Proof Positive

 Owning a business makes designer Jessica Zimmerman a better mom

By KD Reep    


Photo by Jason Masters.

Photo by Jason Masters.

Talk to Jessica Zimmerman for just a few minutes, and you will get a clear picture of why she is a success. Focused, diligent and talented, Jessica owns a floral and event design studio called ZIMMERMAN in Conway. Formerly A Southern Tradition, Jessica decided to rebrand the business in November 2014.

“It was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in business, but I knew what I wanted my business to look like,” she says. “A Southern Tradition was 20 years old and had a reputation for rentals. Transitioning from that into a full floral and design service studio was a big risk, but it’s been the best decision. Business is better than ever, and I enjoy my work more than I ever have because I’m able to really service my clients the way I want.”

Jessica is expanding her home life, too. In July, she’ll give birth to twin boys who will join her daughter Stella, husband Brian, and bichon Sophie to become a family of six.

“For me, working makes me a better mom,” she says. “I want every single time my daughter sees me to feel how incredibly excited I am to see her. I look at her and genuinely feel it a privilege to be her mom, and I feel if I were home with her every single day—all day—my perspective would be different. I think every mom has to define what is best for her, and I spent a lot of time intentionally thinking about ZIMMERMAN and Stella. I realized that, for me, it’s good to have something of my own, my career, and then I can come home and be overjoyed to spend time with my family. The main reason for rebranding my business was to incorporate a more flexible schedule for my family.”

Jessica notes that being a mom and an entrepreneur simultaneously are rewarding but challenging roles, but roles she likes. “I feel like the past 10 years have really been preparation for this present time in my life,” she says. “Stella is only 18 months old, but I worked towards this goal of a successful business to call my own for nearly eight years before I had her. It was always a strategic plan with children in mind.”

From an early age, Jessica knew she wanted to own her own business. She always wanted to be a mother and accomplish a career of her own.

“The only way I knew how to accomplish having a career of my own and having the flexibility to attend my children’s events without having to ask someone for permission was to own my own business,” she says. “I get to be in the driver’s seat, take control and make decisions on how to best steer my company. Because of this, I feel like I get things accomplished a lot faster. I have the advantage of having an idea, reacting and being proactive rather than waiting for approval or waiting for guidelines to be written on how to proceed.”

Even with everything she has going on, Jessica says she is able to accomplish it all by setting and sticking to boundaries.

“People think balance is all about equal parts rest and work, and that it should come naturally, when in reality, balance is one of the hardest things to achieve,” she says. “It takes great preparation, constant effort and dedication. I created a schedule for myself that I work very hard at sticking to and often have to be unapologetic about. For me, I know I need an hour to myself before my family wakes up. This means I get up at 5 a.m. every morning. This isn’t something that came to me naturally, I had to work at it, but now I love it. 

“When creating my schedule I had to ask myself, ‘What am I willing to give up in order to achieve my goals?’ In this case, I had to give up sleeping in. I have a work cell phone and a personal cell phone. My work cell is turned off when I leave in the afternoons, and I’m unapologetic about the fact that it doesn’t get turned back on until 9 a.m. the next business day. I’m upfront and honest about this with my clients, and I’ve found as long as my clients have a clear understanding of my schedule, they are not only respectful of it, but also incredibly supportive. For me, having a ‘quit time’ and having a separate cell phone for work allows me to be able to define the necessary boundaries between work and family. Ultimately, I get to create my own work/life balance. I get to set my own schedule allowing me to spend my time with the people who mean the most to me.”

When asked what her bottom line is, Jessica says it’s about doing what she loves and being available to whom she loves.

“It’s possible to do what you love and be a present mom. You just have to work hard at it. It’s something that doesn’t come easily, and it’s not about making a lot of money. For me, it’s about enjoying what I do, creating, working with people I enjoy and creating a life where I can be with my family. People truly can define their own adventure—I’m living proof.”