HIGHLAND RESIDENT Nancy Daniel launched her floral design business in March, but she lacked selling connections. So Daniel decided to open a local chapter of Bizymoms, a home-based business networking group.
Daniel, a divorced mother of two, doesn't mind hard work; she has supported herself for years.
But she likes scheduling her own hours, so she launched her company, Flowers From the Heart, to sell cut flowers to retail stores. She also designs floral arrangements for weddings and parties.
"I like the freedom of being able to set my own hours," Daniel said. "If there is something I want to do with [my daughter], I don't have to ask permission."
Daniel's younger daughter, Laura Tribble, 17, is a junior at River Hill High School. Older daughter Julie Tribble, 21, works at Root's Market.
At the beginning, Daniel's customers came by word of mouth. When she wanted to expand, she wrote to Bizymoms. com and inquired about starting a local chapter.
Bizymoms.com is a Web site that promotes itself as "the ultimate work at home and stay at home resource." Founded by a work-at-home mother, the site offers everything from business ideas and chat rooms to a newsletter and books for sale.
It also promotes more than 90 Bizymoms chapters, where women can meet and network with other women.
Daniel advertised the meetings in local papers and soon met several mothers interested in sharing her goal. "We have a core group of about six people that brought the group together," Daniel said. The group meets monthly to share ideas on how to promote its members' businesses.
"It's a way to network," she added. "I can either buy something directly from another mom, or I can refer someone else to them."
Bizymoms compares itself to a local Chamber of Commerce, but with lower fees. The group charges a yearly $35 membership.
Nellie Pharr-Maletta of Columbia investigated networking groups but, she said, at almost $300 a year, the fees were too steep. Besides, the early-morning meeting times were not right for her and her 5-year-old son, Joshua. "It would it be great if I could network while my son was in school," she said.
Then she found Bizymoms, which meets at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. The group is more casual and relaxed than the other networking groups, Pharr-Maletta said.
"This was a better fit for me," she said at the group's monthly meeting, held last week at Donna's in Clarksville.
The group discussed plans for an exposition, a showcase for members' home-based businesses. The expo is being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Slayton House in Wilde Lake Village Center. Entertainment for children, minimassages and door prizes are planned.
Children are not only welcome - they are expected.
Karen York-Levine, who lives in Columbia, will publicize her business there, along with Daniel and Pharr-Maletta. A personal chef, York-Levine joined Bizymoms because she needed to connect with other business people. But she enjoys the support of other parents.
There are a lot of stay-at-home mothers in her neighborhood, York-Levine said, but they don't work. "I feel like I don't have a lot to talk about with these moms," she said.
New Bizymoms member Stephanie Bowling recently moved to Laurel and needed to make contacts and promote her business which is family and marriage counseling. "A lot of people don't go to counseling until things are really bad," she said.
Bowling hopes to reduce the stigma associated with counseling by offering the service online. She will be promoting her Internet counseling concept at today's expo.
Information: 301-854-2369, or e-mail UsborneBooksMD@ cs.com.
A beautiful trip
Members of Boy Scout Troop 757 of Glenwood recently hiked along 40.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to the Pennsylvania state line.
The boys and their parents hiked up and down steep grades, ate dehydrated camping foods and endured some cold weather on the four-day trip. But they also saw some beautiful views from rock outcroppings.
"During the day, it was really nice weather," said Danny Gouker, senior patrol leader. "The nights were a little colder than we expected."
Danny's dad, Toby, supplied the freeze-dried food; the group pumped and filtered stream water to bring the food to life. "It tasted pretty good except for the potted meat product," Danny said.
In one of the highlights of the trip, the Scouts hiked on an Interstate 70 overpass. Danny and Andrew Appler crossed first and serenaded everyone as they crossed the bridge. "I played the harmonica and he did blues one-liners," Danny said.
The hike is part of the Scouts' preparation for a 12-day backpacking trip, scheduled at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico next summer. The Scout troop plans to have a hike each month in preparation for the Philmont trip.
Congratulations to Glenelg High School senior Jackie Congedo, who was named a finalist in the talent category of the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Program for her vocal music. She is eligible for a four-year $3,000 annual stipend at a Maryland college.
Jackie was in the Senior All-State Chorus last year and just completed performing in Glenelg High School's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Kristi Ellingsworth and Sara Potler received honorable mentions for drama, and Caitlin Nicholl and David Stepp earned honorable mentions for instrumental music.