If you happen to pop into Starbucks on any given workday, you’ll notice many people around the coffee house brandishing headsets and working feverishly on their computers.
No, it’s not the barista behind the counter or the cashier waiting to take the order: it’s the work-from-home crowd sitting comfortably in the leather seats and around the tables. These folks are most likely are enjoying their freedom to work away from the office and from the grind of commuting back and forth from the big city. This isn’t a new phenomenon—many employers give their employees this flexibility, while also freeing up office space in their own buildings. Starbucks is happy to be the host for them.
There is another kind of worker around town, and they’re not just sitting around drinking coffee and plucking at their computer keyboards. These are the home-based entrepreneurs who sell desirable products and services locally. They sell everything from women’s clothing to essential oils, and from monograming to design services. Many are extremely well-known in our social networks, because of their high-touch personalized service. They enjoy what they do, and also receive the benefit of working on their own time, from home.
Kelly Shiel and Cathy Lapinski, our good friends who live in town, sell consumable and skin-care products for Arbonne. Kelly recently told me that, “When I was laid off from my corporate job where I had worked remotely from home, I knew that I needed to find something that offered schedule flexibility so I could be present for my kids. I also wanted something with growth and financial opportunity. Arbonne’s wide range of consumable products and their compensation model was a great fit for me.”
I also recently spoke to Jen Pisani, who lives in town and sells women’s clothing and accessories for Stella & Dot. Jen told me that she enjoys the flexibility it has afforded her as her family’s schedule and needs evolved over the years. She likes helping others getting into business and achieving sales goals, and having her children see her work.
And then there is the “party.” Brownie Wise, a rare woman executive (VP of marketing) in the 1950s, worked for the Tupperware company, and revolutionized direct sales through home parties. Almost all of their sales came through the host’s network of friends, who came to the parties to socialize and to purchase products. The host usually receives product at a discount, and gets to enjoy having all of her friends at the party.
Now, I’m not suggesting that these modern-day selling parties are anything close to fuddy duddy. They can be highly social events that attract a lot of ladies—especially the events before the holidays when everyone is in the shopping mood. Our home has been at the epicenter of many of these parties, and I can tell you that the leftover treats are nothing short of exquisite. There is almost always a little wine involved, and usually truffled chocolates.
These parties have lead to my wife’s closet is full of Cabi. Cabi is a clothing line sold directly through independent stylists. Her stylist is Debbie Franklin, well known by the ladies in Clarendon Hills. Racks of clothing are brought in to transform our home into a shopping mall of ladies clothing for the seasonal parties. These ladies get personalized service and the benefit of having their own personal stylist to help navigate the latest fashion trends. Many readers will also know Nancy Graham, another Cabi stylist from town.
It’s an interesting subculture of independent workers we have around town, working, throwing parties, holding vendor events.
Angie Sartori runs OhNewYearsTree.com out of her home over the holiday season. Her product was featured in Real Simple magazine, and was selected for the Today show, but didn’t end up on the segment due to timing. It is a kit to wish upon the new year, and to quickly dress up one’s Christmas tree for New Year’s Eve, essentially extending the fun of having a tree in your home. Jackie Anglin sells “Peach,” an active-wear line of clothing. Mandy Widtfeldt sells Isagenix. On the service side, Dena Arendt owns Inside Ideas Design, Kirsten Peterson runs Travel Sweet Travel and many have used Sue Costello, who owns Kelly Cruises and Tours. Michelle Cutinelli runs a popular monogramming business called Mod Stitch Embroidery.
Now that you know some of our independent entrepreneurs, it’s time to shop local and enjoy the party.