Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Feb. 14, 2000

Home and work combine for extra income and flexibility

By Luis Puga

Like any other toddlers, Mary Hausladen's kids demand attention.

Briana, Mary's six year-old, is running around with lots of excess energy. Austin, who is three, is curious about whether his mother is going to make some juice. Isabella, 2, just wants to be held.

Hausladen is able to tend to all her kids' needs and still bring home part of the proverbial bacon by working at home.

As a STAMPIN' UP! demonstrator, she has the ability to set her own hours so that she can stay at home with her children.

Moreover, she is doing something she loves to do.

After three years of staying home with the kids, Hausladen was thinking of returning to work.

At the time, she had gone with her mom and a friend to see a stamping demonstration.

Hausladen's mom, Mandi Pederson, and Hausladen herself agreed that what they had seen was really cool. And so, Hausladen became a stamper.

At first, it was just a hobby. But the question of whether to go back to work was still an issue. Hausladen and her husband, James, had been to home business seminars and discussed the idea of her working at home.

Hausladen had also been offered a job, with good pay and benefits, at a nearby hospital. She was presented with a dilemma: take the job or stay at home.

Ultimately, staying at home won out for a number of reasons, not least of which were the children. With the three kids, and only one of them in school part-time, and a desire to have another child, Hausladen said she wanted the flexibility of working from the home.

Also, Hausladen had previous experience in owning her own business, Sand Dollar Tanning in Winsted, seven years ago. She said, with a hint of exasperation, that it was a learning experience.

The business had been part of her life before she was married. Now, she felt that opening an outside business up would be hard to do with a family.

"If your kid gets sick, and you run your own business, what do you do? You either close your business or bring your kid to work, and that's no fun for either of you. It was really important to me to be flexible and stay at home with my kids to be there when they needed me," Hausladen said.

So she turned her hobby into her business, another important aspect of her decision, as she felt it was important to do something that she enjoyed.

"Once I decided I needed to do something, stamping just seemed like the most logical step for me. Why not? I think if you're going to have a home-based business, you got to love what you do," she said.

Stamping allows Hausladen to be creative. She admitted that she has always loved crafts, but has never been really good at them.

Now, she makes everything from her own cards to gift bags and boxes with sets of rubber stamps and her own creativity. She jokes that if it doesn't move, you can stamp it.

Of course, developing the knack for stamping took some time. As she shows off a display of elaborate cards, some which are embossed with felt and some with moving parts, she said that her cards in the beginning were not as elaborate.

Now, she has developed her own skill, which is key since part of her business calls for demonstrating the product. Hausladen travels to shows where she can display her wares to other interested persons, who then can order sets of stamps from her catalog. She's also hosted an open house.

Hausladen represents a certain type of business. As a home demonstrator, she is part of a phenomenon which used to be relegated to the Avon Lady and Tupperware parties.

How far this phenomenon has grown is difficult to say. Neither the state's Department of Trade and Economic Development or the Office of Research and Statistics has any information on the growth of home businesses.

According to the Minnesota Workforce Center, the most recent statistics would be from the 1990 census, but that information would not distinguish between home businesses and telecommuting.

Hausladen believes that home demonstration is on the increase. Part of her plan for the recent future is to host a direct home sale fair in April in Glencoe with eight other home demonstrators.

A number of facts support the growth of home demonstration. The Internet certainly plays a role in facilitating such business. Hausladen uses it to place orders at a site which only STAMPIN' UP! demonstrators can use.

Moreover, the environment is right, as well. Living in a rural area means that potential customers are not surrounded by large retail outlets. Buying from someone like Hausladen can save someone a half hour trip if a local retail store doesn't carry a particular product.

The list of companies similar to STAMPIN' UP! has increased. At Hausladen's fair, there will be representatives from Country Peddler, Mary Kay, Party Light and others.

Hausladen advises people who are interested in developing such a business to find a company that they like and feel is reputable. She also emphasizes that it should be something that the person loves to do. She believes that, in her own case, STAMPIN' UP! is a good company with a good product.

Like any other business, Hausladen hopes to see hers grow. She and her husband are planning to build or buy a house, and she hopes that her supplemental income will contribute to that dream. But ultimately, Hausladen hopes to build a career doing what she enjoys, while raising her family.

A goal which may be reached by staying at home.

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