Five Moms Who Rejected Office Life

My Homegrown Career

By Poonkulali Lee Suresh, as told to Elaine Stuart

At age 39, I'm the mother of a 10-year-old son, Sathesh, and a 6-year-old daughter, Sabrina; and I'm a successful Avon representative in Florence, SC. Until two years ago, I had never worked a day in my life. When my husband, a computer program analyst, and I moved to the United States (we're from Sri Lanka but were living in Saudi Arabia) in 1999 for his job, I was a stay-at-home mom. Then his project ended and he was suddenly unemployed. He soon found another position, but I wanted to make sure we'd never have to worry about debt again. So in July 2003, I started my Avon business from home.

Why Avon? At first I tried a 9-to-5 job, but it was too hard to manage on top of running a busy household. I realized I needed something that would fit my kids' schedules. Yet, I also wanted to interact with others. I'm a people person, but with no family in this country I'd get lonely when my kids went off to school. And most of all, I wanted a job that would help me teach my children responsibility and the importance of hard work. When I started with the company, I worked just two to three hours a week. Now, as an Avon unit leader with 47 members in my training center, I work about 35 hours a week and focus on multilevel marketing and recruiting.

My kids are very involved in my business. They come with me on deliveries and help me hand out books and products at local events and school fairs. My son counts the money we collect in a sale by separating the coins from the dollars, and it's really improved his math skills. My children have also developed an appreciation for the value of money from watching me work. They understand that it doesn't come as easily as it goes and have started saving the money they earn from doing chores. We discuss every purchase they make with the money in their piggy banks and donate to charities together.

It's a challenge to balance my career with the demands of my kids, but my husband and I are a team. We arrange our schedules so that one of us makes it to every school event, soccer game, or badminton match in the backyard. Our family time is the most important part of our lives.

Copyright © 2005. Reprinted with permission from the November 2005 issue of Child magazine.

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