Local moms thrive with online businesses


Owning a business is tough. Raising children is even tougher, but Internet businesses provide more of a flexible time schedule, giving busy moms a little more leeway during their day.

On top of having three triplet daughters to keep her busy, Sara Zigman recently launched her new children’s furnishing business, Three Little Ziglets. Lori Huff is the business director and co-owner for Three Little Ziglets, in addition to being the mother of two daughters. Together, they make a great team.

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Zigman and Huff decided an online business would work best and be the most convenient for them and their clients, rather than having a storefront business.

“The fact that we were moms really played into it, because if we had a store, we would have set hours everyday,” Huff said. “The Internet gives you a little bit more flexibility. It’s not less work but there’s more time flexibility that you don’t really have if you have a storefront.”

Ten years ago, before each of them had children, Zigman worked as a buyer for the May Company and Huff was a sales manager for Dillards. Roughly a year ago, they started working together to create Three Little Ziglets.

“It’s been wonderful, as a mom, doing this,” Zigman said. “There have been many late hours and many late nights. It has the beauty of still being able to do the stay-at-home mom aspects that we still want to do as well. We both volunteer at schools and luckily our kids get along extremely well. It’s kind of exciting for them also, to be able to see their moms create this business. They, frankly, have been our biggest cheerleaders.”

Three Little Ziglets offers hand painted children’s furniture, as well as murals and accessories, with nine different creative patterns available to choose from. The business is based in St. Louis, but items can be shipped anywhere. They also offer an online gift registry, which has become one of their most popular features. Eventually they would like to sell products for teens and dorm rooms.

“There’s just a great amount of joy that comes from decorating your child’s room, and to be a part of that is just very special,” Huff said. “I think it’s really neat to think that something we’ve done is going to be a special part of that person’s life. That just makes it kind of extra for me.”

Zigman and Huff agree that they have less time for themselves, but they are just getting started, so they realize they are supposed to be busy.

“I’m proud that we’ve been able to really manage a sometimes 60, 80 or 100 hour work week, but yet still be very present for our kids,” Zigman said.

Melissa Chelist has three kids of of her own, but still manages to run StorkGifts. She has been the proud owner for 4 years.

“There’s the pluses and the minuses,” Chelist said. “I have the flexibility. I can drop my kids off at school or be home when they’re sick, but then I’m sitting there playing a game with them and then the phone rings. I’ll get calls in the middle of dinnertime and the kids are asking me to help with their homework. It’s really difficult. I do a lot of the work after they go to bed.”

Chelist said despite all the minuses, she loves her job and has learned a lot from her experiences and was able to meet many new people.

“I love the freedom. I love what I do. I love working with moms,” Chelist said.

She has a background in teaching, and had no previous business experience. Before she had children she was a teacher, but her husband got her involved in StorkGifts, and she has loved it ever since.

“I get a lot of customers, and since a lot of them are moms buying products, they understand that I’m with my daughter,” Chelist said.

She has three children, ranging in ages from five to 11. She said she is looking forward to having more time, now that her youngest daughter is starting kindergarten.

StorkGifts is an Internet business that sells unique personalized gifts for people of all ages. Some of their most popular items sold are currently the Name Puzzle Stools, a stepstool with brightly colored letters for a personalized name. Soon, they will start carrying Hebrew puzzles also.

“It’s hard because I don’t have quote-unquote time off,” Chelist said. “I’m always working on call, but I can be there when I need to be.”

Charlene Eidelman started her Internet business later, and waited until her sons were grown to open Gifts & More almost three years ago.

“I had retired from a full time sales job and just wanted to do something that was kind of fun and not stressful,” Eidelman said. “It’s nice not to have to answer to anybody. If I had a regular storefront I would be tied down. This way I do this at my leisure.”

Gifts & More offers a wide variety of gifts for any occasion, and is run in Eidelman’s basement in her home. She has open houses or schedules appointments for people to come in and buy her products. The most popular item she sells now are Webkinz, which are furry stuffed animals. Children can register their pets online and play games to earn items such as food and clothing for each pet.

Eidelman said the only children in her home now are her two Labrador retrievers.

“When people come in they greet them and very few people are afraid of them,” Eidelman said.

She said to some people an Internet business might make it look like she has lots of time on her hands, but there is always something to be done for Gifts & More, like handling vendors or getting shipments.

“It is time consuming but it’s rewarding and more fun than being stressed in a sales job,” Eidelman said.