Holyoke Puzzles might seem like a one-woman show. While it's true that I do all the designing and puzzle production, my family is an essential ingredient in the puzzle magic.
My husband Sean has the biggest support role. He is chief child-wrangler, shipping clerk, and errand runner. If Sean didn't keep the kids occupied, I would never have time to get into the workshop. From September to June when I'm busy with my other full-time job during the day - teaching - he runs boxes to the post office and picks up supplies. He's always willing to step in and lend a hand when crunch time comes up. With Celebrate Holyoke coming up this weekend, Sean and our oldest son Gabe helped me assemble and package up several dozen puzzles that I cut over the past few days.
Sean isn't the only family member who has had an impact on Holyoke Puzzles. Gabe is my chief inspiration officer. He has his finger on the pulse of the 9-year-old set. A number of the puzzles that have made it into production began with his ideas, including the saber tooth cat and my redesigned bunny. Unfortunately I can't keep up with the speed of his imagination, so I keep a list of puzzle ideas by my computer for when I'm in a creative mood.
My youngest son, Xavier, is not yet in a place where he can help out in a practical sense. But he keeps me going in his own goofy way. Xavier has a rare genetic condition that ends up looking a lot like autism. Building my business is one way that I can help create a better life for him and pay for the medical equipment and specialists that he needs. Xavier inspires me to keep going despite whatever hardships come my way.
Another main player who is an essential support for Holyoke Puzzles is my mother-in-law Linda. She steps in to babysit the boys so Sean and I can have a night out to recharge. This weekend she'll watch the kids so that Sean can accompany me to Celebrate Holyoke. With the festival ending at 11 p.m., I'm sure to need him to prop me up by the end!
I'm not unique in relying on my family for support to make my small business successful. I'm lucky to have great people around me and to live in the business-friendly city of Holyoke. Behind every small business success story is a family and community.
Thanks for reading! - Barbara
Barbara Bitgood, Artisan owner of Holyoke Puzzles in Holyoke, Massachusetts.