At 26, Maisie Knowles has gained more experience and learned more about the challenges a businesswoman encounters than many female entrepreneurs who are a generation older. When most of her friends were starting college, the Colorado Springs native was traveling the world and organizing mission trips for a humanitarian aid organization. When many of her peers were still in their first professional job, Knowles was in a management position at an advertising agency. Now, the new mom can give other Generation Y professional woman how to juggle motherhood with serving as an entrepreneur of a home-based business.
With her husband, Luke Knowles, Maisie co-founded FreeShipping.org, a one-stop destination for consumers to find online retailers that offer free shipping deals. Before launching the site, the couple started Kinoli, an interactive design company. Maisie left a full-time office job to help get the company off the ground and Luke joined her full time a year later. They debuted FreeShipping.org in December 2007.
“I felt under appreciated working for someone else, and Luke and I rarely saw each other, so we were excited to start our own company,” said Maisie, who earned a communication degree from the University of Colorado. “At the same time, it was an uneasy feeling. We knew we had enough work to keep us busy and pay the bills for a couple months, but after that it was uncertain.
“There is a risk you have to take because if you don’t take the leap and devote the time to build your business, you’re not going to succeed for the long-term,” she added. “It’s all about building relationships, and through those relationships you hope that your business grows through referrals.”
The Knowles lives changed even more when Maisie became pregnant with their first child, Isabelle, who was born in January 2008. She found that working from a home office with her husband proved helpful as the delivery date neared.
“I have a friend who worked up to the day she gave birth. Fortunately, I had more time to prepare,” Maisie said. “I stopped working for three weeks before Isabelle was due, and I took a 10-week maternity leave. I would not have had that flexibility if I worked a traditional office job. I was able keep up with e-mails and general administrative tasks, and also get the rest I needed to be physically and mentally ready for Isabelle’s birth.”
Working together from a home office saves Luke and Maisie time, money (since they do not have a commute) and the aggravation of being stuck in traffic. They also do not need to pay for child care and have more family time.
Logo from FreeShipping.org.
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