Family effort expands to business

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

When one contemplates the joy of motherhood, rarely does business ownership cross their mind. Despite a culture that now expects us to give birth and return soon thereafter to work, one local mom is changing the rules.

A little over a year and half ago, Mandy Frey decided to take her career to a new level. After previously being a makeup artist for both a large retailer and a local spa, Frey decided to launch, an online store for children and mommy.

“I wanted to do something cutesy for kids and fun that allowed me to stay at home and spend time with my boys,” Frey said.

Frey is the proud mother of 5-year-old Nate and 3-year-old Carson who were with Sweet Bobby from the beginning.

After running the Web site for a year, Frey decided to open a retail location on College Street in Columbiana. After relocating from Inverness, Frey and her husband moved into a charming historic home in downtown Columbiana. She chose to open the store there because she wanted it to be part of the community.

The retail store now draws over 95 percent of the company’s business and leaves Frey working frantically during big seasons like Christmas and Easter. Her two boys are often in the store helping out and are frequently joined by others in the family. Frey’s husband handles Sweet Bobby’s inventory, while her mother-in-law maintains all the finances.

Frey makes many of the items herself, including custom made Easter basket liners and decorative koozies. All of the monogramming is done in-house, keeping the Frey family working well into the night.

The Sweet Bobby retail location has had much success in its few months of operation, and Frey is quick to rightfully attribute the success.

“It’s the Lord, not us,” she said, “Starting a business in an economy facing recession shows we didn’t get by on our own strength, but that of the community and God.”

While Frey is filled with joy at the success of Sweet Bobby, she is not stopping here. This fall, look for Sweet Bobby to launch its own clothing line with designs by Frey and heartfelt construction by a few local women in the Columbiana community.