Margaret Vangeli found happiness in two very different lives. Here's how.
Margaret Vangeli loved her job when she left the music business 10 years ago. And who would blame her? As director of international operations, she ran the international departments at Polygram and Atlantic records, logging time in Sydney, Tokyo, London, and Paris, and promoting rock legends like AC/DC. But, when her father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Vangeli decided to take a break from the road to help her elderly parents through the crisis. "It is just one of those really big bumps in the road of life," she says of caring for ailing parents. "All of a sudden, you're dealing with a role reversal: the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child."
Luckily, Vangeli had the financial wherewithal to take time off during her father's illness. After his death, she did consulting work, and went back on the road briefly, with David Bowie. But when she called home and learned that her mother had fallen down, Vangeli decided it was time for a permanent career change that would keep her closer to home. "I always thought in the back of my mind that I would be an entrepreneur one day," Vangeli remembers.
So while she was contemplating her next move, she started taking better care of herself, training at a Pilates studio in Manhattan. Within six months, the co-owner of the studio identified her as having teaching potential. Vangeli went through the certification program, and worked for the studio for about a year. She then found a business opportunity near her home in Madison, NJ.
Because Vangeli often regretted having to travel into Manhattan to take Pilates classes, she suspected other women in her community would welcome a local option. When an acquaintance opened a wellness center, Vangeli taught Pilates mat classes; in three months, she bought her own equipment and rented a studio. Within a year, business was thriving.
While she credits some of her success to luck and timing—she opened her studio at the dawn of the Pilates craze, but before the market was saturated—she also believes her years in business helped her to identify the right opportunity. First, she chose a sector without prohibitive start-up costs: approximately $20,000 for the initial equipment. Second, she channeled her efforts into something she loves. "I didn't go out and say, 'I am going to make a lot of money,'" she says. "I went out saying, 'I am going to offer quality.'"
Frustration with inflexible job arrangements and growing eldercare concerns are motivating many women to launch their own businesses. More than 10 million U.S. businesses are at least 50 percent owned by a woman or women, and the number of women owned businesses with employees grew by 28 percent between 1997 and 2004, according to the Center for Women's Business Research, three times the overall growth rate for U.S. businesses with employees.
"My friends think that I have this great life, and everything is so wonderful," Vangeli says. "But let's make no mistake here. It wasn't something that came easily. I worked for it. But that said, I've been very, very lucky and I am grateful." She pauses, reflecting. "I am happy to be me."
Key for Success: Identify your passion, research the market, and determine a financial strategy and business plan appropriate for your long-term goals.