Mamas Makin’ It Work: From Factory Worker to Beauty Boss

Faced with becoming a single parent to a child with special needs, this mama never gave up on her dreams to become a business owner.

It only takes a moment to change your life forever. For Jodie Johnson, that moment came when she found herself pregnant with high-risk twins at age 20.

At the time Jodie was following her childhood dream to work with animals, but a tough pregnancy riddled with complications and bedrest sent her in a very different direction.

After just 26 weeks of pregnancy, Jodie gave birth to her son Juwann. He was born with a serious form of Cerebral Palsy leaving him unable to walk and talk. Sadly, she lost the other baby she was carrying.

Luckily she had a wonderful support system in place—her mother.

“I wouldn’t know what to do without her,” she said. “She showed me patience. She showed her courage. She is very strong.”

Jodie’s mother stepped up and became her co-parent as Johnson was a single parent for much of her son’s young life. Jodie left her field and started working at an automotive factory.

Jodie’s mother stepped up and became her co-parent as Johnson was a single parent for much of her son’s young life. Jodie left her field and started working at an automotive factory.

“My mom and I worked at the same place, just opposite shifts,” said Jodie, adding that the two women would split the childcare responsibilities. “We did that for 17 years.”

During this time, Jodie had a hard time balancing the needs of her son with her own.

“I didn’t have much of a social life. There wasn’t a lot of spare money,” she said.

Jodie faced many additional parenting challenges because of her son’s special needs.

“He’s dependent on me for every single thing,” she said. “When kids get to be about five or six, they are able to get up and make their own breakfast and do stuff like that, but Juwann will never be able to do [those things] so I have always had to be there to do that stuff for him.”

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Longtime friend Shelby Bell said that Jodie has shaped her life around the needs of her son.

“Jodie has given up a lot to independently care for Juwann,” she said. “Not only has she provided him with a stable and loving home, she has socialized him in various settings including school and groups. She encourages him to try new things and exposes him to a variety of different events.”

One of the biggest ways Jodie changed her life for her son was to follow a dream to open up her own business and work from home.

One of the biggest ways Jodie changed her life for her son was to follow a dream to open up her own business and work from home.  After many temporary factory layoffs, she decided to take a buyout and go back to school. By this time she had met her future husband, Louie, who was very supportive of her venture. At the end of 2012, she was able to open her home spa Soft Touch.

“I like having more time and I like being able to schedule my work around family time. I wasn’t able to do that before and I missed out on a lot of things because of that,” she said. “I’m happy that because I am my own boss I can do that for him and for my husband.”

Since she opened her doors she has noticed a big change in her son.

“He is just easier. I am always here so he always sees that.”

While not all parents are able to work from home, Jodie said this choice was right for her and her family.

“You have to do what makes you happy in the long run. I hated going into my factory job every single day, so now I don’t mind working seven days a week because I love what I do.”

Jodie also has a supportive partner and co-parent in her husband Louie. Although she found it hard to transition from her role as primary caregiver to co-parent, she is finally accepting of the help.

“I’m used to making all the decisions and having to worry about everything and he has to say, ‘look, I got it.’ Go do whatever you need to do. Even when I go out to do grocery shopping, I worry about rushing home to get back to make sure Juwann is okay and relieve the person that is watching him. It was a big adjustment, but it is getting a little easier.”

Johnson’s goals for the future include expanding her role as a makeup artist and advocating for her son. She encourages all parents of children with special needs to do the same.

“Be their voice because that is going to get you places. You can’t just sit and wait for the information to come to you. You have to be proactive all the time.”

If you liked this story, please let us know in the comments below. We want to continue to feature these incredible mamas who are making it work every single day.

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson divides her time between her three daughters and writing for the Parent Life Network. In her 'spare time' she loves to be a total control freak while attempting to do crafts with her girls.