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 WAHM > Work at Home Mom Business Success Stories > Making an Impression: Peg Bowles of

Making an Impression: Peg Bowles of
Interview and Article by Alice Seba, Editor of

Peg has been sewing since she was a young child and always dreamed of one day starting her own business. When Peg reached adulthood, she hesitated in getting a business started because she felt that if she sewed for a living, it might cease to be enjoyable.

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Eventually in September of 1999, Peg decided to throw caution to the wind and start her business, Initial Impressions.

Her business specializes in personalized embroidery products. Many of her products are for children and babies and she does carry a growing collection of items great for the whole family and the home.

Now Peg realizes she couldn't have been more wrong about her assumption about losing the joy of sewing - She feels she works even harder with her business because she loves what she does.

Most of Peg's business is run online. Her website, , is dedicated to her mother who passed away in 1980. Her mother loved the forget-me-not flower, which is the focus of her logo and the graphics on her website.

Peg stresses that it's important to know what you do well and what you don't. "If there's a part of your business that is difficult or onerous for your, you need to find a way to hire someone to help you with it, rather than neglect it," says Peg. That is why she hired a web designer to build and maintain her website.

Peg offers the following advice to fellow online bizzers, " is critical to maintain positive and effective customer relationships. You must transcend the fact that you and your customer will never meet in person. You must give them confidence that you and your company really do exist and are very eager to exceed their expectations so that they will remember you for future orders.

I acknowledge orders personally, thanking [my customers] for the order and offering any design suggestions. I ask them to contact me if they have any questions or concerns. I don't believe that these Internet concepts where you design a website then just fill orders will survive for long. And, it is a lot of fun to develop these customer relationships. It takes time, but I derive a lot more than additional orders from the effort I make."

Peg says Christmastime is traditionally the busiest time for her business. This is her fourth holiday season. During the last few years, Peg has used Z Shop to supplement her website exposure (Amazon Z Shop is where third party retailers can sell their goods alongside Amazons. You can find out more at Last year, Peg's sales were 6 times greater than the year before and she's hoping for the same success this year.

"Handling the rush is difficult but exhilarating in its own way," says Peg, "I try very hard to stay organized...The hardest part, especially during the holidays, is keeping enough of the right amount of inventory on hand so that I will have what I need, when I need it. I try to do this to take advantage of economies of scale with shipping.

 It never fails though that I place an order with a supplier and the very next day a customer orders one of the items in a size or color that I didn't order. It is just one of the things to deal with when you have a large offering and don't have a huge amount of money to sink into inventory." As time goes by, Peg finds she better able to see trends and anticipate what she needs to do to keep inventory where it needs to be.

When it comes to balancing her family and business life, Peg says she loves the flexibility being her own boss gives her, but always makes sure not to get sidetracked from the necessary tasks of developing and operating her business.

She receives a hand from her family when she needs it. If she's busy, she will have her husband bring home something from the deli. Her older children have done a lot to help her promote her business by letting people know about the company. She involves her twelve year old daughter in the business, which provides her daughter with the opportunity to learn a little about running a business. Her daughter organizes order forms, performs some data entry and helps with shipping. Peg even consults with her daughter and her friends for product ideas appealing to young people.

Peg's future business plans include adding more pages to her website that will carry items for grown-ups and the home. She finds that people who order items for baby often come back and order something for Grandma. Currently, with excellent customer service in mind, Peg is filling special orders for items not on the website to fulfill this need.

Peg Bowles is a married mother of 7 with a kind of a "Brady Bunch" type of blended family. There are 6 grown children ranging in age of 21-30 and then "baby Sarah" - age 12. You can visit Peg online at .

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