Katherine Mulvihill worked in marketing in Whistler for years, commuting from Squamish on a daily basis.
Kym Terrill did the commute from the north, coming in from Pemberton to work as an assistant manager at the GLC.
Michelle Roundell was a rep for a pharmaceutical company, who was constantly on the road to the Lower Mainland and the Interior from her home-based office in Squamish.
And then, in the past two years, all became new moms.
Now all three have traded in those old jobs and carved their own niches for themselves in the working world of the Sea to Sky corridor.
They are now: the owner of a coffee shop, a bookkeeper and a professional organizer. They are being helped along the way by Community Futures Howe Sound, a non-profit economic development organization for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the region.
"I thought I was going to be going back," said Mulvihill, of her marketing career. "My plans were to go back and continue on in that career path. As I had my time off with my daughter, I realized that I don't want to be commuting back and forth every day and spending that time on the highway and that time being separated away from her in a different community."
That's why her career path took an abrupt turn when this past July she bought Onatah Coffee shop. It's been a whirlwind few months, learning the ropes of an existing business that's miles away from her past work experience in marketing. But Mulvihill can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And on those days that 16-month-old Zoe has been sick, it's been no problem to collect her from daycare and look after her just as she wanted to do.
"The priorities change," she said of being a new mom. "I want to be with her and not necessarily stuck in an office."
Kym Terrill can relate. She shared Mulvihill's reasons for getting out of the so-called rat race - juggling a full-time work schedule, racing her daughter to daycare every day, never seeing her husband.
"It's not the kind of life that I wanted to live," said Terrill.
That's when she got the idea to open a home-based bookkeeping business. She had some background in the field and after taking courses at the Academy of Learning in Squamish, Terrill was prepared to launch Mind Your Assets Bookkeeping.
She hasn't looked back since as she gains confidence and skills by the day. She manages her work time around Makayla's naps and evening sleeps.
And while she admittedly misses the social part of working in one of Whistler's hot spot bars, Terrill enjoys her new working role.
"Sometimes I miss that busyness," she admitted. "This is just such a different life, but I'm so happy with it."
It's a comment echoed by Michelle Roundell, mother to two-year-old Grayson.
She now runs Girl Friday Organizing (www.girlfridayorganizing.com), a company that helps business and residential clients organize their lives so they're more efficient and productive.
"I'm trying to find my own definition of career with family," said Roundell.
"I had a business career," she added, of her former life as a rep for a pharmaceutical company. "I worked very hard for a long time and to just give that up wasn't an option. So it's trying to find something that works for both."
The three women all say their Community Futures course has been invaluable in getting them on their feet, not only with the networking opportunities it provides but also with the practical advice.
"I think without this program I wouldn't have had the confidence to go out on my own and start doing my own business," said Terrill.
The 11-month program helps with small business loans and counseling, among other things.
It's tough to find a work opportunity that allows you to balance life as well in the Sea to Sky corridor, said Mulvihill. The opportunities just aren't as plentiful as those offered in a big city.
"A lot of these women, we're career people, we've got degrees, and the opportunities just aren't there," she said. "You have to start thinking outside of the box and thinking 'how can I sustain myself here and make it work,' because everyone loves this area."
To learn more about Community Futures Howe Sound go to www.cfhowesound.com.
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