East Idahoans reap benefits working from home

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Ashley Coon developed her custom cloth diaper business, Raccoon Wraps, out of her home in Rexburg. | Courtesy photo

IDAHO FALLS — When Kathi Oliver’s children were all in school, she dove head-first into massage therapy school. After graduating, rather than set up shop at a space in Idaho Falls, she weighed her options and decided to work from home.

The work-from-home trend is catching on all over the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 about 24 percent of employed people did some or all of their work from home, up from 19 percent in 2003.

Oliver is one of many east Idahoans who are taking advantage of the benefits of working from home. With her at-home business, Kalm Massage Therapy, Oliver said there are tax deductions and minimum overhead, and she doesn’t have to haul things around. Another benefit is the reward of helping people improve their health and feel better.

Kathi Oliver, of Kalm Massage Therapy in Idaho Falls, sees clients in her home. | Courtesy photo

But even with all the positives, working from home isn’t always easy. Oliver said the key is to set clear boundaries; she sets a schedule and sticks to it.

The key to working from home is to set clear boundaries.

“It can be challenging in the summer when the kids are home from school, and other distractions that can happen in the home,” she said.

Although Oliver had planned to work from home, others, like Tiffany Jenkins of Rigby, pursued the passion they already had and made it into a home-based business.

Tiffany Jenkins, left, at the Queen Bee Market in San Diego with friend Amber Hall. Jenkins runs her custom bag business. Tiny Seamstress Designs. from her home in Rigby. | Courtesy photo

She had already enjoyed sewing handbags to give as gifts, and then she received requests to make more.

“It grew slowly and steadily from there into what it is today,” she said, adding that she spends about 40 hours per week at it mostly while her children are at school.

Her homemade purse/bag business is called Tiny Seamstress Designs, and she ships worldwide via her website, tinyseamstress.com.

Like others, Jenkins has found working from home has many benefits.

“I’m always available to my family, and I can work at my own pace,” she said. “There isn’t much I don’t like about working from home.”

Ashley Coon, of Rexburg, who makes custom cloth diapers, said she didn’t expect the sense of accomplishment her at-home business would give her. When her son was born, she taught herself to sew to make cloth diapers for him. Others loved them, and the business grew from there. Making something people love, plus doing something productive, has been the biggest benefit of all.

“I’ve had to deal with postpartum depression, and starting this business has helped me take a step away from being depressed every day of the week,” she said.

One of the best things she has ever done is to move her sewing stuff into a dedicated space so she can close the door if need be.

Her business is called Raccoon Wraps and Coon connects with clients via her Etsy site and Facebook page. Working from home also means she is always there for her son, and Coon gets to set her own hours — huge benefits in her book.

Like Oliver, Coon said it’s been a challenge to balance work and family. She said one of the best things she has ever done is to move her sewing stuff into a dedicated space so she can close the door if need be.

Marketing her business requires some time socializing via cloth diaper Facebook groups and making connections with potential customers. Scheduling days off is also vital to keeping work-home balance successful, she added.

Despite the challenges that can come up with having an at-home business, just being present in the home is worth the work that goes into it.

“I have always felt it is very important to be a stay at home mom,” said Netti Holdaway of Idaho Falls. “I was raised on a family farm where we all worked together on the farm. I loved that my parents were always around. That is what I wanted for my family.”

Netti Holdaway with her daughter, Bella, who helps Netti with her at-home bow business La Bella Rose Boutique in Idaho Falls. | Courtesy Kelly Stewart Photography

Holdaway’s business is La Bella Rose Boutique, where she makes hair accessories that she sells via her Etsy site. The biggest plus working from home? She loves to be home with her children and be there when they need her the most.

“My schedule revolves around them,” Holdaway said. “I can take them to games, lessons, school, and volunteer at school. I don’t miss out on their lives.”

Another plus is that Holdaway’s children help with her bow business, which teaches them to work and helps them earn money.

“I hope I am teaching my kids that they can have their own successful business,” she said. “I want them to know that they can do anything if they have faith and hard work.”

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