Magazine article Working Mother

Entrepreneur Mom Awards

Magazine article Working Mother

Entrepreneur Mom Awards

Article excerpt

Gotta Have Art *

NANETTE DE CILLIS, 50, MOTHER OF JULIAN, 14, AND FOUNDER OF ARTSCETERA, BROOKLYN, NY

Her idea Nanette offers classes that introduce music and art to children ages 4 months to 4 years, planting the seeds of creativity and building a community resource for new moms. Mom factor This spring, she's franchising her program to help others start family-friendly businesses in their hometowns. How she did it She began as a music teacher, offering mom-and-tot classes. After five years, she used $23,000 from an American Express line of credit to rent and renovate a studio space. Her office continues to be a spare bedroom in her apartment.

WALK INTO ARTSCETERA and you'll find dozens of little hands clapping or painting or banging on drums. It's music to Nanette De Cillis's ears. "I always wanted a salon that was a mecca for artists. I just didn't picture my clientele arriving in strollers," says the former dancer, who ran her own avant-garde company and worked in arts fund-raising until her son, Julian, was born in 1991.

Nanette's transition from stay-at-home mom to arts entrepreneur came in 1993 when she trained to teach for Music Together, a pioneering program for young children. She licensed Music Together's materials, offering one class a week, then two, then three, growing her business as her son moved from preschool to kindergarten. In 1998, on the strength of a loyal following, she opened ArtsCetera in a goo-square-foot studio space, and her husband quit his job as an arts administrator and took over the finances. "He freed me up to focus on the creative," says Nanette, who has developed such a successful brand of ArtsCetera music and arts classes that she's franchising her CDs and curriculum. A national business is on the horizon, yet her definition of success is simply this: "I can't go to the store without running into someone who shook jingle bells at ArtsCetera."

Matchmaker, Matchmaker *

ALLISON KARL O'KELLY, 33, MOTHER OF NOLAN, 21/2, AND ETHAN, 1, AND FOUNDER OF THE MOM CORPS, ATLANTA, GA

Her idea She matches skilled moms and dads with accounting law, IT and marketing firms, arranging project-based, part-time or at-home work. Mom factor In less than ayear, Mom Corps has connected some 50 talented moms with blue-chip firms. How she did it Using family money and a business loan secured by her 401(k), Allison launched Mom Corps in July 2005. With a team of seven moms who market and manage the company and a data bank of 500 resumes-most acquired through word of mouth-she expects to turn a profit by year's end.

AFTER HER SON NOLAN WAS BORN in May 2003, Allison Karl O'Kelly ventured out to the playground and found it populated by ex-lawyers, MBAs and other top-level professionals. Why, in this age of corporate flexibility initiatives, had these moms abandoned the workplace? "It's actually pretty hard to find a job that meets your flexibility requirements," says Allison, a CPA with an MBA from Harvard. She herself felt constrained by her "dream" three-day-a-week job in Toys "R" Us's Adanta management program.

"I didn't want to be away from home if my child was sick," she says. "I wanted to pick the twenty-four hours I worked." So as she pushed her stroller, Allison dreamed of a business that matched playground talent with high-level, flexible jobs.

In December 2003, Allison quit Toys "R" Us to test-drive her concept. She cold-called major accounting firms and turned up more assignments than she-and her friends-could handle. …

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