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Local women launch businesses from home

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dave Hall, The Windsor Star

Economic uncertainty, technology and convenience are making home-based businesses a popular choice for many female entrepreneurs in the Windsor-Essex region.

"A significant percentage of the small business owners we deal with have launched home-based businesses," said Sabrina DeMarco, director of the Windsor Essex Small Business Centre. "It gives small business owners an opportunity to test the waters and validate their businesses before they consider moving into a bricks-and-mortar setting.

"It's more economical to launch a business from home. It's often more convenient, especially for women with childcare issues and it's never been easier to launch one from home. This sector is growing all the time."

While not all home-based entrepreneurs are women, reports that there are more than 800,000 female entrepreneurs in Canada and about half of them work from home. Convenience is only one of the reasons why Sherri Wheeler decided to open her own web business at home.

Wheeler, who launched web development company Avinus. com from her home in 2005, took the plunge a year ago when she decided not to return to her full-time job after her maternity leave.

"I'd been working at it for a while but I didn't think it was fair to aggressively market myself and the company while I was employed by someone else," said Wheeler. "Plus, I never really had the volume of work before to justify doing it.

"I was doing work that was similar before, but I always knew that my real dream was to stay home and focus on building my own business. I love being home with my child but working from home also provides me with mental stimulation."

Wheeler's ultimate goal is to move into an office setting "where clients can come and visit and I don't have to use my kitchen for meetings."

DeMarco said one of the major challenges is separating home from work.

"Working from home means you can't always just switch the business off," said De-Marco. "And for those with far-ranging tech businesses, many clients can be in different time zones which creates other issues."

Wheeler's husband, Kevin Noecker, is a high-school teacher who puts up with midevening calls from clients seeking help.

"He's very accepting of the times when I've had to disappear into the basement for a couple of hours to deal with some client issues," said Wheeler. "Without that support, I couldn't do this."

Leila Pahary's Pixel Archer Creative Design started as a hobby a dozen years ago.

"I moved here from Toronto with my husband and it was really tough to find a job at that time and when I did, the pay was pretty low," said Pahary. "But I gained some experience before I decided to leave and start a family. It was at that point I decided to focus on starting my own company."

In addition to web design, Pahary writes a blog about her personal experiences as a business owner and also makes customized cupcake wrappers for themed birthday parties.

Pahary has joined the recently established Windsor area chapter of themompreneur. com, a website and organization designed to help mothers establish their own businesses through networking and coffee meetings.

"It's a chance to meet other people who are trying to do the same as what I'm doing," said Pahary. "And it will help replace the missing social interaction which often happens when you work from home rather than in an office setting."

"It's a challenge at times but there's also a certain calmness attached to sitting and coding websites. It's time that I enjoy," said Pahary, who has a child at home.

Fe Wyma, who recently moved from Nunavut to Harrow with her husband, is director of the recently formed Windsor Essex chapter of

Wyma was already running a web and graphic design business from home but was also actively seeking new clients and a support group.

"I found themompreneur. com and suddenly found myself agreeing to help launch the local chapter," said Wyma. "Working from home can be a culture shock if you're used to working with people around you and our website helps create social connections amongst people with.