Bouncing Back From the Layoff Blues

Former techie finds small-business success with maternity wear

By Scott Budman
|  Friday, Oct 9, 2009  |  Updated 12:32 PM PDT
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Turning the Layoff Blues Into Successful News

Got the layoff blues? Start your own business.

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Turning the Layoff Blues Into Successful News

Jennifer Bourgoyne lost her job but now she's making a name for herself as her wildly-successful business grows and earns awards for the new mom.
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Jennifer Bourgoyne is a one-woman cure for a slow job market. 

On a recent day in her home office, she took phone calls from buyers, welcomed a photographer into her home (time to change out the Web photos), updated her social networking pages (gotta stay relevant on Facebook and Twitter), and helped fix her son Cash's Wii-mote

It's all in a morning's work for the small business owner, whose company was just named Woman-Owned Business of the Year by the San Jose Women's Initiative.

It's a whirlwind Bourgoyne never saw coming.  Three years ago, she was happily cruising through her twelfth year in the technology industry, working at SGI.  When the layoff came, Jennifer now says she felt "lost -- it hurt." 

Add in the fact that she was pregnant, and you can imagine how nervous she was.  But when the baby came, Jennifer had an epiphany of sorts.  Her delivery was a C-section, and she learned a lot.  Like, how little clothing there was for women who had C-sections.

From that, Czela Bellies were born.  A little piece of clothing that already has a strong following, Czela has been catching on quickly. (The name is a nod to Bourgoyne'sHungarian roots.) Persistent PR, a supportive husband, and Jennifer's will to succeed have combined to, after three years bring in a profit.  A profit, Jennifer is quick to say, that will go straight back into the company in the way of advertising. 

Later that same morning, Bourgoyne was out in the front yard, getting the new batch of photos taken.  Cash, having left the Wii behind, hovered adorably, and had dozens of pictures taken of him as well. 

It's been a huge turnaround, one that Bourgoyne hopes will inspire other women to take the business plunge themselves. 

Her advice?  Get on the social networks, get the word out, and "Keep a picture of yourself when you were young on your desk, so you can look at that girl, and say I want to be what she wanted to be."

It may take awhile, but Jennifer is proof that it can be done. 

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