Meet Dionne Wright-Jones. She is a wife and a mother of two. Her son is 7 and her daughter is 4. She has been a WAHM for 7 years. She started JH Custom Designs 5 years ago.
1. Please tell us about your business and the service that you provide:
JH Custom Designs is a gift basket business specializing in custom theme gift baskets. We provide gift baskets and gifts for individuals and corporate clients primarily from our online store. We hand deliver locally in Baltimore, Maryland and ship anywhere within the United States. You can also find us on Facebook.
2. What motivated you to start your business?
About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with and survived cancer. At that time I was told I might not have children after chemotherapy treatment. I made a promise to myself and to God that if I was given the chance to have children I would do everything I could and work as hard as I could to be the best Mom I could be, and to me that meant being able to stay at home and raise my children myself. I felt like there had to be something I could do from home that would allow me to stay home and be a Mom while also contributing to the family’s income. I never returned to work after my maternity leave. I started working as a Medical Transcriptionist from home when my son was 6 months old. Being a Medical Transcriptionist helped pay the bills and allowed me to work from home, but it wasn’t rewarding. My husband, and biggest supporter, pushed me to start the gift basket business because he knew I had creative talents.
3. What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field?
I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve always been known as the party planner, decorator, and creative one to go to. I’ve made gift baskets and towel cakes for years for friends and family as a hobby.
4. What trends do you see in your current industry?
I think people are really starting to realize how important it is to keep current customers and build relationships especially in this economy. We provide a way to show appreciation while also strengthening those relationships. We’re trying to show people that gift baskets can be more than not just fruit in a wicker basket. Gift baskets have come a long way, and we are always looking for new and exciting products to add. I love to create unique designs specifically for the recipient.
5. What are the most demanding aspects about your business?
It’s a lot of pressure running a business and also being a wife and mother. My business is one of strict timelines. We pride ourselves on delivering a quality product in a timely manner, but it’s hard being a one-woman show at times.
6. What are the most rewarding aspects about your business?
We’ve had customers place orders from as far away as Australia and Canada. Our customers put a lot of trust in us to deliver not only a nice looking gift but the sentiment along with it. I love it when a customer calls to say thank you for doing a great job.
7. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours?
Make sure you do lots of research first on the best wholesale places for baskets and products. Seek out others in the industry for advice. Be ready for long hours and hard work.
8. What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?
I’m so proud that I’ve been able to stay at home with my two children. I am the one who picks my son up from school every day. I’ve been able to make all his field trips and see him star in his first school play. It’s Priceless!
9. How have you been able to balance your time between work and your family?
My husband has always been very supportive and helps out a lot with the business. I couldn’t have made it this far without the help and support of my family. Many volunteer hours have gone into helping this business to grow.
10. What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself?
Most of our sales come from our website. We’ve decided not to go into a brick and mortar store just yet. Having a part-time retail office and home office allows me the time to focus on the website and get out and meet with our corporate clients face to face.
Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family?
My milk money has given me the opportunity to completely enjoy every special moment in my children’s lives so far. My husband works very hard to support our family, and being able to financially contribute helps to make it a little easier on him. I’m keeping that promise that I made and also being the entrepreneur that I’ve always wanted to be. I love it!