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Spouse creates jobs

Jessica Bowline turns love of writing into a successful company

Jessica Bowline runs her company, Indigo Inkwell, LLC., while sons Leo (standing) and Elliot (sitting) help. Photo credit: Deborah Anton

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Jessica M. Bowline, CEO and Founder, Indigo Inkwell, LLC., was a stay-at-home mom with two young sons when she started dabbling on the Internet answering posts for freelance writers.  What started as a few commissions quickly turned into as many as she could complete and helped launch a successful company.

"We were stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and I was toying with the idea of going back to work fulltime.  I had a friend, Samantha Culp, a fellow military spouse who was running an extremely successful design business (Northfolk & Co.), and she asked if I could write a few enticing template descriptions for her recent project.  It was my first paid writing job.  She encouraged me to pursue it and I credit her with helping me find the courage to start this journey," said Bowline.

As with any start-up, the first few months were rough.  For every 20 projects she bid on, she was lucky to land one client.  "Then I landed a ‘big' fish.  It was a long-term project writing product descriptions for a high-end fashion consignment shop.  That initial job paid for my laptop.  It was exhilarating using that first big commission to purchase something for my business," she said.

Soon, Bowline realized she had a great opportunity.  "I've always had a knack for writing and now I could make money doing something I loved." She now hired Culp to design her website, applied for a business license and incorporated.  "Incorporating protects my personal assets and in my experience, it adds instant legitimacy and authority to a business," Bowline said.

Indigo Inkwell, LLC., works with small and medium businesses, usually startups. They currently have clients all over the U.S., UK, Canada, Kenya, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, China and most recently Romania.  According to Bowline, "I am a creative consultant who specializes in crafting web content and sales copy for enterprises.  As our relationship develops, it can expand the scope to include blogging, company profile, newsletters, etc.  No two jobs are ever the same.  From fashion and interior design to steel drum manufacturers and IT, I cover a very wide range of industries."

Bowline considers herself a stay-at-home mom who happens to run a small business 30 to 40 hours a week.  Balance is a challenge but she makes it work.  "My boys are currently 4 and 7.  They have an energy that is best described as a force of nature.  It's been a learning process but I try to stay true to their schedules.  I work while they are at school and in the evenings when they are asleep.  For the most part I get all the time in the world with them.  I set my schedules and deadlines.  I have to remind myself that I am my own boss.  My boys like to ‘work' with me, Leo writing his own stories and Elliot on his letter laptop," she said.

In addition to running her own business, Bowline has challenges unique to military spouses.  Shortly after starting her business, her husband received orders for Washington, D.C.  "We traveled cross-country, literally, from the west coast to the east coast, and I worked in the car along the way.  As far as my physical space, I am a writer so my work travels with me in my bag.  Since I operate solely online, I renew my LLC and license yearly.  Taxes can get tricky, but I follow up with an accountant that knows local tax codes," she added.

The Bowline family will be moving again in June heading for Fort Drum, New York.  "It's a wild ride and we love it," she said.

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