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Welcome to a series exploring how real-life moms work alternative jobs in order to work and mom the way they want or their family needs. For many, this means working at home. For some it means jobs with flexible schedules. For others it means more traditional business hours, but owning their own business. As we examine the different ways moms make it work, you’ll see a lot of creativity and hopefully be inspired to make your job, traditional or not, work best in your life.
Mindy is a mom to 6 year old identical twin boys who survived Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and is married to husband Keith. Because she wears flips flop year round in any weather, she’s known as The Flip Flop Chef and is an Independent Advanced Director with Pampered Chef, celebrating 20 years with them on January 15th, 2019. She is passionate about helping families enjoy more meals around the table together, allowing them to save money by not dining out and saving them from behavior and other family issues by eating TOGETHER.
What jobs have you had in the past?
I’ve been working since I was 15 and full time since I was 16. My first job was at a hair salon and I washed hair and assisted the stylists with various jobs. I was a homeschooler most of my life and graduated high school when I was 16. Not because I was super smart, just because I had completed the classes needed to graduate. At 16, I worked full time as a waitress at The Dwarf House (a full service restaurant by Chick fil A, something they only have here in Georgia). At 17 I worked as a secretary for a general contractor and at 18 I started by business with Pampered Chef. Later that same year, I started working at the police department as a 911 operator and dispatcher.
How did you come to do what you currently do?
When I was 15 my mom asked me if I wanted to drive her to a Pampered Chef party since I had my learners permit. I would have driven her anywhere but this sounded like fun! While we were there, I realized the lady doing the demonstration was getting PAID TO EAT! My 15 year old brain processed that as the best job ever and honestly, at 38, its still the best job ever. On the way home, I told my mom I wanted to be a Pampered Chef lady when I grew up. A year later, when I graduated high school and was attending college I signed up to sell Pampered Chef. Sadly, instead of receiving a starter kit they returned my kit order saying I had to wait until I was 18 years old.
So, when I turned 18 I was ready but the only person I knew who sold Pampered Chef was no longer in the business. She told me she would have someone call me. This was before the internet or at least, before it was available to most people and certainly before Pampered Chef had a website. So, I just kept hoping that person would call me but they never did. In January 1999, while at a family reunion I found a Pampered Chef catalog in one of the chairs and found out one of my cousins was hosting a party the next day. So, I told her to tell the consultant that I would be coming and that I was signing up! I talked to a few of my aunts about hosting a party and by the next night I had 6 parties lined up before I joined the business. At the time, I was the youngest person to join Pampered Chef but now its very common for young adults to join direct sales businesses.
How long did it take to get to where you are now?
Well, when I joined the business, I didn’t have these huge dreams of never working for anyone else again but I learned pretty quickly how profitable the business could be. My first paycheck was over $400 and I only had to work 2 nights to make that and I was able to do it legally and with my clothes on. That’s a pretty good per hour/per day rate for an 18 year old!
I remember my mom saying many times “one day this could give you the opportunity to work but still be home with your kids” and that sounded like a great thing to aim for down the road.
As I mentioned, I was also working at the police department and I really didn’t “need” much money because I still lived at home with my parents. I had a car payment, insurance and had to pay for my gas but that was about it. 13 months after joining Pampered Chef, at 19 years old, my dad called me and asked me if I wanted to buy a house. My first question was to find out if he was kicking me out of the house! Ha! He wasn’t but his brother’s old house, just 2 doors down from our house was for sale. Within days we had agreed on a price and I was under contract to buy a home. It was then that my Pampered Chef income had a real purpose. I had to make enough with Pampered Chef to pay my mortgage. It was over $1300 a month since I had a 15 year mortgage. So, for the next year I worked full time at the police department and full time with Pampered Chef. In 2001 I left my job at the police department and my Pampered Chef business supported me 100%. January 15, 2019 will be my 20 year anniversary with Pampered Chef and every time I realize that it blows my mind. Who would have thought a business I started at 18 would turn into a career? I know I sure didn’t expect that when I first joined.
What are the biggest challenges?
Balance is always a challenge but I’m thankful I’m very organized and I’m able to prioritize the most important tasks. Years ago I read “Eat that Frog!” and took what I learned to heart. I always try to tackle the most important and most difficult task of my day first so its not hanging over me all day long. Balancing 6 year old twin boys and working from home is easier now than when they were babies since they are in school now but it always seems to be a balancing act to get everything done in the time I’m allowed.
What are the biggest advantages?
I absolutely love being able to set my own schedule and choose when and where I will work. I’m able to work while my kids are in school and be around for them afterschool until dinner time when I leave for my parties. Its great to be able to take time off when they have extended breaks from school and be available to do what we want. I’m also very thankful for a husband who supports my business and truly partners with me to help me succeed. I know many women who join the direct sales industry don’t have the support of their spouse. It breaks my heart to see that because so many of these women simply need someone to believe in them. My husband came into my life 7 years after I joined Pampered Chef so its always been apart of our life together. My business has truly become a family business and everyone, including my kids are involved.
What are your next goals?
I’m always working towards growing my team of consultants and learning new ways to increase my personal sales to earn more. In direct sales, you can earn money by selling and growing a team but personal sales are the easiest to control because you’re not depending on other people to hit their goals to make income. I’d love to be able to sell more in fewer parties and I’m always working on expanding my online business and social presence to reach more people. Every year I have been able to increase my show average (per party) which has also increased my annual income at the same time.
What advice to you have for moms looking to work at/from home or start their own business?
Research your options! There are so many options to choose from now compared to when I joined in 1999. You have to decide what business model you want to work in. There are huge differences in Direct Sales and MLM’s (multi level marketing) but most people think they are exactly the same thing. Direct Sales companies typically have a large product line and while they do focus on the recruiting aspect of the business, its not the sole focus. MLM’s are more driven towards recruiting than they are on direct selling of the product and typically they have a very small product line. MLM’s often have a monthly minimum for each customer or consultant. Direct Sales do not operate like that. While there are other work at home opportunities outside of the direct sales/MLM industry I personally don’t have any other input for other options. My best advice is to research thoroughly, pray about your options, follow your heart and then be willing to put forth the effort to master it!
What is your best productivity tip? What makes you a productive mom?
As a twin mom, most days I feel like I’m losing my mind but I still try to make sure certain things get done everyday so they don’t become overwhelming. We clean out back packs daily as soon as the kids come in from school and they are part of this process. If there are things that needed to be filled out and sent back to school I try to do that as quickly as I can even if the deadline isn’t urgent. If something needs to be purchased and sent in to school I set reminders in my phone so I don’t forget to get them and send them in on the day needed. I also open the mail every day, throw away the junk and put anything else where it needs to be. I don’t have piles to go through later. As a family we all take part in keeping the house clean and organize. My boys are 6 now and they can clean their own rooms and playrooms. Its not perfect but I believe they need to learn responsibility. My husband and I both work together to take care of the laundry, dishes and other things around the house. My boys can fold towels, sort their clothes and help put some of it away. They can collect trash from the bathrooms and help tidy up to ensure we keep the house in order. I also highly recommend using a grocery service to save time. Some stores offer to shop for you and all you have to do is pull up to the store to pick it up. Last year, we got Instacart in our area and they offer grocery shopping and delivery to my home. I’m a huge fan of Aldi because their prices can’t be beat and well, the food is amazing! Instacart offers delivery from Aldi and its truly life changing for me. I’m able to build my shopping cart throughout the week as we use things that need to be replaced. When I need groceries, I just pick the recipes I’m planning to make for the week, print them out (remember, I love paper, but throw it out when I’m done) and then I’m able to easily shop for my groceries from my desk. I don’t forget anything because I’m not relying on my memory because I forgot the list at home. I’m also able to walk into my pantry and check to see if I have something or need to order more. I have an annual subscription with Instacart and it’s a tax write off for me since I shop for my business too. So, yes, some of the shopping and delivery services have a fee or require a tip I am of the belief that time is money! If it frees up more time for me to work my business, I’m making money while someone else shops for me. Plus, I’m not adding impulse purchases to my cart either. I use Amazon a lot as well, simply to keep me out of the stores and buying more than I actually need.
I also want to add that I’m a huge fan of personal development. I think this is a step that most people starting a home based business forget and more often ignore. So many small business owners refuse to invest any money to gain more knowledge but in order to build your brand and your business, you will have to spend a little money.
I listen to audio books in my car when I’m driving to and from my parties or on long trips because I find that I’m not very disciplined to sit still and read a book unless I’m laying by the pool or the beach without kids to watch – which is a rare occurrence. I take lots of free courses online to help me learn new ways to be effective in my business. In my early days of business, I attended parties with lots of other consultants who had more experience than I did so I could see how they did things and learn from them. I have attended many seminars and while most of them require a financial investment its not usually very much and are a tax write off. The knowledge gained from these seminars has helped propel me and help me become more successful. I learned in my first year of business that I said “I can’t do x,y,z..” but in reality I just didn’t know how to do it. I started taking steps to learn how to do the things I thought I couldn’t do and I immediately started seeing the results in my bank account. When we take time to learn something new it allows us to achieve more.
I was born in 1980 and teeter on the border of being a millennial but I don’t feel like one since I didn’t grow up with much technology at all and graduated high school when I was 16. I got a beeper when I was about 14 or 15 & I think I was 17 when I got my first cell phone. I typically don’t make ‘new years resolutions’ because most of those never stick but at the end of each year I try to evaluate my business and my spending so that I can make changes in the new year to help me make more and spend less. 2 years ago I made a goal to devote the entire year to learning new technology and really making good use of the tools I already had. I had been resistant to make certain changes because, well, when something is working why would you change it? What I learned was I could still keep things working but make some things easier and be more productive. January will be the 3rd year in a row that I will keep technology near the top of my lists of things to learn because its ever changing and I want to always be moving with technology and not lagging behind. I still have a long way to go I’m sure but I’m committed to finding and using tools that will help me be better at everything I do. My motto has always been to “work hard so I can play harder”
Find Mindy online
Shopping site : www.pamperedchef.biz/mindymussell
Recipe Group: www.theflipflopchef.com
Facebook business page: www.facebook.com/theflipflopchef
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