Your Name: Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes

Business Name: mkc photography

Type of Business: Arts & Entertainment

Business Location: United States

U.S. State: Pennsylvania

Twitter @mkcphotography

Reason for starting
Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mother! – but after a long hiatus and my third sleepless week with a two-year-old and a newborn baby, I realized I needed to start creating my artwork again to save my sanity. When my first exhibit sold out on opening night, I realized then I might just be able to do this for a living.

Biggest Success
Exhibiting at the Buyers Market of American Craft and the New York International Gift Fair and having 17 different galleries and shops order my artwork to sell in their stores. Better yet, when I followed up with one Chicago gallery six weeks later, they told me every one of my art blocks had already sold. I did a happy dance in my studio!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Juggling a full-time business with full-time motherhood…my youngest son is just now starting Kindergarten. I do it all (creating, book keeping, billing, marketing, taxes) on my own, so it’s a bit of a circus. But, if managing my time between a successful art company and two healthy, happy boys is my biggest challenge in life, I’ll take it.

Who is your most important role model?
Any woman who is brave enough to start her own company in spite of all the challenges and lack of encouragement she may encounter. Any woman who is brave enough to realize there’s no such thing as perfection and to not compete with this idealized version of woman/mother the media keeps trying to sell us.