October 12, 2007
Beyond Tupperware: Millions of home-based businesses flourish
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MARY JO WALICKI/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL/MCT
These aren't just Tupperware parties anymore.
As part of a home-based business boom, some women entrepreneurs are moving from corporate America into a shop-from-home, in-your-home, high-end product business to gain economic independence and job autonomy.
In Wisconsin, for example, All That and Then Some Inc., a network of more than 100 Wisconsin women entrepreneurs with their own home-based businesses, has launched a number of invitation-only parties and vendor shows in which their businesses host private shopping events.
Grace Ladewig, co-founder of All That and Then Some, owns Bella Bolsa, a home-based seller of handbags, sunglasses and jewelry.
She said home-to-home selling has moved away from the cold-calling Tupperware sales of the past.
"What we are trying to do here is bring a convenient, more personal way of shopping so that it caters more to our clientele and their lifestyle," she said.
Ladewig said she doesn't think this form of shopping will replace traditional shopping, but it fills a niche for those shoppers looking for unique specialty products and others who might see shopping as a social event.
The network she helped form is a loose affiliation – there are no dues – but is invitation-only. Its member entrepreneurs share tips with each other on selling products and expanding their businesses.
Paul Edwards, co-author of the book "Home-Based Businesses for Dummies," said people such as Ladewig have the ability to make a good living by working from home.
He said there has been at least a 10 percent increase in home-based businesses in the last 20 years, and some of them are lucrative.
"There are million-dollar home businesses out there," he said.
Edwards, who has run a successful political-consulting business out of his home, said the tech boom gave rise to an increase in home-based businesses as people were made more accessible, thanks to the Internet and cellphones.
He said a number of successful businesses, many of them Internet-related, started as home-based businesses. As they flourished, businesses similar to those affiliated with All That and Then Some were able to shed negative stigmas surrounding the idea of working from home.
More than 10 million home-based businesses exist in the United States, and a majority of people moving to home businesses are women, Edwards said. There are 14 million direct-selling businesses, such as Mary Kay and Country Peddlers, which have sales representatives of their wholesale products who work from home on commission, he said.
Sarah Stoub, a direct-selling representative for Wildtree, a producer of all-natural food ingredients, moved out of a steady job into her home business to make time for her infant son.
"It allows me to be more flexible with my time," she said.
Stoub, another co-founder of All That and Then Some, said she finds the autonomy of owning her at-home business a major draw. It's about doing something she is passionate about and working for herself, which is liberating, she said.
Beth Schoenfeldt, co-founder of Ladies Who Launch, a subscriber-supported community for women entrepreneurs, said women enjoy being in control of when and where they work.
"It's not that they don't want to work hard, it's just that they want to work hard on their own terms," she said.
Edwards said home-based businesses will continue to multiply as new ways to do business emerge.
And new ways of doing business, Edwards said, "is an exciting concept."
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