Home management startup targets the working woman
Being the “other woman” is not normally a good thing in the end.
But in Tammy Parson's case, the story is just getting started.
Parson is the owner of The Other Woman – Home Management Services, a home-based Lower Paxton Township business that is designed to help overworked working women.
"It was a risk to decide on this name, but I liked the catch and the idea of making something that had been such a bad thing to women now be something good for them," said Parson, a 49-year-old mother of four.
The Other Woman is an umbrella company comprising cleaning, decorating, organizing, painting, event planning and other home-maintenance services. It covers everything Parson has been doing for nearly 20 years for family, friends and others she has met through a home- cleaning business.
"I thought about all of the things I need help with as a working mother," she said.
What led her here
Parson graduated from Central Dauphin High School in 1982 and went off to college, only to discover it wasn't for her.
She came home and went to work in business, starting as a receptionist for an employment agency. She worked in other capacities in the area, including legal secretary and executive assistant, before starting a family.
But after 10 years of marriage and three children, she wound up getting a divorce. Parson said she couldn't afford to work full time and pay for child care, so she began cleaning under the name Immaculate Interiors Cleaning.
"For the first few years, I traveled to work every day with one or two small boys by my side," she said.
She did that until they were all in school full time.
Parson expanded with a specialty painting company called Unique Interiors while working part time in a chiropractor's office.
"To say the least, I was always working and always tired," she said.
She remarried and had another child. Today her children are 24, 20, 19 and 11.
After 19 years in the cleaning business, Parson said, she started thinking about what she wanted to do professionally moving forward. She didn't want a conventional office job, and the idea of college again just didn't feel right, she said.
"I began to think about what people needed the most help," she said. "And my answer for that was working women. I believe that working women in today's society work harder than anyone else."
She also thinks the business might appeal to single fathers in need of organization or other home services.
Since she just started the business, Parson is still handling everything on her own. She is trying to expand the cleaning business and hire people, so she can dedicate more time to other service areas.
"I really don't know which one will be the one that takes off," she said.
A website also is in the works. For now, the primary point of contact is a phone number: 717-319-3118.
Parson said she is focusing on the East and West shores, out to Hershey and Palmyra and down to the Carlisle area.
With the exception of larger home repair projects, which she intends to subcontract work for and then supervise, Parson said she will be very hands-on in this business.
"We as a society, we just work ourselves into the ground, especially working mothers," she said. "The wife at home takes care of the children, the laundry and the shopping. Wives don't have that person to help them out. I want to be the wife's wife."
A year from now, Parson said, she hopes the business is doing well and generating enough revenue so that she can expand.
There are more than 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, according to a 2013 special report from American Express Open.
Between 1997 and 2013, total businesses increased by 41 percent, while the number of women-owned firms increased by 59 percent, according to the report. Women-owned firms now account for 29 percent of all enterprises.
Pennsylvania is No. 7 in the number of women-owned businesses with 295,200. That was up 45.4 percent from 1997, according to the report.
The states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms during the past 16 years are Georgia (112 percent), Texas (93), North Carolina (91), Louisiana (84), Nevada (84), Mississippi (77), Utah (73), Maryland (71), New York (70) and Florida (70).
Pennsylvania was No. 29 for growth, according to the report.
About two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least two years, and about half survive at least five years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.
In its most recent small-business profile on Pennsylvania, published in February, the SBA said more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania’s small businesses have no employees, and most employers have fewer than 20 employees.
That was based on 2011 data, which also said female self-employment was down nearly 15 percent over the last decade.