Taking care of business and the brood, too

Flower Mound:  Enterprising moms find it can pay to stay home

Sunday, November 13, 2005; Dallas Morning News

By LYNDA STRINGER / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Heather Sharr of Flower Mound never thought she'd be able to afford to quit her job and stay home with her two children.

But she did.  Not only is she living her dream and helping to pay the bills after starting her own Web design business, she is also helping other moms who want to do the same through her networking support group, Work It Mommy.

It wasn't an easy decision, she said, but she followed her convictions.

"I prayed about it, and God made it possible, "Ms. Sharr said.  "That's the only thing that the only thing that got me through."

With a degree in mass communications, a background in advertising and a knack for working with computers, she started Sharr Consulting in April.  She designs Web sites for moms who work from home and small businesses.

"I love it that she's home with the kids," said her husband, Paul Sharr, a teacher and assistant varsity football coach at Flower Mound High School.  He had been concerned about making ends meet if she quit working full time.

"I wish more people could do it.  They could, but they're afraid they won't be able to make it."

As her home business and her hopes to see more moms stay home with kids both grew, Ms. Sharr decided to create the Work It Mommy network in June.  Members pay an annual fee to participate in the monthly meetings and be listed on the group's Web site and in a planned newsletter.

While their kids play together close by, members share ideas and talk about their products or services.  Many stay after the meetings to chat and get to know one another.

"The things these woman are doing are amazing.  Someone will say, "I have a friend that would love that, and it gets them business," Ms. Sharr said.

Three years ago, homemaker and Work It Mommy member Julie Lane started Creativity Lane, selling the embroidered gifts she creates.  The Flower Mound resident and former high school marketing and management teacher met Ms. Sharr at a craft show and hired her to create the Web site for her business.

"The support is very important," said Ms. Lane, who describes staying home as both lonely and fulfilling.  While the decision to start a business can be overwhelming, Ms. Lane said, "You won't know until you try it.  You have to discover your passion and follow your dream."

With the networking group, the women go through the ups and downs together.  They make business contacts and friendships.

"They realize there are other woman out there just like them, and when they're asking, "Why am I doing this?" this encourages them that their business is going to thrive, "Ms. Sharr said.

Lynda Stringer is a North Richland Hills freelance writer.