LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lisiane Jimenez was feeling the pressure of the real estate business and needed an escape.
During a rocky period in the housing market, the Brazilian-born psychology major had joined her husband, an experienced Realtor, in creating Dynamic REI Property in Boston., Mass.
Their business renovated multifamily units into condominiums, but the stress of the unknown market had become too much to handle.
"I found myself complaining about that," she said. "There was just so much stress. But instead of complaining, I wanted to do something about it."
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That's when Jimenez, a self-titled "mompreneur," found a new business endeavor.
Jimenez, a 40-year-old mother of two and Lakewood Ranch resident, used her passion for children's clothes and accessories to start The Happy Seal, an online baby and kids' boutique. The website launched in June and Jimenez is expecting huge sales over the holiday season.
"I wanted to do something that offered flexibility and that I was passionate about," she said.
The website sells organic and eco-friendly baby clothes and accessories for boys and girls, toddlers through pre-teen, and also items for mothers. Items like baby booties sell for as low as $11.95 while boys and girls formal wear items start at $45. The merchandise is shipped directly from the manufacturer and customers also can personalize items on The Happy Seal website.
Through an online consultation and training company, Jimenez learned how to manage and build her website, though the company performed the web page design. Jimenez then researched vendors and offered to sell their boutique items on her site. In three months, www.thehappyseal.com was up and running.
"We offer boutique items that you can't find anywhere else," she said. "I'm finding people obviously like that."
One of the companies that use The Happy Seal is Bradenton-based Blingin' Teez, a rhinestone embellishment company started by Danielle Pardue, a friend of Jimenez.
"The Happy Seal gets a lot of traffic and being a new business, with her doing contests and promotions, that traffic reverts back to Blingin' Teez and people see our content," Pardue said.
Jimenez practiced psychology for 10 years, working for agencies and a school district in Massachusetts, where she served as a counselor for elementary students and their families.
Jimenez is gearing herself up for Cyber Monday, hoping for an influx of shoppers looking for online deals following Black Friday. She's already prepared to offer free shipping for purchases over $50 and shoppers that spend over $150 can enter a contest to win free gift cards.
Learning to run an online business wasn't easy, but Jimenez said she's getting the hang of it.
"I definitely reinvented myself," she said. "If you would have asked me a year ago, I wouldn't have said this is what I'd be doing."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams