SBDC helps 'mompreneurs' balance success at work, home

December 18, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa -- When Anne Yorks’ first child was born five years ago, she knew she wanted to stay home with her baby, but also continue contributing to the family income. So Yorks began a home business that became the Flour Box Bakery, selling gourmet cookies for weddings, baby showers and other special occasions.

Yorks, of Bellefonte, Pa., is part of a growing trend of mothers in Pennsylvania and nationwide who have found a way to stay home with their children while creating thriving businesses. The Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has helped a number of those “mompreneurs,” including Yorks, build their companies.

“It’s tremendously rewarding as a mom to own your own business,” said Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician also from Bellefonte. “You get to stay home with your kids and watch them grow up.”

Lai is the creator of SleepPhones, a fleece headband with built-in speakers. With help from the SBDC, she began selling her invention in 2007. Today the product, which Lai describes as “pajamas for your ears,” is sold internationally, and sales are projected to surpass $1 million in 2012.

Kerri Smith, of State College, Pa., inventor of the Belly Rest maternity support pillow, met Lai at the SBDC and often exchanges business tips with her. Getting expert training from the SBDC and meeting other mompreneurs inspired her, she said.

“It was great having somebody in the community so encouraging and so supportive,” Smith said. “Having somebody like that pushing you out of the nest is a huge help.”

Women-owned businesses contribute significantly to the U.S. economy, earning revenues of about $1.2 trillion since 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Yorks’ bakery business was so successful that she turned to the Penn State SBDC this year for advice on expanding – turning her garage into a bakery instead of working out of her own kitchen. Yorks gets up before dawn each day to work in the bakery before her two daughters, ages 1 and 5, wake up.

“It is really awesome for me to find a way to supplement our income but also be home for the girls,” she said.

For more information on the services provided by the SBDC, visit

The Penn State SBDC is part of a nationwide network of more than 1,000 centers. The SBDC provides free business assistance to small firms and business start-ups in Centre and Mifflin counties, enabling them to compete and grow in today’s highly competitive global economy. Penn State SBDC is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 115 countries worldwide.


  • Anne Yorks makes gourmet cookies through her business, Flour Box Bakery.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated December 20, 2012