Alison Wawrzyniak is an Elite Mompreneur member based out of Milton, Ontario, and the owner of Round Trip Studios. We’re excited to share Alison’s Success Story!
About Round Trip Studios
Offering beautiful, functional and meaningful gifts that are so impactful they make people cry — in a good way — Round Trip Studios (RTS) uses laser technology to do amazing things like engrave a baby’s first footprint onto a rustic birch Christmas ornament, or a hand written recipe onto a Canadian made cutting board. There are so many moments in life that you think you will remember forever, but they fade quickly, and that feeling of love, appreciation and happiness you had fades with it. We have figured out how to capture that moment, that feeling, and remind you of it every time you see, use, or touch one of our products. We want you to surround yourself with elements that remind you to celebrate life, in a beautiful and functional way.
Where did the name Round Trip Studios come from?
Our products freeze a moment in time. Like engraving the cake recipe , that you used to bake with your grandmother in her kitchen, and now bake with your own kids. We preserve that memory so that it can be re-lived and remembered for future generations. We loved the idea that memories would come full-circle – like a Round Trip.
What is your “WHY” behind your business and being an entrepreneur?
In 2013 my mom was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS. She went from being a vibrant, active 59 year old doing spin classes twice a week, to being bedridden, unable to move, and finally passing away all in a period of 6 months. I spent those 6 months caring for her, and saying goodbye. I listened when she told me to be a good mom, and to follow my dreams. We crammed a lot of love into those 6 months. After she was gone, I found myself living in a fog trying to figure out why I was still here and what my purpose was. I wanted to work, but I didn’t want to be away from my family. I needed to find something meaningful that would positively impact me, and those around me. RTS became my answer. Together with my closest friend we conceived a business built around our lives as busy moms.
The first cutting board we engraved was one of my mom’s handwritten recipes. It was an emotional experience for me, and at a time when there was so much sadness everyday, it gave me joy. I knew then that it was a product that would make adifference to a lot of people. At some point we will all lose someone we love, and my hope is that our products will do the same for others that they do for me. Everyday when I see the board hanging in my kitchen, I remember the happy moments with my Mom, and what it meant to have her in our lives. I know that she would be so proud of everything I have accomplished so far.
Losing my mom made me realize that life is short, and that things can change so fast. Round Trip Studios fulfills me in so many ways, and when I see the impact that it has on our clients, and my family, I know that it is the right path for me. I learned the hard way to focus on the little things and to celebrate life, and I hope that my dedication and passion will help me connect with other people so that they can do the same.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
When my daughter, Mira, was in kindergarten she was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She answered, “I want to be like my mom and do nothing all day.” I was shocked that she believed this to be my role. I am a strong woman who values my family, but that was lost because she didn’t see me in any other role than that of being her Mom. I needed to do more, and I needed to involve my family in the process. It wasn’t that my job as a Mom wasn’t enough, it was the perception of it that bothered me. I decided to become an entrepreneur.
Last week, Mira came home and said “Mom, guess what?? When you picked me up at school, I heard two teachers say “That’s Mira’s mom, she has the coolest business and makes really neat stuff!” I was so proud of you Mom!” My family will remember me as a present Mom with an awesome business, not as a business woman who occasionally puts down her phone to watch her kids.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Having my own buisness has given me focus and allowed me to be creative, while at the same time allowing me to learn and apply new skills and contribute to my family financially. I have developed a newfound sense of worth and confidence over the last few years that I didn’t realize I was lacking. I really do love what I do, and not only do I get to do it from the comfort of a home studio, but I am successful without sacrificing my role as “Mom.”
Being able to make my own hours allows me to be there when my children need me. The flexibility is very important as my family always comes first. They are the most important thing in my life. I’m a Mom first, and a Mompreneur second.
RTS has had a positive impact on my life in more ways than I can express. I think that it’s important to do something you love. When you’re in the business of preserving memories, it’s so easy to love what you do.
Can you describe a typical day?
Each morning we have breakfast together and then can be found reading on the couch until it’s time for the kids to catch the bus to school. Once they have left for the day I begin working in the Studio. Mornings are usually spent catching up on new orders and other administrative duties, while the afternoons are reserved for engraving. When the kids get home from school I consider my ‘work day’ finished. We have a busy extracurricular schedule as both children play soccer and piano. My job becomes chauffeur between the hours of 4pm and 9pm; I wouldn’t have it any other way. If there is still work that needs to be done, I return to it once they are tucked snug into bed.
Who do you count on for help?
I have a wonderful support system in my husband and my business partner. The key to making this business successful is leaning on them when I need help. Both help out in different ways when things get busy. My husband is an amazing father who loves spending time with his children. His work schedule is also quite flexible, so if one of the kids is sick and I have deadlines for work, he can take time to stay home with them.
My business partner and I compliment each other wonderfully. We both bring different strengths to RTS. We have differentiated our roles so that we are not duplicating work, and we ensure that we always have each other’s backs when it gets busy. When my children are sick or vice versa, the other partner will step in and take over the work responsibilities as required. We are both busy moms who understand that we should not sacrifice our roles as Moms while we work.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
As a Mompreneur, my family will always come first, so we have designed a business plan that is centered around the idea that we can be successful entrepreneurs without sacrificing our roles as Mom. I always try to work while the kids are in school, and stop when they come home. There are times that I need to work in the evenings after the kids go to bed, but I am always cognizant of my time commitment and ensure that I am not sacrificing our family life for work. Work-life balance is always a tough one, but my business partner and I remind ourselves often that family comes first, no matter what.
Financially we have all had to make sacrifices. We can’t always buy that new ‘toy’ or the new shoes that we want, so we have learned to focus on our needs vs our wants. This has helped teach the kids the value of money and I don’t feel that it has been a negative impact overall.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
My days off are spent with my husband and children. We love to be outside, so we can often be found in the conservation areas hiking and enjoying nature. I am happiest when surrounded with the people I love. In the winter we tend to be homebodies, curled up together with a book on the couch.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
Our plans for future innovation can be divided into three categories; products, reach and expansion. While each is important, finding innovative solutions to increase our reach and expansion is really exciting. We would like to grow both nationally and internationally. Innovative marketing will be integral to our success. We have amazing products but pictures don’t do them justice. When you see our product you want it. We plan to get our products into retail locations and create an innovative online platform so those stores can offer their customers our personalized products. We look forward to continued growth and development in the future.
Any tips for other women thinking of starting a business?
To those women who are thinking of starting a business, I say “just do it!” Figure out your own why, and determine what is important to you, and then stick to it! Don’t listen to people who say it can’t be done. Don’t waste time at a job that doesn’t bring you happiness and fulfillment. You never know when things are going to change, so celebrate your life today.