Stephanie Sands, a single mother who worked for five years as an employee cleaning houses and running property maintenance errands, now owns and runs Home Huggers Durango, a new role for her that she finds “incredibly empowering.”
Sands said the plan was always for her to take over the business, which also does snow removal and landscaping chores, from its original owner, Susie Siegele, but Siegele’s death in April 2018 accelerated their plans.
“Susie was pretty much amazing at teaching about the management side of the business with the idea of one day passing it on to me. With her death in April last year, it just happened a lot sooner than we expected,” Sands said.
Sands said Siegele told her that when she owned and ran Home Huggers, “it would change her life,” and Sands said her mentor was right.
“It’s changed everything,” she said, noting the good and the bad – her income is up but her free time is nonexistent as she meets clients’ needs and raises two children, Ashton, 15, and Selah, 8.
Now, with a year’s experience running the business, Sands said she is planning to expand this year. The next big step will be adding two employees: one to help out with house-cleaning jobs and one to help Ashton with the landscaping and snow-removal jobs.
“Susie’s motto for the business was ‘We’ll love your home like it was our own,’ and I always thought that was little corny, but now that I’m responsible for the whole business, I understand what she was saying,” Sands said. “It takes a lot of trust for people to let you into their home, and we take that seriously. We do treat your home like it was our own.
“I found the most rewarding thing about the job is getting close to your clients. After a while we are like family,” she said.
After initially thinking “Oh my goodness, will I be able to do this,” Sands said she has spent a year gradually gaining more confidence and business acumen.
She said minute details of running a business are more complex than she ever imagined – noting she had just come back from a meeting with HR Block about business taxes that left “her head swimming.”
“I’ve spent a year learning, and the next year will be about growing,” she said.
Sands is also planning to study psychology online at Purdue University and she said adding employees will give her more time to devote to her studies.
“Owning a business is incredibly empowering,” Sands said. “For me, I was blessed to start with an already-established business, but now I don’t have to worry about budget cuts and restructuring and its something I hope to eventually pass on to my kids.”
Another benefit of running her own business, Sands said, was the lessons it conveys to her children, who learn about responsibility, scheduling, and dealing with clients by observing her complete her daily rounds and by helping her out. Ashton, who is home-schooled, handles most of the landscaping chores.
“We like to leave mints on the pillows like at hotels. Selah likes to do that, and she likes to fold the toilet tissue properly like in hotels. She’s the expert at that,” Sands said.