need to clean the bathroom and finish the laundry and mow the lawn!

Keeping up with everything and knowing when to stop and take a break. There is always something new around the corner and I dont want to feel like Kozzy Bottom sis missing out. Were just now getting into Twitter! It's hard to keep up with the new social network or newest trend or thing to do.

Doing it as a military wife has also been a struggle. I created the business on my husbands first deployment but I forget how hard it is to balance everything when he is gone and how much he does when he is here. I forget how much I hate garbage duty and I would rather be at my sewing machine instead :)  It's something that takes alot of adjusting; being able to be mom and dad when he is gone and still manage the house and the business.  Couple that with my time management issue and sometimes its just a disaster! But on those disaster days are some of my favorite memories too.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?

My family. I want my son to know that even though things can get hard and overwhelming to keep going. That you can follow your dreams and things do work out when you put your mind to it. I never in my wildest dreams would think that I would own my own store but here we are! I want my children to be proud and learn to follow through and keep going.  I love that my son gets to come to work with me and gets to work with me.  It's great to be able to do something together as a family. The business helps make each day go by faster to when my husband comes home too. It helps to think about how when it's done were one day closer!

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

Ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. It has taken me along time to see that asking for help is necessary at times and it's ok to put things on the back burner. Sometimes you just need to take those couple minutes to daydream or have that extra cup of coffee to relax. I have made a real effort in creating a work area and a family area and I have gotten so much done with that simple step. It's all about learning the balance and asking for help. It's ok to ask for it and to relax.

What is next for your business?

We are getting ready to launch our sister company Snap and Bow. Snap and Bow is an accessory line that works on a snap system. Its great for young children because they learn how to use snaps and they do it by doing their hair! Learning without knowing it is always a favorite of moms. And it's great for all ages because you simply change out you accessory in seconds. It's a snap! We are also introducing our military line that has all military items. Its a great way to show support to our troops and families.

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

Time management. Setting a schedule and sticking to it. There has to be equal time for your family and your business.

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