Interview with Entrepreneur of Tail Wags
Please give us a little bit of a background on yourself and tell us how you became an entrepreneur?
My name is Karyn Climans and I am the owner and creator of Tail Wags Helmet Covers. After being a stay-at-home mom with 2 special needs kids for 15 years, I wanted to find a job that allowed me the flexibility to continue looking after my children and would provide an outlet for my creative skills. I was also determined to be my own boss because I couldn’t imagine having to report to someone else after being “independent” for so long.
Several years ago, while skiing with my sons, I was involved in a serious accident. Fortunately, I was wearing my ski helmet and it saved my life. The passion to promote safety awareness became the impetus behind starting Tail Wags Helmet Covers Inc.
Over the years I had acquired a background in teaching, children’s programming and costume design and I took all of that knowledge and created Tail Wags Helmet Covers, a company making fun, whimsical helmet covers for every type of safety helmet. I make it fun for kids and adults alike to wear their helmets for every sport they enjoy and by doing so I have found a way to help prevent unnecessary head injuries. There are over 40 adorable designs of helmet covers. I am the sole designer and I’m proud to say they are made exclusively in Canada.
How did you fund starting your own business?
Five years ago, when I opened Tail Wags Helmet Covers, I needed to invest some money to get things started. For example, on my first day, I broke 2 domestic sewing machines so I had to purchase some industrial equipment. Of course, I also needed fabric and sewing notions. I paid for these expenses out of my own pocket because I didn’t want a bank loan hanging over my head in the early stages. In fact, I’ve managed to avoid taking any loans during the life of my business. In order to do this, for the first 3 years, I reinvested every penny back in to the business. Even today, five years later, my income flow is unsteady. My busiest seasons are the Fall and Winter although the summer months are becoming more lucrative now that I have developed the lightweight lycra helmet covers designed specially for bike helmets.
This is something that everyone needs to keep in mind when they are opening up a new business: Don’t expect a steady pay cheque initially. The other word of caution is most new business owners work 7 days a week for the first several years. People often comment that I’m lucky to be working for myself. But I remind them I also have the “privilege” of no paid vacation, no pension fund, no health benefits, and an uneven income flow. However, I still love what I’m doing and I still regard it as a privilege to be working for myself.
How many hours do you work in a week?
Balancing work and family life is always a tough juggle. Owning my own business has been a lot more work than expected. The only reason I can now devote this amount of time to Tail Wags is my sons are now 19 and 18 years old and slowly but surely, they are becoming more independent. The things around the house that suffer the most are home-cooked meals, housekeeping and laundry. In response, I’ve hired a housekeeper and my husband does all of the laundry. Fortunately, he doesn’t complain because he knows I’m working extremely hard. The best piece of advice I can offer other moms planning to start their own business is to try and be as flexible as possible. Obviously you can’t postpone certain obligations with your kids but, whenever you can, make a conscious choice to ignore other tasks. I willingly gave up my good housekeeping award several years ago when I realized that it’s impossible for me to keep a spotless house while running my home-based business. I’ve simply learned to live with the chaos because there’s no point in driving myself crazy over the bits of thread all over the house. Before Tail Wags, I was a regular at the fitness club. Today, I’m happy to work out twice a week along with walking my dog daily.
I’d like to add one more thing: When you are passionate about what you’re doing, anything is possible. So if you’ve got a great business idea, a supportive family and the resources, I’d encourage you take the plunge and start your business. The growing number of mompreneurs is testament to the fact that it can be done!
Tail Wags helmet covers can be ordered online direct from Tail Wags at: http://www.tail-wags.com.
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